Saints edged out by a single run
Steel band music, blue sky and the sound of cricket balls being cracked to the boundary – the perfect rehearsal for Trinidad and Tobago.
Unfortunately the balls in questions were being bludgeoned by Cincinatti bats.
As the sun blazed down on the surprisingly flat Greenwich Park council pitch, the home side’s score was rattling along at a steady pace and by the time drinks were taken after 12 overs Cincinatti had reached 69-1.
The drinks interval proved a turning point however and a refreshed Lui Patel and Dave Flatliner Nanton produced some tight and accurate bowling and the next eight overs saw the score slump to 82-3.
But while wickets fell, a host of chances for others came and went, including two off Lui’s bowling – a skied top edge which fell safely and a sharp chance put down at cover by Flatliner.
Burrell replaced Flatliner for his second spell and they continued to keep the scoring down, with Lui pinning down the previously free-scoring opener Lowe who showed his frustration by offering another half-chance which fell agonisingly short of Nanton at cover.
DT, with his clicky post-op shoulder, then entered the attack to give Lui a well-earned rest and he produced two chances in his first over – another skied top edge chance which fell safely for the batsman and a difficult diving chance to the tireless McIntyre (I say tireless, but Mike’s fantastically athletic fielding was making many of his less fit teammates worn out just watching him).
Johnny G then removed his Alvin Stardust leather glove to enter the attack in place of Burrell – and yet another top edge landed safely, while a miscued shot just eluded Ed Price’s outstretched arm.
And the chances did not stop there – Lord Lucan replaced Captain Clicky and first Lui put down a catch and then Mr Clicky dropped another as Cincinatti went on the attack.
The next breakthrough came when Nanton bowled Whitaker for his third wicket as eventually Cincinatti’s 35-over innings closed on 169-5.
After a pleasant tea in the swanky modern pavilion, Johnny G and Andy Hamstring Mayhew began the “chase”.
JG’s good form began with a steady start while Andy, batting with Mike McIntyre as runner, was as nervous about avoiding a duck (and therefore going to the top of the Duck Trophy ladder) than a batsman making his Test debut at Lord’s.
As a result Andy struggled to get his innings going against a very accurate attack and keen fielding and he was eventually bowled for 3 in the 11th over.
Lui took to the crease and the run rate gradually increased, albeit exclusively in singles and fours.
But then two wickets fell in quick succession – JG was bowled by Abbat shortly after the whippy seamer Morgan had sent a ball into JG’s chin and cracked a tooth. Wath entered the fray and left again soon afterwards to a second-ball duck to enter the race for the coveted Duck Trophy.
This brought Ed Price to the middle, but while he and Lui looked every inch a stylish batting partnership, both continued to find it difficult to score freely against the home seam bowlers.
Once again a stop for drinks – and the introduction of Cincinatti’s spinners – changed the nature of the game and both batsmen opened up.
Lui rapidly increased his score with a string of impressive boundaries while Ed, who hit some of his own, supported him well by getting Lui on strike whenever possible.
The pair put on 82 (just six runs short of the third best London Saints fourth wicket partnership) before Ed was caught with five overs remaining with Saints 29 runs short of Cincinatti’s total, but, with five wickets remaining, a real chance of victory.
Nanton entered the fray and a beautifully timed drive for four off his first ball increased the optimism that this might be a famous victory.
However with just 12 runs to win with nine balls remaining Lui fell to a sharp catch by none other than the eldest son of London Saint Johnny Quinn. This brought Mike McIntyre to the crease, and with just six to win off the final over and some panicky field adjustments by the home team the money was still on a London Saints win.
Nanton got a single off the first ball, but Mike – under massive pressure and facing pacy bowling on a pitch with variable bounce – was unable to score the required boundary and Saints agonisingly lost by one run.
It was an exciting but disappointing end to a wonderfully see-sawing match, with Saints players in particular reflecting on the 30-plus runs which probably should have been saved and which ultimately proved the difference between victory and defeat.
But once again, sadly for London Saints, cricket was the winner.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Several players deserve a mention in dispatches (in addition to the brilliant umpires) – Nanton for his wickets and tidy bowling, Mike McIntyre for his fielding, Johnny G for another solid batting performance, Ed Price for his supporting role in the fourth wicket partnership which brought victory so close – but the MoM must go to LUI PATEL for some tight bowling which slowed Cincinatti’s scoring to a crawl and then a measured innings seeing off the home side’s accurate seamers before unleashing a whirlwind of shots which had the Cincinatti constantly changing fielding positions to keep up.
CHAMPAGNE MOMENT: After facing four overs of pace attack ED PRICE suddenly remembered that he’d forgotten to wear a box and trudged off to quickly insert the missing item to chorus of cheers from his watching teammates.