Exning’s season started off in a blaze of sunshine, if very little glory, as they travelled to near-neighbours Worlington, to provide the ‘cannon fodder’ for the home side’s much vaunted batting line up; the hosts running up 328 for 3 before tea in this ‘Friendly’ encounter.
So that his batsmen could all have time at the crease, skipper Richard Ford, unselfishly gave his wicket away when only 7 runs short of three figures, but this only opened the way for Chris Baugh to stroke an unbeaten 87, while Graham Ford continued in his own inimitable style, finally being dismissed for 45 in 29 overs – having scored 12 runs from the first over.
Jimmy Watson was unfortunate to be the only batsman to ‘fail’, when Daniel Baigent trapped him plumb LBW, but Ziaf Kulasi continued the mayhem with an unbeaten 56.
For Exning, Baigent claimed the 3 wickets to fall for 48 runs, while Ian Starling did well to control the scoring to 36 from his 9 overs, but the rest showed the gulf between a Division 1 batting line-up against Division 2/Sunday League bowling. However, U.14 slow bowler, Tom Addison, showed glimpses of his potential and U.15 seam bowler, James Turner, did claim the only maiden of the innings.
It was highly unlikely that the Exning batsmen would trouble the target which had been set, especially after new Worlington supremo, Sean Cooper, bowled 5 overs for just 5 runs, while his opening partner, Noor, putting an interesting action to good use, clean bowled Simon Allen to leave the visitors on only 17 for 1 after 12 overs.
Tim Catley (33), Ben Readman (22) and Nicholas Lomas (17) all enjoyed a little batting practice, while an array of bowlers worked their way through the batting line-up.
A little bit of excitement was added to the proceedings when the hosts threw up a ‘target’ of 140 which they would endeavour to defend and although Kulasi (1 for 11), Alex Watson (2 for 13) and Jimmy Watson (2 for 9) saw the wickets tumbling – together with a couple of run outs – Exning managed to hold on for a less than honourable draw on 123 for 9.
Sunday saw the ‘boot a little bit on the other foot’ as the Park side played host to old friends, Hartest & Coldham Hall; the visitors bereft of skipper Ben Atkinson due to injury, one or two of the players carrying long standing knocks, together with the usual early season problem of ‘availability’.
Steve Ryder did grab a wicket in the first over, but Kris Judge (55), Micky Singh (23), Simon Allen (59) and Ben Readman (28) all managed to put a defendable score on the board, and by unselfishly ‘offering up their wickets’, they ensured that most of their colleagues had time at the wicket.
The experienced Mark Roberts was rewarded with figures of 4 for 30 as Exning posted up a teatime total of 218 for 8.
James Turner (2 for 42) had opener, Nial Hannon, caught behind from the first ball of the innings, while Ben Readman restricted the scoring taking 1 for 6 from 6 overs. Mark Atkinson and Mark Roberts took the score past the half-century mark, but 13-year-old slow bowler Oakley Colby, slowed the scoring and led to a tumble of wickets before Richard Carter (20) defiantly smacked four boundaries.
With another young bowler, Ryan Middleton taking 1 for 9, Colby saw the end of the innings to claim a 5-wicket haul as the visitors reached 119 all out. The end of an enjoyable ‘Friendly’ affair with Exning winners by 99 runs, but the target was achieved – all 22 players had a bat and/or a bowl.
Next Saturday sees the start of the Two Counties League campaign with the 1st XI travelling off east to do battle with newly relegated Ipswich, while the 2nd XI begin the season’s ‘journey’ at home to Brockley II. Both matches commence at 1pm while there is no fixture on Easter Sunday.