It’s all even after day one in our First Grade Semi Final against CBC on what was a wet, cold and sluggish day.
With summer over before it had seemingly even begun, Leeming Spartan were sent in to bat on the opening day of our First Grade Semi Final on a grey and miserable day, CBC winning the toss and unsurprisingly electing to field.
CBC bowled exceptionally well early to leave us reeling at 5/42, but the home side recovered strongly to post a very good score of 9/145 in what will be a tricky chase later today.
After getting off to a good start, Brody and PK had wavered through eight overs of top quality bowling and fielding from a determined CBC side, before both openers were caught behind off the bowling of Pontillo for ten and three respectively, leaving us in trouble at 2/15.
When Captain Milts was dismissed for one, the side was 3/16, and it was certainly looking like a very bad toss to lose.
A horrendously slow outfield will likely work in our favour today, but yesterday it was all against us, and dark skies engulfed the hallowed John Connell turf.
With very little luck, and against some excellent pressure bowling, number three McClure proved to be the difference, coming in at number three and being the eight wicket to fall after a fantastic direct hit run out.
Questionable running meant saw our newly crowned Read/Waterer Medalist Todd Gill run out for twelve (still enough time to launch a trademark six), and the score was now 5/42.
Alarmingly, this was the fifth consecutive time the Spartan First Grade had five wickets lost for less than one hundred on the board, and without Gilly (it was the first time in six innings he had failed to pass fifty), it was certainly all favouring CBC.
McClure and Doddsy started to form the first partnership of the match, but when Doddsy skied one to mid off for 17, the score read 6/72 and the tail was going to have to wag in order to get us to a competitive total.
Onlookers knew that a score of 120 in a semi final is not only par, but one that is at times more difficult to get than 220, due to the intricacies involved in mounting a chase of a total that size.
When Callum became our second run out victim of the match, a horrendous mix up costing him his wicket, 120 was a bit of a pipe dream.
The running between wickets was ordinary, yes, but it was due to the high intensity pressure brought on by CBC, who did not allow any easy singles during the course of the game.
The need to rotate strike was growing – our first fifty overs yielded only 68 runs.
Finally, the tables started to turn, with McClure starting to get into gear following tea, producing his best knock in Spartan colours.
Together, he and young keeper Adam Morgan (23 not out) put on 47 – the highest partnership of the match, garnering invaluable runs for the Spartans.
Dan quickly moved to 49 with a six over midwicket, and brought up an exceptional half century the following delivery.
He unfortunately became our third batsman to be run out a few balls later, falling for a direct hit when going for his fifty fourth run, and it left us 8/126 with still ten overs to bat.
Having batted almost all day, it was an exceptional performance from Dan McClure when we needed it most.
Gav Argent was next to go, the score now reading 9/130, and it once again looked as though we would not make full use of our 75 overs.
This was not the case, with two eighteen year olds in number eleven Logan Wake, and Morgs producing an invaluable fifteen run unbroken last wicket stand, that may very well prove to be the difference later today.
Morgan produced his highest score of the season – and arguably his best First Grade batting performance – when it mattered most, recording 23 not out in a semi final against lat year’s powerhouse and runners up.
After a delayed start, wet and cold weather, a flurry of early wickets, and against top quality fielding and bowling, Leeming Spartan successfully batted out their full 75 overs, reaching 9/145 in the process.
Thanks to a sensational effort from McClure (53), Morgan (23 not out) and Loges (11 not out), it is evenly poised in what will no doubt prove to be a great conclusion to an intense hard game of cricket.
With runs on the board, pressure bowling, and the support of the crowd all playing their part later today, it is vital we get down and support our First Grade as they look to advance to the big dance next weekend!