London Saints

Cricketers wilt in the Coldharbour heat

The signs were there from the start. Gary Burrell, with the kit bag in the boot of his car, attempted to drive up the potholed track leading to the idyllic setting of Coldharbour Cricket Club, but soon found himself rolling back down as the clutch cable on his car couldn’t cope with the steep incline and gave way. That resulted in three of the other team members having to trek back down the hill in order to bring the kit back up it. A cracking start, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Then captain Griffiths proved a useless tosser as the Saints were put in the field in temperatures hovering around the thirty degree mark, with two of their bowling attack still stuck in traffic on the M25. The hosts took advantage of only having nine fielders to beat by piling on the runs in the early overs. An opening wicket stand of 71 was broken when Nanton sent Jefferies’ stumps flying for 29. Absent bowlers Pearce and Patel had arrived just in time for the drinks break, and while the overs immediately following the break heralded a dry spell by the batsmen’s standards with a ludicrously short boundary in all four directions, opening bat Hopper and number three Jordan both reached half centuries in pretty quick time.

Hopper was heading back to the pavilion immediately after raising his bat, again clean bowled by Nanton, but Jordan and new batsman Dawe upped the tempo with some big hitting, particularly so over (very short) long on and square of the wicket into the trees. Having hit the ever-talkative Quinn for two sixes and a four in consecutive deliveries, Jordan eventually went big once too often as he holed out to cow corner where Grant took the catch after a brief juggle. “It came out of the sun” was the excuse I gave at the time, and it’s the one I’m sticking to!

Coldharbour eventually posted 254-4, with Pearce getting a rather generous leg before decision to dismiss the veteran Acres for 15. One definite positive to take for the Saints bowlers and keeper Dewhirst was the concession of only 13 extras.

A very welcome tea arrived, with a scone selection only rivalled by Mrs Pearce’s contribution at Roadrunners last month, and “QE2” Barber and Griffiths were tasked with the job of getting the run chase off to a flying start. 7.28 runs per over would appear impossible in most situations, but on a ground where you could hit a forward defensive to the boundary, it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. The opening pair got off to a solid start, aided admirably by the extras column, but often when one wicket falls another one follows quickly, and when Barber was clean bowled by Lawrence, the one-legged “Pike” Price came and went, caught in the deep without scoring.

Enter Lui Patel, who in partnership with Griffiths – the two Saints batsmen to hit half centuries so far this season – added 56 for the third wicket. The fall of Patel for a boundary-laden 43 came shortly after Quinn offered some “advice” to the two at the crease, telling them they were three runs behind the asking rate. Patel was caught on the deep square boundary and so began another quick clutter of wickets. Grant rotated the strike for Griffiths but the skipper was then given lbw by umpire Dewhirst to the left-arm spinner Hopper for 28.

Then hilarity ensued as Quinn, apparently in a rush to get the game won, seemed to forget that the popping crease is there for a reason and dozily stood outside it as the keeper hit the stumps from nearly ten yards away. As Quinn wasn’t attempting a run – or at least he didn’t make a movement towards the non-striker’s end – the bowler was credited with the wicket and the keeper a stumping. His haste in seeming to give himself out became clear two overs later when he was spotted driving behind the bowler’s arm waving royally at everyone. Clearly disturbed by this image, Grant was out shortly afterwards, well caught at first slip after miscuing a cut through backward point.

Nanton and Dewhirst restored some respectability to the ailing Saints response, with Nanton in particularly destructive mood. He also benefited from four overthrows having already completed a single, which saw him onto 40 when the ninth wicket fell, bringing Burrell, the early front-runner for this year’s Duck Trophy to the crease alongside the current holder of said award. A third duck in three innings seemed inevitable against Coldharbour’s top bowler, but to his credit he played out two deliveries leaving Nanton on strike for the 34th over.

Another boundary followed, but Nanton blew his chance of a fifty by refusing a single off the fifth ball of that over which would have seen him back on strike for the final over. As it was, Burrell himself round the rope with a lovely flick through midwicket, but couldn’t find a single to rotate the strike so Nanton was left stranded on 44 not out in a respectable Saints score of 180-9.

Man of the Match: Nanton for his destructive batting and outstanding bowling figures of 2-28.

Champagne Moment: It has to be Quinn’s comedy dismissal – the secret of comedy is timing, and coming so soon after offering “support” to the other batsmen, getting out in such a manner was perfect karma.

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