Uphill Castle open pre-season with 150-run win over Shaftesbury Road
- Credit: Ross Gudge
Uphill Castle welcomed Shaftesbury Road CC on a beautiful, but chilly, Easter Sunday for an historic game, after agreeing to host their rivals for the upcoming season.
It was also the earliest a match has been played at ‘The Castle’ for many years, with credit to groundsman Roger Fry, who despite the ground being covered in frost at 7am still managed to produce a fine wicket.
Uphill put out a youthful side eager to get back to competitive sport after the latest lockdown, which included players from all teams from the Under-15s to the firsts.
George Chapman stood in as captain for Andy Llewellyn, who is still recovering from a back injury but looking to return for the visit of Lympsham & Belvedere on April 17.
Chapman won his first toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat and Uphill were keen to use the match as much needed time in the middle, to make up for the lack of winter training.
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The opening partnership of Chapman and Hayden Watts got off to an interesting start as Chapman looked as if he had never been away and played a powerful back foot punch to hit the first ball of the season for four.
Unfortunately, the excitement of the previous delivery saw Chapman chase a short wide ball and nick behind for the Shaftsbury keeper take a low catch to his left.
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This brought the powerful Paddy Holyday to crease and with the pressures of last year’s captaincy removed from him, he started to take the attack to the fielding side.
Watts then began to join Holyday with some aggressive strokeplay and It was only a matter of time before both batsmen were out, both taking one to many risks.
Although wickets fell regularly Uphill never took their foot off the gas with the ball flying to all parts of the ground.
Powerful lower-order batman Kieran Ward was impressive with the bat with many hits clearing the ropes as the innings came to end with Uphill making 240 from their 35 overs.
Shaftesbury Road never gave up and showed great commitment, but Uphill really showed their class when they took the field and standards were high from the first over, as George Fox really impressed.
Fox produced a fine display of swing bowling, picking up the first two wickets as his spell of five overs went for just eight runs.
The young duo of Charlie Huke (three for eight from four overs) and Myles Bliss, who continued his impressive displays from last year, also shone as Uphill dismissed their rivals for just 90.
Chapman spoke of his pride and delight at his first game in charge, saying: "For us to put in a performance like that with no training is amazing. We were in complete control of the game right from ball one!
"All our game plans were met but there is of course room for improvement, it would have been nice for some of our batsmen to turn those starts into a big score."
Uphill Castle host Lympsham & Belvedere on April 17, as the seconds and thirds host Blagdon a day later.
The following week Uphill travel to Bridgwater for a tough test in preparation for the league starting the week after.
And with training starting on Friday April 9, Uphill are still looking for new players to join their squads. Anyone interested in joining should get in contact through their new website uphillcastle.cc.