South Loughton – Won by 9 wickets

Graces too strong

So what may well be the last match of what has been a great season finally arrived. It had been an extended visit by Graces as Saturday saw the thoroughly entertaining photo shoot in the cozy Loughton club house – we can expect the results next month. The photographers came along on Sunday too for some final pics.

 

A special mention goes to the Graces’ supporters who again turned out in force at Loughton as they have done all season – thanks for being there!

 

Saturday was a wet day but thankfully on match day it turned out to be a glorious afternoon. Dom lost the toss and the hosts surprisingly opted to bat on what was a very green and slightly damp strip. Graces guessed local knowledge would come into play regarding this decision.

 

Newton and Asad opened our attack – the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat as we expected due to the green strip and in the second over Leo took a good low catch at square leg off Asad as the ball popped up – 12 for 1 in the 2nd over. The ball then dominated the bat as accurate bowling and the slow wicket saw the score slowly accumulate and wickets fall regularly – most of the host’s batsmen stayed in but were unable to accelerate.

 

At the 20 over drinks break the score was only 49 for 4 with boundaries being few and far between. This trend continued and it wasn’t until number 8 Mann hit an entertaining  quick-fire 30 that the score got going. Manish took a great catch in the deep to see him off. Bizarre wicket of the day was Mendis taking a catch at slip after keeper Kosala got a hand to a chance pushing it up into Mendis’ hands!

 

The final score was 133 all out in the 40th over – Dom used 8 bowlers with some economical figures. Wickets were shared around accordingly. In previous games South Loughton have been stronger and posted more challenging totals, but this takes nothing away from a good Graces bowling and fielding performance.

 

After the usual sumptuous tea that we’ve come to expect in Essex Dom and Kosala opened our reply against Andy Battle’s seriously loopy but accurate spin bowling. Patience and concentration were necessary, Dom being caught for 14 in the 13th over.Stuart came in at 3 and after a cautious start started to accelerate the scoring together with Kosala. At drinks they had taken us to 69 and then dominated the home attack with a flurry of boundaries.

 

After they had both reached stylish half centuries Stuart and Kosala sportingly retired allowing a previously slumbering Jonners and Mahender to come in with about 15 required. Mahender obviously was in a rush as he clobbered 2 consecutive 4s to win the match in the 30th over. So a convincing 9 wicket victory against the ever hospitable hosts. Drinks were then taken in the late afternoon sunshine together with our welcoming home side. So if this is our last game it’s nice to end on a high note especially after the disappointment of having to pull out of the previous game.

 

Roll on next season!

 

2 for the price of one! Here’s Colin’s report

 

Hollywood in Essex

Glorious sunshine and a welcome were order of the day as we arrived at South Loughton, once again accompanied by our photographers and stylists who would make the odd shot but not  intensive as the main shoot the day before. Won’t be too long before we can reveal that result but meanwhile on to the square. Despite the rain of yesterday it was not too soft and the outfield had slowed a little.

South Loughton won and elected to bat. Newton and Asad were the first pair bowling to Captain Siddy and Hill.  After opening bravado in the first over, Hill tried to slog Asad but just sent a glorious catch to cover and Leo got down low to take it cleanly.  Asad was now bowling against Asad but their no 3 took 48 minutes to accumulate 2 before he was run out when Soomro ran and left him utterly marooned with one of us doing the token taking of bails. Siddy meanwhile had been caught behind for 11. Another Hill in place and the grass was growing quicker than the strike rate. Mahender and Manish were now the bowling pair and Mahender soon bowled Soomro and drinks taken 2 balls early.
Into the second half and the bowling changed to Mendis and Robin. Wickie Bolt stuck around for a while for no score before being bowled by Mendis then Robin lured Hill to pitch up and Mendis deftly caught in slip after Niroshan pushed it aloft. Foulser came and went back after 2 overs through Robin’s bowling and at 69-7 we could now give bowling to Leo and …….Dom and his heat seeking missiles that arrive just when least expected. Lance Mann had been providing some beef and reached 30 before he was caught at mid on by Manish and a second wicket for Leo, with Terry also having been caught by Mendis at silly Midwicket off Leo. Our intrepid pair used up the bowling against Andy Battle and Dave Smith who doggedly raised the score to 132. The last ball effort was a good one but in running Dave ran three and caught up Andy at two and so Stuart had to signal ball and wicket at defenceless end. Innings over.
Two wickets each for Asad, Robin and Leo, one for Mendis and Mahender and as well as Leo, Manish was there when the other run out occurred.

