London Saints

Nelson Cup hopes washed away

Lord Nelson Cup
Winchmore Hill CC, 5th June 2011

LSCC – 90 all out, 17 overs (Barber 22, Nanton 15 n.o., F. Quinn 14)
West XI – 93-4 12 overs (Thomas 1-6, Pearce 1-8)

Walthamstow Horizontals CC v LSCC
Walthamstow Horizontals – 195-6 18 overs (Thomas, 1-8, Keenan 2-21, J. Quinn 2-23)
LSCC – 129-4, 18 overs (Chalmers 51 ret., Barber 29, Speedtwin 15)

Everyone knows that the LSCC players are cricketing purists, so our disdain for modern truncated slogfests was even more palpable when required to play the equivalent of cricket musical chairs with 18-over innings at this year’s Lord Nelson Cup.
We strode out to bat with our heads held high, the guts-glory-and-honour victory two weeks prior still fresh in the memory, determined to play the game as it was meant to be played – playing yourself in, building innings and all that. Lord Nelson himself should have been proud, except… About five hours later we sloshed off – cold, wet and miserable, with mutiny brewing in the ranks and the Duck Trophy race having started in earnest.
A youth game taking place on the pitch held up proceedings for over an hour before Walthamstow Horizontals and West XI took to the field for the first innings, with the latter team batting.
West XI finished their innings and then we took to the pitch to bat against them (I did mention the musical chairs element, right?) with John “Paltrow” Griffiths and Damian “Professor” Chalmers opening. With only two on the board at the end of the first over, Paltrow was back in the pavilion, trapped LBW for 1. Enter the QE2, Mark Barber, returning to the scene of his swashbuckling heroics last year, and continuing where he’d left off, albeit aided generously by the West XI fielding (at least three dropped catches.) Mark went on to top score with 22 but had to watch the Prof (7) and Paul “Tiger” Pearce (silver duck) fall in the space of three balls to leave us reeling on 14 for 3 after just four overs! He was joined by Finn Quinn, whose batting continues to improve, for a 24-run partnership before the QE2 ran aground at the halfway stage.
The mini-recovery continued with the writer (Dave “Flatliner” Nanton) joining Quinn at the crease to take the score to 72 before Finn fell for 14. It was all downhill after that, with Tony “Youth Policy” Grimes (duck), the skipper Dave “Il Duce” Thomas (bronze duck), Quinn Snr (3) and Gary “Twintub” Speedtwin (duck) all falling in quick succession. Last man in Steve “Lord Lucan” Keenan (8) seemed set to see us through with a bit of a flourish but then somehow contrived to play on a delivery that had already bounced twice, leaving Flatliner not out on 15. Perhaps it was aroma of the delicious curry lunch wafting over ground that distracted the batsmen! In the end, the 20 runs from our ever-present high-scorer, Mr Extras, boosted the score to 90 all out in 17 overs. Nevertheless, we consoled ourselves with the idea that there was enough depth in our bowling attack to still make a game of it…
That notion was quickly destroyed after lunch when we took the field to bowl against the Horizontals. As if the convoluted order of the innings was not enough, even more confusion reigned after the skipper presented us with a bowling schedule that involved 4.5 bowlers on each end delivering 2 overs each (Only the very cruel would suggest that the “half” was a certain fast bowler with a very short run-up who appeared to have other things on his mind on Sunday). We did well enough, though, to get two of their batsmen, Burgess and Carter, out for ducks with Burgess falling to a brilliant catch behind the stumps by Speedtwin off Lord Lucan’s bowling and Quinn Snr bowling Carter. His Lordship and Il Duce also bowled two batsmen (Barrett and Warren) for 1 apiece, with Grimes also accounting for opener Pinfield (7). But their opening bat Porter (56) caught by Speedtwin even more brilliantly off Quinn Snr, Brock (65 n.o.) and Murray (35 n.o.) put us to the sword. They seemed to take a special liking to Flatliner bowling (which, unusually, was as good as Courtney Walsh’s batting) smashing his two overs for 35 (including a massive 6 back over the bowler’s head) before the skipper, in an act of mercy, withdrew him from the attack. 195-6 in 18 overs – more than double our own run-rate. Philistines!
Horizontals were straight back in to bat against West XI (are you keeping up?) before the tea break.
At this point, the rain was falling heavily so it took a while before we were back on the pitch again, this time to bowl against West XI. The challenge facing the Saints at this stage was simple – to win the Lord Nelson Cup for a third time, we needed to bowl out West XI for under 90 runs and score more than 195 batting against Horizontals. *Cough*
With players shivering in the cold, wet conditions, and the ball skidding off the grass – usually on its way to a boundary – the younger players showed they could still play with some passion for the game with Finn aiming a stroppy kick at the ball, sending it flying even further beyond the line after yet another boundary had slipped past him. And Flatliner almost had another coronary when the (very wet) ball somehow managed to slip from his seemingly solid grasp and, after retrieving it, he flung it back towards the stumps with the vehemence and accuracy that had somehow eluded him during his bowling spells. His cap was about to follow when he thought the better of it and stormed back to his fielding position forgetting in the midst of his tantrum to even acknowledge the hapless bowler, none other than last year’s strop-master at the same ground, QE2 Barber, who had just seen his chance at a first wicket for the Saints literally washed away. Sorry Mark! But at least you had excellent bowling figures!
West XI were 93-4 in just 12 overs, and the dream was over for another year but we were here to play cricket, dammit! so we gamely agreed to honour our final innings, chasing the Horizontals’ 195.
We saved the best for last, scoring steadily at a rate of 7.2 per over with Barber (29) and the Professor (51 retired) hitting some great shots around the ground (Mark’s luck was clearly in as he was dropped twice again!). There was even time for a cameo from none other than Tokyo Joe – Andy Mayhew (6) – in our score of 129-4 off our allotted overs. After seeing the earlier performances and checking the weather report, Andy had wisely opted to remain in the pavilion but was coerced into batting by the skipper, who had quite firmly decided that yours truly was due an early shower. The unkind might say this was unfair and ruthless, but they would be referred to the Art Of Captaincy chapter on how to benevolently address the issue of a player whose head wasn’t in the game and needed a bit of recovery time so he could return stronger than ever in the next.

Congratulations to West XI on winning the Cup!

It was not one of our better performances, but then again, had this been the longer 35-over format we purists like to play, our scores would have been 186 and 252. Most respectable batting indeed! Just don’t mention the bowling…

Men of the Match
The awards go to our wicketkeeper batsmen: Speedtwin for a brilliant performance behind the stumps in the first game, which included two excellent catches, and for carrying his bat well in the second. Damian’s flowing 51 (retired) was the backbone of our second game in which he also kept wicket. Special mention also to Mark Barber whose batting in both matches was very consistent, right down to the chances he offered.



Champagne Moment
The skipper’s calculations that led to his bowling schedule in the first game would probably get him a job in a particular Zurich-based organisation’s account department. But the award goes to our team diplomat and spokesperson, Johnny Quinn for the following exchange with West XI’s Dave Bender (who he managed to insult a couple years ago):

Bender (identifying one of their bowlers): The name’s Cattee.
Quinn: Is that his real name or just a reference to his personality
Bender: Look, we’ve fallen out once before. I’m not listening to you!

To be fair, there were smiles all round! But, Oh Johnny!

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