The 2nd Xi went into their final game of the season knowing that nothing less than a win would do to keep their Division 8 South Championship & Promotion hopes alive. The toss was important with a bit of moisture around from early morning & overnight rain and after winning the toss, Witham had no hesitation in inserting the home side to bat. (This actually was a bit of a touch as the home side had all been caught out by the earlier start time of 12.30 so it gave us a chance to regroup! The bowling was tight earlier on and forced Darrell Howell in to a lofted drive which was caught at long off. This brought Samaranyake to the crease to join Soteriou and they pair set about building the innings. The Chairman was in fine form leading from the front and was ably supported by Sammy as the score moved along to 70-1. Some canny bowling by the opposition skipper restricted Sammy and he tried to take the aerial route over the circle but was caught at mid-off.
The visitors kept plugging away in the favourable conditions and removed Will Merry and James Monks in quick succession. Soteriou completed a fine and valuable fifty but shortly after mistimed a pull to mid-off where the catch was taken and suddenly at the half way stage, Copford were at 90-5. This brought skipper Mark Merry and Ivan Humm to the crease and the pair calmly set about healing the damage and kept the score ticking over at around 4-5 an-over. The score reached 145-5 when Humm found cover playing at a wide one but contributed a fine 22 to put the home side back into contention. Copford were trying to squeeze out as many runs as possible with the skipper still at the crease and with some lusty blows from Merry (37), Harry Rose and Cameron Wilson, the innings finished on 171 all out in the final over.
After a fine tea, the weather seemed a bit more favourable for batting and Copford knew they would have to bowl Witham out to win the game. Humm and Mike Seagrove set about the Witham innings with miserly control. The pressure soon told as Humm bowled one of the openers early on. There was a bit of swing there for the bowlers and Witham set about their innings my taking minimal risk but with the opener looking to have a very solid technique and the young no. 3 playing straight at the over end, a breakthrough was needed. Humm duly obliged again by bowling the no. 3 and when Seagrove bowled the no.4, things were looking good for the home side. The opener though, putting away the odd loose delivery kept Witham in the hunt and it was clear he was a key man in this game. A double bowling change brought Copford’s budding talent of Harry Rose and Cameron Wilson into the attack and Rose make the breakthrough my removing the no.5 who spooned up a catch to yours truly at point. This brought their no. 6 to the wicket, who set about the bowling as if he had a train to catch and the score rattled up to 100 at the half way stage. Witham requiring 3 an-over with 5 wickets in hand. Wilson took the crucial wicket of the no.6 as he played across a straight one and was bowled and Copford were now back in the hunt!
The captain came to the wicket with the opener still looking solid so the next wicket was vital with two experienced players at the crease. Almost immediately, the skipper tried to strike Rose over mid-off but only found the hands of his opposing number who took a fine sliding catch. Wilson was not to be upstaged as he bowled the opener much to everyone’s delight. Wilson bowled the next man almost immediately and it looked like the game was all but over. To their credit though, Witham’s 9 and 10 had other ideas and played neat and tidily and put away the odd bad ball and were keeping up with the three an over run rate. (35 required was now from 12 overs). After Wilson and Rose had completed their spells, Humm and Seagrove were brought back into the attack. Almost immediately, Humm enforced a mistimed pull and Rose gleefully took the catch at square leg to leave Copford on the brink! Humm ruthlessly cleaned up the no.10 bowling him with his very next delivery to leave Copford with the hard fought victory they needed to stay in the promotion / title hunt! All eyes will be glued to the Halstead / Cavaliers match next week in the hope that Cavaliers can do us a favour!