Not so gentlemanly
It was an inauspicious start. The Barge forgot the scorebook and, for all we know, it is now coloured in, torn up and the pages of history are stuck on his fridge. Or the book is complete, but at the bottom of The Thames.
From there, things went downstream. Rarely have London Saints suffered such a hammering from The Gents, a genial bunch who play twice the number of matches as us and, as a result, have a far bigger squad (45 this season, largely recruited from Sainsbury’s, where one of their regulars work).
And for this match, they had a match winner in a batsman Lall, who having started his season for The Gents with two golden ducks, had scored a 50 the previous week then ran smack into form.
Against us he scored 128, which is 21 more than we scored in total. Including 11 sixes and 9 fours – eg., a century in 20 balls. Put it another way, he scored 45 off two overs from Keenan (6446.1) and Grimes (644.46), leading to outrageous accusations from Grimes to Keenan that “your sixes went further than mine.”
But to start at the beginning, as all the worst stories do.
Skipper Dave Thomas lost the toss and we fielded, as usual. The opening overs from Finn and The Barge were relatively efficient but innocuous, and it was down to first change Pete Berkeley to give us a breakthrough.
In consecutive overs, Pete took three wickets – two bowled, one LBW. The thing about Pete is that he’s a nagging bowler with great length, go-on-and-hit-me-then-see-what-happens balls. And it often works (up to a point: his missus left at the point that Pete got hit for three fours off his last three balls. Canny lass, that Cheryl).
At the other end, DT bowled better than I’ve seen all season without success. And Dave Nanton was the closest to getting out 128, for far less, but another top edge fell between wicketkeeper John Quinn and Paul Pearce without either going for it (although Quinny had the gloves, so his shout).
So until Lall got seriously going, we were in the game. Indeed, after 20 overs, they were 118-3 and in our innings, we were 98 at the same stage (ahem, albeit for a few more wickets).
But Lall then really let rip, able assisted by Desai playing the supporting role. The score went from 115 after 20 overs, to around 225-3 at the 30-over mark. It was mayhem, with most of his big hits down leg and into the bushes on the short boundary. Daylight shrubbery.
Paul Pearce came on to stimy the onslaught, getting Lall out to a dubious LBW halfway down the track which their umpire saw as a signal to stop the carnage and give the other batsmen a chance. One more wicket fell to PP but the score ended up an ominous 265. It was a ton too far.
Then it really fell to bits. The tea urn was lukewarm thanks to time spent in the bushes. They had doughnuts to weigh us down. And all our football predictions were wrong.
Openers Tony Grimes and The Barge were shot out – including Barge’s first ever duck for LSSC. Could his day get any worse? Mark Barber fell to a shooter, and LSSC were 14-3. The Wath hit a lusty 15 with his new bat (then knocked it in) but wickets continued to tumble, Nanton and Keenan falling to low scores.
It must be said at this stage at The Gents were ruthless, bringing on Lall to bowl after seriously good openers – perhaps mindful of avenging our opening fixture victory over them. There was no respite.
Pete and DT then settled the ship, sort of, to bring us roughly to par with their opening 20 overs. It was pleasing for DT to avoid another duck – not so for being stranded on a run out. From there, it was a gentle decline to 107, with Pete last out having top scored (PP also avoiding a duck, much to DT’s disgust, hollering for a ‘plum’ LBW from the touchline – it’s a Duck Trophy thing).
So we lost, badly. It didn’t stop there of course, PP then being run over when moving the sight screen, adding injury to insult (Dave Nanton declining to field on the boundary despite PP’s insistence, then protesting when the ball dropped two feet inside the boundary that he took a decision to move infield as he had to ‘charge in’ to save several singles previously. Aka Bollocks).
The only thing was to repair to the bar, only to hear further bad news: ace batsman and occasional bowler John Griffiths had had his gall bladder removed because of stones in there
On enquiring what his meant, it transpired the gall bladder served no purpose other than to remove bile. Which meant that, at a stroke, JG’s latest moniker of Dishonourable John became Vicious DJ – and he wasn’t even at the game.
True to LSSC, The Wath inquired why he hadn’t gone NHS rather than private – ‘typical Lib Dem,’ he retorted. Harsh. But fair.
So, a disappointing penultimate game for LSSC in such a successful season. “it’s been a really strange one,” opined skipper DT. “We’ve either won well – or had a right stuffing.” And this was a right stuffing.
Man of the match: No question about it: Pete Berkeley for three wickets and being top scorer. Sorry lads, but there really is no question about it.
Gavin for forgetting the scorebook. Tony for regaling us with how pissed he was after the last game and telling his family all about The Log in the train back from Roadrunners CC. Dave Nanton for his versions of Nanton TV and his Charging In all the time when none of us see it. But, in the end, Paul Pearce for being run over by a 2mph sight screen then complaining about his injury in the bar.
Denton lbw b. Berkeley 22
Guttam b. Berkeley 32
Desai st J Quinn b. Pearce 46
Kumar b. Berkeley 0
Lall lbw b. Pearce 128
Dev not out 19
Gilkes not out 1
Total 266 for 5
Van Marle 4-0-25-0
Grimes b. Guttam 9
Van Marle lbw b, Kumar 0
Barber b. Kumar 1
Wathan c&b b. Lall 15
Nanton c&b b. Dev 2
Keenan b. Dev 4
Berkeley b. Singh 29
F.Quinn b. Dev 6
Thomas run out 12
J.Quinn b. Desai 3
Pearce not out 0