BRAINTREE Cricket Club got their 2021 season off to a winning start by defeating Westciff by two wickets in a friendly warm-up game, played out in chilly conditions.

Braintree captain Dan Garner won the toss and invited Westcliff to bat first, with the plan of getting a decent bowl at the opposition and in turn giving the batters the opportunity to chase down the target.

Westcliff got off to a decent start putting on 53 runs inside eight overs for the first wicket. Eventually Robbie Spalding tempted Wright into one big shot too many and Matt Renvoize took an excellent catch.

The score continued to push along at a good rate until the introduction of spin slowed things down. Bowling in tandem Geoff Eveling and Major Singh brought the Dolphins back into the game, taking wickets at regular intervals.

The Major in particular bowled really tightly and finished with the excellent figures of five wickets for 26 runs from his nine-over spell, whilst Eveling claimed two wickets himself.

When Grace Poole trapped the oppositions last batter LBW, the total had reached 238 the sort of figure that Garner had envisaged chasing down.

However, in reply Braintree got off to the worst possible start as both Warren Celiz and Stephen Warburton found themselves back in the gazebo without troubling the scorer.

Matt Renvoize joined Chris Leech at the crease and the pair slowly put about putting together a partnership. Having scored four delightful boundaries in a score of 21, Renvoize found himself clean bowled though.

In the words of new coach Warburton, Leech was pacing himself beautifully and brought up his half century with a delicate late cut.

Braintree’s middle order batsmen also did themselves proud with Dan Garner (35), Geoff Eveling (17) and Major Singh (17) all contributing as Braintree made their way to the 239 runs required for victory.

Unfortunately, within sight of three figures Leech got a leading edge and was caught out for an excellent 89. His innings contained 13 boundaries, faced 114 deliveries and spending a total of 168 minutes at the crease.

Matt Hollingsworth hit the winning runs, scoring an unbeaten 35 off just 22 balls.

This was a really good performance by Braintree with no catches dropped in extremely cold conditions.

The Dolphins welcome Maldon to Panfield Lane on Saturday for the opening Marshall Hatchick Two Counties division one fixture of the season.

In future weeks Dan Garner may find himself with a selection dilemma on his hands, as on top of those who played last weekend Will Jackson, Dan Chalk, Louis Cant, Barry Stephens, Rory Ainsley and Josh Newman should all be available.