London Saints

Cricketers earn runners-up spot in Nelson Cup

The Nelson Cup was proudly on display at the boundary’s edge throughout the three 18-over per innings games which comprise this annual tri-angular tournament. The combatants may have changed over the years – at least the names of the sides have – but many of the same old faces pitch up every year at the impressive Winchmore Hill CC; a little greyer, portlier and less nimble in the field. The unique format also prevails, continuing to confuse both skippers and players alike as the innings of the respective matches interweave, so that no game is played to a conclusion without an interruption. (“Get on with it” Ed.)

So, Saints began batting against Sunderland; then fielded against Judd St Tigers, before taking an early tea (which got a “satisfactory” from the Teas Committee members present). We then fielded (losing easily) to Judd St, before batting again and winning by an impressive nine wickets against the Mackems. Finishing as overall runners up to the Tigers, who won both their games with relative ease, was no mean feat given our depleted side, and we were grateful for the services of Mike Herlihy and Steve Bignell from Judd St who made up our numbers. We also boasted the competition’s top batsman and joint top bowler – but more of that anon.

Saints batsmen, Father and Son in Law Tony Grimes and John Griffiths opened the first innings of the competition in chilly conditions under cloudy skies. As in the previous game against the Gents, Saints started confidently, progressing relatively untroubled into the 20s until Tony, remembering this was a “18/18” game, and trying to emulate Chris Gayle, ended up playing across the line and was bowled. Also like last week, it triggered the all too familiar Saints’ collapse, as our old nemesis Mr Dane finished with excellent figures of 3-2-1-3. Only Andy Mayhew, however, failed to trouble the scorers at all, and hence takes an early lead in the season’s Duck Trophy. The unlucky Professor had a few choice words for the umpire who sent him packing “run out” when Damian had appeared home. But thanks to late-order contributions from our two ringers, and a top score from Mr Extras of 24, Saints scrambled to 83, leaving Judd St to score at a shade over 4½ an over. This they accomplished without much fuss, though Grimes removed one of the openers for a duck and debutant Paul Barnard snared his first victim for the Saints, LBW.

In our second game, we fielded first. Some economical bowling from Grimes and Bignell kept Sunderland in check, each picking up a wicket and Tony conceding only 7 from three miserly overs. It was then over to that now legendary, and heavy-weight combination of Mildred and Twintub. Two Sunderland batsmen succumbed mid-innings “stumped Speedtwin bowled Pearce”, which has prompted the Skipper to spend one mid-summer evening searching to find exactly how many times that dismissal features in his 25 seasons of score books. Mike McIntyre also recorded his first wicket, clean bowling Jones; one of eight bowlers used by El Duce as he rotated his “attack.” A lightening piece of fielding should also not go unreported. A pick-up and throw from Paltrow astonished his team mates, not to mention the opposition batsman who was run out a metre short of completing a second run.

Chasing 104, Saints got off to a steady start as openers Griffiths and Mayhem bravely saw off the Sunderland new ball speedsters. Incredibly, given what had gone before, they posted a half century opening partnership and continued in relatively serene fashion – bar the odd case of appalling running between the wickets – into the 80s. It was no surprise that it was a run out that caused Andy’s demise as Judas (for it was he) managed to call yet another team mate for a suicidal single. Andy somewhat bitterly remarked that, up until that moment, his average had briefly entered double figures. El Duce retired Griffiths shortly afterwards. (It would be wrong of your correspondent not to mention, however, that the “Tournament’s Top Batsman” had hit a splendid, chance-less half century en route to securing London Saints’ first win in the Nelson Cup tournament for several seasons, and our first victory on any cricket field for 2 years). Damian and Mike Herlihy saw the team home to what was a comfortable 9 wicket win, and with almost 2 full overs to spare.

Man of the Match – Paul Pearce for his tournament joint-topping haul of 4 wickets, on a pretty good batting track.

Champagne Moment – on what was a full and fun day’s cricket, El Duce seemed to be plumbing the depths of the Art of Captaincy for something positive to say, clearly anticipating (as we all were) another 0-2 Nelson Cup thumping. Following our mauling by the Tigers, he attempted to rally the troops with: “If you put all our good balls together, we bowled quite well.” Did JM Brearley ever use that one?

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