Overcast skies, high humidity and a grass wicket that had been under the covers. The Links on Saturday was not that different from the pitch at the Oval where England’s Test cricketers recently came close to being embarrassed by the Ireland team. And like that Test match, the game between Nairn and Buckie looked very likely to be a low-scoring contest.
So indeed it proved. Nairn batted first, and scored slowly. Wolton went LBW for 7, and Green for 20, caught immediately after hitting a six to the boundary. Davies managed 8, and Stephen Anniss was also LBW for 6. Bronkhorst remained at the crease a lot longer, partnered by Shane Hayward, and they pushed the home side’s score gradually up to 73 before Bronkhorst was bowled for 15. Hayward played a determined and defensive role as other batsmen came and went, and ended unbeaten on 9 runs. Steven Neill made 7, and John Sargent was caught for 1 off only threeForres St. Lawrence Cricket Club deliveries. Others failed to score, and the Nairn team posted an unimpressive total of 86 all out in 38 overs. Best of the visiting bowlers was Creamer, who took 5 wickets (four of them catches in the field) for only 8 runs.
Any spectator passing by at the halfway point with the players at tea might have written off Nairn’s chances. It looked as if Buckie might claim an easy win. Their strategy appeared to depend on their Asian players, Aziz and Ali, to put up a big score, with veteran Corsie adding additional firepower. So when Wolton caught and bowled Aziz for a duck in his first over, and then both Corsie (11) and Ali (12) were dismissed by Nairn’s bowler Bronkhorst in the same over, Buckie’s game-plan seemed to come unstuck.
As the mist came in off the sea and the temperature dropped noticeably, Nairn’s bowlers sent the rest of the Buckie batsmen back to the pavilion at regular intervals, several without scoring, and none reaching double figures. Bronkhorst, in particular, was devastating: in 8 overs he bowled 4 maidens and claimed 6 wickets for just 9 runs. Mike Davies in his first game as Nairn’s wicket keeper stumped one batsman, and Alex Green posted bowling figures of 7 overs, 4 maidens, 3 wickets for 6 runs. It was a demolition job, with Buckie all out for 41 in 23 overs.
At this stage in the season, the NoSCA senior league table shows Nairn County in second place behind Highland (who have played one more match). But there is still some way to go.