DAN MARLES is not a happy captain.
After the euphoria of two remarkable campaigns leading Finchampstead, his third could prove the trickiest yet.
Having suffered shock opening day defeat to newly-promoted Oxford, Finches (247-10) again fell short in a nail-biting contest against Tring Park (249-7), where the game was won with just three balls to spare.
It could have been a different story had the Home Counties Premier League champions not been hampered by penalty runs incurred for indiscipline.
And Marles insists his side must not get sucked into being penalised for any actions of that kind again.
“When Dan (Lincoln) got out, he scuffed the floor with his bat out of frustration,” the skipper told The Wokingham Paper.
“Then apparently one of our lads showed the bat to the umpire when given out lbw after he hit it, so they were the official warnings.
“I didn’t know until after the innings and that’s what we got the penalty runs for.
“If you look at the end result, it could’ve been a different game without that.
“It was obviously a massive shame and it’s something we shouldn’t be doing.
“We shouldn’t be getting involved with anything disciplinary and I hope we won’t for the rest of the season.”
It was actually a good start for Finch as they batted better than during the loss to Oxford.
Sitting comfortably on 50 without loss, the quick dismissals of openers Greg Smith (28) and Andrew House (22) plus big hitter Billy Rogers (8) thrust captain Marles and Lincoln to the crease.
And the pair shaped the innings with a superb stand of 134 to fire the visitors past the 200 mark before Lincoln fell for 69 off the bowling of Luke Coleman-Ohrynowsky.
Marles soon followed after making 75, also falling to Coleman-Ohrynowsky and the overseas spinner tore through the order to end with figures of 5-54 as Finchampstead collapsed from 204-3 to 248 all out.
“I thought me and Dan batted really well,” said Marles.
“We set the game up for the batters towards the end.
“We both should’ve gone on to get a hundred but to both get 70-75 set ourselves a good target going into the last 10 overs.
“We should be getting 280-300 there, not 248 all out.
“It’s pretty disappointing for us. The batters have let themselves down again.
“It’s not really good enough.”
Despite the disappointment of being bowled out, the second innings again started perfectly for Finch with Jandre Coetzee picking up two wickets in the first over.
But knocks of 76 from both Alexander Woodland and Coleman-Ohrynowsky set Tring Park on their way to eventually win with three wickets to spare.
And Marles says some key decisions again went against his side.
“Similar to last week, we haven’t had the best from the umpires,” he said.
“15-2, same as last week, one nicked off not given which is a massive part of the game.
“That guy goes on to get 70 and that really hurt us.
“It’s just hard to take when the umpires have a say on the game and it didn’t help us this week.
“There were three or four decisions. I’m not saying it’s all down to them, but it’s a massive factor. I’m not blaming that at all, but it’s hard to come back from because 15-3 could’ve been a completely different game.”
Marles says he will look to make changes to his side for this Saturday’s clash with Horspath, despite his hands being tied by the absences of Lincoln, Andy Rishton and Matt Jones.
And he remains confident that a victory is just around the corner.
“If we play anywhere near the cricket I know we can play, then we’re going to start winning games soon,” said the captain.
“We were very close on Saturday and we’re not far away.
“Every game is a must-win if you want to win the title.
“It was a crazy season last year, a bit like Leicester City in the Premier League I suppose.
“We are just trying to adapt and be title defenders, which is quite a hard thing to do.
“We will try and reach the top four and get off to a winning way on Saturday.”
FINCHAMPSTEAD batting: House 22, Smith 28, Marles 75, Rogers 8, Lincoln 69, Jones 11, Coetzee 5, Carter 2, Augustus 6, Parson 10, Uttley 3no.
Bowling: Coetzee 3-43, Carter 1-48, Parson 2-30, Augustus 0-40, Uttley 0-53, Marles 1-15.
FINCH did at least get some cup respite on Sunday, progressing to round three of the ECB National Club Championship with a comfortable win over Billingshurst.
Matt Carter top scored with 75 and Finchampstead will now face Sunbury at the Memorial Ground next month.