They say good things come to those who wait; so with that in mind here is the match report for our final domestic fixture of the season, written by Jim (daddy Jim) Merrick…
Better late than never….
“Is it not football season now?”
Donning as many wooly hats as baseball caps we arrived at a sun drenched but still pretty chilly hackney downs park to partake in the final UK fixture of the year against our friends at Pacific CC. The author was cold before he even left the overground train…
On arrival the only member of PCC to be there was the captain Riz. A status that remained until 10 mins after the proposed start time. The pitch was well rolled and cut very short (some would say it almost looked like astro turf) and having inspected the outfield (which was a touch pot holed and layered with fox manure) our fearless leader opted to bat first.
MEarl and Adam opened us up, and very quickly it became clear that boundaries along the ground were going to be tough to come by (despite one very short square boundary), the grass having not been cut for cricket by the local council. Unfortunately our leader would depart pretty soon, given out LBW by the umpire (already in batting pads ) so Ari joined Matt in the middle. A few lusty blows that would normally have been 4s barely made it off the square, but this did allow for some interesting running. Particular highlight being when Matt had run 1 and was already halfway back for the second before Ari had even completed the 1st!
The pitch in contrast to the outfield was skidding on, and this would prove the downfall of both Ari (bowled through the gate by a hint of swing) and Matt (caught at square leg when catching the splice of the bat trying to hook) and this left us precariously positioned at 48-3.
What we needed was a partnership and Scotty and Michael duly provided. A great example of running to get runs in the outfield, interspersed with the occasionally very well timed boundary moved the score along. We passed 100 but then the partnership would end, one too many quick singles attempted and unfortunately scott was run out by a gun fielder.
Ratan did his best to continue the momentum before being bowled and then Jim (chopped on) and Dom (out to a very good caught and bowled) unfortunately added little to proceedings.
Mark joined Michael and the 2 made good progress with some quick runs and occasional 4s but after Mark was also run out and Michael was bowled (after some very questionable supporter mockers from the sideline!) 2 short of his 50, we were all out for 177. Felt a little light but could have been a lot less were it not for Scotty and Michael.
After some tea and in some cases soup, we went into the field with many layers on between us.
Jim and Ratan to open the bowling from either end. Jim, who last bowled when he took 5 wickets for Graces in May was a little rusty (and looking to protect his strike rate of 4!). When it was good, it troubled the batters. When it was bad, it was easy to score from. Ratan from the other end was keeping the runs down and building the pressure. It was Jim who was able to break the opening partnership getting an opener LBW and was then unlucky not to have the number 3 out in the same way 2 balls later with exactly the same delivery (honestly, still not sure how this wasn’t given!!).
Ari and Humayo replaced both openers and looked to turn the screw. The partnership for PCC was building so we were relieved when Matt joined the party and had the no 3 well stumped by Michael. Humayo then took his first graces wicket to great cheers and celebrations! After the other opener was bowled by Ari, PCCs captain Riz was well into his work. Lots of big blows had PCC heading towards the target with time to spare.
Graces had to work hard in the field. Lots of running and chasing to keep the pressure on, and even some very 2023 boundary fielding from the author where the ball was caught and thrown back into play as he fell over the rope. Happy to regale you all about my 5fer in May and this ‘catch’ over a pint at the xmas do
At this stage, what we needed was wickets (as PCC needed only around 20 off 13 overs) and MEarl duly provided, much to the delight of the now capacity crowd. The combo of he and Mark T from the other end dried the run rate up completely. None of the pacific batters seemed to have any idea how to play Mark’s flighted leggies and each seemed convinced they could and should get the last 20 runs by hitting them all in 6s. More agricultural hacks than you’d see committed by peak 80s Vinnie Jones led to 4 wickets for MEarl, handing him a 5fer on the day. An excellent spell of bowling.
This meant that with 2 overs to go, PCC somehow still needed runs. A run rate of less than 2 in the last 10 overs. Unfortunately, one final heave across the line got the boundary they needed. PCC winning by 2 wickets in the 34th over of what was a remarkable game of cricket.
Excellent contributions from the team as always, both with bat and ball but also in the field. Supporting the bowlers through everything right up until the last.
After the game, we enjoyed a few jars across the road (having clearly decided we weren’t cold enough, we did so in the garden!) and reminisced on a great game and season.
Looking forward to catching up at the Xmas do and looking ahead to next year.
Peace up, G town down.