Southall Dragons – Won by 2 wickets

Graces pip the Dragons

Return to face the Dragons

We had originally planned to have a day with Middlesex CCC input but this did not happen so we had an open fixture which Southall Dragons were quick to offer to fill. We played therefore at Ealing Central Sports Ground, pitch 4′ which is the parkland area almost opposite Perivale Station, their current venue which is better than the other park of last year and one we have considered as a future home venue for ourselves.

Dragons won this toss and it was no surprise that they wanted to carry on from where they left off the other week and bat first.  They did however have several different players from the fortnight before and their Colin was excused as his wife was highly likely to have their third child anytime. They turned up before the end of the match and it would have been fun if her waters broke as some of us might not have any gynaecological leanings.

Mahender and new player Kamran opened the bowling against Robbie and Pradeep. Mahender closed his second over by having Prad caught for 2 with a good safe catch from Manish at Midwicket.

The bowling changed to Asad and Manish and the second over from Asad he bowled wicketkeeper Yash for 13. Robbie was piling on runs though. Daman was nowhere near as prolific as last time and went for 19 with an excellent high catch near boundary by Stuart off Manish.  Raj was the replacement. Last game he had been at Lords but had left swiftly when the match turned against India and was three sheets to the wind when he arrived late in our game.  His role was just to parry while Robbie was getting close to a half century but he was stopped by  Manish with LBW on 48.

There was sideline muttering about Manish and his bowling action but we said that he has been tested and passed  acceptable.

They had just amassed 100 for 4 when drinks were taken.

On resumption Raj was a different player in style, knocking the score up consistently. Sid and Jamal, played with us in nets and indoor but both their first outdoor game in this season, were bowling and Jasmeet was taken by another great catch from Manish off Sid for 14. Sid also bowled out Raj on 25.

At this point I am pleased to report that Noddy, with the help of Pat, had coached everyone who came in time before the game in catching practices of various styles. This was certainly valuable and the case was proven when Asad missed a sitter as he was late for the game and Noddy had been sub both for this and a few overs when Leo took a ball hard on his knee and needed a few overs respite.

Gurjeet and Pin were now facing and dribbling and in Matthews first over he bowled Gurjeet for 9 and a wicket Maiden. Pin followed swiftly as Sid bowled, safely caught behind by Niroshan. Ajay went the same way on his second ball and after a single for Akash, Matthew was again deadly on line and Ranjit had a Golden Duck. That was it, 145 scored 2 balls into the 33rd over and Matthew on  1 for 2 in 8 balls.

Tea was a fine provision and we got in just ahead of another pitch game who had to wait a while so the teapot would be passed on.

The weather was still very fine but not as intensely hot. It put our valued supporters of Tom and James and Marc and Anthony and  friend with dog known to Niroshan in good light. Noddy and Pat stayed with us too until it got late and talking of late, Sam and Yousuf breezed in to encourage us at the end.

In our bowling, Sid had 4 for 26 and Manish 2 for 32 and no bowler conceded much at all and extras were low.

Niroshan and Scott opened up our challenge against Jasmeet and Daman and it was Daman who drew Niroshan into a sky high shot captured near Long On for 7in the 6th over. Such a contrast to his prolific scoring one week earlier. Jasmeet was quite aggressive and did not take kindly to a ball not being awarded LBW.

In the 7th over he apparently abused Manish who was umpiring in his own tongue and that led to Manish handing over umpiring rather than face abuse. I am disappointed that their  vice captain Akash in charge with Bains absent did not seemingly get involved to censure their player.

In that same over our first boundary was finally scored by Scott  but he was bowled for 11 by Jasmeet in the 9th. Leo and Stuart now faced and while Leo was measured it was all too soon that Stuart departed bowled by Akash. 25 for 3 was not good against our moderate target.

Mahender changed that as he played with vigour and no end of dropped catches. With a partnership of 48 before Leo was caught behind for 18 of Yas, Mahender stabilised the innings and became the target for bowler Raj. He easily passed his sticking point of 28-30 and went right up into 69 before caught deep off Ajay in the 34th over. This knock earned our unanimous decision that he be awarded Man of the Match that Stuart expressed as Vice Captain.

