Warm, sunny, mostly Covid secure
Some things change, some things stay the same. In the change column, a cavernous cornucopia of chaos: a new decade with a new captain, new players, a new(ish) fixture and, of course, the “new normal”. This fixture too was supposed to be something else. When it was arranged over the winter it would have looked and felt like a regular non-descript mid-season Sunday game in July when one would expect possible headaches to include weekend engineering works, Villagers in short supply due to weddings or festivals or holidays or a day at the Test, and sub-optimal individual performances following Saturday night looseness. Instead we had to navigate face coverings on tubes (mandatory yet not enforced), no tea (obvs), sanitizer on the hands (every 6 overs) and wipes for the ball (singular).
The irony of this short season is that it is certain to live long in the memory. I often picture a bunch of Villagers in later life terrorising the communal space of a nursing home with their dodgy memories and even dodgier chat… the De Mellows discussing how James Vince should be recalled to the test squad at the age of 79, Louse explaining to Thomo how to bowl, Troj hunched over the Village stats page and me scrolling through old match reports. So, to my future self, a quick reminder of what happened here. One day we were sat having curry after an indoor game and Morgs was talking us through the ins and outs of this new virus that had emerged in China and was spreading west. We had a quick primer on R rates and “flattening the curve” and the dire situation in Italy. The next moment PM Johnson (caught entirely flat-footed by the whole situation) was putting the country into “lockdown” and the whole world turned upside-down and the first half of the 2020 cricket season went with it.
Fast forward to 12 July and our trip up to Moor Park to play the Old Merchant Taylor’s Sunday 2s was our first outing of the season. Conditions were ideal, a bright sunny day and one of the best tracks that we still play on in London. Captain Morgans was unavailable for his own debut as the permanent Village toss loser, so TRC stepped in and lost it instead and were sent out to field.
Some things change, some things stay the same. Changes: we had two debutantes for this one, Jamie Lang and Leigh Miller. Same: our opening bowlers (Tupper and Archit this time) went for very few runs and took no wickets. In fact, looking down the Village bowling figures now it is very hard to understand how we lost this game.
The OMT openers were starting to look well set when first blood went to yours truly, standing in as reserve-backup-acting wicketkeeper. Simon was having a bit of a think about one that he had not connected with but was doing so out of his crease - the underarm throw hit and thankfully the square leg umpire was alert (far from given at this level) and raised the finger.
God shuffled his pack and introduced Bilal, Jamie and then himself. All bowled well. Bilal was unlucky to have the batter nick off only to see the replacement-sub-balloon-with-the-gloves get nowhere near it for what should have been a fairly regulation take. Jamie cleaned up the remaining opener and Nisail too; he took a good catch off Eddie’s bowling along the way as well. 7 overs for 19 with 2 wickets is a very tidy display for someone that TRC chatted up at the Oval.
Going into the second half of their innings OMT had about 100 on the board when it was Louse time...
Some things change, and some things really never, ever, ever change. Louse did what Louse does. The batters were maybe starting to feel a little bogged down when Jay hit one to Abs in at cover who took it well. First ball Yogi bottom-edged a full pea into Pitcher’s thighs and had to go. The Louse was on for a hattrick. Another full bunger came down but the batter could only steer it to midwicket where Deano took what would normally be considered a straightforward grab however in these circumstances it was anything but!
[Note the scorecard does not show back-to-back ducks, but this really did happen. The first two wickets of the 5fer came of last two balls of one Louse over, then completed off the first ball of his next, allowing the third victim to get off a duck in the interim]
Louse looked booked in for a Michelle when he cleaned bowled Shyam but it was not to be. Apparently Sanseev was run out by unknown, and Milan was cleaned up by a Bilal banana that hooped round the back of his legs. OMT were all out for 148 with Frank top scoring.
Abs and C-pitch were sent out to open up the Village batting. C-pitch went for not very many, Bosh hit a couple of big blows before going for not very many, and Deano made it a trio of out for not very many. Village were in a little bit of bother. Abs had played well, holding down one end, before he was pinned leg before by a quicker ball for 26.
We needed a partnership and for a while it looked like day-boo Leigh and old hand Boom Boom might just do the job. Leigh batted sensibly and ran hard in support of Bilal who was in the mood, launching one ball into Watford for a brutal six.
There was still hope when Leigh was run out as day-boo-too Jamie came to the crease and started up another partnership with Bilal. With 7 overs remaining, Village required 47 to seal the deal. Bilal got out for a typically quick fire 37. Tup Tup joined Leigh and knocked a productive over away for 16, leaving 23 needed off the last 5. When Giles was caught behind we really did have a game on our hands. Going into the last two overs 13 runs were required. Jamie was out for a well-played 19, leaving Archit and Louse in the middle needing 7 off the final over. Archit missed on which brough Eddie to the crease with a chance of glory, but sadly it was not to be on this occasion as he was bowled.
A disappointing result but an all-round excellent game of cricket played in good spirit with a nail-biting finish, well worth waiting so long for. Pubs were locked down so after a warm tin at the ground Villagers headed home.