Pacific made the trip out to Fulmer, who were sporting a brand spanking new pavilion, with a team that contained a clutch of newcomers. In fact, Pete Czabotar was the only Pacific player in the side who had played against the opposition last season. However, another injury and another lower-order batting collapse prevented a win for the Islington-based side.
Fulmer 176 for 7 (Black 8-1-24-3, Bastin 8.1-1-25-3)
Pacific 143 All Out (Cochrane 51, Bastin 21, Czabotar 16)
Fulmer won the toss and decided to bat first. This decision was rewarded with an opening stand of 85, despite attacking bowling from Oliver Haill and Martin Cowling. Both bowlers were extremely unlucky, as the ball frequently beat the bat, barely missed the stumps or fluttered inches from fielders' reaching hands.
After waiting in vain for some twenty overs, skipper Steve Lay introduced his Rob Bastin and Azhar Mushtaq to the attack in order to try and get some wickets. He was soon pleased to see a breakthrough as Bastin's swing bowling drew an edge, which was well taken by stand-in 'keeper Pete Czabotar. The batsman looked incredulously at the umpire as he was given out but the Pacific fielders were in no doubt - there was definitely no need for a Snickometer.
The other Fulmer opener, on the verge of his 50, was next to be removed as he played onto his own stumps to one of Bastin's lethal swerving deliveries. At the other end, after struggling to find consistency or a wicket, Azhar was replaced by Northern Irishman Colin Black. The Ulsterman, after getting into his stride, employed his cunning slower ball to destructive effect. He took three wickets by inducing false strokes from the batsmen, which all flew into grateful Pacific hands - Azhar, Bastin and debutant Ben Haley taking the catches.
Shaun Cochrane then bagged a wicket with his spin, but was taken off after four overs as Fulmer accelerated the run-rate. Cowling took over, but on the fifth ball of the over he badly turned his right ankle. He was barely able to walk, and Bastin was brought on to bowl the last ball of the over. He bowled a wide - greedily getting himself another go. On the second try he bagged his third wicket - Lay taking the catch. A couple of overs later the home team declared, leaving Pacific a run chase of 177 to win.
After a bountiful tea in the new pavilion ('burly' Aussie all-rounder Tim Marshall dropped out of the team at the last minute, so was unable to pass judgement for the recently-introduced match report feature Tim's Teas), Pacific opening batsmen Shaun Cochrane and Azhar Mushtaq strode out to the middle.
The openers started out well, both playing elegant strokes and finding the gaps. However, as had happened to the Fulmer opener, Azhar was caught behind to a snick he never felt or heard - but a massive roaring appeal from the Fulmer fielders helped sway Aussie Pete Czabotar, who was umpiring. This brought Bastin to the crease. After some recent nervous performances, he played with a rare abandon, thwacking the giant Fulmer opening bowler for successive pulled fours in one over. Together, the two Pacific batsmen assaulted the bowling. In one over, Cochrane drove a towering six into the car park (narrowly missing an old couple) and a ball or two later pulled another maximum straight at the kiddies' play area - only feet from the playing toddlers.
A change of bowling soon brought the wicket of Bastin, who played around a straight one and was bowled. Skipper Steve Lay was went in and attempted to keep the score ticking over but was caught out with six to his name. Czabotar then took to the field and began to take to the Fulmer bowling, with a few of his trademark hockey-style hits going for fours. Cochrane, who had just made his maiden Pacific fifty, was caught by Harris off the bowling of Wharton.
Debutant Ahmer Mushtaq, brother of Azhar, having not played for over a decade was next to take guard. He made two before being caught out. Not long after, Czabotar was out, having made a very nippy 16. Ben Haley, another debutant, in only his second ever game of cricket, marched out purposefully. He left his first ball, blocked the next and slogged the third into a fielder's hands.
Seven wickets down and 50 runs from victory, Haill was sent in. Mat Patel was soon given out leg before on seven and Colin Black added a belligerent nine before he was caught at mid-off. This brought a limping Cowling out to the middle. With him he brought a runner and orders from the captain to play for the draw. An over and a half later, Haill, uncomfortable with the blocking, aimed a forward defensive at a straight one and was clean bowled for nine with four overs to go and 33 runs short of the target, leaving Cowling the last man standing.
"Oh dear," sighed skipper Steve Lay, doing well to hold back the tears, "it was a good bowling and fielding performance, but despite a good fifty from Shaun we were once again let down by our batting,".
XI:- Pete Czabotar, Steve Lay*, Tim Marshall, Matt Patel, Rob Bastin, Colin Black, Shaun Cochrane, Oliver Haill, Martin Cowling, Ben Haley, Azhar Mustaq
& Ahmer Mustaq