Away v Salmagundi Gardeners – Won by 43 runs

Hackey Downs – close to the pub The Star By Hackney Downs on Queensdown Road

An artificial pitch so no spikes when batting

Many thanks to our opposition for this match report;

21 April: Graces

Summer is here! But let’s qualify that … it’s the first day of our cricket season. And that was postponed by one day as intrepid match fixer (in the better sense of the word) Richard Higginbottom secured a game on Hackney Downs Park to replace the rained off event at Knebworth originally scheduled for the Saturday. This meant a deal of shuffling the pack in terms of players, but at least we’re up and running. Richard won the toss and took the option to bowl; the wicket is artificial, the grass is ankle deep though the boundary is short. The temperature is f…. cold, and I don’t mean ‘fairly’.

Shubham Kasar looks like he has been bowling all Winter as he immediately got into his customary immaculate line and length, providing our opening wicket of the season as Earl spooned up a straightforward return catch that the Sultan of Swing was delighted to pouch. Alfie Arrand had experienced a dreadful Saturday night involving being relieved of a number of his possessions on a train and I thank him warmly for his fortitude in getting to the match. Understandably it took him a while to find his rhythm, so let’s talk more about Shubham’s second over, one of the best in Gardeners’ history.

The Great Over

The first ball nipped away off the seam leaving Leydon prodding thin air, the next got an inside edge onto the pad and the third had the batsman chipping the ball around to square leg where Stuart Bruce made ground sharply to his right, enabling a spectacular one handed catch. The fourth ball brought in Page, who had driven 90 miles to partake, only to receive a devastating inswinging yorker to make his journey distressingly pointless. The Hat Trick attempt swung slightly too much and cannoned into Buckner’s front pad but the final delivery of the over swung from off to middle stump and upon landing kicked away again to knock back off stump. Sublime…your correspondent was keeping wicket and this was an over to be remembered forever in the Salmagundi archive.

At this point Leo Skyner decided to launch a counter offensive and he found it was sweet home Hackney Downs as he played a number of booming drives and pulls, we clearly weren’t going to tie this free bird down. Stroud had applied some doughty technique in supporting the recovery but became Shubham’s fifth victim in the ninth over, another spellbinding yorker. Skyner changed up another gear but was spectacularly undone by an express in-ducker that hooned in late onto off stump from Waqar Younis … sorry I mean Alfie. And I can’t give much higher praise than this comparison. Younger people Google this name for examples of unplayable fast swing bowling. Younis, not Arrand … yet.

Let’s get the other Gardeners on for a bowl. Rohan Vodapalli bowled a variety of dibblies, dobblies, wibblies and wobblies and was unlucky to have a plumb lbw appeal turned down, but the umpire was understandably trying – with the Salmagundi captain – to make the match last a little longer. Meanwhile at the Star Inn end Richard invited Jeremy Gostick to turn his arm over, only for Stuart to push him aside, informing the captain that our erudite companion was wearing spikes and it would take too long to relieve him of them and that he would willingly put in a spell until the drinks break to avoid any hold up in play. All this would have been more convincing had Stuart not placed his hand onto Jeremy’s face to stop him advancing to the wicket and a number of our team mates expressed sarcastic praise at Bruce The Elder’s heroic selflessness in offering his services. Richard figured such voluntary work was deserving of some reward and Stuart provided four accurate overs for no wickets but only four runs. The pressure to score runs brought a wicket as Shubham hurled in to Stuart who neatly completed the run out of Sachdeva. And now the Graces batting arrived before it was too late, Tweedle adding 18 before he was bowled by Graham Bruce. Lycett took the long handle with some good results adding valuable runs with the last two batsmen, Jeremy accounting for Ali and the score had reached 127 when Lycett lifted Tim Richards to that man Kasar again on the midwicket boundary for 37. During the final section of the Graces innings Ed Cator had come on for his maiden spell for us and was running back for each ball. “You can WALK back to your mark” advised Stuart; “I don’t even HAVE a mark” countered Ed.

A relatively low target, the AstroTurf isn’t playing tricks and the boundaries are short but the grass would hide a small dog. Let’s get on! Stuart belted a couple of boundaries then wiped across a straight ball, demonstrating a comprehensive knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary as he returned to the boundary. Nikhil Jonnalagadda joined Matt Biss in the middle and immediately tried to run out the Rambling Pilgrim, earning himself a stern lecture which had the effect of Nikhil running himself out soon afterwards. Tim was bowled by Ali for 2 then Ed sadly capitulated for a watery fowl of expensive metal. Graham strode to the wicket determined to see off the hat trick ball.

Matt: “This bowler has an outswinger and a slower ball, as well as the occasional one that nips in. There’s a 20mph South Westerly wind making the air slightly moist, the wicketkeeper has an inexpensive haircut, perhaps done by a younger brother. Would you like a mint? I have six for myself and a spare for you. Oh and always remember…”

Graham: “Go back to your end I’m not listening”.

Hat trick ball safely negotiated, Graham completed a two ball duck to Tweddle soon after. That man Tweddle with his loopy leg spin undid Rohan and Jeremy too. Then Matt improbably gave Tweddle the charge and was stumped by some distance. Shortly after he explained to the exasperated captain how this had never happened to him before. He did this several times until Richard threatened to hit him with the bat and the thought of being staunchly blocked with the occasional flick down to Fine Leg caused him to pause. Alfie and Shubham put on 30, mainly coming from Shubham collecting fours and sixes from a few pies served up by the Graces until Alf was out for 4. The game is still winnable at a stretch, but the Graces unleashed a weapon we gave them as Tim pointed skywards to a speculative appeal by the Graces to remove Shubham for 32. “Bit surprised your umpire gave that” confessed the Graces keeper later at The Star. Now I’ve calmed down I consider Tim to be a paragon of virtue. Yeah … a right paragon.

Graces won by 43 runs.