Match report away to Merton – 19th July 2020
Won by one wicket!
We’re usually blessed with sunshine when we travel south to one of our favourite fixtures.
This Sunday match however started gloomily but brightened up as the afternoon progressed.
Merton are really welcoming and hospitable and it’s always an entertaining game. This one was definitely no exception. This time we were facing a stronger home team as they were fed up with losing!
A late addition to our line up was the right honourable member for Reigate ,Crispin Blunt, making his second appearance for us.
Skipper Manish won the toss and decided to field on what turned out to be quite a slow paced pitch. As ever we had a great turnout of supporters – thanks! – sadly the Merton panda mascot is still AWOL.
Mahender and Ari opened our bowling and proceeded to pin the Merton openers down with some accurate deliveries – in the 5th over Crispin ,at slip, stuck out his right hand to catch opener Dave Barber in spectacular fashion off Ari . 5 runs for one wicket. Number 3 Jack Ayling then added 37 for the second wicket before he was bowled by Mamum for 9 off 41 deliveries. 42 for 2 off 15 overs.
The slow scoring rate was a feature of the first part of the host’s innings due to a combination of good bowling , a slow pitch and rustiness. Wickets then began to fall at regular intervals with a middle order collapse including Adam’s first ever Graces wicket with a smart caught and bowled seeing off opener Paul Darmenter for a patient 41. 87 for 6 off 30 overs and a low score looked highly likely. Graces tails were up.
However Jordan Randall ,in at 7, then showed his ability with some fine shots including some effortless sixes in a very entertaining innings. Together with talented fellow youngster Pandhi (in at 9) the score raced along and suddenly Graces were getting concerned about the mounting run rate.
The Merton innings eventually finished on 161 for 8 with Jordan on 45 not out. At one point getting 150 seemed highly unlikely. The pick of our bowlers were Mamun with 3 wickets for 17 and skipper Manish with a miserly 8 runs off 8 overs for 1 wicket. Keeper Scotty picked up 2 catches and a fine stumping.
After a BYO tea Mahender and Scott opened for us. Scotty fell to an amazing tumbling catch at deep fine leg (youngster Pandhi again!) 6 for one in the third over.
Leo ,in at 3, hit 2 boundaries before being bowled. 15 for 2 after 4 overs. Dom then steadied the ship with Mahender being more circumspect in the face of accurate Merton bowling (Mr Randall again!)
When Dom was caught behind our score was 52 for 3 after 12 overs. Crispin unfortunately then got a golden duck and Adam in at 6 safely negotiated the hat-trick ball. The host’s heads were up as the game was in the balance. The bowling was accurate and we patiently accumulated runs for the 5th wicket until Mahender was bowled for a vital 44 in the 20th over – 88 for 5.
Stuart soon followed for 4 (a lovely cover drive) and Adam and Ari then took the total to 129 when Adam was caught for an important 27. Skipper Manish at 9 then played very well keeping the score board going with some cheeky singles. Opener Randall on again saw Ari LBW for 19 , Jonners then hung around with the skipper for a few overs.
At this stage every run was vital and Merton kept the pressure on with tight bowling – the game was still anyone’s.
Jonners was LBW to the ever accurate Randall bringing last man Mamun to join the skipper still needing 25 to win with 5 overs left. Our hosts must have thought the game was theirs but Mamun played his usual aggressive game hitting anything loose and running well with Manish.
The watching Graces were biting their nails as the score progressed and in the last over the skipper hit the winning runs with only 3 deliveries left. A really tight finish!
So a great team win by just one wicket – everyone had played a part in a truly memorable game – the hosts had bowled really well , keeping the pressure on , but dropped some crucial catches which proved really costly.
As ever Merton were generous in their praise despite just losing. We look forward to next season.
So great to get our first win – next week we play at Broxbourne
The John Innes Recreation Ground
Cannon Hill Lane