14th of May | The 1866 Oval | Rain, followed by sunny spells | 30 Overs
A week on from victory in an instant classic of an encounter, Stirling County CC travelled along the Ochils as we looked to build on last Sunday success.
As our guests began to arrive something else rather more sinister was also approaching: not Phil Rourke, but some ominously thick black clouds. After taking shelter under the pavilion the rain eventually made its way towards Kinross- shire and Stirling won the toss and sent us into bat, much to the relief of the DCC bowling attack.
A Cunningham (C/WK) ~ A Buchanan-Smith ~ R Nicolson ~ C Smith ~ S Breasley ~ C Dunn ~ P Rourke
R Turner ~ S Prasad ~ P Fensom G Stewart ~ T Dillon (12th) ~ S Wilton (13th)
Last weeks openers Adam Buchanan-Smith and Richie Nicolson reassumed their duties to get the ball swimming through the damp outfield. Their early innings strategies came from different chapters of the playbook as Nicolson adopted a calculatedly safe approach while Buchanan-Smith displayed some subtle power to get the early run rate singing and dampen the spirits of the opening pair of Banks and Morton.
Buchanan-Smith was building on last weeks return to form as he honed in on his avenues of attack and it appeared that the only thing that could stop him was the saturated outfield which turned certain 4s into frustrating 2s. Nicolson was keeping his heart rate at metronomic pace as he showcased a textbook forward defence and began frequenting himself with the gap between point and gully. After a little more than 8 overs the 50 stand was brought up.
After adjusting his tactics, Buchanan-Smith got the umpires arm flowing regularly as he thunderously timed the ball towards the paint and forced Stirling skipper, Weir, into the first change. Unfortunately, with his score approaching 50 his ham became a little less strung and he begrudgingly walked off retired hurt for 36. Back to back fine innings from our resident opener.
Craig Smith replaced him and after the bare minimum of balls required to get one’s eye in he was in no mood for simply taking what was on offer. Buckner was holding his end well, but Smith started to motor as he sent a crooked ball from Nixon clean over the long-off boundary. Score, 77/0 after 13.
Smith would then embark on a blistering scoring streak as he hit 13 scoring shots over his next 15 deliveries through a dose of arial bombardment to avoid the drying, yet still sodden outfield. Nicolson was still answering all questions posed at him and his sensibility was playing the perfect supporting role to Smith’s hankering for runs.
Smith would bring up the 100 as he initiated take off for another maximum over long-off. The second 50 partnership was jotted down in the book, but like its predecessor it too would not last much longer. Smith looked to pepper Richie square into the off-side, but the man at point leapt horizontally to put an end to a brilliantly fast paced knock, out for 39 off only 24 balls. Score, 115/1 after 19.
Captain for the afternoon Sandy Cunningham joined the contest at 4. A week on from his footballing side, Linlithgow Rose, lifting the East of Scotland league title he was searching to follow it up with a champion innings of his own. With only a third of the overs left Cunningham came in with an aggressive approach as he quickly began to accumulate runs.
With time running out Nicolson started to breathe a bit of fire into his knock as he swung with intent. A bundle of boundaries beckoned from the bats as the pair took it to the final change of Cairns and Zafar – who’s run up started near the summit of Bank Hill. Cunningham was evenly distributing his shot placement around the newly named 1866 Oval, while Nicolson did not deviate from his run scoring destinations on the off-side. Score, 146/1 with 7 overs left.
Unfortunately Nicolson would be removed ever so shy of carrying his bat as Zafar forced a quicker one past his bat and into the stumps, out for an excellent 40. A terrifically patient knock that selfishly allowed those around him to grab the headlines – proper opening batting.
Simon Breasley joined the late innings push for runs, but with his partner seeing it like a medicine-ball he kept himself out of the initial limelight. Cunningham’s faultless footwork created opportunities for creative shots as the skip saw his own tally motor up through the 20s, 30s, and 40s as the score race towards the 200 mark.
An effortless swish from Cunningham saw the ball fly straight from the bat’s sweet-spot and glide like a hawk well over the boundary at cow to bring up our 2nd half century of the season. A quick raise of the bat followed, but the prospect of more runs kept the celebrations cool.
Breasley displayed some youthful athleticism as he sparked off shots and kept up with Cunningham’s bleep test like sprints between the sticks. 20 runs came off the final two overs and after confidently blocking away the final ball Cunningham would walk off with a superb 69 not out – an early contender for innings of the season. Breasley finished on a quick 10 not out as we saw the 30 overs off with a tremendous score of 220/2.
Cunningham, 69* | Nicolson, 40 | Smith, 39
Richie, 1 for 29 off 4 | Zafar, 1 for 37 from 4
After once again making a good account of ourselves with a bountiful spread propped up by the brilliant baking talents of Becca Hadley, we took the field as Stirling sought to conquer the intimidating total set for them.
