The 4s travelled to Oaklands knowing a win would put us right up there with Great Waltham and back in the promotion hunt. On a scorching day we were relieved to win the toss and get to have a bat first. The opposition opening bowler quickly found his line and length and looked quite threatening until Shaz nonchalantly smashed him back over his head for 4. Unfortunately next over the bowler exacted his revenge as trying to repeat the shot Shaz edged behind and was gone for just 13, an early blow. Omar came in and he battled and fought valiantly to try to see off the biggest threat to us and was unfortunately out right at the end of his spell. After this, batting became easier against the change bowlers and Duke and Little were progressing nicely when a quick single was taken, probably not a good idea as age caught up with Duke and his leg decided to give out on him leading to a retirement. Fortunately Little was still there looking assured and playing shots all around the wicket wherever he wanted and was joined by Richards, after Crane fell cheaply to a good one, and he made batting look ridiculously easy,
playing the ball in to gaps to regularly find the boundary with sublime shots. Just as Little looked set to go to 50 he pulled a ball straight down the throat of deep fine leg who didn't even move an inch to take a comfortable catch. Fortunately Richards carried on, breezing past 50 and was joined by Hash who was more than happy to play second fiddle and rotate the strike until near the innings end he decided to pick up the pace as only he can and in the blink of an eye he also passed 50. For the second week in a row a really healthy total was on the board, this week even surpassing last as 262 was obtained.
We came out after tea determined not to let Oaklands chase down such a huge total, although on a true wicket nothing could be taken for granted. Fortunately we got the opposition on the back foot straight away as B Duke made an early breakthrough following on from his good work last week as an away swinger found the edge and the cat like reflexes of RIchards snared a superb catch in the gully. Duke followed up shortly after with his second wicket with a ball that again swung a mile and left the batsman bamboozled as it crashed into his stumps. A third wicket fell when Crane took an amazing tumbling return catch where he made the length of the wicket before getting the dive in, this left Oaklands in trouble and when R Davies, who had been causing us problems from the start, was caught by Shaz off the bowling of Hash we were well on top. Things got really tough from there as the equivalent of Geoff Boycott and Chris Tavare came to the crease with no intention of winning the game but to bat through to the end. They frustrated as they batted with due care and attention to block out over after over. Shaz rung the changes but we were unable to breakthrough until near the end when Omar tricked the batsman in to actually playing a shot with some clever leg spin and a fine catch was held by Hunt. Shaz made another breakthrough himself when he beat the batsman for pace to knock the stumps over but there was too little time left to claim maximum bowling points as only six wickets were claimed as the obdurate Sullivan was immoveable. Unfortunately we didn't manage to achieve the 26 points on offer but 24 was an excellent days work that put us on level points with Great Waltham with just one game to go. All onto the must win game next week against South Woodham Ferrers and hope the miracle can happen.