Tuesday 1st August 2017
Nat West Under 19 T20 Blast
Guildford Thunder 196 for 3 (20 overs)
Stoke Slayers 134 all out (18.1 overs)
Guildford Thunder won by 62 runs
A young and short-handed Stoke team gave Guildford a number of problems before falling to defeat.
With just nine players Alastair Curran chose to field on winning the toss and went to his most experienced bowlers first, Billy Zander and Jack Townsend, who both did well.
Zander struck twice in the first over when Thomas jammed down on one, set off thinking the ball had gone only to find debutant Abhay Gonella pick it up by his feet and effect the easiest of stumpings. Three balls later, McMillan was well caught at backward point by Tom Dennis attempting a repeat of a cut shot to a very short boundary.
Wickets were then harder to come by although the Stoke bowlers bowled better than their figures suggested. Missing fielders didn’t help, but the biggest factor was the inviting short boundary on one side that offered plenty of scoring opportunities, and you could have placed 20 fielders on that line and it wouldn’t have made a difference; mis-hits went for four or six as the wind was also blowing in that direction.
What was pleasing to see was the bowlers learn on their feet and work out the lines to bowl, Ben Townsend in particular improving during the course of his spell. Realistic fields were set and a lot should be taken from how everyone kept going against a very experienced opposition. Two of them, Charles and Morse, both retired by rule when they reached half-centuries and Holland was 43 not out when the innings closed on 196 for 3, debutant Tom Eves taking a wicket in the final over.
Stoke attacked the challenging target aggressively and for half of the chase had Guildford on the run.
Curran was an early departure when he was bowled attempting to ramp Shaw, arguably the quickest bowler Stoke have ever faced in the competition; but debutants Gonella and Harrison Green found the pace to their liking and launched an entertaining assault on him and the other bowlers, keeping Stoke up with the rate; the two over checkpoints showed 22 off 2, 45 off 4, 66 of 6, 90 off 8 and 103 off 10 on the scoreboard.
Things slowed a little when Gonella had to retire when reaching his half century; and although he was permitted by rule to return once the rest of the order had been dismissed, he did not re-appear in time.
Nevertheless Stoke continued to give it a go. Green checked out on an entertaining 38; and thereafter the succession of batsmen who we hope get a helping hand from mother nature in the next couple of years to boost their power hitting, attempted to play in the same way but found the task a little beyond their age and physicality. Credit to them all for giving it a go.
It all ended pretty quickly with the last wicket falling in the 19th over, leaving the returning Gonella stranded on 51 not out. The home side were very vocal in their tactics of not chasing wickets in the closing overs to prevent his return, a couple even criticising fielders for taking catches rather than letting the ball go to ground!
A great effort by Stoke and much can be taken from this into Thursday’s match at Grayswood and then the weekend’s Championship and Trust League fixtures. The lack of a full XI had some impact on the margin of victory but this was not decisive in the result – Stoke might still have lost had it been 11 v 11 – but project our players forward a year or so and we will win these games.