Willow Tree CC (219 for 9) beat The Village (205 all out) by 14 runs

Willow Tree CC won the toss and elected to bat
Muggy with a short sharp shower in the middle. Pitch was fruity.
It is probably fair to say that Pecos XI are now at the very least off the Village’s Christmas card list after being unable to raise a team yet again. Willow Tree CC stepped in and shlepped in - all the way from Reading to play us at fortress Parliament Hill. 

It has been a season of firsts and this week we had another almost certain Village record for the most number of players at the ground early. Five Villagers were hanging around discussing pasta brunches and Gaga gigs a full 45 minutes before the scheduled start. Full disclosure: many Villagers were perturbed by the threat of Orange Line problems following on from the strike the day before, though such foresight has not always been this club’s MO.

Miami Tobes was in charge this week and went out to survey a classic PH track: green, patchy and potted, which would clearly offer the assistance to the bowlers that we are used to. The outfield was a similar colour to the track which is unusual right now with many grounds around London looking more like a tasty roti with each passing day. We lost the toss but it made no difference as the oppo decided to bat first which felt like the sort of outside-the-box thinking that Baz and Ben would approve of.

We got off to a classic start: first ball Giles flew in and sent it down leg, down the slope, and yours truly (standing in as approximately sixth choice keeper) could do nothing more than volley it with a boot to fine leg. Village.

Both Giles and opening partner Ramesh were a handful on a pitch that was doing all sorts but was also probably doing too much. The batters struggled to get anything on it and I struggled to get anything on it behind the stumps either. Poor Cressey at first slip took at least four catches off the edge but sadly it was the edge of my wrist every time as I sprawled around on the floor like a marching powder fuelled turbot out of water.

Fast forward to our batting innings and we discovered that the oppo had declined to enter into their scoresheet the Village bowler that had taken each wicket so we had to fill in the details as best as memory served, hence the following paragraphs could be a complete fabrication. Consider this the Tory leadership hustings of match reporting.

Klav at first change, bowling down the slope, took the first wicket with a lovely ball that drifted and gripped and was too good for the bat, clattering into middle and off. With Morgs unfortunately currently out with an enforced layoff EK is starting to close the gap to become the Village’s most capped player. He used all that experience to good effect when he tossed one up to the new bat who clonked it down to new Villager and COBCC expat Adam who was patrolling down at cow. For those of us that have played in this team a couple of times now, this chance had all the hallmarks of a drop: it was nicely looped up, the fielder only had to take about two steps and had plenty of time to steady themselves before probably shelling it and staring at their shoes as it bobbles over the rope for four. This time will certainly come for Adam as the Village effect spares no-one, but not yet. On this occasion he demonstrated juggling skills of the like I do not think we have seen before as the ball went:

  1. Palm
  2. Pec
  3. Wrist
  4. Bicep
  5. Chest grab

Excellent stuff. On many occasions this would have easily been “comedy catch of the day” but not today! Archit got the next bat to chop it straight up in the air to give myself what should have been a regulation catch running up from keeper but I misjudged badly right at the end and certainly would have spilled it if it weren’t for the mitts. This was not the award winning catch though, this one was…

Amir Jamal [thanks Bosh. Ed.] came in for the Tree and caused problems almost straight away, dispatching bad balls for huge sixes and good balls for four, evoking memories of our favourite Aussie cousin. He scored a crucial 60-odd before being removed by Archit, but not with his bowling. To sum up what happened, I have just put a message into the group chat which asked “Who was bowling when Archit caught it with his shoe?”. Turns out it was Klav (on his way to an excellent 4-fer) when Amir/Jamal ballooned a full one up over his own head where both Cressey and Archit were lurking. Here I could copy and paste my earlier description of a chance with all the hallmarks of a drop etc. except this one went:

  1. Hands
  2. Chest
  3. “Midships”
  4. Down the leg
  5. Ankle

By this point Archit had vaguely collapsed into something akin to a lotus position but with his boot wrapped underneath the ball. Cressey was first on the scene and performed an impromptu inspection, confirming that the catch had been taken. Utterly bonkers.

Cue some standing around and conversation about whether it was maybe a no ball on height and (apparently more importantly to the oppo) why Archit wasn’t celebrating if he had taken a catch. I am sure Archit won’t mind me writing here that the reason he wasn’t celebrating was he didn’t have the first clue what had happened.

The other wickets may or may not have included Klav’s final victim holing out to Tobes at mid off, then Eddy got one with another “straight up in the air, caught keeper” style dismissal. Eddy bowled very well and probably deserved more. He might have clean bowled someone too, who knows, certainly not the opposition scorer!

Giles and Ramesh bowled well again in tandem at the death, the latter got one nicked off and Gilo was unlucky not to see some return, especially when he bamboozled both the bat and the wicketkeeper with a perfect slower ball bouncer which I managed to steer perfectly on to the lid behind me for five penalty runs to rub salt well and truly into that wound.

Adam and I opened up the batting in the absence of our more regular man-cricketers. I lasted no time at all, nicking off third ball, but this was still plenty of time for a dispute to break out as Umpire Gilo introduced the opposition to the back-foot no ball rule. Now, this is a rule which many people at our level (your correspondent very much included) are a tad hazy about, however most recognise that it is at least a Law of the Game even if they might not be able to quote the exact text. Our oppo had clearly never even heard of it. Perhaps Google hasn’t made it to Reading yet?

More oppo opprobrium was opened up when Umpire Gilo declined an operatic appeal for caught behind against Boshy. They were convinced. They were steaming. Giles was satisfied that it had hit both pads, not bat. When quizzed later (and independently) Bosh too felt that it had hit both his pads, not bat.

