London Saints

Cricketers back to earth with a bump (and bruise)

Pride Cometh Before the Fall, Just Ask Mr Humpty Dumpty Scones or Any of This LSSC Cricket Team.

Less a match report and more a modern day morality play on how power corrupts and ultimate power can really mess with your head. With a whole subtext on the importance of a modicum of personal bravery in sport and how dumb it is to drop a star bat just when he starts to look dangerous…

Our captain for the day, Andy Mayhew, nobly told the team prior to start of play: ‘This is my first game as captain and my last. ‘ It is a sentiment difficult to argue with, although it would be harsh to lay the blame for this trouncing at the hands and bats of the Gentlemen of West London at his particular door.

For the sole purpose of witnessing his moment as commander-in-chief Andy had flown in his charming girlfriend from Japan and helicoptered his parents to the game (yes, in both war and poor writing, truth is the first casualty).

On a hot and humid day The Gents batted first; the outfield at Old Haberdashers was fast, unlike our fielders – Psycho being the exception that proved the rule – and the runs flowed.

A good opening spell by Burrell and Nanton saw Flatliner bowl Kumar and first change Lui Patel made the mistake of trapping Dubey leg before.

This saw Lall stride to the crease, a player whose last two knocks had produced innings of 60 and 70. Today he was to improve of that with an assortment of sumptuous shots all round the ground off of all the Saints’ bowlers. One of his three sixes, hit square over the long boundary at point, earned him a £10 bet with teammates, such was the confidence of the man!

His 80 off just 52 balls wasn’t a man against children, more a man against old men. Oh well, who can argue with time?

He did have one reprieve: the author failing to pouch a straightforward skier when Lall had just 21 to his name. To compound the error the author then had to ball to the man he had just dropped. Quinn’s generosity was not reciprocated by the batsman!

The first of two inspired bowling changes by our Il Duce of the day, Andy, brought dividends when Pearcey’s first over saw a rank full toss being caught nicely on the long off boundary by Pete Berkeley, who was careful not to step over the line, and Lall’s reign of destruction was, mercifully, brought to an end.

Paul, not helped by balling from the road end, found many of his deliveries deposited over the short boundary and into the woods. Andy thanked Paul for taking Lall’s wicket and for giving away 37 runs off his other 11 balls and suggested he ‘take a blow’ and retire back to the boundary.

Our leader of the day then inserted Psycho back into the attack. Gary’s first ball of his second spell bounced twice before finally hitting the wicket of the diminutive but limpet-like opener Johny Small, who had scored 85 from 76 balls during his all but two hour long occupation of the crease.

Despite the best but ultimately expensive efforts of all the ballers London Saints could not put a lid on The Gent’s scoring. Pete Berkeley got movement off the wicket and troubled everyone, as did Mr Grimes, whilst the author, in the author’s opinion, consistently found the edge without reward and had a difficult chance dropped by Steve ‘Scones’ Grant.

Gents 271 for 6 off 35 overs!

It was an unusually somber tea table as the London Saints dwelt on the 8 an over that was required to get a result.

As Griffiths and Scones strode manfully to the wicket the suggestion that the total should be reached ‘in singles’ could not even raise a smile.

Sport is drama unrehearsed. And how easy the hero becomes, if not the villain, then at least the vanquished.

Last week Scones scored a maiden century. This week ignominy. Such is cricket, such is life. First a ball that hits his unmoving and well tea-padded posterior, causing pain and embarrassment. Next ball, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, he retreated to somewhere near the square leg umpire whilst the ball dismantled his off stump. Young Scones may have been the only person, including the umpires, who was not laughing on the field of play, as he trudged back to the boundary without troubling the scorers.

Everything happens for a reason and the Gents digestion of Scones brought Lui to the crease and his batting gave a supermodel thin hope to the Saints cause.

As Lui lay waste to the bowling, John Griffiths, a virtual spectator batting at the other end, revealed to the umpire that he had contributed exactly 3 to their partnership of more than 30.

Lui’s imperious and chanceless innings of 75 was brought to a close the only way he was ever going to be dismissed, a direct throw causing a tight run out.

Hibbert, the regular Gent’s opening bowler, was introduced late in the game and he made the two opening quicks employed by the visitors look military medium as he cleaned up three wickets for three runs from six overs.

And despite’s Johny G’s 27 and the captain’s captain’s innings of 21, the ultimate demise was as predictable and enjoyable as a hangover following a night on the beer. Only its scale and duration were ever in doubt.

Even the sad target of not losing by more than 100 was denied as Saints were all out for 169 with four balls of the 35 overs remaining.

With only Grant and Berkeley out without scoring Ladbrokes are considering taking no more bets on Mr Pearce’s claim to this season’s duck trophy.

‘Ah, what about the morality play you promised?’ I hear you ask. Like pudding, the best is left for last. Our one-time El Presidenty, that normal somber, beacon of justice and morality found the pressures of performing in front of fan and family a weighty crown to bear.

After electing to take tea with only his own posse, obviously a sensible tactic to distance leader from the led, moral ambiguity set in.

Andy rounded on umpire Quinn before the start of the London Saints innings and said that with 271 needed for the draw there would be no LBWs from ‘Mr Trigger Finger.’ Oh Andy, a clear effort to influence an umpire! A move so crass that Stuart Broad is awarded has the ethical high ground. Now who can we tell our grandchildren to take a bearing from when they set their moral compass? Oh, black day. Black Day.

Man of the Match – Lui Patel, when his wicket fell, London Saints slim hopes toppled.

Champagne Moment – Steve Grant’s hiding behind square leg umpire rather than risk being hit by that nasty, fast, hard ball again…

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