Of the few small mercies from 2013’s endless winter was the success of Elstow’s indoor team. Two constants from the last few months were in abundance at The Warren in the season’s opening fixture against Newport Pagnell Town.
Firstly the prevailing arctic winds transforming Bunyan’s village into a tundra and secondly the white hot form of the indoor team captain Tom Wisson. His 109 not out here, his second Elstow century, plus the two wickets with the new ball confirmed Wisson’s return to his commanding best.
Newport Pagnell chipped and chirped away at him early on, and had a chance to second slip been taken in the second over, their opening bowlers’ work would have been justly rewarded. As it was, Wisson made the away team pay for their profligacy.

Cover driving with customary élan, Wisson warmed the cockles of the frozen Warren regulars hearts as well as the breast pocket of the umpire with his smiting. Where once upon a time would have been a cigarillo case, now sits a mobile phone and thankfully this was the only damage done to the official from a searingly vicious drive down the ground. Danger money in addition to appearance money may well now make up the umpire’s fee in future weeks. Let’s hope the league committee aren’t reading this.

Once past fifty there seemed little doubt of a three figure score as Tom accelerated through the gears taking his team through the points barriers as his boundary count continued through a variety of bulging sixes and crafted fours. He was helped firstly by an assured knock from Phil Johnson (27), who may well have gone on to some big runs himself but for a sharp return catch, then Matt Stevens and Chris Richards who both made decent starts. It was Wisson though who dominated the home side’s innings, leaving Elstow 233-5 from 44 overs at tea.

Wisson’s two early wickets put the jitters among Newport Pagnell and with a spritely looking Rob Tebbutt powering in from The Abbeyfields End, Elstow sensed an opening day win. Captain Stevens threw everything at the opposition using his bowlers well in pursuit of the thirty points but Pagnell, as they have done so effectively down the years, dropped anchor to secure a draw.

Late drama by way of four quick wickets gave Elstow grounds for optimism. Two wickets apiece from firstly the returning Tebbutt from the Wilstead Road End then debutant Matt Sampson set up a grandstand finish. Elstow needed one wicket from the last fifteen balls after Queenslander Sampson’s first two wickets caused a panic in the Pagnell ranks.
The last over, bowled amid lengthened shadows, looked like a Phoenix From The Flames replay from the first Ashes Test in 2009; an Australian bowler bounding in expectantly with nine round the bat in pursuit of a crucial victory. The English, memorably, prevailed that day in Cardiff. Frustratingly for Elstow yesterday, they did this time too.

Horner Shearing Man of Substance of the Day: T.W. Wisson. Brilliant all round display. He looks in the mood. Get him in your Fantasy Cricket Team.
Play here: http://elstowcc.easyfantasycricket.com/

The Sammon Pie Moment of Success: Geoff Couling’s pulled six in front of square leg as Elstow quickened the tempo in the last overs rivalled anything that may have been shown on ITV4 at a similar time. Bombastic!

Clag Nut of the Day: R.S. Thiarra. No runs and a rather chastening afternoon in the field. We all have days like these. Indeed, some of us have made a career out them.
Plenty of cricket to come this year still… Head up fella!

A cricket ball, yesterday. Looking spent after an Elstow mauling.