London Saints lose again – but no disgrace
Horizontals 278-3 (Van Marle 1-35, Griffiths 1-26)
London Saints 201-8 (Walters 70, Barber 45)
40 over match
The highest winning score by any side batting second in the history of 40-over cricket was the 326 totalled by the Unicorns (an amateur side) against Sussex in May this year.
From that perspective, our 201-8 chasing Walthamstow Horizontals’ 278 was quite a decent performance; more so, when one considers our recent nerve-shredding winning score of 123 in Somerset over the same number of overs.
It was always going to be tough going with the absence of some of our regular players combined with Horizontals having their strongest team available (apparently if this game had been played a week or two earlier we might have been in with a chance!)
With WH batting first, we made an early breakthrough with Gavin “Floater” van Marle removing one of their openers for 20. It was one of only two successes by our bowlers on a relatively cool day in as their other opening bat Herricaly (77) and No 3 Porton (64) went about their scoring with clinical precision. We were left to rue the fact that both players offered chances – sharp catches to the slips and midwicket – that were missed, although by then they had already been scoring freely. Porton finally had his stumps broken by the spin-bowling Paltrow with a ball that confused not only the batsman but everyone else – mainly because it didn’t spin at all.
It was a looping full toss straight from the Paul Pearce manual and at least two fielders were already running towards the boundary to get a head start on reaching the ball when it hit the bemused batsman’s stumps. That only brought another big hitter to the wicket – Webster – who, dropped in the covers on about 20, came agonizingly close to scoring a century. In fact, it was only a great final over from Lord Lucan (he of the dodgy golf shoes) and the determination of the Saints team to deny him a three-figure score that saw him finish on 99 not out. Herricaly was also run out in the final over as he attempted to push the score along (The skipper had obviously talked our chances up, giving them the impression that anything less than 300 would be a walk in the park for us!)
Indeed, with no teenagers in sight, and still on a high from his wicket-taking doosra ball, our opening bat Griffiths strode out with such confidence that, for a moment, we all had a dream.
Seven balls later, the game almost descended into farce as Paltrow called for a run from the non-batting end and charged down the wicket to find that his batting partner Tony had refused to budge from his crease and the stumps on that end. With the bowler screaming for the ball, John had already given up any chance of getting back and was already turning to walk off when the WH skipper inexplicably shouted that as the stumps were already broken on one end, they couldn’t then do so on the other end, allowing a relived Paltrow to stroll back to his wicket.
A generous interpretation of the rules, indeed, and he took full advantage to score a flowing 28 before being bowled just when he looked to be settling in. Tony (3) had already fallen and Eric Shaddick (4) soon followed, bringing Saints debutant Will Walters and the QE2, Mark Barber, together. Will, who is now being courted for next season, added to his heroics in the field with some nice cracking shots before the QE2 ran aground, Mark pulling up with a thigh (?) injury and calling for a runner.
Back out came Paltrow, grumbling all the way about it being the “muggiest day of the year” and adding “He’ll probably be out in a minute!” for good measure. But instead, Mark joined Will in smashing the ball around the ground, including a massive six over the bowler’s head – prompting comments like “He’s like a wounded beast!” from the boundary – before getting stumped on 45 as he confidently came down the wicket and missed.
With Will continuing the smack the ball around, one huge six over long off being the shot of the day, his fellow batsmen came and went – fellow debutant R.Griffiths (8), Nanton (10), Speedtwin (3) – before Will finally fell for 70, surely one of the best ever debut performances for the Saints. Gav (16 no) and Thomas (4 no) saw out the final overs, finding time to run a full four runs in the process.
We finished with wickets in hand and no ducks in the innings to boot, although there were accusations of “duck avoidance” leveled at the Skipper at the end. A score of 201 would have been sufficient to win several of the games we play but 279 was always going to be a big ask against the Horizontals. In the end, it summed up with the usual: Saints lose, but no disgrace…
Champagne Moment: The farcical run-out chance was a strong contender, but the winner has to be the four runs we were gifted when, with two already run, the WH fielder somehow managed to toss the ball behind him and over the boundary as he attempted to throw it to his wicketkeeper.
Man of the Match: No question here – Will Walters for a great performance in the field and a cracking top score of 70 that enabled us to make a game of it.
Walthamstow Horizontal’s 278 – 3 off 40 overs
Herricaly run out 77
Bordin b Man Marle 20
Porton b GRIFFITHS (Full toss) 64
Webster not out 99
Shankar not out 0
Man Marle 7-1-35-1
LSSC 201-8 off 40 overs
Man Marle 16 no
Thomas 4 no