In what has been something of a theme in recent weeks, this was another fixture that nearly did not happen thanks to all the usual summer distractions plus many regular Villagers re-upping their domestic account following the highly successful Viking tour last weekend. On Wednesday morning we only had 7 confirmed but an emergency recruitment drive led by Craig and I yielded three debutantes. South Bank also leant us two of their players, Dan and Simon, such that we were eventually (and somewhat ironically) oversubscribed.
As I write this we are in the foothills of a Red alert heatwave with temperatures predicted to rise as high as 40 degrees Celsius this time tomorrow. We will wait to see what sort of apocalypse this actually unleashes upon us. So far it has merely provided pretty pleasant cricketing conditions, if the day was a little hot for the batters doing their 22 yard shuttle runs. There is also the third India ODI going on at Old Trafford, Topley is tearing the visitors apart!
For once Captain Morgans did not lose the toss but only because he was not involved. Our dear leader is resting a slipped disc and perhaps the lingering effects of the Spunk Bar. Miami Vice was also unavailable due to a last-minute change in game day and the Webmaster and other committee members were also elsewhere, so iron chancellor and saviour of humanity Eddy was in charge. South Bank won the toss and elected to bat first on a deck that looked like it would be placid and a bleached outfield that looked like it would be rapid.
While the outfield did indeed offer good value for shots there was a bit more assistance from the surface than might have been predicted. Jon “Thorn Ton” Thornton hung around as ever but Giles extracted good lift out of the pitch early on which had the other SB opener caught behind by Ed on debut with the gloves.
The oppo had about 100 on the board at the first drinks break. Village had bowled well to restrict them at this point with Giles, debutant Joel, Ramesh and Sandesh keeping things tight. After the interval Village continued well in the field with all bowlers contributing including SB ringer Dan.
Gilo was the pick of the Village bowlers with 3-34 off 8 overs including two maidens. The highlight of the second half was another caught behind but this one was a big edge that went through to Bosh around shoulder height at first slip and the Basmati Baz clung on with both hands, triggering a small pitch invasion. Joel supported Giles exceptionally well and went home with 2-40 off his 8, one a tidy caught behind and another even tidier caught and bowled. Special mention also to Bosh for a quick two over trundle that went for a measly 5 runs when SB were looking to put the hammer down late on. South Bank finished on 215 which felt a fair few runs light. There was no ton for Jon this time around as he carried his bat for 80*.
After a bit of boxing and coxing with the batting order we had a line-up with plenty of firepower in the middle order but somewhat short of potential openers, so Adam mate of Louse mate of Commons Old Boys stepped up to do some man cricket with myself in the Pontin role. Graham would have enjoyed my innings, going absolutely nowhere and eating up balls. Having successfully seen off one opening bowler, the first ball of the first change was a full bunger which could have been hit anywhere so I thought chipping it to mid-on was as good a place as any, sadly the fielder completed a non-trivial catch.
In came Ed who is a proper cricketer and a proper bat, combining a solid defence with some biiiiiiiiig sixes. Adam had played well at the other end accumulating a decent 20 with some lovely shots through covers before nicking off for 20. Bosh came in and started up a very handy partnership with Ed and at this point Village looked somewhat in control as runs were coming fairly easily even if the Jalfrezi Jonty offered up the odd chance along the way with his typically spicy batting.
We had parity with SB at the drinks break and all was going well until Bosh leathered one straight at the stumps at the other end but with a fluky flick off the bowler en route; in a rare act of backing up by a Village top order bat the unfortunate Ed was out his ground and had to go for 27.
Simon the SB ringer and specialist number 5 batsmen came in and scored a couple before nicking off to first slip who took a fine catch diving spritely to his left.
Having played with Joel midweek and seen him score 50* off about three balls I was confident that he and Bosh were going to do some damage. Sure enough, the runs flowed almost as much as the sweat off Bosh’s brow as Village closed in on 200 without too many worries. But then perhaps a tiring Prashant missed a straight one and things got a bit more interesting than we might have liked.
Effort was the next man in, newly anointed winner of the prestigious “moment of tour” for his two wickets in one over, also possessor of the best accent in the Village. It looked a lot like he would assist Joel steer us home right up until the latter spanked one into the leg side and was snaffled right on the boundary one run short of a jug. Even more interesting!
Ramesh was the next man in. Just 16 runs needed off 5 overs. The interest rate continued to rise faster than in a tinpot Tory economy as Effort negotiated some good bowling and Ramesh was keeping his powder dry. With Giles waiting in the wings, as umpire I was furtively making eye contact with Ramesh which I hope communicated “please start whacking it before this gets out of hand” rather than just a prelude to another hug. Thankfully runs were grabbed here and there until it was just 4 more to win. Ramesh came down the track and slapped one into the sky towards deep mid-off who maybe had a chance but did not get there, the ball made it to the boundary and Village won with about 10 balls to spare.
Jugs were had, Lucky made some limited appearances given the heat and a select few made it to the GTA Uncle alleyway for crafties and pizza.
Meanwhile, back at the final ODI, one Mr Pant has just destroyed England to win at a canter. Oh well.
C Pitcher, 17 July 2022.