On paper it was looking like a one horse race. Seven Sports CC having only played three games this season and lost all of them, Park Hill Sunday XI packed with seasoned league cricketers, we only had to turn up? Didn’t we?
In true Park Hill style I lost the toss, but luckily the guy they sent out (not their skipper) heeded my subtle hint that we were stronger than usual and stuck us in. So with the full support and confidence of the rest of the team I joined Adam and we went out to open in what was surly going to be a huge 300+ score. However, with the pitch playing slower than than a 1 legged dog on tranquilizers and with their opening bowlers bowling a tight line scoring proved harder than it looked, but with Adam hitting the bad ball, me slip driving and extras helping the score tick along we got to 26 before the pitch claimed it first victim Adam getting one that kept low taking out his middle stump about 4 inches off the ground. In strode Rich who got off to a quick start cracking a lovey drive though extra cover and another through mid-wicket, then one of the many Johnsons in their team managed to get one to nibble off the seam and Rich unluckily edged through to the keeper, this being the only thing their he’d stopped all game, 53 for 2 after 16, could be worse and we still had the power house middle order to come.
In came Nick Williams who started cautiously rotating the strike until I became another victim of the slow pitch, Caught and Bowled by R Johnson, (Doesn’t say what sex she was in the book) 62 for 3 of 17 still plenty of time. Blakely in next, again a cautious start, but slowly the partnership was coming together both Nicks hitting boundaries taking the score long to 85 when Nick W spooned one to square leg, 85 for 4 and this is where the wheels fell off. Blakey went soon after and leaving Elliot and Bhups at the crease. The oppo smelling blood brought on their best weapon D Childs. Coming off his 2 step run up pulling the pin and lobbing down the Moonest of moon balls. With no pace off the bowling or the pitch both Elliot and Bhups looked all at sea not like the seasoned League cricketers the are/were. Bhups managed to get a couple away, until finally one wild swing too many the ball dropping under his bat and literally dribbling onto the stumps, gone for 9. Powell in next swinging like a rusty gate. Elliot having tried to no avail various ways of getting the Moon ball away, even Fox Trotting down the pitch at one stage (a man after my own heart) fell leg before to another Johnson for 4, 98 for 7, thoughts of 300+ being a dim and distance memory now. Venu in next he and Phil hung around vallantly rotating the strike and Venu hitting a boundary until he missed a straight one bowled through the gate for 9, Jamie getting a promotion to 10 came in looking like he’d sooner be anywhere else than there was in next, Phil still swing from the hip connected with one for a boundary he then edged one to slip of the penultimate ball leaving Lawny to come in for the last which he survived sneaking a single in the process. Final tally 114 for 9 from 35 nobody walking away from that with much to shout about.
After tea, we set about defending our total and with the pitch getting slower and lower by the ball and a few youngsters in their ranks we always had a chance if we got into them early. Lawny and Jamie started us off Jamie settled in to a good line and length keeping their openers tied down. Then a rare one down the leg side from him the openers eyes lit up only for the pitch to play it part again, he only managing to paddle it round to corner to a waiting Lawny at fine leg ready, only for him drop it, unlucky mate I can speak from experience fielding at short fine leg is a difficult job. Jamie and Lawny kept plugging away for their allotted 7 overs Dave not having any luck but with Jamie picking up 2 wickets finishing with figures of 2 for 10 off 7, good bowling mate.
So after 14 overs they were 40 odd for 2, we could do with some quick wickets to get back in to it. Phil and Venu took over the bowling, with Powell struggling with his line eventually he got one straight and the pitch did the rest clean bowling their number 3. Meanwhile Venu twirled away from the other end bowling some great stuff, he would have had his first club wicket if Nick hadn’t had dropped one behind the stumps. We couldn’t get the break through and they were within touching distance. At 80 odd for 3. But we had and ace up our sleeve in the form of Bhupesh.
Had I left it too late, everyone though so (even me), last roll of the dice, Bhups came on and with is first ball going for 4 through 3rd man we were all thinking it may have been too much of a task even for him, (just a quick note, with Blakey having not copied up the score book in full (your read why he had to in a moment) I’ve had to do this from memory) but bowling with venom in the same over he trapped one of the set batman’s LBW, 80 odd for 4 the fight back was on. With Venu’s last over going for a few and taking them near the 100 mark thing were look bleak. Bhups continued with no luck in his second over. I came on from the other end managing to keep the runs down and a couple of tight LWB shouts not going our way. Bhups is back on for his third, firing Yorkers down at will and with the last two balls of the over he clean bowls two of them he’s on a hat- trick at the start of his next over. I continued and managed to trap the other set batman LBW 103 for 7 were back in it. Next comes the low point of the fielding display. Bhups on his hatrick the field closes in, new batman on strike Bhups fires down another Yorker all he can do is prod forward, the ball loops up, time stands still, the shout of ‘Catch it’ can be heard back at Fortress Ruxley. But who’s underneath it, it’s only N Blake, but it’s coming so softly he can drop it can he? Oh yes he can straight in and straight out. Warny dropping the Ashes sprung to mind, was that the match and hat-trick gone missing? Bad luck Bhups and Nick. Anyway undeterred Bhups carries on and promptly takes the wicket bowled very next ball, 103 for 8. We can’t escape this can we? Next in is the 10-year-old but his not on strike. I bowled my first ball of the next over and for some reason they turned a 2 in to a 1 leaving him on strike, sensing blood I showed no mercy to the youngster and gave him one of my quickest balls which he only managed to parry to Bhups at first slip 107 for 9. We were on the brink, fittingly I thought it was only fair to let Bhups take the last wicket which he duly did getting his 5 for 6 off 4.3 overs, well done mate. Finally bowled them out for 107 losing their last 7 wickets for next to nothing.
A thoroughly good game all round with every one contributing and played in the right spirit and with the best team winning eventually, well done to everyone.