Two more stars joined the injury list after the weekend fixture, after debutant Steve Woods pulled a muscle in his groin and George Jefferis suffered a flaring up of an old knee injury – the bane of all great fast bowlers and also George.
A miserable Old Trafford style drizzle had greeted Gunnislake as the team made their first overseas trip of the season, to Devonian side Buckland Monachorum. The brief summer heatwave had come to an end, but the hosts tried to maintain a festival spirit, with a gazebo providing a temporary pavilion. Behind Heras security fencing a skeleton of a large and imposing timber pavilion loomed, a sign of better things to come. Out on the pitch a green square and wet grass predicted trouble ahead. Perhaps we should be hiring out Messrs Boundy and Ansell for ground preparation consultancy services?
Gunnislake won the toss and asked Buckland Monachorum to bat. The hosts set off with some intent, scoring at nearly six an over, despite accurate bowling from Paul Lees and some sharp lifters from George Jefferis. The keeper was kept busy behind the stumps on a damp, green and very lively pitch! Lees achieved the breakthrough removing Edwards with a plumb LBW. Two more wickets fell as Gunnislake briefly had their tails up, but this only brought Luke Dennis to the crease. Oops. The ball and bowlers received some harsh treatment as regular search parties were sent to the boundary. At the other end Elkington celebrated his fifty by lofting a catch to Sam Boundy at mid off, but Dennis kept going to the close, finishing on 66 not out as Buckland reached 218 for 7 from their 40 overs.
Gunnislake went for broke in reply, opening with Sam Boundy and Andrew Morris, but Buckland’s opening bowlers were also rather good. A potential fascinating battle lasted a mere four overs, when Sam Boundy was bowled for eight – shades of Jason Roy there? A zinging ball and two fast bowlers gave plenty of trouble for Gunnislake, and wickets fell regularly until Adrian Cameron joined Andrew Morris. He rode his luck well (a theme of great fascination in the pub after the match), but eventually got his eye in and started timing the ball. Buckland changed the bowling with regularity, but showed no mercy bringing on youth academy products Timmins to bowl some sharp seam and leg spinner Halloran. Halloran accounted for Morris on 52 as he hit out attempting to deal with the increasing run rate. Cameron followed after scoring 41(increasing his personal best for the third time this season) and the tail collapsed with a whimper, the last four batsmen sharing one run between them. At 136 all out it was all over for another week.
Where does this leave the team? A reasonably good performance against perhaps the best team we have played this season. Meanwhile Barrie James has taken on the role of team guru and leant no less than three cricket books to your main reporter. One includes advice on how to keep wicket (thanks Barrie) and another is the art of captaincy by Mike Brearly. Perhaps such efforts will see an improvement next week? Six points was a respectable performance, but oh for a few younger players like the Buckland team!
Quote of the Week
A captain must know how to deploy whatever skills his players have at their disposal. He must enable them to widen their own range, to have the confidence to experiment. In short, a captain must get the best out of his team by helping them to play together without supressing flair and uniqueness. (Mike Brearly)