Season ends in a fine draw
Sitting here writing the match report with the rain pouring down outside I realise how lucky we were to have glorious sunshine last Friday for our final game of the season. What a great day as the match went to the wire yet again in this fixture, against our usual generous hosts, and it proved to be a fitting end to a very enjoyable, if short, season.style=”width:400px”>
Our squad is dwindling year by year and this showed with quite a few ‘ regulars ‘ absent from the line and we only managed to field a team with a couple of late call ups, the new granddad Kumar Yogeswaran, for his first game of the season and Bryce Rome, for his second game in 12 years. And what two good choices they turned out to be, with ball, bat and in the field.
So what were the reasons for the absentees? It is excusable for work commitments to be a reason as was the case with White Viv, Lord Lucan and the QE2 but duck avoidance is another more serious matter. The one common theme amongst four other missing squad members (I will not mention any names but they know who they are) was that they were all in contention for the duck trophy – some went as far as leaving the country to avoid being in contention. Everyone assumed that Lord Lucan was also a member of this duck avoidance group as he is always in contention, but for the first time in living memory this was not the case. I think certain club members should be reminded of the tradition of the duck trophy final game shoot out, hence the reason for this slightly convoluted paragraph.
Anyway onto the game and the skipper feared the worst going into the game without many of the usual bowling options, as above. His trepidation about bowling first was increased when the new ball pairing of Hilda Berkeley and Flatliner Nanton both texted that they would be delayed so the bowling attack would be interesting to say the least. Hilda did turn up but Flatliner added to the list of absentees due to work commitments, or was it jug avoidance ? So how would the team of, now 10, fare with probably the slowest bowling line up ever fielded. The skipper shouldn’t have worried as each and every bowler performed out of their skin and, alongside the Coldharbour match, it was the best bowling performance of the season.
The skipper opened with a very tight spell of 4 overs for 3 runs but, being the tactical genius that he is, soon realised that with two left handers in, that Clive Dunn was the ideal bowler. The team then watched in admiration as Tony and Kumar bowled in partnership for 10 overs. 136 years of experience, guile and know how tied up the Ex Blues batsmen and it was a joy to behold. Kumar made the initial 3 breakthroughs and then Tony got his just rewards (after a few classic Michael Jackson appeals) when he bowled their No 5 batsman. Kumar obviously wanted to impress his elder (by 4 years) partner and threw himself around the field including an amazing caught and bowled for our 3rd wicket. The ball was driven back hard by their best player,Yirrell. 4 runs we all thought to ourselves before this gazelle like leap from the Masterblaster saw Kumar snaffle up a brilliant c + b. Kumar didn’t exactly land as elegantly as a gazelle and we feared for his well being but he came up grasping the ball for a piece of unforgettable fielding.
Fearing for Kumar’s well-being, he was withdrawn after 8 overs and replaced by Hilda Berkeley who produced an excellent 5 over spell of tight bowling which put even more pressure on Ex Blues. Tiger Pearce also bamboozled them with his subtle changes of pace and The Wath, Bryce and DJ continued the tight bowling. A demonstration of the usual excellent atmosphere that the match was played was when their No 6 batsman ‘ walked ‘ having snicked Tiger’s ball to Gary Speedtwin behind the stumps. A fine example that many a player could learn from. Not mentioning any names, again, but DJ was the first to commend this act of sportsmanship. Ex Blues do bat long, though, and although they never got away from us, due to the good bowling, they continued to score at a steady rate. Kumar came back for the last few overs to pick up his first ever London Saints five wicket haul with his 5th wicket being the last ball of the innings. To keep this strong team down to a score of 167 on a hot day was an excellent performance.
With victory a real possibility, the usual duck trophy shoot out, at the start of the innings, was put on hold with half the contenders going in early and the others left for the ‘ hit out first ball ‘ run chase. Could this have been clever tactics by the skipper who incidentally was the lead duck contender. Normally it is difficult to get volunteers to umpire but with the skipper opening the batting, perhaps worryingly, two other duck contenders, Tiger Pearce and Clive Dunn, had the umpires coats on within seconds. The skipper was concerned when he saw them practicing raising their finger to each other and even more so when, upon getting hit on the pad in the 2nd over, the only people who appealed were the umpires.
Enough of this nonsense and back to the game. Our batting was a case of so near and yet so far as the game just got away from us As it was a ‘ time game ‘ the number of overs for both sides were not equal and we were slightly disadvantaged having 6 overs fewer to bat in than Ex Blues – 36 to their 42 overs. The run rate required at the start was 4.66 per over and we maintained that throughout our innings.An opening stand of 54 off 11 overs (4.9) set us on our way and at 118 – 1 off 25 overs (4.7 per over) with Trevor again in fine form and DJ on 23 it was our game to lose. Trevor was 2nd out for an excellent 67 and then DJ followed soon after but there were still 11 overs in which to score the 50 runs required (at 4.5 per over).Increasingly tight bowling from Ex Blues meant that the run rate crept up. The rate never though increased above 5 an over until the 34th (of 36) over which only went for one run. Eight were needed off the last over and with pressure building, batsmen got out but in the ideal scenario for the duck trophy, two contenders Tiger Pearce and Clive Dunn had to go in and throw the bat for glory but with the added threat of winning the duck trophy. Paul flung his bat for a two first ball but it was left for the defending duck trophy winner Clive Dunn to either get the winning runs or retain the trophy. Neither happened as both balls were missed and an excellent game ended in a draw with us ultimately disappointed in coming up 3 runs short after a great all round performance. But as someone said down in Somerset (actually it was Tony, Norton St Phillip’s groundsman) “ cricket was the winner “
Two trophies were decided on the day. The skipper claimed the duck trophy for the first time, with the lowest ever winning total of 2 ducks and the absent Gavin van Marle was voted player of the year in a landslide result. This despite him : –
a) pulling out of the cricket tour at the last minute
b) forgetting the scorebook for the Gents game
c) blatantly conducting an act of duck avoidance by leaving the country for the last game.
This shows that he must have had a good season because all three are serious droppable events with obviously No 2 being the most dire. Seriously though congratulations to The Floater.
Man of the Match : Two key contenders, Trevor, for yet another good innings but it just goes to the 66 year old Kumar Yogeswaran on his first appearance of the season for his first ever London Saints five for. Trevor perhaps is handicapped because we probably expect this performance from him but Kumar fully deserves the vote.
Champagne Moment : a double for Kumar as his tumbling caught and bowled catch to dismiss their best batsman defied his years and put a lot of his younger colleagues to shame.
Thomas 6 – 2 – 15 – 0
Yogeswaran 10 – 2 – 31 – 5
Grimes 5 – 0 19 – 1
Berkeley 5 – 1 – 12 – 0
Pearce 5 – 2 – 25 – 1
Wathan 4 – 0 – 26 – 0
Griffiths 5 – 1 – 22 – 0
Rome 2 – 0 – 9 – 0
Pearce 3 no
Grimes 0 no
Total 163 – 7