I have raced ahead however as before these late overs, Manish had gone LBW off Jasmeet in the 27th for 8. Jasmeet had started a second spell when Manish was facing and there was more insult trading as Manish headed for sideline. Colin and family were here by now and he was furious at his team conduct and did have words. Jamal was soon caught at slip off Jasmeet and Matthew was bowled for 2 by Raj. Kamran steadied the flurry and made 7 before Mahender exited and then finished off the end by achieving the last singles to take us from 144 to 146/8 and victory in the 35th over. Asad had come in but had no balls.

The Dragons were neutralised this time around, more like previous encounters and they rued some sloppy fielding conceding many extras. They knew the key to them winning the game was stopping Mahender but could not until too late and unless we had absolutely disastrous late overs the game was only ours to lose at the end.

A win then after two meagre weeks which has brightened everyone. There was a serious drawback with this particular pitch in that it was more in the general park area and far too many people walked across paying no heed to warnings and some parents could not see risk to their children. If we were to play there again we would welcome one of the back pitches nearer the A40.

Next match is down to the Boston Manor ground to face Roehampton Bats and with the lack of facilities we will be reliant on Dom and Matthew making classy tea provision. The week following will be totally different but out at Merchant Taylor’s in Northwood.

Sheen Park CC – Lost by 4 wickets

Batting wheels come off!

A perfect afternoon saw Graces return to posh south London to take on the youthful Sheen park.

Asad and Yousef’s navigation led them to Barnes Bridge station which made them late – this was not a problem as after winning the toss Mahender put us in to bat.

Niroshan and Scott opened for us and against steady bowling played very well in compiling a fine opening partnership of 84 in 18 overs. Niroshan hit 53 0f these with some nice cuts and drives – well done on a 50! Scott compiling a tidy 37 was probably disappointed not to get to his half century too.

The watching supporters (Tom and James had returned from their Israeli adventures) and players must have thought we’d get well over 200 with such a great start – however this wasn’t to be!

Neil in at 3 went 6 , 4 and then on his third ball was well caught on the long on boundary. Mendis following hit a boundary before top edging a catch. So 107 for 4 – Toby the off spinner was doing the damage pitching it up and tempting us!

Mahender went on the attack with a quick fire 28 including some crunching fours supported by Dom. Mahender was well caught and when Matthew was bowled the game was finely balanced at 144 for 6. Jonners joined Dom to try to stabilise the innings but Dom was LBW bringing in Mamun.

A suicidal call resulted in Jonners being run out and the tail failed to wag with our total only 168 all out – we had also only lasted 35 overs which was to prove costly! Sheen had bowled well and crucially held their catches – they are all young and athletic though!

After a filling tea Graces took the field realising we’d need to get them all out with such a low total to defend – Asad and Mahender opening the bowling – unfortunately Harry the number 2 was in a hurry and started to compile fours worryingly quickly with support from Mr Smith. 50 came up in only the 10th over. We never really recovered from this and although we battled picking up 6 wickets the fast outfield and attacking batting from Sheen saw them home in the 33rd over.

This left us ruing not batting the whole 40 overs as another 30 runs would have made it very interesting. Sheen are a very friendly and sociable team and we enjoyed the after match drinks at the picturesque local pub.

Next week sees us visit Southall Dragons so we’ll need to bat better!

Southall Dragons – Lost by 8 wickets

Graces scorched!
Scorched by Dragons at Greenford
Time to return to middle pitch at Greenford which is a good wicket although outfield is not fast even though weather has been quite dry. Having won the toss, Graces batted with Niroshan and Asad as openers. Before this innings started, Pakistan were setting a challenging target for India in Championship Final so would there be sufficient concentration? Daman and Jags were opening bowlers and were accurate so initial play was very defensive, so much that the first boundary was not scored until the 7th over. This was just after one got through to take out Niroshan for 5 and Asad only had 7 by then. Stuart replaced and got the boundary to make a statement to Daman who took his revenge getting through the next over but a swift 14 indicated a change of scoring rate.

