Finally, the 2021 Two Counties season got underway on 17 April 2021, with the First XI travelling to Braintree, a ground that has provided plenty of high scoring encounters previously. As the sun shone, Toby Pugh won the toss and elected to bat on a glorious afternoon.
Similar to last week, the Dons unfortunately lost early three wickets, in the form of Jimmy Ainscough, Ben Gibbons & Ian Elliott. Max Bryant and Mackenzie Jones steadied the ship, with a solid partnership of 72 before Jones departed. Matt Anderson arrived at the crease, as him and Bryant steered the Dons to 146 runs before Anderson was caught, looking for the big shot.
With Bryant proving to be the anchor at one end, wickets continued to fall around him with Matt Coppen and then Dan Haylett falling in quick succession. At 159 for 7, it appeared Maldon may struggle to see out their 50 overs, however a magnificent cameo from Ieuan Thomas resulted in him scoring 43 runs off of just 32 deliveries, including four 4’s and one 6.
At the end of innings, Pugh’s Dons finished on 237/7, largely thanks to Max Bryant who carried his bat through the entire innings, finishing on a personal best score of 107* off 142 balls, with twelve 4’s.
At the interval, the Dons knew they would need to bowl well on a surface well known for quick scoring and high totals. Haylett and Anderson opened the bowling for the Dons, however were unable to breakthrough as Braintree started well. The first change saw Pugh bring himself in to the attack and the impact was instant, as the host’s opening batman, Warren Celiz picked out Anderson in the deep. After his batting display, Thomas began to impact the match further as he clean bowled Chris Leech and Pugh soon picked up his second wicket, trapping Matt Renvoize leg-before.
That brought Daniel Chalk and Daniel Garner to the crease for the home side and both men batted superbly to steer their side to a strong position, post positing scores within the 60’s and looking favourable for a comfortable victory. However, Maldon began to battle back and several wickets in quick succession sparked a mini-collapse, including two magnificent run outs from Matt Coppen and wicketkeeper, Jimmy Ainscough respectively left Braintree needing 27 off the last five overs.
A superb catch on the boundary from Ben Gibbons appeared to swing the game in Maldon’s favour once more, however Braintree managed to hold on and won the game by three wickets with one over to spare, much to the disappointment to Toby and his side.
Braintree 238/7 (49 overs)
Daniel Garner 66, Daniel Chalk 60.
Toby Pugh 2-23, Ieuan Thomas 2-47.
Won by 3 wickets.
Maldon 237/7 (50 overs)
Max Bryant 107*, Ieuan Thomas 43.
Steve Hale 2-26, Louis Cant 2-41.
Won the toss and elected to bat.
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