The Bears ‘raced’ to an emphatic 79-run victory in their first match back in Division 2 (following 2018’s relegation from the top-flight) against old adversaries, Swindon United Churches, in what could only be described as ‘blustery’ conditions.

Batting first, the Bears posted 230/4 in their 45 overs; the total based around a 144 first wicket partnership between the newly relaxed skipper, Mark Gunning, and Joe ‘intense’ De Souza. The latter named was in fine form, brutally dispatching anything over-pitched or slightly short, before falling in the 35th over for 80 – an outstanding innings from the Bath Spa undergraduate!

The returning (from his season in Bristol & District Division 5) Ross Newman (42) joined Gunning and quickly got the run rate flying along with a swash-buckling cameo, which helped add 78 for the second wicket, before Gunning fell for a composed 85.

In return, the Churches were quickly in trouble at 6-3 thanks to blistering opening spells from joint vice-captain, Jay Morris (2/20), and the svelte-like Tom Harris (3/14), who must have been inspired by his conversation with the skipper about the world renowned physician, Richard Feynman, between balls.

The bowling figures were only possible because of some superb cordon catching from Newman (two – the first one surely a Champagne Moment candidate already) and the outstanding Sam Vesey behind the stumps.

Some stubborn batting from the home side’s lower order enabled the Churches to reach 151/9, despite Paul Wood’s (3/24) best efforts to finish off the tail. It was also great to see George ‘My Boy’ Ellis back bowling after his variety of serious injuries; the pace ace demonstrating what a miss he has been after getting the most bounce out of all of the bowlers.

Special mention to umpire Ted who stood out in the middle for 90 overs, enduring the full wrath of Storm Hannah… the greatest achievement of the day! (And of course the Morris family, watching that all day, an amazing feat!)