A new season began on Saturday after a challenging but worthwhile pre-season schedule with a number of positive performances. The 1XI travelled to Hetton Lyons who are an unpredictable side but can beat anyone on their day.
Despite new beginnings, little changed with our luck at the toss. After winning just 5 from 18 attempts last year (maybe reverting to ‘heads’ is the answer), the Hill lost the toss and were asked to bat first.
A disciplined opening spell from Hetton’s seam bowlers created early pressure, resulting in two early wickets with the score at 30. Rory Johnston, on debut, looked assured before departing, caught behind, for 20. Luke Doneathy played in his usual fluent manner and seemed set for a big score before falling LBW for 33.
At 81-5, with plenty overs remaining in the innings, it was clear that the team needed to ‘dig in’. Phil Nicholson and Phill Bell batted superbly rebuild the innings. A great partnership of 70, and at 151-5 with 6 overs remaining, a chance to post a competitive score. Nicholson was unfortunate to depart caught for 36 with a powerful reverse sweep directed perfectly to the fielder backward point. Bell finished the innings on 51*. Unfortunately, we struggled to find the boundaries as frequently as this team has in recent seasons, but a 6 from the final ball helped us to 176/8, which meant a potential third bonus point from our innings.
In response, the Lyons’ openers excelled in the slightly improved conditions, and aside from the odd false stroke, offered us little opportunity to take the early wickets we needed. Joe Torre struck to reduce the opposition to 70/1, and maybe an opening for a Hill side who retained belief that they could still win the game. Ben McKinney (42) played incredibly well to anchor the innings, and by the time he was removed, caught behind after a good spell from Anthony Hunter, the hosts were 104/2. Jarvis Clay (55*) saw the game out for the Lyons, who were good value for the win, finishing on 177/5 with 5 overs remaining. Mohsin Mukthar (2/36 from 10 overs) was the pick of the bowlers for the Hill, though all fought hard to make a breakthrough and did little wrong.
Not the start we had envisaged, though focus switches quickly to next weekend, when we travel to a Tynemouth side who look to have recruited very well over the winter and will prove difficult opposition.
The scorecard is available here https://benwellhill.play-cricket.com/website/results/5024305