Nairn out in the cold at Buckie
The final Reserve League match of the 2019 season for Nairn County’s 2nd XI took place at Buckie on Sunday, with Nairn’s team consisting of just 10 players.
The game was not a memorable classic. Buckie were put in to bat and deployed their experienced big hitters from the start. Shane Hayward dismissed Ballantyne, one of the opening pair, LBW for 21 in the 7th over. But Tahir Shakeel and Aftab stayed put and attacked the Nairn bowling with more force than skill.
The conditions were difficult. A strong and very cold wind off the Firth made it difficult for the bowlers to deliver a consistent line and slowed the fielders’ reactions. Several times the ball was hit into the air but the catches were dropped. The score was beyond 100 when Shakeel skied one into the clouds and Alex Green successfully caught it at the boundary to send him away for 47. Not long afterwards Shane Hayward held on to another catch to dismiss Aftab off Dave Wolton’s bowling for 48.
Winkler managed to add 17 before Alex Green knocked over his stumps. But the experienced Asim Ali stayed in and – with Wilson – took the Buckie total to 196 in their 40 overs, for the loss of 4 wickets.
After tea, and with the wind getting colder, Nairn found it hard to get going. Hayward was bowled out for 2 after facing just 9 balls. Wolton sought to play an anchor role, but as an LPL player had to retire when a boundary took his score to 22. Meanwhile MacLeod had also gone, caught by the wicket keeper for 11. There was controversy and doubt when Martin Bronkhorst, on 7, was apparently run out: it appeared that the wicket keeper may have dislodged the bails with his foot, or glove, rather than with the ball in hand. Green (another player subject to LPL restrictions) should have added at least 20, but after scoring just 8 he charged down the wicket, missed the ball, and was stumped.
Young Joe Elvines partnered by his father Mark then faced the deceptive Buckie bowling. Mark was caught for 12 when stretching for a wide delivery. With only a handful of overs to go and the score at 81 it was clear that there was little chance of reaching the target. In attempting to up the scoring-rate and get the team total as far as 100, Brian Stewart was run out for 5 leaving Joe Elvines (7 not out) and James Jackson (0 not out) to survive to the end of the 40 overs and a final Nairn total of 96 for 7 wickets, giving Buckie the victory.
In terms of the overall outcome and the season’s Reserve League table, the match was in any case a formality, as Buckie had already established an unassailable lead in terms of points. Ross County were able to push Nairn down into third place in the final table, having benefited from Nairn’s inability to raise a team to play against them the previous week.
Nevertheless the Nairn club’s position – third in both the Senior League and the Reserve League – is a respectable outcome for the 2019 season. If the club can maintain a pool of regularly-available players sufficient to sustain two teams in 2020, there is reason to hope that Nairn cricketers can do even better next year.