Although the team, scorer, and welcome supporters had a little shade early on from trees as we had camp near long on, it was very hot and exposed out on the square. Bottles of water often passed around and the first drinks break was at 15 overs. Phil had arrived with several drinks to share around and went also for top up and Dom had carefully prepared frozen bottles of barley water as well as proving key equipment as Greenford is sparse on the pitches.

Asad had opened up while Dom steadily guarded his end and cracked a fulsome six way into the forward trees. He came undone in the 18th as Captain Bains sent a ball that grounded very early and then crept at low level and under his stance. His 39 would be a healthy top score. His dismissal was not connected to wanting to hear more of India collapsing their innings. Newton replaced and after a slow start then played scoring strokes including a swept four off a high no ball. He looked very comfortable but at 30 there was a little nick and Sunny caught behind off young bowler Avish who had had a disastrous first over with wides and no balls. 120/4. Next up was Mahender who finished his slower start with a spectacular 6 that left them awestruck. He was now punishing any gift of a ball. Dom by now had a boundary but was soon caught behind off Akash for 16. Manish wanted to score from each ball but the slightest error let Daman through who had returned to bowling. Leo lasted another six overs longer and swept a shot surely to be six at long on but just inside Daman plucked it from the air. His 16 made the score now 169 for 7. A shuffle of late order meant Scott up next to keep the game into a late stand. It was not to be. Akash sent a stupendously high delivery for Mahender, at shoulder height at least, it dropped like a stone onto the wicket. They thought it was all over but Stuart and Dom conferring decided on no ball. The reprieve was short lived as he was caught Midwicket on a shot that had the legs to sail over the boundary. Another 30 nonetheless and in this 39th over the score at 174. Sam now came in but Scott faced and meant business with boundary. Sam tested the field but in Robbies second over he managed LBW. Last over now and Mamun and Scott played out singles to make the score 183.

Tea was refreshing and on top of a reasonable provision, Augusto had kindly created a bowl of fish pasta which was well received.

Although the hour was later to start fielding, there seemed no respite from Sun which had moved round and all sweltered. Newton and Asad were opening bowlers against Robbie and their Colin. A boundary each in first over due to a leg bye but any hope of more was dashed as Asad bowled and Newton caught cleanly at fine leg and Robbie was gone. Wicketkeeper Sunny was the next in. The pair batted prolifically despite some on the money bowling from all including Mamun and Manish. By the 14th over, it was time to give Newton another spell and he induced Sunny on 44 to send a deep shot to Third Man and a trademark capture from Stuart. Score was now 89/2.
Bowler Daman now staked claim as all rounder as he relentlessly piled the runs with Colin and they each got past 50. The bowling of Mahender unsettled them but they adjusted and the pair could not be shifted. Our field held out to 20 overs for drinks where the score was 127 but in the next 6.5 overs there was no respite and it only fell to Mamun to be one bowling when the last boundary stuffed our target.

Did we go so wrong? I think not, it was a respectable target against a side we have beaten. They had a strong on form batting top order. We were not falling in the field but perhaps the heat took an edge off super effort to stop balls running away. It was our day to lose. Unlike very recent times, we did not have multiple candidates for a match award and none was awarded. Good to have Matthew with us throughout, he was 12th man this week. Anthony often kept the scoreboard up to date and chatted with newer supporter Marc. Robin also spent some time with us.

Dragons scorched us this time but appreciated the game and are willing to play us again if new opportunity arises.

Next week team are off to the delightful ground at Sheen by Richmond Park. Last year they had a team with three under sixteens. If they are there how much development will we see, how challenging will the game be? The only way to find out will be to be there and hopefully Tom and James will not have worked too hard at Sam’s BBQ/Tennis the night before to be there vociferous in support.

Merton – Won by 75 runs

Tail wags!

Merton at John Innes
On a lovely bright day but no overbearing sun, we were welcomed yet again to John Innes Park by Merton

Today they had provided Alex as an Umpire throughout and so Scott and Leo bore the square leg duty throughout our batting innings which was first.

