Nottinghamshire’s Alex Jervis returned superb figures of seven overs for the cost of just 12 runs but could not prevent England’s Learning Disability XI losing by 57 runs to the Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation.
As Derek Morgan’s side continue to prepare for next year’s Tri-Series in Australia, they were left ruing a middle-order collapse of four wickets for just four runs.
Chasing what appeared to be a below-par total of 232 from their 40 overs at Arundel, England looked well set with the score at 107-1.
An opening partnership of 44 between the impressive Jonny Gale – caught superbly behind the wicket by Mikey Harris – and Jack Perry was followed by one of 63 for the second wicket; Chris Edwards seeing off ACCF’s opening bowlers with some aggressive strokeplay as the run rate was pushed up to just shy of eight an over.
But following the introduction of spin at both ends, England stumbled and Perry’s dismissal – stumped by Harris off the bowling of Charlie Davies – set about the collapse that would ultimately cost them the game.
Stuart Wood was pinned lbw by the same bowler and Edwards followed with a loose drive to mid-off trying to lift Joe Ashmore over the top. When Dan Levey was also stumped charging Davies, there appeared to be no way back.
“We were looking comfortable, holding all the cards and you would have said we looked on course for victory,” said Morgan. “But when you lose four wickets for nothing it’s tough for any side to recover. We contrived to play some questionable shots and made some questionable decisions.
“It just highlighted an area that we are having to work on and today was another valuable experience for the lads; when they are faced with trying to work their way out of trouble, it becomes a struggle.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges for this impairment group, when we come under pressure, how do we respond to that. A lot of these guys are challenged by self-confidence and self-esteem issues in everyday life, so to then go out in the middle of the pitch where you are under pressure and the opposition is working collectively to put you under more pressure, it becomes very demanding.
“But we are working on that all the time. I take heart that despite losing the game in that period, we had got ourselves into a position to win it by restricting the opposition with their batting, and showing great technical ability as we set about the run chase.”
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, ACCF’s total was built on the foundations of Iain Haggart’s composed 84; the opening batsman circumspect against the pace of England’s Tayler Young and Ronnie Jackson before pushing the score along and punishing the width of Matt Browne.
It was Browne, however, who made the much-needed breakthrough with the score on 92 - Jack Elliot-Monday square cutting into the safe palms of Jackson in the covers.
The home side continued to work in partnerships after that, but were unable to shake off the nagging accuracy of Jervis and the flighted spin of Jon Dakic, who bowled Toby Glover through the gate after running out Harris courtesy of a spilled return chance offered by Haggart.
Fine ground fielding then kept the charge for late runs under control, along with the returning spells of Young and Jackson. And there was a strong feeling the score of 232-5 was perhaps 20 runs short of a total that would have really challenged England.
But after their promising start, Morgan’s side were unable regroup with the pace taken off the ball.
There was something of a mini revival as Jackson and Lee Stenning moved the score onto 139-5, but when the former was caught by Ashmore off Glover, while Stenning followed in the next over.
Despite the tail fighting valiantly, it was to prove a forlorn chase as they saw out their overs to finish on 175-9.
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