June 21st, the summer solstice and a dry track at Caddington for the 2’s first playable home match in seven weeks. The C’s were weakened from the loss of Mitul, Anees and Carl from the side, but still had a decent team with Rob and Duncan making their first appearances of the season.

Robbie lost the toss, but was happy when Newport Pagnell agreed with his thinking by deciding to bat first. The pitch looked a belter, but history shows that the 2’s are always far more successful when chasing down a target, rather than setting one. Khalid opened the bowling from the top end with Farhan starting from the other. The opening pair for Pagnell looked reasonably assured for the first few overs until a waist high full toss from Farhan caught the splice of Bracey’s bat, when on 7, and looped to Gary at slip to provide the first breakthrough. Al Amin came in at three and only lasted a couple deliveries before he was bowled off his pads by Farhan for a duck. At the other end, the second opener, Bate, was playing some nice shots and along with Hassell in at four and Pagnell started to make the most of the conditions scoring at over six an over after the first ten had been bowled. Robbie then rang the changes bringing on Steve and himself and this paid immediate dividends. After reaching 31, the confident Bate flashed at a delivery from Steve which spun away, caught his edge and was snaffled at slip by Gary, clutching the ball above his head. Hassell (10) nicked off from a Robbie out-swinger, again to Gary at slip a couple of overs later and Pagnell found themselves four down.

Wickets were coming at regular intervals, but the runs were flowing too and with Dart and Bailey scoring freely in the opposition’s middle order a score of two hundred plus was increasingly looking likely for the visitors. The C’s remained in the game, however, as the flow of wickets continued and Robbie was next to strike when he bowled Bailey for 16. Waseem then did what he does brilliantly by running out the unlucky Bate Snr with a direct hit from mid-on and at drinks Newport Pagnell were 120 for 6. After the break Khalid came back for a second spell and took the prize wicket of Dart for 44, trapping him in front and followed it up by bowling Eliis for duck a couple of balls later when he attempted to cut a straight one. Some dogged defence by Hefferon (27 not out), batting at eight, supported by first Boxhall (5) and then Broad (4), saw Pagnell reach 166 by the time that Jim had dismissed the tail and finished the innings off, with Steve assisting by providing two good catches out a deep mid-wicket.

So, after tea Caddington set about the task of scoring 167 with Gary and the in-form Dan opening the batting. The innings started off quietly but in the fifth over, after a hitting a couple of fours and with the score on 13, Gary’s poor run of form continued when he tamely chipped the ball back to the grateful Hefferon for 9. The next ten overs consisted of Dan playing conservatively at one end and Khalid not quite finding his timing at the other. The run rate was slow but with the extra eight overs given to the C’s by Pagnell, they were still on track to make the target even though they had only posted 36 off the first 15. Dan, who was becoming increasingly frustrated at the crease then tried one swipe too many to the skilful Broad, and found his stumps rearranged by a full in-swinger. Waseem was in at four and played himself in sensibly by hitting consecutive boundaries from his fist two deliveries. As Khalid started to find the middle of his bat and Waseem continued in the same vein as he started, the run rate increased and the total looked a little less daunting, but it wasn’t to last. First Waseem went for 26, driving and edging another Broad out-swinger to gulley then Simmo (2) followed suit in the next Broad over, playing the exact same shot with the exact same result and when Khalid was clean bowled two balls later for 36, Caddington were five down. Only two further runs were added when Robbie failed to learn the lessons of previous dismissals and edged another Broad out-swinger to point, leaving things looking precarious for the C’s at 101 for 6.

Farhan joined Steve at the crease with 66 runs still needed for victory and Pagnell sniffing blood. Steve, normally an attacking batsman, reined in his aggressive instincts and, along with a very calm Farhan, set about knocking off the runs in a methodical and clinical fashion by keeping the good balls out, punishing the bad balls and picking up singles where possible. After his 24 over vigil and with the score at 150, Steve’s innings finally came to an end when he was bowled by Bates Snr for an excellent 30 which included the shot of the match, a towering six to long off. Rob came and went after two balls, leaving the C’s needing 15 runs and the visitors 2 wickets, with 5 overs left. It was looking to be a tense finish, especially with the young Duncan in at ten. Duncan had other ideas however as, after surviving a couple of LBW appeals, he pulled two fours off consecutive balls of Bailey’s third over to leave just 2 to win, which Farhan deservedly got in the next over.

So the C’s had won a very tight and tense match against a good Newport Pagnell side, to make it three wins in a row and a third place position in the league table. It was an excellent all-round team performance this week with notable performances from Steve, Khalid and Waseem, but man of the match goes to Farhan for his 2 wickets and more so for his calm and ultimately match winning unbeaten knock of 22 to steer the side to victory.