It may have been two years since the Brockley Oval saw competitive cricket but in many respects little seemed to have changed in the intervening period : the ground looked a delight (well done , Denis!) the sun was shining, Brockley were fielding, Sykes and Geeves were opening the bowling and most importantly the opposition were proceeding along without too much difficulty. At 28-0 off 10 it at least looked like there was some semblance of control by the home attack but as the ravages of old age kicked in even that evaporated and Witham progressed to 62-0 off 14.
had they been horses the opening bowlers would surely have been shot but instead were put out to grass and it was left to Rick Meekings (1 for 31) to take the first wicket of the season thanks to a confident catch from debutant Toby Steggles.
Rick was well supported by Joel Walter Smith (1 for 67) however they could not slow down Bamford (106) as he made the most of a great early season wicket (perhaps Sykes should just stick to rolling rather than bowling) and unexpectedly brisk outfield.
Brockley’s hero of the day was Steggles who added four wickets to his catch in a miserly spell of 4-14 off seven overs.
despite wickets for Whiley and Huffer at the death , Witham continued to plunder, ably assisted by some ground fielding that was so rusty you could be forgiven for thinking they hadn’t bothered with any pre season practice or warm up sessions.
Witham closed on 233 for 9 and Brockley suffered further pain due to the lack of a proper tea (for many years their most impressive part of the day) although Fisher and Julio Jefferies put on an eventful 17 it wasn’t long before usual service was resumed and McCaffrey (40) and Geeves (33) were together at 17-3
For the next hour it actually looked like proper cricket as they added 76 in good enough time for the task to still be under a run a ball at the halfway stage
It is doubtful Witham were overly concerned having seen what had gone before and even more doubtful that Brockley were even faintly surprised at the clatter of wickets that followed leaving Steggles to end his day looking at the shuffling Sykes as last man and deciding to adopt ,sensibly, a death or glory approach.
Brockley closed on 125 all out with more than half the team contributing 3 of those runs so it is fair to say the batsmen head to Harwich next week with a number of issues but fatigue isn’t one of them.
By contrast, Witham look to be a strong and energetic team that should have a very successful season ahead of them.
Aside from Toby’s performance the other highlight of the day was having Mr Elsey as umpire – a big thanks from all to him.