Headley: 236 all out (Ashworth 88*, R.Pollitt 56) lost to Old Woking: 237-5 (Stenning 105*) By 5 Wickets
Headley had thrashed Old Woking’s Sunday 2nd XI side last year, meaning that this time the Visitors sent their Sunday 1st XI to restore honour.
The difference in intensity was evident as James Midmer and Richard Pollitt, batting first for Headley, had to negotiate Old Woking’s opening bowler Dean Stenning, who generated both pace and sharp bounce from a lively Headley track. Pollitt in particular batted superbly to nullify the early threat, and a partnership of 60 had been made before Midmer (24) jabbed a short ball to midwicket. Ben Ashworth arrived at No.3 and was soon blazing away with some trademark drives. Pollitt continued a technically solid innings with some authoritative drives before falling for a superb 56, which with the early bowling on show was worth much more. The loss of Pollitt only served to up the aggression from Ashworth, who was soon smashing the ball into various woodlands surrounding Headley Heath. It turned into a vintage innings from Ashworth, put in even greater context by the struggles of the remaining Headley line up- who first succumbed to the slow bowling of Old Woking skipper Manuel, before being blown away by the returning Stenning. Headley were bowled out with 5 overs still left, and the real shame was that Ashworth was left stranded on 88* in a sparkling innings that deserved a hundred.
Headley’s total was still fairly competitive but it wasn’t long before Old Woking were utilising the short road side boundary to rattle the chase along. Andy Pickering bowled an intelligent spell of left arm spin to open the bowling, but the lack of firepower in the Headley bowling meant that a succession of Old Woking batsmen were able to accumulate the required run rate without much degree of risk. At 150-1 Headley introduced Richard Pollitt to bowl his offbreak’s on a pitch that was rapidly breaking up and giving sharp turn. This tilted the balance as Pollitt, bowling in tandem with off spinner Mitch Pickering, started to make life difficult for the Old Woking batsmen. At one point Headley had raised the required run rate to over 8 an over, but the belligerent Stenning, who had re-emerged as the No.3 batsman, continued to target the short leg side boundary and ultimately recorded a good hundred to bring his side home with a couple of overs to spare.
Headley were disappointed to lose this, especially given the chance they had to post an unassailable total 10 overs from the end of their innings. But a superb individual display from Stenning ultimately won his side the game and, one would hope, their man of the match award with 4 wickets and 105 undefeated runs. Headley hopefully await the return of a decent fixture next year.