Cambridge NCI Cricket Club skipper Jimmy Handley may have completed the 2009 London Marathon less than 24 hours later, but it was veteran opener Ian Osborne who went the distance and batted for 48 overs to almost grab a second win of the season. The Cambridge team needed 15 runs from the last two overs to defeat Castor & Ailsworth at Churchill College in the second division of the Tucker Gardner League but Osborne found it increasingly difficult to get on strike and the target was still 10 from the final six balls.
Osborne finished unbeaten on 92 but could not get the required runs even though the tension lasted to the final ball with a boundary needed to tie and six to win. Skipper Handley was disappointed not to take maximum points from the opening two games: "We gave them too many runs in the field and should have only been chasing 150... I though we had enough batting left to win it in the final overs, however we lost wickets at crucial stages and the tail-enders could not carry us home."
Handley agreed it was a big loss not having Mark Thompson available after the all-rounder took the accolades the previous week with two wickets and an unbeaten 41 to defeat Eaton Socon. "We missed Tomo and the bowlers lacked a bit of potency. However we are looking forward to being able to welcome our overseas player to add to the bowling line-up," referring to Australian quickie Steve Commadeur who will be available for selection in the next week. The skipper is confident NCI will make an impact in the league this season and Handley threw down the gauntlet to his team after a disappointing finish in 2008: "I want us to make the top two, especially after narrowly missing out on promotion last year." "We have a good blend of youth and experience and with the couple of additions to the squad for this season, I don't think any thing less than promotion will be good enough," he added.
Earlier NCI bowled well and took wickets at regular intervals with paceman Shehan Thampapillai and all-rounder Jake Allcock taking four and three wickets respectively. Ashley Rogers hit 41 and Laurence Davis notched up 30 for the visitors and, thanks to some useful runs from the tail and sloppy fielding from NCI, set a challenging total of 188 on an early season wicket.
After a slow start the NCI innings gathered pace and were comfortable placed as Osborne and Allcock put on 74 for the fifth wicket. Allcock was out for 32 with the score on 137 and was replaced by his father Pete. However the Castor bowlers began to turn the screw and restrict the flow of runs as the asking rate started to increase. Allcock senior departed for 18 and despite 41-year old Osborne's heroics NCI were unable to pass the wining post. But with a long season ahead, skipper Handley will surely agree it is a marathon rather then a sprint to the end.
Cambridge NCI played Castor & Ailsworth at Churchill College on Saturday 25th April 2009
NCI practice every Wednesday at Leys School, Trumpington Road, 6 - 8pm