Datchet's efforts to get game on are handsomely rewarded

Datchet’s pre-match efforts to get their game against Oxford on this Saturday in spite of the dreadful weather were handsomely rewarded with a three-wicket win that lifts the club clear at the top of Home Counties Division 1.

A tight game, which Datchet skipper Joe Barrett admitted could have gone either way, swung on the contributions of Steven Naylor, who took 4-12 with the ball and the batting efforts of Billy Mead (37) and Calvin Dickinson (61).

Naylor’s fine spell with the ball, and Sulaiman Akhtar’s 2-29, restricted the visitors to 135-8 with the bat before Datchet recovered from being 20-3 to reach 139-7 in 23.4 overs, thanks in the main to the efforts of Mead and Dickinson.

But the hard work to gain 20 points, when every other game in the division was abandoned or failed to start, began at 9.30am when the first team, with support from members of the second and third team, helped groundsmen remove water from the pitch and outfield.

Barrett said: “We were there in the soaking rain from 9.30am.

“We had all our first 11 and five or six players from each of the second and third teams.

“Twenty on deck for most of the day to get the water off the pitch with the help of the groundsmen. It was a good effort to get the game on. We managed to play and were the only ones in the league by the looks of it.

“Our thinking was that if we were able to play the game and force a result, and no one else plays, we’d be in pretty good stead and that’s how it worked out.

“There were periods of the game when it looked like it would be in vain, but even if we’d lost, we would still have got four or five points, so we’d still only have been a couple of points behind everyone else.

“So it was definitely worth it.”

Despite moving into a 14-point lead at the top of the table after only one game, Barrett said there was much to improve on ahead of Saturday’s game at High Wycombe, traditionally one of the division’s stronger outfits.

“We were poor up top with the bat and poor up top with the ball,” he said.

“We felt we could have been much better in those areas and we’ll admit that. But, at 20-3, Calvin and Billy batted the way they did and pretty much won it for us. Steve Naylor coming on with the ball after an average opening spell to get 4-12 off five overs was also important.

“The guys who opened the bowling would admit they could have been a lot better, but it was difficult with the conditions. It was wet underfoot and there was a howling wind across the ground.

“Nayls (Steven Naylor) coming on and picking up four wickets, with Sully Akhtar also bowling well, turned the game for us.

“Then with the bat we were 20-3 and Billy and Calvin were able to absorb that pressure. That was another turning point.

“Oxford were a young group, but they should win more games than they lose if they fire like they should.

“We next play High Wycombe, and then Henley and Banbury, traditionally three of the strongest sides in our league. It will be interesting to see where we are after that.

“We’ve got things we need to work on, and we’ll need to be better than we were this weekend that’s for sure.”

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