A closely-fought duel in the sun for Nairn’s 2nd XI
Nairn’s scheduled First XI game away to Fort William on Saturday was cancelled because of a waterlogged pitch. No such problem for the Reserve team (who were however a man short) in their match at Fochabers on Sunday.
Under blue skies and a blazing sun, the grass pitch at Castle Park was good, if a bit slow. The home side won the toss and chose to field. Nairn began positively with two young but capable opening batsmen in Shane Hayward and Ben Booker-Milburn. When Hayward was caught and bowled by Bestwick for 21 the opening pair had put on 40 runs in ten overs. But the run rate wasn’t sustained. Booker-Milburn lasted only one more over before being bowled for 12, and after that Nairn’s wickets began to fall cheaply. Anniss went for 5 and Mark Elvines for 0 .
Captain Bronkhorst defended well for a while but never got into his rhythm and went LBW for 12, followed by young Joe Elvines bowled out for 0. Mike Davies and Brian Stewart put up some resistance, but boundaries were hard to come by and running between the wickets proved tiring in the heat. Stewart was out LBW for 7 and Davies soon after for 17.
Nairn realised that reaching a total of 100 might be the best they could hope for. They just made it: Alex Green was hoping for time and opportunity to add 25 before being obliged to retire, but unfortunately his partner and last man Magnus Neill hit one in the air and was caught, bringing the Nairn innings to a close on 101 in 33.4 overs with Green not out on 2.
A longer than usual tea interval followed – not just because of the heat, but because coverage of the critical final stages of the Ashes test match was available on players’ mobile phones. So a truce was called while everyone followed the match commentary.
When play resumed in the match at Fochabers, the host batsmen initially scored slowly – at half the rate of the Nairn openers – and Fox was out early, stumped by Davies for 0. Three more Fochabers players went quickly – Roberts LBW for 2, Hope run out for 0 thanks to a good throw from Joe Elvines and quick work by wicketkeeper Davies, and Campbell bowled by Bronkhorst also for 0.
But the Fochabers captain, Corson, was still there and when he was joined by Bestwick the pair batted with greater conviction against some of Nairn’s slower bowlers and took the score steadily onward. Bronkhorst bowled out Corson for 27, but the home team were by then on 85, needing only 17 to win.
Bestwick survived several appeals for both LBW and stumping as he tried with limited success to attack Alex Green’s bowling – and he was eventually caught by Anniss after scoring 34. By then Fochabers needed only 8 runs to win. Hayward bowled Miller for 2, but the remaining batsmen were able to reach the target of 102 in 34.2 overs.
So Fochabers ended victorious by 3 wickets in what was in fact a close match. If Nairn had had a full team, and been able to bat just a little bit longer, they could – and perhaps should – have set a rather higher total for Fochabers to chase. But that now remains a what-might-have-been.
Nairn Reserves hold on to third position in the league table, and have a fortnight’s break until their next game, while Nairn’s First XI take on league leaders Highland next Saturday (31 August) at Fraser Park.