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Match Report vs Barry Athletic 25 September 2011@ Barry Island (Skipper Muff, report Shakey)

In years gone by the Casuals last game of the season has traditionally centred around a batting feast at Frampton on Severn. The end of year outing to Barry Island seems to have taken its place but somehow it hasn’t been quite as much fun, not least in 2010 when we were soundly beaten. But it was the last game of the season, the sun was miraculously out and you just never know how much fun you can have at the seaside!

Skipper Muff won the toss and decided to have a bat – a sensible decision given that the pitch looked a sticky pudding after all the recent rain and was bound to cut up later. But had Muff looked at his available batting resources? Pete, Dion, Shakes and Dave were assigned bowling duties and capably filled eight, nine, ten and jack in the batting order. Our middle-order was padded out with a variety of all-rounders in Goff, Muff and Dan whose batting form had been indifferent (sorry chaps). So we had to rely on our top order of Jam, Cheese, Winkie and Paul and Muff seemed relaxed to play that card! If they bowled as well as last year we may as well get it over with and have a go on the rides anyway.

The first over from White was pretty handy and the on-looking Casuals could sense it was just a loosener with quicker stuff to come. Jam got through it and then calmly began to milk the bowling of young Faraday. White got into gear and at this point we were thinking survival from the sidelines. Our openers coped with the third over before Cheese then looked to milk the younger bowler in his own way – with five resolute dot balls interrupted by an effortless straight six. Cheese was lucky to be dropped slicing a quick but simple chance to backward point from White but otherwise our opening pair repaid Muff’s faith, defending good balls, hitting bad ones and taking full toll on the change in bowlers. After 7 overs we had a solid 25 runs on the board but at 11 overs the score was 53 and the momentum didn’t fade with Jam being particularly harsh through the off-side and Cheese adding another six and hitting the ball to all parts. Cheese reached a well deserved fifty before lofting just one too many into the deep but his 56 (2 sixes and 7 fours) and the 93-run opening partnership had given the watching Casuals a little confidence and a solid platform. At the end of the 20th over we reached 100-1.

The bowling changes suddenly improved the attack and the pitch got that little bit unpredictable as Jam and Winkie settled in. The score moved slowly to 121-1 off 27 overs but the running picked up and the singles were becoming more regular as Jam reached his fifty and then decided to hit out or get out – we could see he was knackered. Jam managed a six before he was finally bowled for 66 (1 six 5 fours), adding 62 with winkie to leave us on 155-2 off 36 overs. We scrambled 25 runs off the last four overs. Paul was caught for 1 after reaching his 4000th career run, Goff walked down the wicket to miss the ball and kept walking as the keeper did the business but Winkie saw us home with an invaluable 33* featuring a solitary boundary. A score of 180-4 was more than we had hoped for and the Casuals enjoyed the varied and plentiful Tea.

The Barry top 5 could all bat and some could hit the ball a very long way. We thought that if we could conjure up four wickets we were in with a chance - we always think that way at Tea. But this time we actually made the plan work. Dion claimed the first with a catch to Cheese but the Barry big hitters ignored the setback and began to look ominous with one huge shot off Dan went going into orbit and plugging a foot short of the boundary. It was a sign that they wanted to get the target quickly but that mindset was to prove their undoing. Dan bowled an excellent full length which was just right on a sticky mud-heap, claiming number 2 and 4 batsmen bowled after they had looked as threatening as they were in 2010. Dan had changed the tempo of the batting reply so all we had to do was keep it tight and wait for them to make a mistake. White at 3 and the number 5 had no option other than to accumulate against some good but unrewarded bowling from Dave.

When Pete claimed the wicket of White, caught surprisingly by a one-handed effort at mid-off from Dave, their chances of victory dimmed. The Barry reply was bogged down by the slowness of the wicket and, courtesy of some straight bowling, Shakes chipped in with a wicket before Dion came back to snaffle two more and the game was really over as a contest.

It was over to Muff to see how the final three wickets would inevitably be shared as we all knew that Paul needed two wickets to reach 40 for the season and set a new record. Paul came on and we crowded round the bat, hoping the ball would come nowhere near us as no-one has ever caught a thing off a slow bowler round the bat for the Casuals. After some dogged defence from Hatton, Pabs got one to straighten on the turning pitch to clip the stumps and the record was equalled at last! Two wickets left and who would Muff ask to bowl in tandem with Pabs? It was back to Dion who had the temerity to bowl a full length ball on the stumps and claim his 4th wicket bowled, before Muff decided to come on and see if he could end the game - which he did, bowled, with his first ball.

Dan’s two wickets had been crucial and we backed it up by bowling straight to dismiss Barry Athletic for 115 in the 34th over to give Muff a win in his last game as skipper. After a quick can in the clubhouse the happy Casuals made their way to The Ship pub to end the season over a pint and convince Jam that with Cheese as his runner he could play a full part in our 20th season.



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