18 Feb 2020
Off to a winning start!

After an overnight flight and a short bus journey to the hotel, the boys were ready to stretch their legs and get some last minute practice in before 2xT20's on Monday. Sunday afternoon saw the boys train at the ICC academy with a combination of nets and fielding practice taking place under the watching eye of the coaches. The ICC academy has hosted a number of international and county teams including the UAE national team and the boys relished the chance to practice at world-class facilities.

Monday started with a short bus journey to Ajman to the Young Talents Cricket Academy which is run by a former UAE national team player. Despite the sparse surroundings, the academy has 3 floodlit pitches with the boys being treated to playing on the front pitch. Match number 1 saw Jacob Noakes win the toss and choose to bat on a surface which looked like it could provide a lot of assistance for the batsmen. Stockport opened with Jacob Noakes and Josh Patel who got off to a flying start, the score moving along to 116-0 off 11 overs with Jacob reaching 52 and Josh 63 before being retired. The momentum continued with Jay Hurst and Orly Bonar continuing to keep the rate above 10 with Stockport reaching 205-1 off the 20 overs; Jay finishing on 40 and Orly contributing 22.

The boys headed onto the field with the confidence of posting a big score behind them which showed with an energetic and committed display in the field, typified by a terrific diving catch from Orly which was one of 4 catches. The wickets were spread around with Jack Tyley, Josh Patel and Dom Hanson all picking up 1 wicket, Jojo Mills picking up 2 wickets and Umar Chugtai, the pick of the bowlers, picking up 3 wickets.

The second match saw a slightly changed side selected in order to keep players fresh in the scorching heat. Once again Stockport won the toss and chose to bat, Umar Chugtai and Dom Hanson opening the batting. The pair weren’t quite able to replicate the rate of the previous game with a combination of an aging pitch and tight bowling contributing to tough scoring conditions. The innings picked up momentum towards the end with James Brace and Will Francis smashing quick fire scores of 20 and 18 respectively to take the final score to 113-3 off 16 overs. The opening bowling pair of Tom Loveday and Ollie Van De Ploeg kept things tight, helped by some good fielding. The run chase never really got started and despite some late hitting, Umar Chugtai kept his nerve in the final over only conceding 5 to give Stockport the win by 10 runs. Wickets were shared with James Brace, Ollie Van De Ploeg and Orly Bonar picking up one each.

It was a testament to the drive and determination of the team to persevere in the heat and come away with two wins.