Here’s the match report courtesy of skip
StuartBright sunshine for a scorching day of cricket!
Whilst we have played at Shepherds Cot before (Highgate CC previously) I think this is the first time we have come up against this most friendly team at Crouch End CC. The weather set perfectly and some sheltered picnic tables setting the scene for a brilliant match.
After some warming up in the nets Adam did the toss for Skipper Ari who was just arriving and while he didn’t win the call he was pleasantly surprised to be asked to bat on what looked like a perfect terrain for scoring. The team talk started with a warm welcome to three players wearing the Graces colours for the first time as Tim Pedlar, John Wilkes and Matt Gowling all made their debuts.
Openers, Tim (Broxbourne’s best making his debut!) and Stu (8) set off with a bang but the club skipper was soon back in the hatch to be replaced by a fiery and flamboyant Mahender. He had some super shots, attacking all loose balls and scored a quickfire 21 before being bowled by a yorker.
Tim was impressing with his stroke play holding up the end when Newton came into the attack. After a miscommunication both batsmen ended up at the same end with Tim trundling back to the dugout having scored a fine 15.
Newton was taking the lead when Ari came in and forced the issue with some fine drives and rapid running between the wicket. They amassed runs at good pace until Newton was out LBW on 17. This brought in Adam, keen to keep the rate of runs high and between them they did great work under the hot sun and rallied to a great tally at nearly 100 before Ari (34) swung hard at a loose ball, clipping it onto his stumps just before the drinks break.
Ice cold drinks were delivered and the score looked good but slightly worrying was the fact that five wickets were down and half the innings still remained!
Scottie (1) had come in but was undone with some spin and then Simon (11) hustled well, scoring a couple of magnificent boundaries before being caught at deep square leg trying for a maximum and then our debutant Matt G (1) played straight and clinically getting his eye in again after many years without a bat before another unfortunate situation resulting in two batters at the same end while the ball was breaking the bails at the other end! Perhaps this “comms” matter is something we can work on throughout the season! Adam continued to keep the runs ticking along.
With “outs” falling in quick succession was there cause for concern? Mamun comes in with the score on 143 for 8 and gets his eye in with the first ball, only to thrash the second one out for a handsome looking boundary. This intent and aggression continued to support Adam who was also showing excellent application with a steady pace and some fine 4s.
After many powerfully lusty blows Mamun was undone when he missed the ball which crashed into his stumps for a brilliant 30 bolstering the tally and using up the remaining overs in this rear-guard action. Debutant, John W came in with just four balls remaining and was unfortunate when his trainers failed to grip properly when going for a tight run which left him halfway down the track at the time the bails were broken.
Adam ended a wonderful innings unbeaten on a fine 39 having run out of partners to play with, making our total 194. We were very happy with this given the speed that wickets were falling after the break!
With three run outs there was no single bowler who dominated proceedings, with 8 used and three taking a brace and one just 1, all quite economical. I got the impression Crouch End were keen for the overs to be used up towards the end as they added new bowlers to mix up the action.
A magnificent BBQ (meat and veggie option) marked Teatime and under the bright sun we had time to think over the joys and frustrations of the earlier innings. It was soon time for us to take to the field and see whether we can defend a decent but perhaps sub-par total given the excellent condition of the pitch and there was a short boundary to one side which would require some defending!
The game resumed and it became a tale of two halves in itself!
First off, muscled Ari and our amazing left-arm pace bowler, Matt, set about their task, with the latter’s locks flowing colourfully in the sunshine. Openers Zin and Mr Yorke (21) took no time to be respectful and attacked with fine shots to great reward! Both opened their accounts with boundaries and Zin cleared the rope for a six with his first shot! The breakthrough happened when the batter skewed the ball high, high into the air and, running backwards, Mahe took a tremendous catch above his head to great applause. They had reached 40 so it was a key moment to break things up.
However, another partnership was about to begin with Shaz playing astutely with some fine strokes. The bowling line up altered with Simon and Newton taking the first change and things started to happen… Newton sends down an excellent straight ball which takes the edge of Zin’s (26) bat and flies between slip and keeper only for Tim to pouch it with his left hand in what was an amazing reflex response, diving with huge athleticism! This lifted the spirits and the score was now 62 for 2.
Crouch End’s response was to bring out Mr Vera who parried with the in-form Shaz and brought the score up to 102 at drinks with eight wickets in reserve.
The way the game was going the feeling was they would stroll to a gentle win, scoring singles without pressure and taking a boundary if the line and length was off, so a new approach was required. Ari was in the leadership position today, supported by Adam and Stu, and other experienced players, and discussions were underway to find another breakthrough. The wickets taken already were top drawer and we needed more of that to put any pressure on the skilful duo out in the middle.
Four overs after the resumption with Mahe and Mamun having taken the ball, we got the breakthrough with a most fantastic piece of fielding when Matt attacked the ball at mid-wicket and threw a winning direct hit, sending Mr Vera (25) back to the hutch. Once again, a superb piece of fielding, three like this and three wickets, Graces team were getting excited! A quick decision whether to bring the quicks back on resulted in the plan to keep the spinners and take the game to the new batters, score at 123 for 3. With just over 70 runs required at less than 5 an over it was looking tight, but the team talk was about closing in the fielders to build pressure and stop singles.
The very next over Mr Russell got 4 and bowled out, missing Mamun’s ball followed by two wickets falling as Messers Larker and Bedesee both getting out without scoring. Simon took a wonderful diving catch as the ball came over his shoulder running away from point and then a sharp snaffle as Ari at extra cover kept his eye on a hard drive. More excellent fielding by both, a joy to behold!
It was then Shaz’s (45) turn to swipe at a loose one which landed safely in Newton’s mitts bringing the end of a strong resistance and finally Graces were starting to believe. At 137 for 7 after 29 the confidence was beginning to show. A simple misfield was judged to be worth a run, but smart reaction from Ari and Adam behind the stumps saw Mr Hedley (6) sent back to the sidelines as he was short of his crease and it was then a matter of time before Mahe bowled Mr Baddock (4) and Matt got his first wicket when Mr Shah (2) slashed out to Newton at backwards point to take his second catch if the match.
This resulted in a Graces win by over 50 runs. At drinks, with 102 on the board and only 2 down no one could have predicted such a strong win, but the quality of fielding and placement by Ari paid dividends and it was such a proud moment to witness such an excellent standard in the field. They say that “catches win matches” – well on this day they certainly did and they were all top drawer. I think Crouch End CC rued their decision not to quash a rear-guard response with Mamun and Adam getting together on 143 and putting on a 50 partnership! Mahe got three wickets and Mamun got a brace with Ari, Matt and Newton all taking one. The excellent fielding showed us how we can support the super-tight bowling efforts.
As ever, it is about teamwork and support and to that end I want to say thank you to Phil, Mike and Simon’s 17yr old daughter for coming along, as well as Jim, Cliff, Ralph, John all showing their support from the boundary edge and Jimmy who did the scoring for the first innings. We also had a photographer when Axel came along and joined the fun with his lumbering SLRs, hopefully to return for the LGBTQ+ T20 tournament.
See you all Sunday for more extravaganza action!