New year, new season, new ground, new players, new captaincy team….same old Glen.
Opening batter, Jackson’s thriller innings, a 0.95 per over unbeaten 38 proved to be a crucial knock on a wicket with extraordinarily uneven bounce as Unicorns defended 159 to get their 2nd season off to a winning start. (Scorecard vs Mermaids) Lapworth CC, with its idyllic humpback bridge over the Stratford canal leading to the ground, hosted its first Unicorns game in blistering sunlight. New club captain Buckle, armed not with a coin but his favourite tossing app, won a farcical toss and elected to bat.
Jackson, accompanied by Wicketkeeper/Opener Jack Edmunds, began his innings in rapid fashion taking a single off the second ball of the day to bring his strike rate up to 50%; a level to which it would never return. The initially watchful Edmunds found the boundary off the final ball of the over to settle any new home nerves for Unicorns.
The batters remained careful for the next couple of overs before Edmunds found the rope again in the 4th and 5th. As the club's vice-chair began to tee off he twice offered half chances to Mermaids but eventually found a maximum, launching a strike towards a menacing tractor going about its business in the field opposite the pavilion.
Whilst Conservative Politicians and Russian servicemen might have been deterred by the sounds of farmyard machinery, Unicorns openers were not and as Edmunds was firing to all parts, Glen was able to spend 37 balls serenely moonwalking towards his first Jackson 5 as easy as ABC (arduous, boring, cautious)
After 8 boundaries Edmunds was finally caught five short of his half century bringing Buckle to the crease who amazingly was using a real bat and not an iPhone application. The captain added 41 with Jackson who had raced to 19 by the end of the 25th over.
Chair, Lachlan Smith, found his running was slower than Jackson’s run rate as he was run out in the 27th allowing Tom Verow to take up the charge, his 3 boundaries supplemented by a well run 3 from the bat of the immovable opener, edged the score towards 150. Verow's innings was undone by a stunning catch which the tall Leicestershire man appreciated in good spirits as he retreated from the wicket and he was joined back in the pavilion shortly afterwards by Butler who made the perfect start to the defence of his most ducks award.
Hattie Wright joined Jackson to nudge the score above 150 and they reached 159/5 when the pair returned to tumultuous applause from the growing band of supporters.
The Mermaids reply got off to a rapid start in their chase of 159, Verow opened up from the Canal end and as Tom's diner served up a feast of fast, swinging deliveries, mermaids were only too happy to see the ball fly to the boundary twice behind square; once for wides and once off the bat. They had reached 9 runs in 2 deliveries, a meagre 38 balls quicker than Jackson.
At the other end, Ravi Armuth was preparing for yet another wicket-taking Unicorns debut. Unable to repeat the feats of Ann Sawyer, Ian Sowman and Jay Timmins by taking a “first baller”, Armuth was undeterred and crashed one into the middle and off stump of Mermaids opener in his 2nd over. Armuth struck again, three balls later when Mark Jefferey was unlucky to toe end one into the grateful arms of Lachlan Smith, and by the time Jack Edmunds took a stunning catch to his left at the wicket, also off the debutant, Mermaids were in trouble at 14/3. Verow, having kept things tight, with no runs off the bat since his first over, much in the spirit of Jackson, was replaced by Chairperson, saviour, hero and all-round good guy Lachlan Smith (copyright Jack Edmunds) Working alongside debutant Ravi, Smith took his first wicket of the day courtesy of the safe hands of the hardworking Dan Lewis, arguably the Unicorns 2021 fielder of the year.
Smith continued to work well alongside a debutant, but this time is was Dean Chilton-Davies who was successful as an lbw appeal was granted in his second over - fast becoming a second season theme, which left Mermaids 76/5 at drinks, up with the run rate, but fast running out of batters.
Captains old and new, Smith and Buckle, resumed after lunch in an attempt to slow the run rate, but the dangerous Jim Hendry continued to find the boundary for the visitors as he made 46. He, and the rest of the Mermaids were finally undone thanks to some trademark Buckle filth. An 8 bounce no-ball, an 8 mile wide were followed by an 8mm high bouncer which saw off the unlucky Mermaids captain lbw. Buckle got three more to his name before Ravi Armuth sealed a player of the match winning debut by seeing off the number 11 to secure the win. Excellent cameos in the field from Dean Chilton-Davies, Ann Sawyer and as always, Dan Lewis were alongside the wonderful support from members and fans old and new as the season got off to the best possible start.
Next up is Graces in London, by which time Jackson may have brought up his half-century!!!