Bright start for Guernsey in early friendlies
David Piesing, Guernsey Cricket Board
Jersey's new coach, former South African Test player Peter Kirsten, had his first opportunity to see his new charges in match action ahead of next month's World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in two home friendlies against neighbouring Guernsey. The fixtures were played as the Jersey Cricket Board versus the Guernsey Cricket Board and as unofficial matches due to both sides being able to field more than 11 players.
Although the visitors won both matches, the weekend was an extremely useful and competitive workout for both squads at the start of what promises to be a very busy and challenging season.
Both sides had their first experience of powerplays, while coloured clothing, white balls and black sightscreens got their first airing in Jersey.
In the first game on Saturday, played in glorious sunshine, both sides were very close to full strength. The home side lost Peter Gough early on but the rest of the top order all made useful runs but without every really cutting lose. As is often the case, the Guernsey spin pair of Rich and Frith applied the shackles, and on this occasion were assisted by the off-spin of Smit. The trio bowled a total of 28 overs for just 105 runs. The Jersey total of 210 for 7 seemed 30-40 runs light of what could have been.
The visitors lost three early wickets to find themselves at 28 for 3, but skipper Stuart Le Prevost joined the South African GH Smit in a fine fourth wicket partnership of 121. Smit looked in particularly fine form to score 78 off 82 balls, while Le Prevost made a more sedate 58. After they were both dismissed Jersey sensed an opening, but Ben Ferbrache (27 not out at a run a ball) and Kris Moherndl put on an unbeaten 44 to see their side home with more than 6 overs to spare.
On Sunday, Jersey rested several senior players while Guernsey gave opportunities to 17 year-old Jonny Clark and 16-year old Tim Ravenscroft. The visitors decided to bat and really struggled, with the exception of Smit who continued from where he left off on Saturday with 41 off 37 balls. Driver bowled beautifully for the home side while Peter Gough bowled ten overs of off-spin to pick up 3 for 20. Guernsey were indebted to the veteran Gary Rich who nursed the tail from 111 for 8 to 154 all out, being last man out for a hard-fought 22 with just eight balls remaining.
Young Clark made an instant impact. Opening the bowling after having only given up bowling slow-left-arm to take up seam bowling in the winter, he quickly snared Peter Gough, caught at slip, for Gough's second duck of the weekend. Clark and fellow opener Blane Queripel both bowled impressively, but Jonny Gough and Andy Dewhurst looked to have built a solid platform with a useful second wicket partnership before Dewhurst fell leg-before to Kris Moherndl. Skipper Driver looked in good form before he was superbly run out by Clark from point and when Gough was bowled by Smit's first ball the game was wide open. Bradley Vowden and Ian Crocker then batted patiently in a very useful half-century partnership to take their side to 138 for 5, needing just 17 to win in 12 overs, but when Vowden was run out by Moherndl's excellent throw from long-on, the wheels came off as Guernsey's spinners again turned the screw. However, it wasn't the usual pair of Frith and Rich who did the damage this time, despite bowling tightly. Instead if was young Ravenscroft who, getting considerable turn with his off-breaks, caused panic in the Jersey tail and with just two runs needed from four overs, the youngster caught and bowled Bobby Minty to pull off a one-run victory for side, picking up 4 for 30 from nine overs in the process. Once again, Guernsey's spinners had pulled things back, conceding just 102 runs in 33 overs.
Jersey's new coach will have identified several areas to work on in the next 3 weeks before the WCL tournament, while Guernsey coach Keith Greenfield and manager Dave Hearse were delighted with the progress made by their squad over the winter months.