In Sunday’s Reserve League match, Buckie travelled to Nairn for a match at the Links. Nairn could raise only 9 players for the game, including schoolboys and old-age pensioners, while Buckie sent a strong team of regular players. This mismatch was reflected in the final score : Buckie all out for 168 , and Nairn scoring almost exactly half that total.
Rain overnight and during the morning had caused some doubt about the condition of the pitch, but in fact it dried out quickly and Buckie, having won the toss, chose to bat. Shane Hayward and Steven Neill both bowled well, and three batsmen were out in the first half-dozen overs for less than 30 runs. But the experienced Tahir Shakeel pushed Buckie’s total steadily upward.
In fact it was something of a one-man show, as he lasted most of the innings while other Buckie batsmen added only handfuls of runs. Hayward and Neill each took 2 wickets and young Joe Elvine added one wicket to his season’s tally, although not before the Buckie batsmen had taken full and ruthless advantage and hit 49 runs off the youngster’s bowling. Shakeel was eventually caught off the bowling of Bronkhorst, who took 3 wickets for 17 runs. Buckie’s total score was 168 in 38.1 overs.
The Nairn batting was also largely a one-man show. Iain Macleod went out LBW early on. Hayward was the key batsman, staying in throughout the innings. Alex Green partnered him until – as he is on the Leading Players List – he was obliged by the LPL rules to retire after scoring 20 runs. Bronkhorst (2) and Neill (8) were both bowled out after brief appearances. Then – even though plenty of overs remained and there was no need to take rash chances – two more batsmen, Joe Elvines and Colin Owens, were unnecessarily run out without scoring and Mark Elvines was bowled out for a duck. Brian Stewart’s hope of a fightback at the tail-end was dashed when Hayward gave away an easy catch having scored 37, and the match was all over, with Nairn’s total at 88 runs in just 26 overs.
It was in some ways a frustrating and unsatisfactory performance by the home side. Having started the season well, Nairn’s bowlers have worked hard and had success. But the batting in both Senior and Reserve games has become patchy and inconsistent, and too often reliant on a “hit and hope” approach. Whether the forthcoming T20 competition will reinforce or change that, remains to be seen.