Manish actually took first strike and Leo faced in second over. Regrettably it did not bounce as expected and getting down to it lifted it to waiting hands and credit to Shakil Ehsan playing his second match with Merton. Neil picked up and was connecting very well with every scoring ball a boundary apart from one single and one three. Manish was finding the markers too. On Neil sending a fine 6 the ball was lost in the trees for a long time despite many searches and it was some 30 minutes later before Stuart came out with the prize, though he did have a brief spell before that being bowled superbly by on form Holmes. Back to the game and replacement ball, Neil was looking good for a feature score but Holmes got one that again had unexpected bounce and it finally swept through and 34 in 28 minutes. Following Stuart was Mahender who had a more cautious start before opening up and falling to Holmes as well. A swift 15 kept our score respectable. Next up was Newton who did not truck with dot balls but then was given a dubious LBW off young Milton quite forward of the crease, 10 added all the same.
Matthew was higher up the order and although seeming a tad nervous played fine strokes including a boundary and was also kept running as Manish was racing towards a classy 50 in 60 balls over 95 minutes. Vaughan was bowling economically and he sent a ball clearly bouncing high but Umpire awarded LBW again and so Matthew was gone for 11.
Before Scott could make any impact, Manish hit the ball and was deftly snatched at Mid On but nonetheless it was a lovely 51, amazingly the first time he had passed 50 for Graces despite many prolific innings. Mamun came in looking for 50 too and immediately hit a fine boundary to Deep Square Leg forcing them to adjust placings. He also hit a 4 on a no ball that was head height but with young Jonathan Milton bowling, a developing player since last year, he too was awarded LBW and scored 10, three wickets then for Holmes and Milton. Scott was now on 3 as Asad came in. Although some good connections they had sharpened their fielding except several fluffed opportunities to run out as the wicketkeeper did not maximise returned balls, we were looking like we might just reach 180, being at only 171 when Asad was wide open to returning Smithers and had 9 on the board. So our last pair was Scott, now on 13 and Yousuf.

Scott now took the mantle and regularly had boundaries and Yousuf backed him well, so much that they played the match out with a 47 partnership and a score of 218, Scott now second highest on 39 and Yousuf fourth with 19.

In our innings, there were many dropped catches but also the highly contentious decisions, still we had set a decent target and our bowlers were numerous although Scott would keep wicket the whole of their innings.

The lady who does teas at Merton had once again laid an ample spread with many sweet delights and it was appreciated by all, especially as some players had children attending. As well as Anthony and Augusto giving support, there was a large stuffed panda named Boo and we were being photographed and interviewed for an article potentially to reach the Guardian based on their Sport for All series.

Newton and Mamun opened the bowling against Jack and the lumbering Crawford with good overs and then in the 6th, a Wicket Maiden, Asad caught a shot well at Backward Square Leg and Crawford was gone for 6. It took another 6 overs to dislodge Jack who reached 20 and it was now Asad and Mahender bowling. Mahender sent a ball with gusto and Jack was no giant but he was down low and the ball seemed to strike his helmet yet was awarded LBW. A lot of fuss made by their team over their Umpire – already recognised some of our dismissals were not easy to understand – but their Captain chose not to ask Mahender to withdraw from Wicket given and so Bawn was in to accompany Graham Bradfield who had set to escalate the run rate but Bawn managed one before a fine slip capture for Leo off Mahender.
Effective Bowler Holmes was hoist on his own petard and Asad took him nicely on his 4th attempt to score.

As mid innings drinks approached it looked like Graham wanted to outdo Manish but in the resumption over he went for 47 as Asad was deadly yet again. Joe Gunn had hit a fine 6 with Stuart close on fielding it and another ball search off Mahender but it was Bob Egan to fall next for 2 and a third bowled wicket for Asad. At 96-6 their resolve was faltering. Neil was bowling and took two fine catches off the strike for little loss. It was only Joe keeping their score alive. Neil then whistled through Joes defence to get a third wicket and dismiss him for 39 and the score 139. Shakil had played a couple of well thought boundaries but on Yousuf being given the ball his third delivery was a beauty and that was it, Shakil on 13, the score at 143 and Neil Simpson, their captain, had just reached 5 not out.

