Having not played any form of league cricket in South Wales since 2019, and with only a handful of friendly fixtures late-on last season to show for a year everyone would wish to forget, the start of this year’s campaign was always going to be interesting, and tricky, to call!

Throw in “high quality”, “exciting” & “extremely entertaining” and you have the summary of Day One for the Club!

Each of our three Senior sides has a new captain at the tiller and each has every reason to be more than satisfied with their respective team’s performance after the opening games of League Cricket 2021 today (1st).

However, fifteen minutes in at Newport, Phil Roche must have wondered why he had thrown his hat into the ring for the 1st XI Captaincy after Ryan Aingworth & family had moved out of the area during the winter. He’d lost the toss, been put into bat and the scoreboard read MCC 7 – 3! Boys, what’s occurrin’?

Something of a mini-revival was then seen as Craig Meschede (29, 3 fours & a six) and Aneurin Norman took the score to 61 before debutant Craig was dismissed. Max Phillips came in at number six to join “Noddy” Norman. What happened next?

Well, it was quite simple really. These two batted superbly as they tore into the Newport attack, adding 164 for the 5th wicket!! At 225-5, Noddy left the scene after notching a quite breath-taking century, with 8 fours & five sixes in his 105! He had been well ‘n truly rewarded for his extraordinary patience & application when he came in at 7-3.

No less effective was Max who was eventually out after an exhilarating knock of 85 (9 fours & a maximum). In the quest for late runs, more wickets fell before Rochey’s Lads tucked into their self-provided tea, relieved that the board now read 275-9! WHAT a recovery!

After the break, Newport started with promise before ex Glammy skipper Mark Wallace was out..44-1. A few partnerships threatened to blossom but crucial wickets were taken..127-4 from 32 overs. Then, the experience & skills of Imran Hussan and Michael Clayden took over, as they added 109 in 14 overs.

Our bowlers, however, refused to give in and admirably stuck to the task in hand. With off-spinner Rahul Shah now bowling, the reward duly came as he dismissed the classy Imran after a fine innings of 105 & Clayden (47) in the same over..236-6! Suitably buoyed, Rahul clicked into top gear as he truly ripped into the remaining Newport batsmen. He took two of the next three wickets to fall, as Newport reeled from 236-4 to 248-9!!

Time was up, the match was over..the home side finished short on 254-9 from their 50 overs! A really exciting game and an amazing win for MCC! The wickets were shared between Rahul (4-64), Aneurin (1-47), Jack Straw (1-51) & Rochey (1-38) plus two crucial run-outs. Mention must also be made of wicketless Max, who conceded a mere 24 runs from his 10 overs! One final stat – Newport conceded 36 extras whilst MCC gave away just 14. The winning margin was 21 runs..just saying!

John Courtney was also a triumphant captain on his first day at the weekend, he’ll be working from home!

Fielding first at Llandarcy, JC was more than pleased with the state of affairs at tea. His side had done well to restrict the home side to 184-9 from their rain-reduced allocation of 34 overs. All bowlers had chipped in..Kapilan Radhakrishnan (1-23), Alex Davies (1-39), Gethin Morgan (2-22), Jack Rymer (2-20), Owen Williams (2-28) and Ian Joslin (1-26) had done the business!

With further rain reducing our ‘A’ XI’s target to 162 from 30 overs under the D/L method, Richard Gibby clearly decided that enough of this weather was enough as he fairly raced to 99no to see his mates home to win by 8 wickets in the 28th over! Not without a minor flutter early on, however, as MCC were 4-1! Ably assisted by Joe Phillips (45, 5 fours), Richard saw to it that there was no further cause for concern. His 13 fours & 4 sixes had provided top value entertainment!

At Marespool, new 2nd XI Captain Jaimie Thomas starred with the bat in his side’s innings of 252 all out in the 50th over. He opened the batting but had to watch in disbelief early on as four colleagues left the scoreboard showing scores of 30-1, 30-2, 30-3 & 53-4!

Never mind, eh..former captain Stuart Seaton, who had announced his retirement from playing during the gloomy winter lockdown, came in. These two seadogs added 101 for the fifth wicket..154-5 when Jaimie was out for 66 (9 fours & a six). Stuart went on to contribute 77 (11 fours) before he was dismissed late on. Aided by 32 (4 fours) from Adam Frangakis-Williams, MCC’s final total was 252 all out in the final over.

In reply, our 2nd XI bowlers had mixed fortunes. They did well to hold Ynystawe to 101-4 after a decent start before a stand of 70 steadied things for our visitors..171-5. At 196-7, things were looking even better for Jaimie’s team ..still some work to be done by “Ynys” if they were to take the spoils.

Well, to be fair, Ynystawe did work hard as 196-7 reached 221 when the 8th wicket fell..31 runs short, 8 wickets down.

The very experienced Rowan Evans was still in, however, and it was he & tailender Owain Evans (6no), who held their nerve to edge home in the 46th over to win by two wickets..Rowan 84no. Adam (3-55), Jamie Sheldon (1-51), Sam Harris (2-26), Rob Steelo (1-51) & Stuart (1-22) shared the wickets taken.

So, with two fine wins plus a lot of positives to be had at Marespool, this had been a great opening day for our Senior sides..well done, boys!

Next Saturday (8th), the 1st XI welcome Port Talbot to Marespool, our 2nd XI travel to Port Talbot and the ‘A’ XI entertain Skewen at Murton. 

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