Lichfield Nomads CC got their season off to a winning start in rollercoaster clash with Draycott & Hanbury.
New captain Hoddy lost his first toss and Nomads were asked to bat on a sticky wicket with an outfield that clung to the ball like glue.
Openers Gardner and Heslington struggled to keep the score ticking over as the Draycott bowlers kept a fine line and length.
It wasn’t until the fourth over that the score finally overtook the over count. Even so, the openers were sticking to their task of seeing off the first bowlers and began to raise the tempo to 2.5 per over, when disaster struck and Heslington put one low to the point fielder who took a good catch off his bootlaces off the wily spinner Hardwick.
Hardwick was making it difficult and picked up the wicket of Caygill, again giving a catch to point, before bowling Gardner for a hard-fought 29.
The Nomads batsmen continued to struggle with the consistently good bowling, even from the young bowler Douglas, who showed a good variation of spin.
George and Jones showed some classy strokes to little avail and Scott plugged away, but the scoring rate gradually slipped back to under two an over.
Bourne came and went in the twinkling of an eye and Hughes quickly followed in the same over.
It was left to Pickering and Forster to keep the bowlers out for the last couple of overs to avoid total capitulation, but a total of 86 looked to be a more than achievable target.
A heavy rainstorm during the tea interval saw Nomads looking for a reprieve from what looked like a disappointing defeat, but the wind blew it away and Draycott got under way.
Heslington quickly removed one opener with an uncharacteristic full toss as both he and Hoddy, struggled with the run up and both missed the ideal good length on several occasions.
Hoddy was lifted for two straight sixes by Gardiner, but otherwise shipped only four runs from his five overs.
However, scoring at almost five an over, the Draycott batsmen were finding it easy going and didn’t push ones into twos or twos to threes – a habit they were to regret.
George and Hughes replaced the Nomads openers and things began to slow down and shift in Lichfield’s direction.
George removed Gardiner and Bloor, the latter with an excellent caught and bowled, and also got rid of Ashmore and Norris in a fine spell of bowling that left his side with a sniff of a chance.
In this productive spell Hughes bowled two more batsmen as Nomads feared to hope for the miracle.
Eventually George and Hughes, having bowled through their full eight, were replaced by Heslington, returning off his short run, and Forster for his first bowl since the 2011 season. The latter was clearly rusty and let go of a couple of loose wides but also collected a couple of lbw decisions.
With the last pair at the wicket things were tense and a drop from a slight nick by the otherwise reliable Gardner caused some concern, however a couple of balls later he made up for it by taking a low catch off a bottom edge while standing up to the wicket.