The Hunter Hurricanes started the Windmill Whack season where they left off, picking up a win over the Chairman’s Choice to get the competition underway. In many ways the game was a similar affair to the 2017 finale, with the Choice struggling to post a competitive score and the Hurricances overcoming some wobbles to get over the line.
John Curtis fell early for the Choice, bowled by an inswinging yorker from Michael Jones, and James Perman fell next ball, caught at short mid-off. Joe Ellis Grewal, Pete Thompson and Farid Butt helped the Choice rebuild but Butt was eventually left stranded, with more than three overs unused, as Jack O’Dowd ran through the middle and lower order to bowl out the 2016 winners for 85.
John French failed to trouble the scorers in the Hurricanes reply, caught behind off a thick inside edge off Curtis, and Guy Robertson was run out thanks to some excellent fielding from Will Frost, before Billy Wright and Overseas signing Alfie James settled into the chase. Both batsmen were aided by some generous fielding from the Choice, although Wright did fall to an excellent caught and bowled from Frost. James eventually fell for 27, also caught and bowled by captain for the day Thompson, but Max Carter Miller and O’Dowd held their nerve to see their side to a four wicket win with four overs to spare.
Game 2 saw the Apple Finance Firebirds win the toss and elect to bat against the newest franchise the Kushoom Bugh Tigers, whose owner was at the ground to enjoy the occasion. Louis Pickering and Joe Wyatt got the Birds off to a fast start, but some excellent bowling from Jeff Mack, Dan Tyler and Mo Rahim got the Tigers back into the contest. Pickering had reached 38 when he hit a full toss from Matt Peters to long off, where he was well caught by Ant Limn and it was left to James Evans, with an unbeaten 28, to see his side to a reasonable 110-8.
Jack Lord, on debut, struck early in the Tigers reply, sending back Steve Wright for three, and Rob Waghorn and Tom Daniels also fell cheaply as the Birds foughtback. However, Steve Mack stood firm at the other end as the Tigers gradually took control. Mack received good support from Dan Tyler (17), and skipper Ant Limn joined his opening batsman to see the Tigers to an excellent victory. Mack finished on 59 not out, the highest score of the day.
The next action will be on Wednesday 30th May, when the Choice and Firebirds face off in what is already looking like a crucial encounter for both sides.
Updated 09:46 - 25 May 2018 by Paul Middlemiss