London Saints

Preparation secures LSCC epic victory

This season, the Coldharbour challenge looked particularly daunting. Johnny G – average 119 against them OUT. Trev average 100 against them OUT. The Quinns, leading wicket takers against them last year,: OUT. Pete, the leading wicket taker against them two years ago: OUT OF FORM with no wickets yet this season.

More disturbingly for the rest of us only Paul was there to represent the Tea Committee to help us with yet another fantastic and abundant tea. In addition, only Paul’s car looked like it could make the hill. The diet/rest balance so central to London Saints performance (see last week against Sunderland after the doughnuts) was completely out of kilter.

Members of the team prepared for this in different ways:

· Il Duce redecorated his bathroom, took his children to the cricket , then caught a taxi to Victoria fuelling up on half a Macdonalds once there before rushing on to the train au Lord Lucan (at least we hope so but lets see what happens at Kings X);

· Dave watched Fire in Babylon, the epic on West Indies cricket.

· Prof watched Masters Indoor Football between Wolves and Aston Villa on Sky;

Jonesy: ‘M25 solid and stationary. ETA 4 pm. I’m fking distraught. It took three weeks of plea bargaining about my rota to get off today!! I am praying we bat first.’

· Hilda did the same but being the twice the man as prof also waxed (almost all of) his sitting room floor;

· Pearcy and Jonesy decided to leave in good time for a relaxing drive around the M25.

The level of preparation was to prove key for each in what was to transpire. However, before there can be gain there had to be pain. Il Duce and Hilda pondered not bowling and batting at Number 11 respectively because of worries about their physical and psychological condition. However, the person who had most to confront his inner demons to reach that place of inner Karma necessary for peak performance for London Saints was Jonesy. Journalistic accuracy requires that the only appropriate response to this level of emotional distress is to hack his phone. These were the messages he sent to Il Duce whilst staring at a field near Luton a few minutes before the rest of us were beginning to play cricket.:

‘M25 solid and stationary. ETA 4 pm. I’m fking distraught. It took three weeks of plea bargaining about my rota to get off today!! I am praying we bat first.’

TWO MINUTES AND TWENTY METERS LATER

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‘I meant NOT bat first.’

It took a while for the rest of us to decipher this. And in fact some of it still looks a little unclear … More pertinently, none of the oppo were in the pub. Happily, after a few more burgers to add the Macdonalds, Neil helped with the transport up for most of us. Well rested and well fed – London Saints discussion turned to the important matters of the day – schoolgirl fantasies – on the trip up.

Unhappily, just as this discussion was developing, we reached the cricket ground. And yes, most of our opposition looked much younger than us, much keener than us and much fitter than us…. However, we figured that at Coldharbour there would not be too much running, and this gap should even itself out.

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We fielded first.

Gavin and Dave Nanton began with a fantastic spell. Dave, inspired by the Skip’s words, ‘You are back in’ and possibly his earlier film viewing doubled the size of his run. He quickly got Hopper to play on to a vicious throat ball. Gavin was bowling beautifully and swinging the ball. But Staples had his eye in and was hitting anything on a line and length. Gavin eventually tried a new tack. He bowled a bad ball which was hoiked to Wath to take an excellent running catch above his head. Gavin then produced a peach of a ball to bowl Webster. However, the dangerous Bygrave was still in. After a couple of strong hits, Garry took a catch as good as Wath’s to remove him.

At this moment, with the game finely poised at 60-4, the game stopped and a spontaneous round of applause broke out. For Jonesy’s car arrived. A little before 4 – in fact about 315 to be accurate. Jonesy then emerged with a picnic box – which was very generous of him except that the Coldharbour tea was still excellent and lavish without his help. He disappeared for about 15, maybe 20 minutes, and then decided to enjoy the game watching it with the other team. Once again very friendly of him. Small wonder that Coldharbour enjoy playing against us.

Il Duce exercised his leadership and called him on. This did not have a good effect as their bat hit Pete for a huge 6 next ball. Whilst most of the London Saints were searching for the ball, Jonesy said ‘He could not go on’. His knee had gone and he had to lean against the prof (not a recognised physiotherapeutic technique).

For the next 20 minutes Clarkson and Heppenstall threatened to take it away from London Saints. However, an inspired piece of bowling from both Pete and Dave laid waste through their lower middle order – so that it was suddenly reduced to 100-9. Each produced balls as good as Gavin’s to bowl one of the oppo. However, a sticky last wicket partnership added 22.

Still, 122 on the Coldharbour pitch looked short and Coldharbour batted long with many fine players. This was as good a bowling performance as I have seen from London Saints. All four bowlers bowled beautifully. Pete got four deserved wickets but special mention has also to go to Dave N who was simply too good for the pitch. He specialised in balls that went through the batsmen and over the stumps. He had obviously watched the film carefully!

