Pots from the kingdom have found their way around the world although Wedgwood china has achieved much wider acclaim. It was therefore fitting that the Bahrain Camels visited this famous venue although the local team’s sponsorship with Audi meant that the Euro Motors-sponsored visitors had extra motivation to succeed.
Having toured the factory earlier in the day and learned about clay slips and batts the tourists were eager to atone for their unfortunate collapse the day before in a 39 loss to Newcastle and Hartshill in the English Potteries tour.
The venue for this latest magnificent fixture on the Bahrain Camels’ 24th consecutive tour for their was the stunning settings in the grounds of Josiah Wedgwood’s Etruria Hall sitting alongside the Trent and Mersey Canal.
The T20 format necessitates a quick start and the Camels – made up of seasoned players from the Awali Cricket Club’s Taverners team - duly received this thanks to Charles Forward who elegantly stroked his was to a half century that brought six 4s and a six.
His retirement only brought yesterday’s batting hero to the crease. Tom Wooding continued where he had left off, providing the Camels innings with an acceleration, clubbing five 4s and three 6s as he again reached his 50, smashing the Potters to all parts.
Local legend has it that the kiln timings are set according to the time it takes Guy Parker to reach his 50 (approximately 9.5 hours). With time running out the much-loved Awali veteran sacrificed his wicket for a valiant 20 bringing match day skipper Doug Perrins to the crease.
For several overs he had been on the boundary ropes encouraging his team to “hit out or get out”. He did the latter, the colour of his duck matching the glimmering shades on his baggy green.
In a frantic finale Graham Hoar was run out for an entertaining 17 while George Axtell followed in similar fashion after delighting the crowd with his trademark scoops and reverse sweeps. Matt Rees, running hard with David Axtell, brought the innings to a close with a dive to complete his second to leave Bahrain on 172-4.
The Wedgwood batters looked in fine fettle, a term derived from the local pottery industry.
Chasing what looked to be an unassailable target of 173 Perrins opted to open the bowling with Dave Starkie. His first over provided steady away swing although, having had a sighter, Mohammed and Tymczuk let loose.
Their forceful hitting already had the Camels on their toes and Saunders was forced to retire from the covers position having saved a boundary with his calf.
Perrins first over went for 11 while Starkie’s next disappeared for 23. The skipper turned to George Axtell and Tom Wooding. Axtell repeatedly fired the ball past the edge leaving the batsmen glazed, bowling at a level that led to the local club offering him a professional contract once the game finished.
With the flow of runs stymied, Perrins turned to Parker. The wily bowler cleverly allowed himself to be clubbed for the largest 6 of the day before flighting a slower ball as Tymczuk tried to repeat the feat to reach his half century. On this occasion he had not allowed for the different release and the ball nestled against the stumps.
It was now the turn of Matt Rees to demonstrate that the newest generation of Camels possess the savvy of the originals. Two slower balls saw him remove the dangerous Mohammed and Ray, caught in identical fashion by George Axtell, before a juggling Charles Forward managed to suspend the ball behind the stumps although we are still not sure where or how, to provide Rees with his third wicket.
Aussie Captain Perrins had clearly learned from Bahrain’s defeat the previous day. His constant tinkering in the field, mainly directed towards Steve Turner who covered an area the size of Belgium, slowed the over rate below that of the setting sun.
Unfortunately Turner, one of the world’s leading exponents of bowling in the dark, was unable to profit, the ball disappearing through gaps he had left in the field by being forced to bowl.
With Wedgwood sensing victory Perrins turned to David Axtell who first lured Tymczuk out of his crease for a smart stumping by Forward before trapping the dangerous Khan LBW in the same over.
By this stage the light from the scoreboard was shining brightly across the wicket. It was no surprise that Bahrain took more wickets although no-one was expecting the stunning diving one-handed catch from George Axtell that lifted the gloom with even the home team’s numerous supporters rising in acclaim, providing Wooding with his first wicket of the day.
The innings was finished off by Fergus Shaw, returning to the Camels after a four-year absence, claiming his first ever wicket thanks to another fine stumping by Forward.
The Camels claimed their first victory of the tour, winning by 34 runs.
The BMMI Man of the Match award was handed to Charles Forward, the Big Man’s Masterful Innings a fitting tribute to his recently departed father, Tony, whose umpiring and off-field contributions will long be written in Camel’s folklore. The Euro Motors ‘Drive of the Day’ was awarded to Tymczuk while Fergus secured the Economy Drive for the final over of the day in which he also took his first wicket for the Camels.