A Game of Margins

Cricket is a game of margins.  The thin white line of the crease marking, the barest nick off the edge of the bat, the run chase down to the final ball in the final over – these all contribute to love of the game.  Between jubilation and defeat is a barely distinct, but just perceptible, line.

And so it was for Walsham 1st XI heading into their final two games of the 2021 season.  A combination of poor weather and other results had meant that 2 from 5 could be relegated, with Walsham in the mix.

Playing Abberton away seemed like a crucial fixture on the penultimate weekend, with both teams needing points to ease the insecurity.  Losing the toss on a batting wicket set the tone for a tough afternoon for Walsham.  Abberton’s opening pair established a handsome partnership of 207 for the opening wicket, before Finn Daly was able to take some wickets at the back end of the innings – crucially gaining some bowling bonus points.  Walsham’s response to an imposing 342, started well, with Oli Jackson and Liam Bryant putting on 87, but Jackson’s demise in the deep to the Abberton leg spinner, proved a turning point. It was the first wicket in a hattrick, and Walsham were out of the running.  As it would turn out, Connor Daly’s swashbuckling 64 would get Walsham over 200, and precious batting points.

With Ned Campbell’s 40th birthday celebrations as a bookend; Walsham knew the final fixture against Woolpit was all or nothing.  Campbell was replete after his 187 runs the previous Sunday, but could only nervously keep refreshing the score from Woolpit to see how the boys were faring.  Some tight bowling from Ali Waugh (3-51) and excellent catching in the deep from Liam Palmer, restricted Woolpit to a chasable 181.

Knowing the import of the game in the whole season, the reply started with obvious nerves. The early wickets of Oli Jackson and Adam Howe left Walsham 31-2 and needing some solidity.  That came with Joe Scarce and skipper Liam Bryant putting on 50 for the 3rd wicket, and then the crucial intervention of Ashley Forbes to inject some pace into the run chase.  With Forbes, no doubt thinking of his impending butchery work at the Campbell celebrations, taking a risky shot too many, the burden fell to the Bryant brothers to edge Walsham towards their target.  A fine 100 by the skipper, Liam, and a determined stay by brother Joe, saw them over the line with 4 balls to spare.  Cue the revelry on Palmer Street – Walsham were staying up! The Brothers Daly and Bryant deserved the toasts…


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