A splendid tea was provided, one of the bonus in visiting here and it was time to see if we could win the match, conscious we had slipped last week.

Dom and Niroshan faced the opening pair of Andy and Dave.  Andy has a unique spin and trajectory that swings in from both sides and tempts a batsman to loft to waiting hands. Unless they drop the catch and an early lucky escape. Plowing on, the score accumulated gently to the end of the 13th where Andy undid Dom with a catch by Hill at 14.
Stuart now joined Niroshan and the pair steadily played a range of shots off next four bowlers until both were poised to amass 50 ( 100 partnership hardly possible with 34- 1 and target of 133). Stuart swept a fine 6th boundary to get 52 and sportingly yielded to Jonners who had time to get 1 and then Niroshan got his single to also graciously yield to Mahender.  Two of his boundaries later the game was over with 9.3 overs in hand and a nine wicket margin.

The score looks clinical but the whole match was played in great spirit and it was a pleasure to relax afterwards in the sun and long shadows with a team we enjoy playing against. This week Dom had much to praise but to much applause Leo was the winner of Man of Match for all round work catching, fielding and bowling with two wickets credited and being there for a run out too.

Despite the distance, it was good to have so many supporters and this makes such a difference.  Take a bow guys. Our photo crew were also a tangible benefit.

One final mention to Matthew as 12th man who kitted up at first. As soon as he changed back  there was one of those sudden moments where you look at the roller scoreboard then there is a hubbub on the field.  Looks like a man down, how?  Water despatched assuming heat exhaustion but it turned out to be a case of wicketkeeper lost contact lens, not to be found and so adjustment and rather than get Matthew to change again, Newton went on field to keep them at strength.

Jonners beat me to it in posting a report, but as the end of my season due to travel, in Mastermind fashion, I started so I will finish.  For me there has been great team spirit and achievement all summer which is great to experience and  shall discuss this more at later awards and AGM evenings.

 

Attachments area

Addington (1743) – Lost by 99 runs

Depleted Graces spanked!

Due to injuries and holidays a depleted Graces arrived at Addington’s charming ground in south London on a cloudy but warm afternoon. We were down to 9 and upon losing the toss were invited to field – Tony and Tom (once more) gamely fielded for us. We had a great turn out of supporters once again.

 Addington’s capable openers then compiled a useful stand of 59 before the first wicket fell in the 16th over, Manish bowling Amjad the number 2 for 19 – more about him later. Shafi the other opener and the number 3 , Miah , then batted aggressively upping the scoring rate without giving any chances taking the score to 197 in the 37th before a flurry of late wickets left the final score at 215 for 4. Shafi finished on an unbeaten 116. Mahender picking up 3 for 42. We bowled well but seemed to be doing a lot of chasing on the fast outfield.

After tea Mendis and Dom opened – Mendis signaled his intent with some nice pull shots until he was bowled for 16 in the 6th over – 27 for 1. Niroshan drove nicely for 15 until he was caught in the covers with patient Dom being bowled for 16 – 3 for 54 in the 16th over. Mahender and Manish took the score to 75 before both falling.

The 23rd over was the killer for Graces as Leo was caught behind, the next ball Jonners played on and the Matthew was then LBW – a hat-trick for Amjad  – this left us at 88 for 8 and pretty much game over. Jonners and Matthew were reminded of the fickleness of the game after last week’s match where they had managed to hang around for ages!

Assad in at 6 had seen the carnage at the other end but still played his usual positive game. Colin now joined him to bravely see off the home bowlers – when Assad was eventually bowled for 26 our hosts generously allowed Matthew to go in again at 11.

We made it to the 31st over before Colin was bowled for 1 leaving us all out for 116 so a 99 run loss. Everyone then retired to the appropriately named Cricketers pub for a refreshing drink. So honours even after we won last season – it’s a concern that despite a lot of work we unable to get a full team together and will have think about how far into September we play.

 

It’s north London next week with our second trip to Winchmore Hill.

Old Wimbledonians – Won by 1 wicket

Graces squeak home!

