Rain ruined an intriguingly-balanced Border Reserve League fixture between Hawick and Selkirk at a chilly Buccleuch Park on Sunday, writes Alex Massie.
Chasing 182 to win, the hosts were 83 for 2 when a persistent downpour forced the players from the field and ended any prospect of a result.
Each side doubtless feels as though they were denied victory by the elements: Hawick will claim that Greg Baillie, who recorded a belligerent half-century with a six off what would prove to be the last ball of the day, had given the home side the upper hand, while Selkirk will suppose, with some justification, that they were only a wicket or two away from putting their hosts under real pressure.
Batting first, the Souters owed much to Thomas Penman’s carefully crafted 61. The teenager’s innings was a model of good sense, mixing stout defence with sensibly-judged aggression. He was especially strong through the covers and quick to latch on to the short ball.
Alas, it was Penman’s turn to be the victim of the weekly running-between-the-wickets fiasco and this brought an abrupt, unfortunate end to a hitherto chanceless innings. The young keeper-batsman was sensible to avoid playing cross-batted strokes until he had gained the measure of the soft, sluggish, pitch.
If only his skipper had been so sensible. Instead, leading by dreadful example and demonstrating what not to do, Alex Massie mistimed a pull shot in the second over and was bowled by perhaps the rankest long hop of the season.
Ryan Pritchard was then busy rattling up a quick 38, thumping seven boundaries and somehow persuading Hawick fielders to spill two shockingly easy catches before he was bowled by Ronan Alexander.
At the other end Gary Alexander – the senior of a father and son combination doing duty for Hawick – was the pick of the Teri bowlers, demonstrating to all and sundry, the time-honoured values of line and length. This nagging spell slowed Selkirk’s momentum and kept the Souters below the 200 mark.
Gordon Branston made good use of his now patented shovel sweep en route to a watchful 25, but Neil Darling discovered how cruel and capricious a mistress cricket can be when his debut innings lasted precisely one delivery.
Hawick’s innings began dreadfully when James Boyle played all around a straight one from Ranald Wilkie and was trapped lbw.
However, Baillie soon showed that he was in good, pugnacious form as he set out to dominate the Selkirk bowling.
John Graham, however, had Declan Solley caught behind and Gary Alexander, batting with a runner, having done some damage to a hamstring while bowling, was fortunate not to be run out.
As each over passed, however, the skies darkened and the rain swept ever closer. Before long conditions had deteriorated to the point that only stubbornness or some doomed sense of optimism kept the players on the field.
It soon became impossible to grip the ball and as the rain continued it was evident that persevering was a fool’s business.
A. Massie b J Boyle 4
T. Penman run out 61
R. Pritchard b R Alexander 38
G. Fenton ct D Bryant b R Alexander 0
R. Wilkie ct S Hair b D Anderson 12
G. Branston not out 25
C. Fairbairn ct L Nichol b G Alexander 2
J. Everitt ct D Anderson b D Bryant 15
N. Darling ct A Moffat b D Bryant 0
J. Graham b D Byant 4
M. Branston not out 1
Total for nine 181
J. Boyle lbw b Wilkie 0
D. Solley ct Penman b Graham 11
G. Baillie not out 52
G. Alexander not out 14
Total for two 83