Another intervention in my reporting, hot off the press via the group chat again. Prash writes:

“Please can you mention the LBW policy change. When oppo make loud noises, LBW’s will be awarded from now on and index finger raised in less than a millisecond. Potential impact on player starts and streak expected”

There we go buddy, just for you. This intervention is probably in the context of the author’s next ball which hit him on the pad and the Willowers unleashed another astronomical appeal towards Gilo who responded to the loud noises by obliging with a finger [probably not for the first time! Ed.] Before the shenanigans Boshy had amassed a breezy 17. It’s fair to say Willow Tree were quite pleased with the outcome.

Adam was cleaned up for 2, Cressey was cleaned up for 12. Avi and TdM were both out caught for not many and we were in the mire.

Ek came in and started an excellent rebuild. He was aided first by Gilo who biffed it about in his trademark black pads. He demolished the first over of a leggie for 26 [444446]. They were not seen again.

We had been set 220 to win in 35 overs which had looked impossible when we were 54-6. It still looked highly unlikely when Giles top-edged to point for a spectacular 43 as we still needed a hundred more plus change. 

Ramesh was next up and formed another key partnership with Ek. Rambo hit some lovely fours through the covers, Klav clubbed some big sixes over the top. Several Villagers on the sidelines had given up on this game some time ago with attention being diverted by phones propped up on the boundary showing England v Germany in the Women’s Euro final at Wembley. Slowly a contest emerged in our game as these two put on about 50 for the 8th wicket before Ek was run out trying to keep the scoreboard ticking.

In came Eddy at 10 who had been fighting earlier with Archit as both were keen to bat even lower down the order. We needed about 30 off roughly the same number of balls. Out of nowhere, Eddy whipped one off his pads over midwicket which tantalisingly fell just a yard inside the boundary for an epic one-bounce four.

England scored a screamer in the football. It was coming home.

There was a dispute about another potential run out that centred on some footage that Avi had recorded from square leg on the oppo skipper’s phone. You couldn’t make it up. There was yet more argie when Ramesh edged it trying to play a sort of smear to a full ball. Not given straight away since it very easily could have been a bump so again the Tree people lost their collective mind. Rambo emerged with all the credit here as he chatted with Umpire Cressey about what had happened before walking off. It did cost us the game though so next time Ramesh mate please insult everyone in whatever language you fancy, stand your ground and pump them for consecutive sixes before unleashing a full Tahir round the ground, twice, and setting fire to a sightscreen. That’s how it’s done. Friendly cricket.

Germany equalised. Typical.

We interrupt our programming yet again for another Whatsapp intervention on the Bosh non-wicket, this time it’s Cressey who has chirped up:

“I’d also add to that as non striker that I thought it had hit both pads and not bad [sic]”


Back to the game. Archit was next man in supporting Eddy in pursuit of an unlikely win. Archit missed his first ball completely, then smoked his second one into the leg side where it nearly went for four before getting cut off. Eddy got another one on his pads and whipped it away again - put him in some red shorts and he could have been mistaken for our favourite Aussie cousin’s cousin.

Needing about 12 off the last over Eddy was sadly out for 16 which gives him a season average north of twenty which he explained in the pub “puts me up there with the big boys”. Quite.

England had bagged a scrappy goal towards the back end of extra time and our match finished just in time to watch the last two minutes of history.

We marched down to the Vine to commiserate our loss and celebrate the Lionesses. Some salty comments were added to the scorebook. Some people got naked.

C Pitcher
1st August 2022

Runs 4s 6s
C Pitcher † c WK b Asif 0 0 0
A Tyndall b Amir 2 0 0
RM Cressey b Amir 12 2 0
P Misra lbw b Amit 17 4 0
A Rao c Mid-wicket b Ahmad 4 0 0
T de Mellow * c Slip b Ahmad 2 0 0
E Gupte run out (unknown) 42 3 2
G Tupper c Point b Jamal 43 8 1
R Bedadala c WK b Amir II 26 4 0
E Francis c Mid-wicket b Jamal 16 3 0
A Yadav not out 2 0 0
(Frank) Extras 11b 5lb 4nb 0p 19w 39
Total all out 205 (0 ovs)
Bowler O M R W
Ahmad 7 0 29 2
Ali 1 0 26 0
Amir 5 0 25 2
Amir II 7 0 25 2
Asif 7 0 38 1
Hasan Ali 2 0 18 0
Jamal 5.4 0 26 2
Fall of Wicket
No data recorded
Willow Tree CC Innings
Runs 4s 6s
Ahmed b E Gupte 20 0 0
Ahsan c C Pitcher b A Yadav 18 0 0
Adnan c A Tyndall b E Gupte 0 0 0
Mehboob c T de Mellow b E Gupte 9 0 0
Jamal c A Yadav b E Gupte 60 0 0
Amir c C Pitcher b E Francis 18 0 0
Amir II c R Bedadala b RM Cressey 0 0 0
Stroppy Keeper not out 53 0 0
Sattax c T de Mellow b E Francis 5 0 0
Ali c C Pitcher b R Bedadala 7 0 0
Hasan Ali not out 4 0 0
(Frank) Extras 14b 0lb 2nb 0p 9w 25
Total for 9 219 (0 ovs)
Bowler O M R W
E Gupte 7 0 30 4
E Francis 7 0 38 2
G Tupper 7 2 13 0
R Bedadala 7 1 38 1
RM Cressey 4 0 34 1
A Yadav 3 0 32 1
Fall of Wicket
No data recorded