London Saints

Wath has Gents worried

15th August – LSCC v Gents West London (35 overs)
London Saints (10 players) 92 all out (Pete & Dave Nanton 18, Paulie P 15)
Gents (9 players) 95-6 (Wath 4-13, Tony 1-14, Lord Lucan 1-21)
Gents won by 2 wickets

Given the amount of rain in the area for the previous 3 or 4 days we were very fortunate to get a dry and sometimes sunny afternoon for the game. The general dry spell followed by lots of rain had an impact on the wicket – at heart the wicket was still hard and bouncy, but the rain had created a soft top layer that meant the wicket was slow and gave the bowler a response if they hit the seam or span the ball – fair enough really, and a fair balance after a month of batsmen friendly pitches. The pitch though played true.
Pete won the toss and decided to bat, but our innings ended 20-30 runs below par. This was a reflection of how well Gents bowled, especially their opening attack, some indifferent batting at he top of the innings, and a little bit of bad luck with 2 of the top 4 bowled off their pads to balls going well down leg – Wath has since had a net session with both players, and assured them that if they follow his advise and method there was no chance of ever getting bowled off their pads again. The start of the innings saw the reacquaintance of the London Saints with Horace, the wild, short pitching fast bowler of 12 Angry Men fame, the mere mention of whose name has sent players racing to the sports shop to buy a helmet. Unfortunately Horace is still sharp, but no longer wild and uncontrolled, and bowled an excellent opening spell and then returned to finish off our innings. The fact that we recovered from 14-4 and 24-5 to score up to 92 was a result of some very effective and sensible batting down the order, with the lads broadly getting the balance right between protecting their wickets and scoring runs. The backbone of our score came from partnerships of 30 between Wath and Dave Nanton, and 32 between Paulie P and Pete. After such an important innings in difficult circumstances, it would be inappropriate to point out that Dave Nanton was clean bowled by a painfully slow long hop.
As is invariably the case with any London Saints innings, there were a number of incidents worth a mention not directly related to the score. It was actually Johnny G who effectively ended Andy Jones’s innings. The confidence with which Andy started the innings led Johnny to the ill fated statement to the umpire “we could win this you know”, very next ball Mr Jones’s middle stump was leaning back at an unhealthy angle.
Johnny was very much at the fore for the next incident. Dave Nanton whacked the ball into dense undergrowth and bushes, after the fielders had been looking for 5 minutes, Umpire John decided to lend a hand and borrowed Dave’s bat to thwack about in the undergrowth to help find the ball – 5 minutes later, everyone gave up and a replacement ball was found, only for Umpire John , bat in hand, to return to the crease to resume his innings forgetting he had been bowled 45 minutes earlier. Pete assures me that him then going, broadly to the same area, bat in hand and whacking seven bells out of every bush in a 20 yard radius was an attempt to find the lost ball, and not a new method of venting his anger at the state of our innings.
Earlier in the innings Pete had provided his team mates with some much appreciated entertainment when on as an extra fielder for Gents . The wicket was placed such that on one side the boundary was fairly small, but by contrast it was extremely long on the other side – it was on the long side that Pete was fielding when Damian whacked one over his head. Much to the joy of his team mates the ball came to a halt inches from the boundary right in front of us, and Pete had to chase it down – needless to say, the lads took one on the arm, and Wath was amazingly involved in an all run 3.
Finally, there is clearly the need for the club to invest in a Body Language course for Lord Lucan – presumably we may get a BOGOF with a Time Management workshop. When a fast bowler is snorting steam out of his nostril waiting to get at you as a new batsman to wrap up the innings, it’s probably not the best way to impose yourself on the game by asking for your guard in your best John Inman impression – wrist limp, and hand on hip. I would like to assure colleagues that stories of Lord Lucan shouting down the wicket ‘I’m free’ are unfounded, as he takes a middle stump guard, I am sure he was just asking the umpire for 3 guard.

Jonesy bowled Sanjay 4
Johnny G bowled Horace 4
Trev bowled Horace 2
Tony bowled Buck 0
Wath ct Scibo 11
Prof ct H Patel 10
Dave bowled H Patel 18 (long hop)
Paulie bowled Horace 15
Pete not out 18
Lord Lucan ct Horace 0 (effeminate guard)
Extras 10
All out 92

