Back down to earth!
Thwack. The sound of an English summer: leather on willow. Unfortunately for Saints that was pretty much the only sound during Cincinatti’s innings. It was crash back to earth time for a group of players that only nine days previously had been revelling in the hallowed surroundings of Lord’s – as voluminously described in DT’s behemoth match report. I am told it originally came complete with footnotes.
Cincinatti opened with the left-hand, right-hand combination of Beven and Ross on a lifeless pitch that gave little assistance to Saints’ opening bowlers, or indeed any that followed thereafter. And it was not that Saints’ bowling was at all bad. Quite the contrary, one early van Marle (note the small ‘v’ chaps, in more ways than one) delivery fizzed millimetres past Ross’s edge and outside stump, while Bevan edged a F Quinn delivery into a vacant gully area. But other than those, the openers’ innings were as flawless as they were patient, and despite generally tight fielding (your correspondent excluded) and canny bowling from Saints, gradually the total mounted.
At the drinks break stand-in skipper Berkeley demonstrated his tactical mastery by turning to his team with a shrug of his shoulders: “Any ideas?”
The initial breakthrough came after opposition skipper Brendan urged his openers “to let someone else have a turn”, at which point Ross, trying to push the pace, or get out, was bowled by a drifting cutter from Saints’ guest player Assam. Out came burly bruiser Naved who, unacquainted with the phrase ‘forward defence’ danced down the wicket to the gentle flight of a Griffiths’ delivery and was lbw off his back leg.
If Saints thought there was a chance of restraining the Cincinatti’s score during the final overs, with two new batsmen at the crease (Bevan had magnanimously retired 104 not out), they were very mistaken, and found themselves subject to an astonishing assault from Lowe and Rahman, who to put on over 70 runs in the final five overs.
After tea, during which New Zealand were holding Italy to a 1-1 draw and should have given Saints hope that the underdog can turn things around, Cincinatti opened with the dibbly-dobbly paring of Abid and Rock. They managed to convince Saints top order that the pitch had morphed into something resembling Sabina Park. The fourteen overs they bowled obliterated Saints’ top and most of its middle order. Mayhew looked out of sorts and top-edged a skier; Griffiths went to fine catch by Lowe in the gully; Chalmers went second ball leg before – waiting for about one hundred years for umpire Grimes to decide his fate; while Barber and J Quinn also launched skiers. Cininatti skipper Brendan brought himself on, bowling accurate-but-hardly-turning leg breaks. He trapped Berkeley leg before; sent Grimes stepping onto his wicket first ball; and had Assam, the only threatening Saints batsman, stumped. Then they brought on their good bowlers to send van Marle and Keenan back to the pavilion for a combined total of six. F Quinn survived two not out, with a team total of 86 all out from 24 overs
Completely outclassed, if Saints can draw any consolation from the game, it is to be found in two areas. The first were Mrs Ross’s brownies, originally intended for the home team at the second drinks break but which were gratefully received by Saints’ bemused batsmen and gave J Quinn the cance to sow all manner of seeds of marital doubt into the Ross household with some close-to-the-bone ribaldry; and the fact that in the same game last season, Saints were all out of 60 off 24.3 overs. That is progress, of a kind.
Champagne moment: Mrs Ross’s brownies.
Man of the Match: With very little to choose from, it goes to guest player Assam, who second joint top-scored with 14 (Mr Extras made a welcome return to the Saints batting line up with 17), and got a wicket.
van Marle 6 overs 35 runs 0 wickets
Keenan 6 45 0
F Quinn 6 61 0
J Quinn 4 25 0
Berkeley 4 30 0
Grimes 3 18 0
Assam 4 31 1
Griffiths 2 5 1
Mayhew c. Rock 14
Griffith c Abid 10
Chalmers lbw Abid 0
Barber c Rock 14
J Quinn c Abid 4
Assam Stumped |Brendan 14
Berkeley lbw Brendan 5
Grimes hit wicket Brendan 0
van Marle bowled Naved 1
F Quinn not out 2
Keenan c&b Naved 5