Elevated to the West Sussex Area Junior League Bowl competition, could the U12s continue where they left off last season as U11s to remain unbeaten in the league? Well, on an overcast, chilly and uninspiring Sunday morning at Middleton Sports Club when the assembled crowd witnessed the start of the Colts U12s 2017 campaign at home to Chichester Priory Park the answer to the rhetorical question was an emphatic YES. The first match of the season saw Middleton beat Chichester by 52 runs – Middleton 148 for 3, Chichester 96 for 8 after 20 overs.
Captain, Rocco Gamblin, lost the toss and Chichester elected to field first. Opening for Middleton was the old campaigner and last years most improved player, Marcus Nelmes and new boy, Ozzy Rishman who put on an opening partnership of 37 over the first 9 overs. Nelmes was retired after a steady run to 16 (to give other players an opportunity to bat) after a demonstration that he’s lost none of his flair over the off-season;It was a splendid innings of 21 for Ozzy showing how well he has fitted in well and is a great opening batsman for Middleton.
After 12 overs the score was 39 for 3 (plus extras) at it wasn’t looking entirely positive when the middle order of Sam Green, Charlie Manger and Hugo Ormerod arrived at the crease to shake things up a bit and get the run rate going. All scored an absolutely splendid 25 and retired not out. (Sam, Charlie and Hugo) scored runs at apace with Sam scoring his 25 from 10 balls including 5 fours, Charlie from 14 balls and 3 fours and Hugo from 10 balls and 4 fours. A period of sublime and positive cricket that put Chichester well and truly on the back foot. Just enough time to see Kyan Jajua join the fray backed up by Ellie Cogger. Young Kyan has improved immeasurably during winter training and scored 6 off the last balls of the innings including a well struck boundary. Unfortunately Ellie wasn’t in long enough to face enough balls to settle in an score and both where not out at the end of the innings. Neo Jajua didn’t get the opportunity to bat this time but if we see him out for the U12s again this season, I’ll ensure he gets some time at the crease.
So the innings ended on 148 for 3 with 3 retired not out – would Middleton be as good with the ball and in the field as they were with the bat? Could Rocco prove to be as accurate hitting the wickets with the ball as he was with his own bat? We didn’t have to wait long to find out. First up with the ball was Ozzy Rishman to bring some pace to the opening stint backed up by Katie deLillis from the Club House end. Ozzy plugged away for 2 overs but wickets proved elusive, but his tight accurate bowling restricted the Chichester runs scoring only 6 runs from 2 overs. Katie came in from the Club House end and with her second ball tempted Stanley Mayne into driving down the ground but the ball looped up off his bat into the safe hands of Rocco Gamblin – a breakthrough in the second over and Chichester were 2 for 1. Next up with the ball was Sam Green but the leg spin whizz couldn’t get another wicket but was instrumental when Fergus Smyth was run out off the bowling off Ellie Cogger. A 20 yard direct hit to the wicket when Smyth tried to scramble home for 2 runs. Chichester were now 35 for 3. Most of the Chichester runs were scored by Toby Tort who retired not out on 26 – another excellent demonstration of batting prowess.
Rocco Gamblin was next up with the ball and accounted for the wicket of Harry Walker from the first ball of his first over and caught by Sam Green. The ball was then passed to Marcus Nelmes who bowled well and was unlucky only to get one wicket when in his second over he had Alfie Netley-Harris caught behind from a nick to the wicket keeper Charlie manger. Rocco’s final over was a maiden and the ball passed to Hugo Ormerod who paired with Kyan Jajua bowling from the Club House end. Kyan was a revelation with the ball; it’s clear that he’s moved on a long way from last season and he took the wickets of Joe Skateson and Joe O’Brien in consecutive balls, both caught by Rocco Gamblin. The atmosphere was tense when Kyan wound up for what could be his hat-trick ball which sadly wasn’t to be but he ended his 2 overs with a highly creditable 2 wickets for 5 runs. Two wickets for Hugo Ormerod followed with the first and third balls of his first over including a caught and bowled for the wicket of Freddie Rustell – a splendid performance from a player who shone today with the ball, bat and in the field. Neo Jajua rounded off the innings with final overs from Katie and Ozzy that yielded no further wickets but Chichester were beaten after 16 with the run rate being too great to achieve the win.
A fantastic performance overall from a very strong team. They proved capable in all aspects of the game and were all particularly impressive in the field with good leadership from Rocco and some tight fielding and accurate throwing from them all. It was a particularly stand out performance from young Neo playing 2 years up who proved to be quick in the field stopping a number of potential boundaries that could have seen the match take on a different perspective. This performance held plenty of positives and bodes well for the season ahead and the summer festival. It was especially impressive given that Middleton were a player down and took to the match with only 10 players.
There were plenty of candidates for player of the match but in the end I decided the for his excellent all round performance Man of the Match goes should go to Hugo Ormerod; 25 not out retired, 2 wickets and some energetic fielding – well done.