The first afternoon game of the 2020 season saw Dodgers return to the glorious surroundings of Windsor Great Park, where the pavilion doubles up as a focal point for the community who live and work on the estate, and was thus a hive of family activity all day long. The skies began to clear of their cloud cover and a fine afternoon's play was in the offing.
Captain Ralph won the toss and put Windsor in to bat, with Adam and David spearheading the Dodgers attack. Before long the first opener had been removed, courtesy of a sharp catch by Ralph off Adam, and the initial overs were largely in our favour. Gradually the home side began to build a total, however, with the experienced No 3 remaining at the crease for the rest of the innings and notching up a very creditable 93* in the process. His partner, the young all-rounder Ismail, put on 32 of his own in a second-wicket stand of 88 before falling as the first of three victims for Ed Kellard, making his debut for Dodgers. This opened the floodgates, and before long wickets were tumbling like the red kites in the skies above. Dodgers regulars were assisted by two further newcomers, Callum Wragg (brother of Tom) and Idrees Ahmad, both of whom bowled with good pace. NJ contributed his usual tricky mix of spins and quicks, and the Windsor total - which had been a dangerous 85 for 1 off the first 18 - was reduced to 157 for 8 by the end of their 35.
After a socially distanced and self-prepared tea, Dodgers set to the task of chasing down what seemed a fairly manageable target. NJ and Mike started strongly but patiently, playing the good balls on merit and punishing the bad with aplomb. Their opening stand of 57 was broken when Mike fell LBW to the young left-arm spinner AJ, leaving NJ to continue to a well-deserved 53 that was of crucial importance in the context of the match as a whole. The Windsor bowling attack had strength in depth, however, so that neither Jatinder nor Komal were able to build their usual innings. Tom batted solidly to see off any threat of a collapse, even managing to knock the Windsor captain unconscious when the latter fell backwards trying to hold a catch, but the required run rate was creeping steadily upwards by the time Ed and Adam came together at the crease. Slowly the two began to restore control, still playing cautiously but running well between the wickets and pouncing on anything wayward. By the last few overs we were back on level par with the Windsor score at the same point, when their captain (now recovered) brought himself on to bowl a nerve-wracking series of dot balls. Winding up his long levers, Adam lofted a majestic straight six over long-on to relieve the tension, and shortly afterwards Ed hit the winning runs. We had left it until the final over, but triumphed with three balls and five wickets to spare.
Man of the Match, for his all-round performance and for steering us across the finish line, Ed.
Pre-match team photo