Blues vs Quidnuncs - French's Findings
Monday 25 April 2016
The Blues completed a resounding victory over a Quidnuncs side containing seven returning Blues and five guests to kick-start their season in fine style.
Blues skipper Jamie Abbott had no hesitation to bat first on a typically flat Fennerís wicket after winning the toss. The opening partnership of Jonathan French (21) and Darshan Chohan (92) got the side off to a strong start, compiling 66 together before French feathered a catch to the keeper. Chohan picked up seamlessly from his good start to the season against Cambridgeshire, looking completely at ease in the middle and playing a fine array of strokes off both front and back foot. His elegant drives through the offside drew admiration from those watching and even comparisons with the great Sir Garfield Sobers as he leant back and laced the ball through the covers.
Abbott then came to the crease and, after a nervous start to his innings, got into his stride with a driven boundary followed by a pull for four. There was an inevitability about proceedings after this point with both batsmen looking extremely confident and they set about the opposition attack. Chohan moved through the gears well, maintaining a run-a-ball strike rate throughout his innings. He deserves credit for this, after identifying it as an area for improvement after his previous knock. Abbott, meanwhile, was punishing the bad balls served up by the Quidnuncs bowlers, peppering the short leg-side boundary with pull shots. It had to be something out of the ordinary for a wicket to fall and this proved to be the case as Chohan was cruelly denied his maiden Blues hundred as he was run out at the non-strikers end after an Abbott pull shot was deflected on to the stumps by the bowler.
This brought the unofficial overseas player Shivaan Bardolia to the middle. Unaccustomed to the cold climes of Fennerís in April, he started his innings with ones and twos, both to give the strike to the increasingly dominant Abbott and to warm himself up. The pair put on 131 together off only 101 balls, utilising the long boundary towards Hughes Hall to pick up twos and threes, while targeting the short boundary towards the groundsmenís shed. The highlight of this was undoubtedly an exquisite flick off the legs from Bardolia which carried for six over deep square-leg.
Abbott progressed serenely to his century before skewing a shot to point to be dismissed for an excellent 118 off 109 balls. The momentum was continued by Bardolia and Tom Colverd (6*) before Bardolia was taken smartly on the deep-square leg boundary by Chris Jones. At 341-4 with 3 balls left, the innings was finished off in brutal fashion by Angus Dalgleish as he pulled his first ball for 4 past short-fine leg before smiting a huge blow over square-leg to finish the innings 10 not out off just 3 balls, with the Blues posting an intimidating 351-4 off their 50 overs.
The game was by no means over though as the Quidnuncs had a very strong batting line and, as Patrick Tice will testify, no score is safe at Fennerís. The efforts of Alex Waghorn in his opening spell, however, did go a long way to making the score safe as he caused opener Deasy (11) to edge through to wicket-keeper Tice before bowling Philip Hughes for 36 with an absolute peach. His probing spell of 2-22 from 7 overs put the pressure on the opening batsmen and set the tone for the innings.
Guest player Chris Jones survived Waghornís opening burst, however, and got his teeth stuck into the Blues attack. A graduate of Durham University with a First in Economics, he is notable for having been on Somersetís books for four years, playing 37 first-class games. His highest first-class score of 130 came against Australia in a tour match in 2013 and he showed his quality here.
Abbott had once again turned to left-arm spinner Rory Sale early in the innings but he struggled to settle in his first two overs. He persisted well though, picking up the wicket of Pyemont lbw for 19. Jones, however, rather liked the look of Sale, perhaps noticing the lack of turn on offer. Making use of the playing regulation which requires five fielders inside the thirty-yard circle from overs 11-40, he manipulated the field and the bowler expertly. He was almost toying with Sale as he stepped down the wicket to hit the ball over mid-on for four, before hanging back in his crease to plough the following quicker ball over mid-wicket for six. It was simply one of those occasions where credit has to be given to the batsman, rather than criticism to the bowler. Sale stuck to his thankless task well, ending with figures of 1-89 off his ten overs. As Brendan Rodgers would say, ďThe lad showed great character todayĒ.
As drinks were taken after 28 overs, the game was in the balance with Jones still at the crease but he misjudged a delivery from Dalgleish as he chipped to mid-on where Waghorn took the catch. The Blues sensed blood and moved in for the kill as Connor Emerton brought a false shot from Mutucumurana to have him caught by Abbott at point for 19. Dalgleish delivered a fine spell of 2-11 from 5 overs, dismissing Ed Lowe for 7 and picking up the vital wicket of Jones for 81 off 65 balls.
Leg-spinner Oli Taylor was reintroduced into the attack and wrapped the match up quickly with three wickets, holding his nerve well as the lower-order batsmen attempted to attack him. The Quidnuncs were dismissed for 207, with the faultless catching of the Blues playing an important part in this.
This wrapped up a convincing 144 run win for the Blues, with the side excelling with both bat and ball, and in the field. They showed today the potential of the side and Abbott will undoubtedly hope that this lays down a marker for the rest of the season.
Five things we learnt today:
1. Tom Colverd enjoys employing the leave towards the end of the innings.
2. It is really hard to score runs off free hits.
3. This Blues team is horrifically slow.
4. Donít sledge Oli Taylor.
5. Alex Waghorn enjoys making catches look difficult.