Waiting for them was a typical early season “Devon pudding” pitch. Stodgy and damp,with a significant slope.
Marldon captain Nick Glanfield won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Brent captain Pete Glen opened the batting with himself and last years rising batting star Malpass.
The ball came off the pitch slowly and was difficult to get off the square.
Runs were hard to come by on the slow low wicket and Marldons opening bowlers Roberts and Williams kept it tight. The long outfield grass slowed the ball too. Though there was a short boundary down the slope to take advantage of.
Disaster struck early as Malpass(1) was run out, called through for a risky 2nd run. The long outfield grass slowing the ball up, followed by a good accurate throw left him a good couple yards short.
Daniels(1) came to the crease and looked to carry on last seasons fine form but could only find the edge of the bat and was caught behind off Roberts(1-23).
In came Brent batting superstar Lewis and he started imposing himself with some fine powerfull boundaries using his wonderful eye to time the ball in difficult batting conditions. He had sped the scoring up significantly scoring 19 before he got a leading edge off tall off spinner Smith(3-29).
Saunter(6) was in next and he played in his own inimitable aggressive style,but also displaying some discipline before he too fell to a leading edge mis-timing the ball off the slow pitch.
Brent were on 4-40 after 14 overs and things were looking precarious.
Whilst wickets fell at the other end, Brent skipper Glen had survived some early scares and had started to read the ball off the pitch well. Adapting his play, he played watchfully. Playing forward to the ball, staying on the front foot,playing with a straight bat and waiting for the ball to come on. He nudged the ball around picking up singles and occasionally dispatched the bad ball.
He was joined by Howells in his first game for over a year.Howells played a few good whacks but was also undone by the low bounce, bowled for 7 by Smith.
In came the “Didworthy Pirate” Bancroft. He played in a swashbuckling style for 8 before skying a top edge off Smith who took a fine catch.
Glen continued to steadily accumulate at the other end.
Cook supported him well,playing watchfully with discipline but attacking anything loose.
As their partnership grew the pair pushed the scoring rate up. Glen hit a fine lofted drive over mid-on for 4 off middle stump from Rowsall, who leaked 17 from that over.The pair put on a partnership of 50 runs as they pressured the fielders with quick running and took advantage of some of Marldons looser bowlers. By the time Cook(7) departed, caught mis-timing off Harman, Brents score was looking a healthy 123- 7 from 28 overs.
On a difficult to pitch to score on this was already looking a decent score.
Bevan came to the crease and was looking good before he went LBW for 5 off Harman.Harvey-Doderidge went for a duck also to Harman(3-19).
Christian John displayed his hockey skills well for a plucky 5 before playing on off the impressive Williams(1-11).
After an unpromising start Brent had reached an impressive 151 all out from 34 overs.
Glen had carried his bat for 53 not out from 86 balls and had anchored the innings in an experienced and disciplined manner. A true captains knock!
Extras were next highest score at 25.
There was time for a few overs before tea and Brent got off to a fantastic start.
Cook, bowling his dipping inswingers down the slope, proved difficult for Marldon to cope with. Cook was bowling with excellent rhythm.
At the other end Daniels bowled pacey seam with confidence and a disciplined line and length up the slope.
Marldon could barely score at all on the deteriorating stodgy pitch against tight bowling. Rowsall(7) became Daniels first victim trapped in front for 7.
Cook(1-23 from 8) got just reward with a beautiful full delivery that swung in and down the slope and knocked back Pennys(1)leg stump. Delicious work from Cook the masterchef!
Soon after, Daniels(2-5 from only 5!) picked up his 2nd wicket bowling Smith(2) with one that pitched on middle and knocked back off stump. Great use off the slope by the Brent magician Daniels. It was like watching Glenn McGrath at Lords!
By the time tea was taken Cook and Daniels had blown away Marldons top order with some superb disciplined bowling and Marldon were reeling on 13- 3 after 10 overs!
After a delicious tea which included some super yummy home baked brownies made by Mia Glen Reeves, Brent were ready to carry on where they left off. Brownie powered!
Brent continued to field well in the outfield. Making some great stops to prevent easy runs being scored down the slope to the short boundary, and chasing down everything hard as the long outfield grass slowed the ball up.
Saunter in particularly, took some knocks flinging his limbs around but was able to take solace from his pain by befriending a blossoming cherry tree on the boundary! What a pretty picture!
Bevan came on bowling up the slope, utilising using his experience and bowling his medium pacers on a tight full line at the stumps giving Marldon nothing to go at.. He caught and bowled Pragnell from a mis-timed drive for 7.
The pitch was now showing some variable bounce.
Marldons tall left hander Smith was showing some composure and sure footedness though, as he adapted to conditions and played some powerfull drives.Not always getting his reward in the long outfield grass and but for some fine outfielding . He put on a 35 run partnership with Glanfield for the 5th wicket. Glanfield rode his luck, especially when Christian-John did a fine juggling act dropping a skyer off a mis-timed lofted drive.
Bevan(2-14 from 8)eventually got his well deserved 2nd wicket though and removed Glanfield for 14 with a full ball that trapped him plumb LBW.Bevan looked in fine form.
Promising young bowler Harvey –Doderidge(0-20) showed a lot of potential but struggled bowling down the slope.
On 66-5 Marldon were just about still in touch but it took the Didworthy pirate Bancroft(1-24) to remove Marldons top scorer Smith(27), clean bowling him down the slope.Bancroft displayed his usuall pacey aggressive bowling which proved too much! Bancroft then turned his hand to some slow off -spin bowling that he claimed was turning! The young Marldon bat S.Glanfield definitely turned one of Bancrofts “turners” all the way to the mid-wicket boundary though!
At 79 – 6 after 29 overs,Brent now felt that the back of Marldons resistance was broken.
Roberts had other ideas though and he continued to play some powerful shots to the boundary to give Marldon an outside chance. Lewis(0-17), bowling his excellently flighted off spin contained the batsman though and was unfortunate not to pick up a deserved wicket.
Brent skipper Glen had a chance to look at some of Brents up and coming bowlers . Impressive throughout the winter nets with his off-spin, Malpass(1-15) was given a couple of overs and bowled his tweakers well down the slope to pick up his debut outdoors wicket and dismissed Marldons last realistic hope Roberts(18). Cook took a fine clean catch above his head to a powerfully hit shot at wide mid-on.
Christian- John(1-13) bowled his promising left arm off spin up the slope and picked up the wicket of Harman(3) bowling him as Harman took a swing. S.Glanfield (12) still had some fight in him though. He played some nice shots through mid wicket to pick up a couple more boundaries and certainly has confidence in his young ability. The two spinners bowled accurately enough to see out the 40 overs and South Brent home to victory.
Marldon had scored 133 – 9 from their 40 overs .Giving South Brent a 19 run victory.
It was a comfortable victory in the end on a difficult surface and the ongoing training throughout the winter season was certainly showing itself in the quality of Brents play.
A special mention for Mick Howells truly excellent wicketkeeping display too! Spent most of his time rolling around on the floor and leaping about like a giant muppet! Great to have him back.
An excellent win, well done everyone! Sets the tone for the season ahead!
Many thanks to Richard Haines for scoring and Chris Kelcey for umpiring.