Faire travelled to the attractive and obviously well-funded Trinity Hall Sports Ground in Cambridge last weekend, to take on the Alleyn Adhoc XI. With a strong looking side, plans were drawn up for the first win of season. Players bowled and batted themselves into fitness (and unfitness) in the modest net facilities, so that once traffic jams subsided and the Adhocs arrived, play could get underway. Under the third consecutive week of blazing sun, captain, maestro and specialist Number 11 A. Stobbs took the toss, and Faire dutifully padded up.
Coming off the back of a lengthy innings in his last game, R. Rex (18) alongside Hunt (24) got Faire off to an excellent start, with an opening partnership of 42: plausibly a Faire record for first wicket stands in living memory. It was only good pace bowling from Twinn that prevented them carrying on. After taking guard, it was clear that P. Stobbs (27) was intent on barely constrained carnage, smearing the ball around the park. He was unlucky to fall to Sharma, but made a great job of hurrying the score along. When he was replaced by M.Potter (31), yet another 30+ continued to cement his status as ‘reliable batsmen’ and ‘leading flâneur’. The principal light of the Faire innings however was surely Stephen, who produced a typically dazzling 74 with shorts to all corners. As the overs ran down, loveable turncoat Harris got Bowen (10) and recently promoted Kanagasooriam kept the thread of his innings untied, finishing not out on 2. With 208 on the board and a robust bowling attack waiting to be unleashed, Faire took tea in high spirits.
Both teams walked out to the square with the game in the balance and, tautologously, everything to play for. Goldie hit Elwell for a haughty six in the first over before getting bowled immediately after in a deliciously satisfying moment, at least for Elwell (4-2-15-2). The star opener though was a blistering Bowen (8-1-22-1), and the Adhocs were coming to the crease in noticeably heavier and heavier padding – nevertheless, it was not clear that the ‘double-helmet’ was any more effective than the traditional single. Having only made a few runs and with wickets tumbling, the Adhocs’ innings appeared to be going nowhere fast. Stephenson (5-0-37-3) broke through at some key moments, taking three overall. That nearly included a hat trick, though a clever ploy to put a rank one down the leg side for the third, didn’t result in the stumping he had envisaged. While wicket-less, Kanagasooriam (7-0-32-0) delivered his typical array of mystery and, in a post-match interview, keeper Stephen noted that the batsmen were having obvious and frequent trouble picking him. It is difficult to say at what point it happened, but the Adhocs inexplicably began to claw back momentum. After a measured start, Gray (88*) made excellent progress, flaying the ball all over the place. He received strong support from Sharma (27) and Twinn (12*) and despite some tight and thoughtful bowling, nothing seemed to break his focus. Once Gray (in admittedly heroic fashion) hit a six to win the game, Faire were forced to return to the pavilion, trying to deduce what they could have done differently.
Headlined by some very strong options in the cake department, S. & T. Stobbs remained unmatched in their speed of milk distribution and tea-urn refilling.
The concluding atmosphere in the dressing room was a sombre one. No specific element had failed – Faire had given themselves a great chance with the bat and had been unstoppable with the ball, but a collective lapse in focus and undeniably good batting were their undoing. They will hope to turn their fortunes around next week versus the Gentlemen of Cambridge.
--- GE ELWELL