A comprehensive win and once again fine teamwork. Our Bowlers had no slack and virtually nothing got past the gloves of Scott. Once again there was no shortage of claims for Man of the Match. Was Yousuf late Wicket and late opportunity runs enough, or late partner and wicketkeeper Scott. Asad had a full 8 overs to be 24-3. Neil had three wickets too for 16 in 4 and a fine knock. His decision was to applaud Manish for his score who also was tight at 16 in 4 overs bowled. Trophy duly given, there were trophy catch ups for recent winners Matthew and Neil. Manish generously bought a jug plus of beer for those not dashing off.

Should not neglect our other bowlers as all made impact. Newton was 17 off 5 overs, Mamun 20-1 in 4. Mahender 22-2 in 4. Matthew was 20 off 4 overs.

Next week is back to Greenford with Southall Dragons our opponents. Can we keep this strong form going? On seeing the score achieved our far flung regular supporters were quick to congratulate, hopefully many can come along in what seems fair weather forecast.

Theydon Bois – Won by 60 runs

Bowlers on top!

Match report away to Theydon Bois 4th June 2017

A return for Graces to Theydon Bois’ charming ground was in jeopardy midweek as the home team were struggling to get 11. Thankfully some colts were roped in resulting in a team with three 14 year old and two 15 year old players with some more wizened characters!

The toss lost we were asked to bat on a greenish strip. Niroshan and Stuart opened- a communication breakdown in the 4th over saw Stuart run out, soon followed by his opening partner bowled for 6 leaving us 18 for 2 after 5 overs. Dom and Mendis took up our attack with the latter looking like he was going to get a bigly score until he was inexplicably bowled for a quick 14.

Dom once more batted responsibly for 20 – after this wickets fell regularly with no one getting established and at 93 for 8 we looked in trouble – this was a repeat of last season. The bowling was mixed but the ball wasn’t coming on with a lot of mistimed strokes resulting in wickets.

Matthew and Asad were our saviours, compiling a very entertaining 55 run partnership with Matthew scoring a personal best for the club with a fine 29 before being run out. We really enjoyed his innings which had 4 handsome fours and a 3! He deservedly was awarded man of the match – perhaps he’ll be promoted up the order next week!

Asad as ever made his partner work with a lot of very quick singles before he was bowled for 24. Our total was a much healthier 154 all out which seemed unlikely earlier.

After a fine tea Graces took to the field and produced a disciplined bowling display as the home team were restricted in their scoring shots – the top score was 23 and they were eventually all out for 94 in the 30th over – Stuart taking a fine catch in the deep to see off their aggressive number opener was a highlight. Some fine bowling figures resulted – the pick being Mendis 4 wickets for 17 ,he was on 2 hat tricks – sadly no third wicket followed!

Theydon Bois are a very welcoming team and the game was played in a great spirit. We are looking forward to returning next season

This match also marked the debut of Simon as umpire (poached during the 20/20 day!) We look forward to seeing more of him and perhaps an appearance or two!


Next week south London with a visit to Merton CC

Full Tossers – Lost by 3 wickets

Graces lose off the penultimate ball!

Match report v Full Tossers 28th May 2017 Winchmore Hill – lost by 3 wickets

A late drop out resulted in new opposition for us in the shape of the memorably named Full Tossers who were our first guests at Winchmore Hill. They turned up in very natty club colour blazers in the sunshine that saw the start of the game.

Sam had kindly offered to play for them as they were short a man – this generosity was a theme of the game as it was played in a very sporting atmosphere throughout.The visitors also brought their own umpire who was highly competent.

Mahender won the toss (again!) and had no hesitation in batting, Mamun and Niroshan opening. The visitors attack was quite accurate and Mamun was bowled in the 6th over with the total at 14. This brought Mendis in at what is probably his most productive ground. The bowling kept the score in check and when Niroshan was bowled in the 15th over we had reached 47.

