Belmont & Edgware came out second best in an entertaining friendly against Regals.
In slightly overcast conditions at Old Lyonians, BECC lost the toss and were asked to bowl first. Skipper Adam Jacobs elected to open up with Attar and left-armer Tilley.
Attar, who had been highly impressive during a nets session the previous Thursday, continued where he left off and bowled with pace and accuracy. He was soon rewarded with a wicket as his raw speed forced the Regals opening batsman, Sachin, to spoon a catch to new recruit James Brilliant, who calmly pouched a simple catch.
Tilley, from the other end toiled hard, but a slightly misfiring radar was exploited by the other opener, Naj, who played some classy strokes.
After Attar and Tilley were replaced by Jacobs and Kaplan, Belmont really began to put the squeeze on their opponents. Naj, in particular found it difficult to score against Jacobs, who was swinging the ball away and mixing up his pace.
Kaplan profited from this when, after 10 successive dot balls, Regals' no. 3 tried to release the pressure by playing a big shot off a back of a length delivery but only succeeded in finding Brilliant at mid-wicket, who once again snaffled the catch.
Following this, Naj and the dangerous no. 4, Rahan, began to rebuild and looked to be constructing a handy partnership. However, before this could really do some damage, Kaplan, who varied his lines beautifully, deceived Naj and bowled him. Belmont's optimism further increased after Greg Mayer's introduction into the attack, when, in his second over, he bowled the no.5 for a duck.
At this point, Regals were reeling and Belmont sensed blood. However, Rahan continued to play his shots and took his team out of danger. His innings was curtailed, though, by one of the most brilliant catches taken by a Belmont player for many a year. After nonchalantly flicking a Mendel delivery away for what he must have assumed would be a four, Rahan would have been surprised to see Attar, positioned at deep mid-wicket, taking a miracle, diving catch, having sprinted a full 20 yards to his left. That would also have been satisfying for Mendel, who had been spurred into action after being hit incredibly hard on the arm during a nominal caught and bowled chance.
Attar, who was seemingly constantly involved during the Regals innings, then demonstrated his fielding prowess once again by taking a ridiculous caught and bowled chance. The ball was smashed back towards him and having parried it into the air (in the process agonisingly splitting a nail on his left hand), he was then able to dive down and clutch the ball inches from the turf. Attar left the field temporarily to clean and bandage up his wound but insisted on finishing his over.
To their credit, Regals batted well and ran hard at the death. They enjoyed a fair amount of luck in a particularly expensive Kaplan over which should have actually resulted in two wickets for the bowler. They were also assisted by Jacobs' inexplicable failure to run out the no. 10 batsman on the last ball. However, all in all, Belmont had fielded well in limiting their opposition to 190-8.
It would be an understatement to say that the BECC's reply didn't get off to the best of starts. Openers Elliott and Phil Mayer were both out cheaply, and Jacobs was dismissed for a golden duck, after top-edging when rashly attempting to pull his first ball. That left the score at 8-3, soon 8-4 when Blasey was bowled shortly after.
At this point real fears began to emerge that Belmont would be unable to pass their all time low score of 32. However, cometh the moment, cometh the man in Nick Mcleod. Undermining his own claims that his game is in decline, he took the attack to the opposition bowlers by unfurling a series of stylish shots both sides of the wicket. A particular highlight was a giant six to bring up his 50, which was effortlessly levered over mid-on.
Mcleod was well-supported by Tilley, who played responsibly and then other members of the lower order, until he perished for 65. That was a wonderful effort considering the position that Belmont had been in at the start of his innings. Greg Mayer and Noam Attar, defying his painful injury, completed the Belmont innings, as BECC finished on a respectable 153-9.
Belmont could never have won after their top order collapse. However, the fielding performance was strong - it goes without saying that Attar's heroics were central to this - and it was a real pleasure to watch Nick roll back the years and bat so well. The lower order showed grit and determination to ensure that BECC were not bowled out.
There are positive signs for the future as our relatively young team continues to grow and develop.