Belmont & Edgware CC went down by six wickets in a friendly against Graces.
After losing the toss, BECC were, not unsurprisingly, inserted into bat on a hot and humid day at Old Lyonians. Resuming their opening partnership, Elliott and Phil Mayer, fresh from a batting lesson at the Oval, started sensibly before the latter frustratingly succumbed to familiar demons and was bowled attempting to hit over mid on.
No. 3 Michael Blasebalk safely navigated Graces' skilful new ball bowlers, only to perish to the first change spinner's first ball having been encouraged to hit over the top by some savvy field placings.
That brought stand-in skipper Adam Jacobs to the crease. Despite some wily bowling, particularly from the dangerous Manood, he and Mayer enjoyed a brisk partnership, with both running hard between the wickets whilst collecting the occasional boundary. Within around 10 overs, they had put on 50 together, but just as Belmont looked to be building a head of steam, Jacobs was bowled on 26 attempting to defend a ball that kept low.
A further blow to BECC's momentum occurred shortly afterwards, when Elliott was out for a fine 31, top-edging a sweep off Ahmed with the score at 94-4. Nonetheless, next batsmen Matt Wetton and Ellis Tuhrim did their best to keep the run-rate up.Wetton struck two boundaries before being bowled by Mannarj for 13, after which David Kay, coming in at 7, played some lovely shots in a cameo innings of 10. He was run out pushing for a two off the penultimate ball of the innings before Ben Tilley finished off proceedings with a single.
Although Belmont hadn't fully capitalised on the platform laid by Mayer and Jacobs, a score of 130-6 was competitive on a difficult Old Lyonians pitch.
In reply, Ed Saleh, opening up, was a handful to Graces' openers. Bowling fast and accurately, he was unlucky to go wicketless in his initial four over burst after inducing a number of edges which didn't quite find the three-man slip cordon. Meanwhile, plugging away from the other end was slow bowler Kay, who performed extremely economically and had two chances shelled from his bowling, including a relatively easy one at point.
Jacobs replaced Saleh and continued the squeeze and at drinks at 17 overs, Graces' were only 42-0, with BECC quietly confident of victory, despite the lack of wickets.
Following the break, Jacobs, initially with some trepidation, handed the ball to Simon Braham to bowl his first ever deliveries for the club. His first over produced a maiden and his second brought a wicket for the cost of one run. However, the best was yet to come. Trundling in during his fourth over, Braham comprehensively bowled the no. 3 batsmen, before repeating the trick the very next ball.
Sensing blood and increasingly euphoric about this unexpected turn of events, a baying Belmont team surrounded the bat for the hat-trick ball, which was nervously patted back to the bowler as if he were Shane Warne. Braham finished with figures of 3-44, a magnificent effort.
Graces hauled themselves back into the game between overs 20-27, as the extras count mounted up. Tilley comprehensively bowled the dangerous looking opening batsmen to recover some momentum, but in a desperate attempt to arrest the run-rate, Jacobs brought himself and Saleh back on. This had the desired effect, but it was simply too little and too late and Graces hit the winning runs in the 33rd over.
Although a disappointing loss, this was hard-fought and exciting game. A strong all-round team performance will surely soon come on the evidence displayed.