On a beautiful day in West Firle, TWBCC skipper B Edwards won the toss and elected to bowl in the first match under new 'Limited Over' regulations. With the game now aligning with the standard one-day format, he was confident his sides range of bowling would be able to restrict the deep batting side of Firle to a below par total.
As opening bowler partnership of J Freeman (10-2-23-1) and F Fairbairn (9-2-29-3) began, it became apparent his assumption would be proven right. Some early wickets from both ends combined with an excellent display of swing bowling from J Freeman had the Firle openers in all sorts of trouble. At the other end, the out and out pace of F Fairbairn kept the Firle batsmen guessing and before we knew it Firle were 25-3 from 10 overs, keeping the run rate at a very low 2.5 an over. It was then up to youngster C Crooke (7-1-18-1) to continue the bowling from the same end as Fairbairn. With a tough act to follow, he showed his cool and with a great line and pace, continued to pepper the pads of the Firle middle order while Freeman was putting on a master class in seam and swing from the other end.
All things going to plan, TWBCC skipper turned to his slow bowler Moor (10-2-44-2) to continue the good work from Freeman’s end, with the experienced medium pace of N Edwards (6.4-0-35-3) at the other to keep the squeeze on. And keep the squeeze on they did, with the run rate kept very low, the first partnership from the Firle batsmen emerged, and despite a fantastic fielding effort from all the TWBCC players (except maybe their clearly out-of-sorts skipper) Firle managed to crawl to 157 ao.
A fielding display to be proud of, with several outstanding catches: the always mobile R Jefferies who took a superb one-handed, diving catch behind the stumps, diving low to his right to pluck the ball inches from the floor, and another one-handed supreme from mid-off specialist R Teague (who was hiding his shoulder injury well), leaping through the air to take a well-driven ball and stop the Firle tail from wagging. All in all a good first innings.
The target at 158 to win, borderers opening duo B Edwards and R Teague set out in the blazing sun to chase it down. B Edwards was dismissed much earlier than hoped which forced out-of-form R Jefferies to the crease early in the innings. To nobody’s surprise, what followed was a lovely display of discipline and aggression in equal measure as R Teague (34) and R Jefferies (45) got borderers out in front.
It was at this point, 15 or so overs in, that a good change of bowling from Firle saw R Teague and J Brooker both dismissed in two balls as the innings pushed into its middle phase, leaving T West (10) to face out a hat-trick ball. Fortunately for borderers, T West held his nerve and continued to support R Jefferies down at the other end. A good few overs later and a flurry of wickets again saw TWBCC needing to rebuild, fortunately the class and poise of new addition R Johnson steadied the ship, she played the returning Firle openers with a straight bat, and showed the rest of the side how to make good bowling look easy. Unfortunately though, after a rocket yorker, she was dismissed and in stepped overseas bowler F Fairbairn to see what he could now bring with the bat. He did not disappoint, leaving his usual “swing hard at everything” mentality back in the changing rooms, F Fairbairn (43*) batted with composure and edged TWBCC ever closer to the line.
Alas, the remaining borderers batsmen around Fairbairn were not able to support him all the way and with only 9 needed for the last wicket J Moor was on the receiving end of another rocket yorker from the Firle bowling and TWBCC fell short at 149ao.
There was much to take from the game and from the new format, and TWBCC will be in high hopes that their style of play and excellent mentality will see them bounce back in the coming weeks.