The scene was set – a combination of the hottest day of the year and JP in the starting XI prompted the Government to issue a Heat Alert warning. Things were about to get hot and spicy.
The Hill got off to a solid start with JC smoking the first and (as he was keen to remind us later) only 6 of the game before departing for a breezy 31. The introduction of BoE spinner Jay Patel started to put the brakes on the scoring rate and suddenly his 2 wickets in an over left the Hill at 90-3. Despite this, Owens continued to adopt his 2023 mantra of batting with more swag than Viv Richards and HardIk Pandya put together, Owens departed for a top score of the day 44 leaving the Hill on 118-4 and on course for 200+. The BoE had other plans however and the miserly Patel (14-5-38-3) continued to spin his web, now joined by angry pace bowler Johnson Cue heat alert 1…. Johnson giving Jackie Fu the pavilion send off after a sharp c&b. Unfortunately, the next batsman in was JP who made clear his dismay at this unsportsmanlike behaviour of ushering batsmen towards the pavilion. The twin loss of King of Swag and Jack F meant the incoming batsmen found it hard to impose themselves and after Ajmal was run out for a hard fought 36 (courtesy of misinterpreting Exworth’s whispered wait for Yes) the Hill succumbed to a below par 178.
The heat was now on the Hill’s All Bases covered bowling attack to remedy the situation and TC decided to unleash the Hill’s own spin King Joe Ayley to partner the attack with Murts. TC’s team talk of “early wickets and we’re back in this boys” was unfortunately whispered too softly again for Ajmal who somehow allowed a sliced drive to wrap his knuckles rather than the palm of his hands. Enter MoM Jack F whose first ball reared fiercely to take the bat handle and lob back for a surely simple c&b – but no, perhaps Jack had also not heard the skipper’s pep talk? Undismayed, the dynamic duo of Ayley (going one better than Patel with 14-1-38-4) and Fullicks (11-2-28-4) continued to build pressure and the rewards followed. The highlights being Jack’s removal of the stubborn opener Yogesh Patel for 20, AO opting to dive and clutch the ball to his chest a la Fabianski, perhaps in honour of the midweek glory. Thankfully his tribute did not extend to honouring David Moyes’ dad dancing. Ayley also delivered karma by sending back Johnson for a 2 ball duck, no send off required. All of which left the BoE innings in tatters at 63-8.
Cue heat alert 2……the tireless Jack pushed out a tempting wider ball for BoE no. 10 to nick off for a well-deserved 5fer. Said batsman decided to stay put, prompting JP to…. point him in the direction of the pavilion, before offering to escort him there. Stubborn 9th and 10th wkt partnerships started to test the nerves of the Hill before skipper TC spotted the obvious match up. JP vs the no.10. One over of raging turn from the Hill’s Raging Bull was enough for the batsmen to realise the Pavilion was indeed a cooler place to be and before the heat could be turned up for JP’s 2ndover TC wrapped things up for a well-deserved and hard earned 78 run victory, which actually was played in a very good spirit.
For his incisive bowling Jack F was marginally awarded the team vote for MoM ahead of Joe Ayley. Owens was commended for his batting and car selling swag and I think Ajmal was mentioned, but again it was whispered too softly to register. The Mercury Rising Award as ever went to JP.