Gurbutt & Brickers hit 10th wicket record but Llamas draw again
By Antony Ireland
Four draws in a row leaves Llamas languishing mid-table
The Llama 3s are quite hard to beat at the moment. Unfortunately they can't seem to win either, racking up a fourth consecutive draw away at Weybridge, as our struggles in the timed format once again appear to have snuffed out any vague hopes of silverware.
To take a draw out of the equation it's best to win the toss and bowl, but on the hottest June day on record, the sklpper may have been lynched and Ant Ireland duly elected to bat first in the hope of grinding the home side into the dirt and attacking some weary batsman later in the day.
The Llamas couldn't have got off to a better start, with Fraser McGuinness (41) and Srikanth Vuppala (57) flaying 71 for the first wicket from 13 overs. An errant sweep, calamitous run-out and hard-handed prod later and the Llamas were in a bit of trouble at 80-3, with McGuinness, Ireland and Jordan Bunyan back in the hutch and the pitch looking decidedly tricky to bat on once the shine came off.
Vuppala and Simon Brews (29) rebuilt well, putting on 49, and Steve Cross (17) hung in there for some time while wickets began to again fall at the other end. But soon enough, the Llamas were looking like they would struggle to bat 50 overs, at 173-9 from 43.
In stepped Callum 'Do you bat? Um, not really' Gurbutt , who proceeded to make a mockery of the batsmen's struggles, dispatching anything in his arc back over the bowler's head, repeatedly. Not to be upstaged, Brickers started slapping boundaries too, and before we knew it, records were tumbling and Weybridge were in disarray.
The pair put on an outstanding 63 - a 3rd XI 10th wicket record - in less than 8 overs, totally changing the complexion of the game. When Brickers was cleaned up for 28, leaving Gurbutt on 34* (we assume also a record for number 11), the score had inflated to a very competitive 236 from 51 overs, leaving Weybridge 49 to knock 'em off.
The Llamas tucked into a very brown tea the happier of the two sides, and confident that on a slow, low track, they had every chance.
Gurbutt (1-59 from 11) bowled with decent gas but leaked a few boundaries while Brickers (1-32 from 11) kept it tight at the other end, but it was again the introduction of Boy Wonder Will Brewis (3-22 from 9) that brought the breakthrough.
Kyle Haughton (1-39 from 5) removed the dangerous Bains for 35 after taking a bit of tap, but having bowled too many boundary balls through the day and looking a little ragged in the field, the Llamas had allowed Weybridge to get within sight of victory.
Brewis kept chipping away, bowling with good control and variations, Manoj Rajarethinam (back from an extended tour of the UK's family leisure destinations) took a pole (1-21 from 6) and Brickers returned to put the squeeze on the home side, with all three results in the balance heading into the final half an hour.
A tense cat and mouse game ensued, with skipper Ireland as usual torn, fraught and utterly indecisive, eventually settling for a defensive strategy. The Llamas took an 8th wicket in the final over thanks to a sharp stumping from McGuinness to Gurbutt, raising hopes of a block-buster finish, but were unable to prevent Weybridge sneaking past the winning draw target with two balls to spare.
Just 8 short of victory, another over and they may well have won, and indeed, we would not have even been in the game had it not been for the heroics of Brickers and Callum.
Weybridge ended on 229-8, meaning the Llamas have taken 8 or 9 wickets in their last three attempts to bowl a side out - falling short each time and just lacking that little bit of variation in their attack. Mystery spinners, applications on a postcard.
We take on Ashtead at St. Alban's Rd this week, and with a strong line-up hope to break the hoodoo and get back to winning ways.
Meanwhile, Weybridge's umpire heads off to an ashram to find inner peace and get a handle on his explosive temper.