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Preparation secures LSCC epic victory-Body

As it was only just past 4, there was a straight turnaround, give or take 15 minutes for Andy to change(?). Jonesy and Paul began beautifully. The M25 had clearly been good for them both as they played nervelessly and only in boundaries for the first 32 runs. Fully living up to their sobriquets of White Viv and Tiger.

At 38-0 with 15 minutes to go before tea, what could go wrong? Possibly mindful of his Tea Committee responsibilities, Paul played a false shot, and this provoked Andy, Wath and Neil all to do the same. At 46-4. Tea was taken with the opposition claiming that it was being taken to stop the collapse.

This, of course was not true. After tea, we continued the collapse. Ralph, after a couple of nice shots, followed the previous four methods of getting out – lobbing a catch to a fielder off a shot, slowish ball. At this moment, prof was brought in with the unusual vindication from DT. ‘This is our best batsman. See it out to the end.’ One ball later – having played back to a full pitched slow ball on his stumps, prof was returning to the pavilion. Garry, who had batted well, and Dave came in -who did a great cut for four – and went out to nicely lobbed catches. At this moment, London Saints were 81-8. Even by London Saints standards, this was a spectacular piece of non-cricket. Shoulders were slumped. Morale low. Talk even turned to Trev, John, the Quinns and Lord Lucan ..

Then the defining moment of the season arrived. Gavin and Pete came together.

Fortified by DT who sat on the boundary with a steely stare, impatient and waiting to come in and rescue the match ( No I am not sure that last sentence is right. …., please check with photographic evidence), they began their partnership.

In the first couple of overs, it looked as if DT might be in quickly as Webber was bowling particularly well. However, our heroes then found their feet. They did something unusual. They blocked the good deliveries and hit all other balls along the ground. It was slow and nail-biting, but they both never looked in trouble and both played some beautiful shots. Gavin got into his stride quite quickly and accelerated ahead, but Pete followed. It was a match-winning partnership and, by the end, both looked as they could have got another 50 runs. Both were solid defensively, moving their feet well, and picking their shots. It was quite simply brilliant to play like that in the circumstances.

Brilliant bowling, an exciting match, a superb partnership from Gavin and Pete, and great (again) opposition. Dave said our batting was likely to be weak and that was (generally) true. However, to win against this quality of opposition was a terrific performance was fantastic, and means we still have a winning season.

Champagne Moment: There were two contenders. Gavin had clearly been watching John from last week but was aware that he had to impress Garry. As he did a flying karate kick at a stationary ball to kick it 20 meters over the ropes whilst nearly destroying his knee. However, for me, it has to be Jones arriving with his picnic box and then taking a rest to watch the cricket before being summoned. He insisted there was medical kit within it (well, ice packs). In fact, there was a half drunk soft drink and a number of ice cubes.

Man of the Match: Two players would have walked it normally, Gavin and Pete. With Pete, it was great to see him discover his confidence with bat and ball. Four wickets and 12 runs (but 12 runs that were patiently accrued). However, it has to go to Gavin. He has bowled beautifully this season. He got their most dangerous batsman out and then produced a wonderful ball for the other wicket. However, above all, on a bowler’s wicket, he gets it for his batting and his nerves. A completely match winning performance.

Coldharbour batting
Hopper: Bowled Nanton – 9
Staples: Ct Wathan, Bowled Van Marle – 35
Webster: Bowled Van Marle – 6
Bygrave: Ct Burrell, Bowled Berkeley – 10
Clarkson: LBW, Bowled Berkeley – 10
Heppenstall: Bowled Thomas – 21
Mason: Bowled Thomas – 0
Staples: Bowled Thomas – 11
Smith: Bowled Berkeley – 0
Mitson: Bowled Berkeley – 0
Acres: Not out – 10

Extras: 10
Total 122 all out

London Saints Bowling
Van Marle: 6-1-40-2
Nanton: 7-0-19-1
Berkeley: 8.3-1-34-4
Thomas: 6-2-27-3

London Saints batting
Jones:Ct, Bowled Acres – 25
Pearce: Ct & bowled Webster – 11
Burrell: Ct, Bowled Webster – 12
Wathan: Ct, Bowled Acres – 0
Hotson: Ct & bowled Webster – 3
Wilson: Ct, Bowled Webster – 8
Chalmers: Bowled Webster – 0
Nanton: Ct, Bowled Acres – 15
Van Marle: Not out – 31
Berkeley: Not out – 12
Thomas: dnb

Extras: 6
Total: 123 for 8

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