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Saleh gets BECC over the line

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An excellent knock from Phil Mayer inspired Belmont & Edgware to a two-wicket win over GWR in a friendly.

Missing key batsmen, BECC were optimistic going into the match following their strong recent run of form.

GWR won the toss and, perhaps surprisingly, decided to bat first on a typically green Old Lyonians wicket. Opening bowlers Joe Saleh and Noam Attar, seemingly competing with each other to prove who could bowl quicker, were a handful to the two left-handed opening batsmen, with Saleh soon removing PD, who had scored runs against BECC last year. However, the other opener proved harder to budge and gladly capitalised on anything short or on his legs.

The introduction of change bowlers Adam Jacobs and David Kaplan spelt trouble for GWR after they both struck in quick succession. Kaplan's catch off Jacobs' bowling to remove the no. 4, which involved him backpedalling some distance, was a particularly good effort.

However, a period of sloppiness followed, in which a number of catches went down, and this enabled GWR to fight their way back to 70-3 at drinks. That would have particularly frustrated debutant Johnny Tanne, who bowled well and had two catches dropped during his first over.

After some inspirational words of wisdom during drinks from club stalwart Blasey, Belmont returned to the action with confidence renewed. This was soon buoyed by Tilley taking the wicket of the other opening batsman, who holed out to Phil Mayer somewhere between mid and long on for 47.

GWR then looked to establish another partnership and started running hard between the wickets. It was Kaplan - always in the thick of the action- who put a stop to this, by smartly running out the no. 6, after a risky attempted single.

From then on, Belmont were ruthless. Mendel bowled beautifully to induce a regulation nick for Blasebalk to claim perhaps the easiest catch of his cricketing "career". The returning Attar, this time bowling spin, promptly claimed two wickets, including one with his variation leg-break and Kaplan also got into the act in his second spell.

BECC wrapped things up after the last man to fall was run out, this time after good work by Attar and Blasey. GWR closed on 117 all out, a very reachable target.

BECC's chase started strangely, in that GWR put 10 men behind the bat for the entirety of the first over. This seemed to perplex openers Phil Mayer and Blasebalk more than anything though, and they nervously prodded at the ball for fear of edging behind.

Nonetheless, things soon settled down with the score moving to 39 before Blasebalk misjudged a call for two and was run out. That brought no. 3 Jacobs to the crease. With Mayer responsibly anchoring the innings, the other batsman had license to attack and went for his shots, striking a number of blows around the wicket. BECC advanced comfortably to 86-1 before Jacobs went for one risky shot too many on the difficult OL surface and was caught trying to hit over mid-on for 27 in the 26th over.

At this point BECC were strong favourites. However, with BECC being BECC, things were not that simple. Next batsman Jason Mann was dismissed for 5 after he hit the ball straight back to spinner Anmol. The same bowler then decimated the rest of the middle order, dismissing no. 5 Tanne and no. 6 Braham both for ducks.

The situation became ever more desperate as Tilley was unluckily bowled for 2 and then the disciplined Mayer was out attempting to whack the ball past square leg, one short of his half century.

From 90-2 Belmont now, incredibly, found themselves at 108-7. Inevitably the run-rate suffered as a result and GWR began to believe; especially after no. 8 Saleh nervously fended at his first ball and then Kaplan perished for 2.

That brought Attar, batting with an injured finger, and Saleh together. They calmly saw out the 34th over, leaving BECC eight to win off the last. The first delivery was forced away by Saleh for a single and the pressure was eased when Attar walked across his wicket and creamed the ball past square leg for 4.

Nevertheless, a single, to get Saleh back on strike and then a dot ball renewed the tension, with two required off the final two balls. Belmont needn't have worried. With every member of the team keenly watching, Saleh smashed a long hop to the boundary to win the game for BECC amid cheers from his teammates. The coolness and confidence under pressure of both batsmen will live long in the memory.

BECC's Adam Jacobs said: "In all honesty, the game shouldn't have gone down to the wire in the manner that it did.

"That said, this was a really enjoyable match to play in with friendly opposition. The team now needs a final push to finish the season strongly.

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