Saints pipped in final-over thriller
A new venue and another classic nail-biter against the Roadrunners, which this time went against the Saints.
We collapsed from 165-4 in the 32nd over, needing just 18 runs off 21 balls to win to end up falling 6 runs short and losing 5 wickets in doing so. The main reasons perhaps being our lack of confidence in closing out a winning position and the athleticism and performance of the Roadrunners youngsters.
Having secured a rare win last week a strong looking Saints team arrived in the industrial estate at Houghton Regis to find Roadrunners new ground to be a pleasant surprise albeit the wicket appeared a low slow one after recent rain.
Skip for the day Griffiths won further brownie points in his campaign for election as Player of the Year in agreeing a 35-over (not 40) match and we took to the field against an opposition whose squad was spread playing another game to ours meaning Roadrunners team had a family feel with brothers, parents and children playing.
Grimes opened up our attack with Gary B. and the Runners were kept largely in check at 40-1 after 9 overs. Tony being especially economical and claiming the first wicket and was thus rewarded by the skipper in being bowled through.
His Lordship making his first appearance of the season and appearing only a little late in the day was first change and was perhaps a little rusty after his birthday the day before being treated harshly in his 2-over spell by Master Hassall (who himself had been out to 4am his mum reported). He scored 52 including 16 off 1 Lords’ over, before Lui claimed his wicket with the score at 98-2 in the 19th over. The nearest we had got until then to claiming his wicket was when his sister (fielding for us with Pete stuck on the M3) showing athleticism and a good arm to nearly run out her brother! She was gutted to miss.
The run rate then slowed as Tiger Pearce and Lui kept things quiet with just 27 runs off the next 9 overs but with a wicket then falling at 125 and just 7 overs left, this ‘turning point’ brought in new bat Catlin who then promptly hit us (especially the now-arrived Pete) for 45 off just 26 balls.
A score of 182 looked a stiff challenge but at least the Tea was an excellent one including home made scotch eggs and cakes, mugs of tea and a bonus of clotted cream scones to keep Mr. Scones happy too (guess who had the first and last of the 25!)
The Teas Committee were delighted to hear that Saints are one of just 3 teams Roadrunners play who get ‘enhanced’ Teas such is our reputation in this important part of the game! We are also promised Profiteroles in the return leg at Old Habs in July by the way…
Anyway back to the cricket I suppose.
We opened with PoTY-elect Griffiths and Mark and a solid start was made albeit with some appalling running between the wicket which to some suggested bet-rigging that a run-out was to be the first means of a wicket to fall.
It might be old-age and deafness, it might be 2x Boycott-like tunnel of concentration but the 2 openers appeared unable to talk or listen to each other when going for runs, especially for 2’s. Runs generally weren’t too easy to find with Knubley (Jnr), now an even taller/stronger bowler keeping it tight (no need for sledging Tony this year) – surely just a coincidence then that specialist batsman not out Mayhew jumped in to an umpires coat to minimise any chance of batting up the order.
Johnny went first to a well-taken nick off Knubley to the keeper, so loud indeed that Johnny walked….bringing Lui to the wicket with Mark. A fine partnership of 49 then took the Saints to 66 in the 14th over when Mark played an attacking shot across the line and was bowled, a further partnership of 30 with Mr. Scones saw Lui batting so well hopes of a victory began to rise – Steve falling in the 21st over and the score at 96. Impressively we were scoring runs off good balls with very few ‘free hits’ on offer.
Another turning point against us soon arrived when Lui middled a drive straight at Miss Hassall at short cover, a 2-handed parry and follow up trap with her legs saw his innings end at 58 and hopes fell a little. The innings was revived though by Pete and 1-leg Nanton who then combined excellent singles (Pete – even allowing for Hopalong’s reduced running speed) and Gordon Greenwich hitting by Dave – 2 phenomenal sixes being the highlight – with nearly a run a ball coming, their partnership of 63 in 10-overs was turning the game in our favour it seemed.
Tiger Pearce had to take himself to the changing rooms such was the tension as scorer Keenan, in between supping his cups of tea still being provided by the Runner’s ladies, confirmed the balls/runs required EACH and EVERY bloody delivery.
But then another turning point, this time Pete and then Dave fell in consecutive deliveries both caught and bowled to Master Hassall and we were panicking again!
Knowing who was still to bowl the last overs, Tiger Pearce went for a leg-side hoik to his first ball against their spinner and was skittled for a Golden duck, Tony was run out by a country mile going for a cheeky single but we were still in it – 13 needed off 12 balls becoming 8 needed off the last over – unfortunately against the returning Knubley but we worried not as Lord Lucan, former no.3 bat, was striding out to the wicket for the last 6 balls.
5 balls later, some lustful swishes outside of offstump with only air being hit and Not out Mayhew in his sofa at the non-strikers end, things were bleak. Keenan charged down the wicket, a man-enraged to smack the last ball of the match for 6 but was instead unexpectedly comprehensively bowled to end his match with a duck.
Games turn on fine margins and it was a cracking match played competitively and in good spirit, to be fair our extras count could have been larger but for some generous umping by the Runners, where some of our fielding saw balls kicked over the boundary for 4 their spry children often kept our good strokes to the outfield to 1, some harshly pointed to the byes (could have been wides) we conceded etc etc.
We look forward to the return match in July and our chance to claim a win and if not, the promised profiteroles!
Man of the Match
This could have gone to Skipper Griffiths for continuing his campaign for PoTY by getting a 35-over game and also not bowling himself, or to Dave Nanton for his batting and indeed his bowling but for his last over which included 9 wides (not byes Mr Mayhew) but the clear winner is Lui with a classy innings of 58 and also a tight bowling spell which helped us keep the target down and but for a quality catch by Miss Hassall to remove him would have been more.
Dave Nanton’s second 6 was brutal with the ball lacerated in to the car park and a ‘crack’ off the bat so loud it reminded locals of the shootings taking place in nearby Luton. One young Roadrunner in the outfield amazed asked ‘how can he hit it that hard, he’s only got one leg?’
The same fielder wanted to know what gout was and why we’d play someone whose not 100% fit… I said wait 40 years.
The winner however must be the comedic running between Mark and Johnny, never has there been so much confusion and ignored calling as between these 2. How both batsmen could be at the same crease when the wickets were broken when going for a second run (John turning his back and saying ‘no’, Mark running back saying ‘yes) only for John to then have to run up the bowlers end before the wicket was broken too late at that end left us all trying to work out the rules in the pub afterwards and whether neither, one or both should have been given out.