Sanjay 7-3-10-1
Horace 5.5-2-10-4
Buck 4-0-17-1
H Patel 6-0-33-2
Scibo 4-0-21-1

Those concerned by the poor score will be glad to say that the lads returned to form in the tea room, when a plague of tubby locusts descended on a plate of Club Cake Bars left by the opposition. Gents had been under the mistaken impression that they would be able to return for leftovers later if still peckish – foolish boys, it’s not as if they have not seen us in action before.
The team returned to the pitch optimistic that the score could be defended, and with 10 minutes of excessive energy until the sugar rush faded. It could be the sugar rush that accounted for the great start, after Steve Keenan had Gents opener Desai caught low by a juggling Dave Nanton in covers. And it would have been 0-2 in Pete’s opening over had Paulie P not dropped Ken, the other opener, at point. As I know that Maddie, Paulie’s daughter, reads all the match reports and is fiercely defensive of her dad, I feel the need to show some balance and let her live a little bit longer under the false impression that her dad is the Andrew Flintoff of park cricket. So in balance – Paulie is usually a very good catcher, and played some excellent shots as part of the highest partnership of our innings with Pete. Balance though does force me to, however much it hurts, comment on both sides of the story, and what a plonker. Fortunately Paul’s drop did not cost us much, as Ken had to retire hurt soon with a side strain. How Ken sustained the injury is unclear. He is quoted as saying he strained it after missing an attempted pull shot, and strongly denied suggestions it was the result of p***ing himself laughing after Paulie’s drop. I will leave it to the reader to decide which story is more plausible.
Having narrowly missed being clean bowled without scoring by Steve Keenan, Gents no. 3 Gilkes , a.k.a. Moon Cat, played the match winning innings of 43. It was a brutal innings, and helped Gents to progress to a very comfortable 68-1. It was then that Wath was introduced to the bowling attack, and within the space of 3 Wath overs Gents moved from 68-1 to 78-5, and very much game on – remember Gents only had 9 players, so 15 more were required with theoretically 3 wickets available, but remember one of those wickets was the injured opener Ken. Wath has bowled consistently well for the past 2 or 3 years, but I have no idea how he does it – I’m not sure Wath does, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons batsmen seem unsure against him. It would not be overly critical to say that Wath does not have a classical action, but frankly who gives a monkeys, because the vast majority of deliveries end up in exactly the right place. When Tony had Sanjay excellently caught by a very casual Andy Jones in the deep, 6 more runs were required and it was starting to get tense. Tense for everyone except Horace, who hit the next 2 deliveries for 4, and the game ended very abruptly.
The highlight of our fielding display followed a wide delivery that went past Damian for byes, leaving the combined efforts of Tony, Paulie P, and Lord Lucan looking at each other to decide which would run for it. In the end it was left by default to Lord Lucan at fine leg, who was majestically skipping around from fine leg at full throttle, little realising the effect his languid style was having at the wicket – on seeing Steve trot around both batsmen assumed it must have gone for 4 and Steve was just sauntering around to retrieve the ball, the umpire was equally convinced and signalled four, as was Pete (who frankly should have known better) who started chuntering “they should never have got 4 there” . Steve, oblivious to all these goings on, finally gets to the ball and throws it in, and seems unsure why anyone had thought it had gone for 4 – perhaps Steve’s relaxed style in the field has all be part of a bigger plan building up over the past 20 years for this very moment, when he fooled the opposition and kept them down to 2.

S Desai ct Dave N Keenan 0
K Toft retired hurt (injured laughing 5at Paulie P’s drop)
R Gilkes c Prof Wath 43
A Buck bowled Wath 19
H Patel bowled Wath 1
A Burnam bowled Wath 2
H Hibbert not out 12
S Patel ct Jonesy Tony 8
M Scibberas not out 0
Extras 5
6 wickets 95

Lord Lucan 4-0-21-1
Pete 3-0-5-0
Dave N 3-0-21-0
Johnny G 2-0-19-0
Wath 3-1-13-4
Tony 2.4-0-14-1

Horace for Gents and Wath both contributed 4 wickets for not many and scored important runs, but the real difference between the side was Gilkes 43 – if only Steve’s delivery had kept a smidgen lower. In terms of batting we had more players who contributed, and demonstrated great strength in depth.
The most discussed matter in the bar after the game, not unusually, was the Duck Trophy. Tony and Lord Lucan booked their opening spots for ex-Blues to take the lead at 3 apiece, both with a golden, though Tony in the lead due to playing fewer games. There was then some debate as to whether, after the number of ducks, the next deciding factor was games played or number of goldens. If the latter then a number of lads on 2 ducks were still in contention, if the former then most, if not all, are safe. The general opinion is that it used to be goldens next, but then the Great Dictator changed the rules and made it games played before goldens. Though no-one is able to precisely pinpoint when the rules were changed, and certainly no-one recalls a democratic discussion about it, the general consensus of opinion is the rules changed 10 seconds after DT’s golden earlier this season. As a betting man, I would put my money on Tony. I, as well as the rest of the bar, was stunned when Stevie announced that he had never won the Duck Trophy; though this seems implausible, it has been confirmed by club records. What makes it even more astonishing is that Steve has gone to ex-Blues in contention for the Trophy in each of the past 15 seasons (this may not strictly be true, but it feels true); ex-Blues are in fact convinced that Steve is one of our regular openers. The law of averages would suggests he has to win it one year, but I would back the player with the tried and tested temperament for the big occasion.
As I am about to join Eric in retirement i.e. I’ll play the odd game when DT has only 8, and turn up on tour from time to time; I would like to use this report to do 2 things. Firstly, pass on a batting tip. Always have a fry up pre-game. In the games I have gone sans-fry up this year I average 10; with a fry up to support me through an innings I am averaging 159. Needless to say, I’ll be having a fry up in the café under the arches prior to ex-Blues. Secondly, a big thank you to everyone. Clearly a mega big thank you for Dave, for all his hours of slog and organisation, but mainly for the way in which he has led the team a benevolent dictator. Also, thank you to all my team mates. It’s been 20 seasons now, and it has been a blast. Despite what the results say, London Saints cricket team are Carlsberg – probably the best cricket team in the world. I’m not hanging up my bat because I do not enjoy the cricket and the company, I am hanging up my bat because this Sunday was the first game in 2 years that I have walked away from a game without an injury that stopped me running for at least a week afterwards – that I suppose was the plus side of contributing naff all.

Champagne Moment: Difficult call, there are a number of great candidates. It’s really a toss up between Johnny G the batting umpire, Lord Lucan camping up to get his guard, and Steve’s languid fielding style making everyone believe the ball had gone for 4. As I truly believe that Sunday saw the perfect execution of a plan that have been built over nearly 20 years, the winner is Steve’s unruffled fielding style and that 4/2.

Man of the Match: Very useful contributions under difficult circumstances by Dave Nanton, Paulie P and Pete; but the clear winner is Wath. A useful contribution with the bat, and he nearly managed to turn the game on its head with 4 wickets in 3 overs.

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