Sway edged out in season opener

National Village Cup

Easton & Martyr Worthy 176-6, Sway 175-5. Easton won by 4 wickets.

A trip to Lords will have to wait another year as Sway (again) exited the National Village Cup at the first attempt after a close-run encounter.

Firstly much credit must go to the hosts for getting the game on despite the conditions and to Chris Noble & Andy Lee for braving the frankly artic conditions out in the middle and Caitlin Loxley undergoing the harshest of scoring debuts!

Brass monkey conditions!

The home side won the toss and put Sway into bat on a wicket that was unsurprisingly hard to find on the square, such was its verdant appearance. The visitors suffered an early blow when 2017 league top scorer Tim Noble nicked a ball through the slip who held onto the catch despite a bit of a fumble. Oscar Marshall joined Alex Hall out in the middle and the game settled down - runs were hard to come by, but so were chances for the bowling side as the batsmen looked solid. Milestones came and went  - 21 off the first 10 overs, then 61 at the half way point before Hall in particular started to move up through the gears.

By the 27th over Sway had reached 98 runs and Hall had passed his half century, however, the 96 run partnership was brought to an end when Marshall popped a catch up to mid wicket for a promising 30. Just 5 runs later Hall departed for 58 with Will Millard and debutant Dougie Naylor at the crease. Millard was adjudged LBW for 7 trying to work a ball down leg, and Adam Clark was bowled attempting a sweep, however Naylor was showing attacking intent with skipper Steadman taking an unaccustomed back seat role.

Nevertheless, with just 121 runs on the board and just 3 overs remaining, Sway looked on course for a rather modest total even allowing for the conditions. Naylor had other ideas however, smashing 5 sixes on his way to an unbeaten 51 off just 31 balls. Steadman also joined the party with a maximum as the last 3 overs were plundered for 44 runs to set a competitive total of 175-5 off 40 overs.

Sway opened their attack with Steadman (8-1-31-2) and Jon Waller (8-0-17-1) with the pair bagging a wicket each as the home side struggled to 17 for 2 off 7 overs. Waller bowler opener Seb Stannard for 3 and Naylor displayed fine technique to catch Dickety at slip off Steadman. Left handed opener Adam Kite however looked a strong player - to say he rode his luck would be unfair as he hit the ball very hard and nothing seemed to even go close to hand. Supported a the other end by Ben Stanbrook, the hosts kept the scoreboard ticking over at a reasonable rate, never letting the required rate get above a run a ball. There were decent  but wicketless spells from Matt Bramwell (8-0-41-0) and Dougie Naylor, as EMWCC reached 61-2 at the half way stage then 115 for 2 off 30  - needing 60 to win off 10 overs with 8 wickets in hand.

Kite however was caught by Millard off Dave Marshall for a fine 70 and when fellow change bowler Sam Nailor had Sanbrook also caught by Millard for 50, Sway seemed to have turned the tables with two new batsmen coming in to face the gloom, the chill and Steadman's pace. When Steadman bowled Jamie Banks for 3 and Naylor had Brad Hole LBW for 15 Sway looked to be favourites as the hosts needed 18 off the last 3. Number 7 Salman Sarwar, however, produced a glory moment to remember however, launching the first ball of the penultimate over clean over the pavilion. With a further 4 runs off Steadman's over, EMWCC were now the favourites needing 7 to win off the final over to be bowled by Naylor. In the event they only needed 4 balls as Sarwar, well supported by Adam Carrick sent the hosts one step nearer to Lords.

Highly competitive game played in good spirits and whilst disappointing not to close out a win, there must be plenty of positives for new skipper Tim Noble - could not really ask for a better pre-season run out.