After more than a week of warmth and sunshine, Saturday was a washout. No senior league cricket matches were played anywhere in the NoSCA region because of the persistent rain.
But Sunday was dry enough at the Links for Nairn’s 2nd XI to host a match against Northern Counties in the NoSCA Reserve league. As one player commented after the match, the home side delivered an efficient all-round performance to secure the win.
The visitors chose to bat first. But Nairn’s opening bowlers, Stephen Anniss and John Sargant, initially kept the run rate down to less than 2 per over, helped by tight fielding. Then captain Bronkhorst and Colin Owens took over the bowling and more wickets fell, mostly to good catching by the home team. Calum Forsyth claimed no less than three catches behind the stumps, and Anniss took two (one of them after a bit of juggling), and later Sargant, standing on the boundary, held on to a well-hit ball that seemed to come down from the clouds. Bronkhorst was the best of the bowlers with 3 wickets for 14; Sargant, Owens, Ryan Kerr and Iain Macleod each took a single wicket.
Although several of the visiting batsmen managed (just) to get into double figures, the greatest contribution to the Northern Counties total came from the 23 wides that Nairn bowled. Added to the batting total of 93 for 7, plus a handful of byes and no-balls, that gave the visitors a total score of 120.
Nairn’s innings was – quite literally – a striking contrast. MacLeod and Forsyth shared an opening partnership of 67 in the first ten overs before Forsyth was caught after scoring 33. There was a ten-minute pause for rain, and then MacLeod was disappointed to be given out LBW on 27. Bronkhorst, unusually, lasted only a short time before being bowled for 6. But Stephen Anniss played with energy and determination to end undefeated and top-scorer with 36, and with John Sargant also scoring 6 not out the Nairn team reached 121 for 3 wickets to claim victory in less than 20 overs. Raj Domadia of Northern Counties was the only bowler to take wickets, with figures of 3 for 20.
Overall, a very capable display by a Nairn side with a good balance of batting, bowling and fielding skills and who are showing the ability to put opponents under consistent pressure. But the season still has a long way to go. Next Saturday the senior team play Ross County at Strathpeffer in a league match. The Reserves have no game next Sunday.