With Buchanan-Smith’s unfortunate withdrawal Tim Dillon came off the bench to replace him and was propelled straight into action as he took the new ball from the Ochil End and was supported by Smith from the newly named P.K. End. This is a small way of saying thanks to club legend Peter Kirkwood after he donated a professional-spec bat to the club.
Here’s to PK!
Both declined the option of bowling any looseners and came out of the blocks locked and loaded. With a soft track the keys to bowling success was located on a fuller length and the opening pair immediately unlocked that tactic.
Geddes was taking a more cautious approach, but Zafar came out looking to claw back some runs. This aggressive approach saw Cunningham push Breasley back from mid to long-on and it paid instant dividends as Zafar failed to fully catch one from Dillon and the ball made its way to the repositioned man to take a fine catch, out for 10. 15/1 after 3.
After a maiden from Smith who was showcasing great zip and getting the ball to carry to a perfect height for the keeper, Dillon would double up his tally as he sent down a fizzing fuller one that struck middle and skittled into off to remove Academy FP Elliot, out for 5. A delivery of such class that can be described in just one word: ball.
With the outfield now bathing in the afternoon sun, the quickly drying surface started to mimic our visitors quests for runs as Smith, Dillon, and a lively effort from the field ground the run rate down to a glacial pace.
Dillon would round off his spell with the 3rd wicket of the innings as Geddes attempted to turn a straight one round towards fine-leg, but the ball lacked gusto and was magnetised to the hands of Paul Fensom, out for 10. A spell of pure quality that consistently hit the required length and interrogated the entire top order into spilling their secrets of staying in. Smith would finish off his spell wicketless, but deserved much more as he failed to miss a beat throughout. Score, 45/3 after 12.
Charlie Dunn took over from down the hills, while Greg Stewart replaced Smith from the P.K. End. The 4th wicket would not take long to reveal itself as Buckner drove Dunn into the covers and set off for a quick single, but his partners feet were concreted behind the crease and a look of dejected confusion appeared on Buckner’s face as ball came flying into Cunningham from a perfect throw from the arm of Bobb Turner, run out for 12. A slick piece of fielding from our expert in Italian/Korean cuisine.
A couple of quiet, uneventful overs went by before the wickets started to tumble. First Dunn sent down a very full delivery (aka a full toss) to Morton who struck it well, but unbeknownst to him he sent in the direction of Mr Safe Hands Nicolson at extra-cover to take a cool catch as he went to ground, Morton gone for 8.
Dunn’s second would come in his next over as he showed that he can sometimes bowl a decent ball. A quicker Yorker pitched in the fabled corridor of uncertainty and caressed Cairns’ outside edge for Cunningham to take a superb low diving catch to his right. Score, 76/6 after 21. One way traffic.
Stewart would too get a rightful reward as he ended his 5 over spell with the well earned prize of Banks’ wicket. He deposited a ball on a good, although some would say great, length that vaulted along the pitch and clean into middle stump. Banks withdrawn for 29.
Looking to clean up the tail the skipper turned to Fensom and Sanjoy Prasad, but it would be Cunningham himself to net the 8th wicket. Richie flashed one from Fensom that narrowly avoided a flying point, but the batsmen stumbled out the gates on their run and the ball was sent back to Cunningham who whipped off the gloves and to the initial surprise of the field sent the ball flying to the non-strikers end and scattered the stumps with a blistering direct hit – a cunning piece of superb fielding.
The penultimate wicket soon followed as Fensom sent down a troublesome hooping delivery from round-the-wicket to Nixon who chipped it towards Phil Rourke at mid-wicket to take a good catch as he dropped to his knees. Prasad would then apply the finishing touches as he raced down a faster delivery on a good length that struck middle stump and confirmed a dominant DCC victory. Stirling all out for 90. In the words of Rob Morris: a ‘tonking.’
Dillon, 3 for 25 from 6 | Dunn, 2 for 17 from 5 Fensom, 1 for 1 from 1
DCC VICTORY BY 130 RUNS
THE BSB MOTM
A superb captains knock with the bat as he set a new season high for the club and followed up by a faultless performance behind the sticks that included a ridiculous run-out, superb field placement, and a diving catch.
We offer thanks to Stirling for the game and look forward to the return leg at Forthbank in a little over 2 weeks time. Thanks also to Simon Wilton for serving as 13th man and Cricket Correspondent Rob Morris for providing me with a list of how each wicket fell.
We are back in action this Sunday as we reignite an old rivalry as we square off against Clackmannan County CC.
Played 4 | Won 2 | Lost 2
2 match winning run