Kilve travelled to the ‘Don Valley for their opening match of the 2016 season, and under a mixture of blue sky and white fluffy clouds found themselves greeted with a fast outfield and a hard, but green deck. Upon winning the toss in his inaugural game as skipper, Chris James opted to insert the home team and so Kilve found themselves in the field with the familiar sight with club stalwarts Penwell and Clemenson starting with the new conker.

Penwell was on the money from the off, inducing numerous play and misses, and Clemenson was right into his stride from ball one, his natural shape causing all sorts of problems.

J. Lowe looked to be in great touch and found the fence with some fabulous lofted drives and was ably assisted by J. Prior until the latter was caught by Sam James off Penwell for 10. Penwell followed up the very next ball with one that slammed into Pigden’s front pad after he played down the wrong line, and he found himself walking back for a quacker after the umpire wasted no time in raising the finger.

C. Jenkins made a quick-fire 18, an innings that consisted of several flying edges to the third man boundary and a couple of powerful drives through the covers before he was caught by that man Sam James again, off the bowling of G. Stone, replacing Clemenson at the bottom end.

Next to go was Rawles (5), who found himself on the wrong end of a superb piece of fielding at square leg by Stone off the bowling of Josh Calder, who had replaced Penwell at the school end. His left arm trickery was a source of frustration to the batsman and upon seeing one drift down leg, he swept powerfully only to find the ball safely in the hands of Stone who held on superbly.

Young Sam James replaced Calder after he lost his range and he was straight into great line and length from the off, with several edges flying over the slip cordon before he was rewarded for his efforts by castling R. Hayward for 12 in his second over, and crucially removing the danger-man Lowe who feathered behind to veteran stumper Ed Martin for a superb 72.

At the other end, Stone was replaced by Payne after bowling his allotted set of 9 and he had his name in the wickets column in his second over, bowling Watts for 13 before having M. Sellick caught at mid on for a duck by the Kilve debutant Dave ‘Rabbit’ Rowsell.

James at the other end was unlucky not to take another wicket but helped maintain the pressure while Payne bagged himself a 4-for by removing L. Hawkins for 6 who was superbly stumped by Martin, before Payne combined with Rowsell again in an almost carbon copy of Sellick’s dismissal by having Buller caught for 7 to leave the Wembdon innings sat on 151 all out.

After a cracking tea, Kilve openers Payne and P. Stone took to the middle in the hope of getting the innings off to a positive start on a track that seemed to be coming on nicely. It was hard going though as the Wembdon openers bowled very well indeed, finding good movement from the new ball and scoring opportunities were limited.

Payne put several balls to the rope before being bowled off his pads by the in-swing of Lowe for 14, before Stone was caught at cover, driving on the up off Buller for a patient 10.

With both openers out in quick succession Martin and G. Stone began a rebuilding job, and although Stone found it hard going he eventually got the scoreboard ticking with a mixture of drives and late cuts before he was bowled by the loopy left-arm spin of Hawkins for 36.

The skipper James (4) was in at 5 but he couldn’t settle and tried sweeping a straight one that left Payne with no alternative but to raise the finger when he missed the ball and was trapped bang in front.

Clemenson, so often a force with the bat in time of need found it hard to adapt to the pitch, which was starting to offer a fair bit of uneven bounce. He found himself playing the wrong line to Hawkins who was getting good turn, and he was soon walking back after scoring just 3.

With the required rate sat around 5 an over Rowsell was next in, but he managed to feather behind to slip on his first delivery and sensing a collapse the home side certainly had their tails up and decided to bring the openers back on.

Unfortunately for them they were wrong – The talented M. Girling joined Martin at the middle and with 30 required off 7 overs the pair used the added pace on the ball superbly. The running between the wickets was exemplary and both took advantage of some sloppy fielding to silence the home team. Girling played some majestic strokes through the covers, reaching the rope a couple of times and Martin was finding the gaps with precision, even managing to pull Sellick though midwicket for 4 before Girling’s tip and run sealed a 3 wicket win for Kilve.

It was tense, but fantastic start to the new season, and the team spirit and patience shown throughout was brilliant to watch.