A vital half-century from new club captain Dave Murray and a dogged 30 from Saturday skipper Steve Lay ensured Pacific got off to a winning start to the season. After the bowlers had excelled to dismiss Graces for a below par 123 - the batsmen made heavy weather of overhauling the total - slumping to 33 for 5 at one stage. Murray secured the win and brought up his fifty with a boundary in the last over.
Graces 123 all out (Jim Davies 3 for , Darryl Roberts 2 for , Rob Allum 2 for )
Pacific 124 for 8 (David Murray 50*, Steve Lay 30, Lawrence Curtis 4 for 36)
Skipper Steve Lay faced a complicated decision on winning the toss. With the late withdrawal of Phil Spearpoint and late arrival of Matt Holiday – plus the planned early departure of Jim Davies – the skipper had a lot to ponder even before deciding whether to bat or bowl first. In the event – his decision to bowl was justified by excellent opening spells from Lucius Faisal and Darryl Roberts. Roberts in particular beat the bat on a number of occasions – and when he found the edge the ball fell short of slip.
Faisal made the breakthrough – and then Roberts got his just rewards thanks to a fine diving catch at cover from Ted Szuman. With both bowlers finding thin edges through to impressive new keeper Seb Jennings – Graces were reeling with the loss of 4 early wickets.
However much of their strength lies in the all-rounders and they began to fight back with some attacking legside hitting. Lay turned to experienced medium pacers Rob Allum and Jim Davies to try to make another breakthrough – but early on Davies struggled to find his length and was punished. Early season rustiness was soon shaken off though – as wickets tumbled as the bowlers hit the stumps and even claimed a surprisingly alert caught and bowled. Turncoat Jonathan Hardisty gallantly failed to score more than a handful of runs – and with Darryl Roberts running out the dangerous Richard Bielby with a great pick up and throw – the wheels soon came off the Graces innings. Two trademark Davies yorkers brought a premature close on 123.
Davies and Matt Holiday opened the innings in an attempt to give the Welshman as much time at the crease as possible before his enforced departure. However it was Holiday who went first – caught behind for a duck. Davies’ attempt to throw the bat failed – thanks to a brilliant catch above first slip’s head. With youngsters Szuman and Jennings also missing out Pacific were in deep trouble. When veteran Allan Roberts’ promotion up the batting order backfired – Pacific found themselves on 33 for 5 – effectively for 6 with one man short.
There followed a classic partnership in adversity from the seasoned duo of skippers – Steve Lay and Dave Murray. Battling against tight bowling and knowing there was little to come – the pair grafted for a match winning stand of 66. Only when the need to up the tempo took hold did Lay succumb for a gritty 30.
Lucius Faisal to played a vital quick cameo as he smashed a four and six. He went trying to repeat the shot – and Rob Allum fell two balls later - leaving Murray with last man Darryl Roberts. A confident lbw appeal was turned down as the excitement built. 10 were needed from the last 2 overs – then 4 from the last over. With impeccable timing Murray stroked the winning boundary – bringing up his own fifty in the process.
“At effectively 33 for 6 we were staring at possible humiliation” said club captain Murray afterwards.” It was a huge struggle but in the end hugely satisfying. Personally, given the circumstances, one of my best innings for Pacific and another partnership for the Murray-Lay scrapbook. The wizened old veterans did it again!" he added.
X: Jim Davies, Lucius Faisal, Matt Holliday, Steve Lay*, David Murray, Allan Roberts, Darryl Roberts, Rob Allum, Ted Szuman, & Seb Jennings.