Nobody ever said captaincy was easy, but standing in for the injured DT, Andy Mayhew will probably look back at this match and think he might have done things rather differently against Sunderland.
It started both well and badly in equal measures. He won the toss, something DT has never been particularly good at (or at least he always tells us he lost the toss every time he returns from the middle to give us the “good” news that we were fielding first in 25 degree heat), but elected to put Sunderland in to bat first. It’s worth noting that in your correspondent’s time with LSCC, we have never won a match where we were chasing a target. Not a good omen here, then.
However, things started out reasonably well. While Gary Burrell (6-1-48-0) was uncharacteristically out of sorts with the ball, Lui Patel (7-1-12-3) was able to apply pressure on the Sunderland batsmen from the other end, and some ill-judged shots saw the two opening batsmen back in the pavilion thanks to catches by Mike McIntyre and yours truly. First change bowler Tony Grimes (6-0-17-2) tempted their number 3 into an impatient shot which saw him bowled through the gate for 9, and things were looking pretty good.
Unfortunately, the visitors’ captain was determined to get his side back into the game and took a particular liking to McIntyre (5-0-33-2) and debutant Ben Sheriff’s (4-0-44-1) bowling, hitting an impressive 81. However, he was given a few lives along the way, with McIntyre himself unable to hang on to one at square leg (which in truth counts as three runs saved rather than a genuine chance) and another diving effort at midwicket. As it was, McIntyre was the beneficiary when the skipper eventually fell, a top edge athletically taken by the scrambling and diving Speedtwin. Quick wickets fell, with McIntyre displaying strangely stronger hands and reflexes when fielding off his own bowling to take the 9th Sunderland wicket, but we were ultimately unable to bowl them out in the 35 overs, which left us chasing 182 to win.
The chase started well, with Grant thrashing a full wide opening delivery through the off-side to the short boundary, but the skipper, attempting to maintain his total runs effort from last week (50 not out using the full 35 overs) while improving the rate at which he scored, was labouring at the other end. When Grant fell for 20 off 17 balls in the 7th over, Captain Marvel was still on 1, having played and missed at 5 in a row in one over and survived a loud appeal for a catch behind. Umpire Nanton was unmoved, though, and that’s all that matters.
Patel came to the crease and maintained his excellent batting form this season, hammering an excellent 43 at better than a run a ball. Despite his efforts, though, we were still up against the run rate. Three consecutive overs saw Mayhew play out five dot balls and then take a single off the final delivery, much to Patel’s evident frustration and the derision of those watching from afar. Eventually it all became too much, and a quick single was too quick and a direct hit saw Patel heading back to the pavilion. Wathan was next at the crease – Wath is a fine batsman, but not the quickest to run 22 yards, and yet his arrival prompted Mayhew to test the Sunderland’s ground fielding skills. Eventually he decided dropping the ball at the feet of their best fielder and shouting Wath through for a single was a fantastic idea. Needless to say, Wath only got halfway down the wicket before the bails were broken. Captain Marvel had another victim.
Two run-outs is bad, but it soon became three. Mayhew had no blame attached to him for this one, though, as a fantastic bit of fielding while seemingly still recovering from a desperate dive saw Hotston gone for 1. Nanton was the next to run the Mayhew gauntlet, but he holed out to deep fine leg with a top-edged pull just as the runs were starting to flow. McIntyre also added a brisk 15, but by this stage we were well behind the rate, and needed 30 off the final over. With Mayhew still unbeaten, creeping up towards the 50 milestone, and with the game beyond us, attentions turned to encouraging our opponents to stop that milestone being reached. Fortunately for everybody, he ran out of deliveries and ended the innings unbeaten on 49 – quite some feat to bat for 70 overs and only score a total of 99.
Man of the Match: Lui Patel – once again, tight bowling with key wickets collected, and a good effort with the bat to get us somewhere near the target.
Champagne Moment: Gary Speedtwin’s catch to dismiss their top scorer, I don’t think anybody expected him to make up the ground to take the catch, himself included!