West of Scotland 144-5. Weirs 89. West of Scotland win by 55 runs (match reduced to 30 overs).
The only game to be staged in the division (due to rain) saw West put in the best performance of the year to win easily against Weirs.
The weather had been bad all week, meaning the chances of play were low. The 2nd XI game was called off early. The pitch was green and wet. The morning rain cleared and the sun came out to dry the outfield quickly. However, the scheduled 12pm start was never an option and there was a lot of waiting while the umpires inspected, waited and inspected again.
This is a huge challenge for cricketers used to playing at 12. We sat. A few grumbled about the conditions. We didn't know when we would start and even if we could get the game on. That causes your energy to delplete. You feel like you are running on sand and start assuming the pitch will be unplayable. You think about other things you could be doing. I told one of our batsmen that he had to get his mindset into playing in these conditions because he said the pitch was impossible before we had even bowled a ball. Negativity is a huge danger of waiting around. It leaks into your performance.
Eventually, we got the call the game would be 30 overs starting at 3pm. We had an hour to get the game mentality right. Tellingly, our opposition did a quick knockabout, while we went through all our warm up routines; pulse raising, mobility, throwing, catching, stopping and bowling through. Most importantly, we pulled the energy levels up by the bootlaces. This reenergising effort was the best post-delay warm up I have ever seen in a club side. One spectator said to me we looked "very impressive" in the warm up. Now that's a great start!
Of course, warming up is nothing without a good performance. We were put in to bat and still manage to start slowly. Good bowling saw off a new opener and going was slow on an outfield and pitch that offered little value for shots. The bowling was accurate. After 10 overs West were 26-1.
The rate was just beginning to accelerate when three wickets were lost in two overs leaving the score on a precarious 46-5 from 17 (just when the last five overs had seen the rate rise to a better 3.8).
However, this was the last wicket to fall. Second string bowling, some poor field setting and terrible fielding allowed the seventh wicket pair to hit the ball into gaps and run hard. They put on 98 runs at 7.53 an over (and that was with just three boundaries). A wonderful 45 ball fifty was the highlight.
From here, it was going to take an exceptional innings from Weirs. They did not seem to have the batting. It was a the same score after 10 (30-1) but when Weirs looked to push on, wickets fell and didn't stop while the rate climbed. West's twin spinners and ring fields with the slow conditions saw Weirs have no answer and creep to 44-4 from 16. The rate needed was 7.2 but the rate in the last few was 2.5. As you would expect, the batsmen tried to hit out. It was to no avail as West kept the screw tight and bowled out Weirs.
From my point of view it was satisfying that the fielding was nailed on. Six catches (two drops) and overall evens on runs saved (we saved four, but misfielded three). Weirs only stole one single compared to 14 for West. I'll take an overall plus 14 every day. That wins you games alone.
It was our best performance to date.
Finally, a quick note on Sunday where we played an official first XI 40 over knockout cup game with a team of mixed ability players (three first teamers only). West lost by one wicket in a nail biter. We were let down by poor fielding from weaker players and a horrible batting collapse despite having a decent batting line up. We still got close, taking them to the last pair despite only having 116 to defend. There was also a much needed fifty from an out of form new player. While you hate to lose any match, if I had to choose one it would be this game. The competition is almost pointless and certainly a game too many for most first team players who need to rest. Next year we may field a second XI side as it provides much needed higher standard practice for guys wanting to force the way in.