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Thursday, 23 June 2016
In weather that has rarely greeted this, Bolton School's most prestigious fixture in recent years, a dozen or so guests basked under a sunny sky, with flitting clouds to relieve any thoughts of heatstroke, to watch the MCC bat against the schoolboy attack. Tidy without enormous threat, the seamers were faced with an initially encouragingly positive approach by the visitors with London based Old Boy Jonathan Shaw leading the way. He had reached 39 having readjusted after a decade away to the pace of Bottom Level when 15 year old Kurtis Watson got one to move off the seam and claim his first of what promises to be many 1xi wickets. A monstrous spell of some 17 overs from Ben Milnes slowed the MCC top order, but the 4 an over was accelerated as Panda, the Edgworth pro – and an IPL player – batted smoothly for a sweet 70. Forty overs and the 200 came up on the stroke of lunch and captain Roland Horridge declared to give the School around 165 minutes to build an innings to achieve a tasty target.
The observers felt around 4 an over would get the School close so long as one of the top order trio’s experience and prowess led to at least one big innings. Sadly, captain Fraser Kay went very early and when Will Davidson & Dan Southworth were not able to build their own personal stays beyond too short for the team, school were struggling at 56-5 after 20 overs. Milnes showed some left-handed lustiness for 27 but the 40 run partnership between him and Watson ended and three wickets tumbled. Faced with the task of saving the match, at last School found an unexpected pair to attempt what seemed like a Herculean challenge given the performance of those higher up the order. Bradley Wright had so far this season failed to live up to expectations of at least one commentator and Will Lord coming in at No. 10 – some might suggest he has so far been a prime example of getting a nosebleed if he were any higher up the order! However, they really impressed as the visitors threw, or rather bowled, a plethora of youth and experience, spin and pace, left and right hand at them. Not without offering a couple of tough close catches, the pair took advice and buckled down towards their goal. Adding an undefeated 39 for the ninth wicket, they reached 147-8 and helped School to the draw that rarely looked likely but was ultimately proof of the many skills needed in conquering this sport’s myriad facets – a spirited effort indeed.
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