Dom then had a fine partnership with Mendis – they accelerated the score to 127 in the 30th over with Dom continued his good form with a well crafted 32 before falling to a catch. Sam was bowling at this stage and Mendis was dropped on the boundary off one of his deliveries!  Mahender followed at 5 and hit a quickfire 27. Mendis in the meantime had accelerated away to hit a fine half century and reached 65 before being bowled by the finely named Mr Ripper.

This brought the total to 142 for 4 in the 32nd over – after this no one else really got going and we were all out for 189 off 39.1 overs – missing out on the last 5 deliveries was to prove crucial. Our guests bowled well making us work for the runs and a few catches were put down. A fine tea followed as the clouds gathered.

An indication of the sporting air to the match was the opposition’s skipper taking a great boundary catch and then saying that he’d carried it over the line so indicated it was a 6.

Mendis and Asad opened our bowling attack and continued the accuracy from the first innings making the visiting openers work for their runs – the first wicket fell in the 8th over with the score at 32. This brought the generously bearded number 3 in who rode his luck initially but then got into his stride with some lusty blows. We continued to take wickets regularly with some great outfield catches from Mahender, Mamun and Stuart amongst others. A rain break was taken and intermittent slight drizzle was a feature of the afternoon.

Sadly for us the Tossers can bat all the way down and each successive new face took the attack up – the tall blond number 8 J Lennon (John?) being particularly effective with a range of drives keeping the run rate up.

We bowled well keeping the pressure on but there always seemed to be a 4 in every over – a couple of tricky catches were put down that would probably have won it for us. But credit to the visitors who didn’t crack under the pressure with the penultimate ball of the match bringing up the winning runs.  So a loss by 3 wickets but a thoroughly enjoyable match and we’re eager to play them next season as well as getting their taylor’s details!

Judd St Tigers – Won by 100 runs

Unbeaten so far!

Match report courtesy of the Tigers

Sunday 21 May 2017   Winchmore Hill CC

Judd Street Tigers 126 all out lost to Graces CC 226-9 by 100 runs

This was originally going to be another amusing report by one of our many celebrity correspondents. However, following an editorial decision it was decided that this contest was not worthy of such a presentation.  If our readers want to know how the match went, then rewind to the report on last year’s fixture played on 8th May 2016 – pretty much the same.

On Sunday morning the Tigers had a squad of 12. Two players then reported injured, with a third stranded at a wedding reception and no transport available. Organic waste happens. None of this was pre-arranged. With the match due to begin at one o’clock the opposition were all changed and ready to go. At a few minutes to one there were five Tigers on the ground. Traffic conditions may be bad in north London on a Sunday lunchtime but it didn’t seem to affect Graces.

The nine remaining Tigers were augmented by Jack Goodrich from the Winchmore Hill under-13s. Their best chance was to bat first, with what looked a reasonably strong line-up, and post a big enough total to make the match competitive. Sadly, Richard Burgess lost the toss and the Tigers took the field with a bowling attack of Webster, Sikandar, Goodrich, Bignell and Carter, with Chris Wright unfit to bowl and Matt subject to injury management, plus three fielders with mobility issues.

n the circumstances they all did extremely well to restrict the visitors to 226, everyone getting among the wickets, with a rejuvenated Carter the pick at 2-28. At one point Graces were 31-3, with a bonus of Saturday league batsman Assad run out for one after what the Spanish might call a Ruptura De Comunicaciones*. Ali Sikandar bagged two wickets and should have had a third when Niroshan was brilliantly caught behind standing up by Garret O’Brien, only to be reprieved by the umpire. Mahender then cut loose with 61 and, despite Carter’s spell pegging them back, Dominic and Manish posted 21 apiece for the eighth wicket as everyone tired in the warm sunshine.

The Tigers never threatened with the bat, Ian Porton living dangerously for 22, before being bowled walking down the pitch, following Wrighty in identical fashion. Garret stuck it out for 12, but once again it was Jimmy Carter who top-scored with 24. The opposition were as chivalrous as their name suggests, allowing Jack two innings as Tigers were a batter light – he played well to make 12, adding to his earlier wicket. Jimmy was last out with the score at 126, agreed by both teams beforehand. Not quite a waste of time, but close.