Graces approached this game with trepidation as last season we were given our heaviest defeat by our hosts – by 140 runs. The toss was lost and we feared the worst as the Old Wimbledonian openers took 12 off the first over. This aggression continued with 32 after 5 overs. The pitch was quite green so Dom brought the spinners on which slowed the run rate down nicely.

 Mahender picked up both openers’ wickets with an accurate spell with the score at 64 off 14 overs – we were particularly happy to see the end of opener Mr Markham for a quick fire 36. Graces continued to bowl and field well not letting the hosts dominate. At drinks the score was 90 for 3 – Dean bowling the number 3.

 After this no OW batsman really got going except their number 7 White who hit a stylish 50 as Graces continued to bowl well with the hosts reaching 194 off their 40 overs. Manish was the pick of the bowlers with 2 – 23 off his 8 overs.

 After a fine tea Niroshan and Assad opened the batting for Graces. However we were soon in trouble as a couple of loose shots saw both openers caught and when Mendis was LBW the score was 28 in the 7th over. This became 36 for 4 as Dom was caught for 15 after some stylish drives.  Mahender in at 5 then took the attack to the OW bowlers with some cracking shots, Newton and Dean fell quickly before bringing Stuart in to bat with Mahender at 90 for 6 with the game in the balance.

 These 2 kept the scoring rate well past what was needed – this was to prove the deciding factor. Mahender reached his 50 before being caught for an entertaining 58. Manish soon followed leaving us at 145 for 8 off 24 overs still needing 50. The hosts were now confident but Stuart kept the attack up with Jonners supporting. An amazing juggling catch saw Stuart fall for a fab 49 in the 30th over with the score at 175. OW were cock a hoop as they sensed victory with only 1 wicket to take.

 This brought Matthew in to bat with Jonners with Graces still needing 20 off 10 overs. It was starting to get gloomy and also it started to drizzle – a difficult to control wet ball worked in our favour. The last batsman brought their experience to bear seeing off the good balls as well as picking up singles to thwart OW. An occasional boundary brought cheers from the assembled Graces players and supporters. The score crept up frustrating the hosts until Jonners hit the winning 4 in the 38th over – a remarkable victory in an extremely tense match to get revenge for last season.

 We then joined our magnanimous hosts for a post match drink – next week it’s south again to visit New Addington.

Verdayne Green – Won by 98 runs

A fab tea!

New adventure in Hamsey Green

Ratty paused to look around, a wisp of straw hanging from his teeth. Sorry I got carried away with the country setting down in Surrey.

Steve of team Verdayne Park had asked his team to invite us to play this season and apart from Brighton area is the furthest south we have ventured in a good while. The ground itself is hidden behind residential houses and very tranquil with tall trees flanking that could create light problems if play continued late. But it didn’t go late.

Verdayne Captain Karan Patel won the toss and elected to field, but was a couple players late so Stuart went to field a few overs. We also had a couple late as the local bus is only every 30 minutes and it was a good distance from a station and traffic was just heavy throughout South London. Dom captained as usual and was faced with a couple of no balls to start in first over as Steve bowled. Strike then passed to Niroshan for Mubin bowling. He got a boundary swiftly.

As the match went on it was sometimes difficult to assess boundary shots as it was not original line marking and there were few flags to mark. Steve had a couple more no balls but Mubin countered with a maiden. In the 5th, now on strike Dom sent a ball over towards cover and the fielder made good ground to capture and despite other overs had the satisfaction of a wicket maiden here. Stuart Semple was with us again and played defensively as the runs edged along with only 33 after 10 overs. Niroshan was still plugging away but the outfield was surprisingly slow so boundaries did not result easily.

Rob and Karan were now bowling and their wicketkeeper let a lot of byes past. Karan struck in the 16th to remove Stuart after two maidens before with a clean bowl and in the 20th reprised to remove Niroshan after 70 minutes and 39 scored and we took drinks at the changeover before Mendis came to join Dean who was working their field hard. We had amassed 72 after 20 overs, a marginal acceleration. 

Now the pace upped slightly with Mendis far preferring boundaries rather than actually running too often and here spectators come up trumps, more on Anthony later, James was getting tasked with the intricacies of the scoreboard and Tom had to go over to the wicket as a water boy. Dean had reached 25 and looked set but in Avi first over (29) he was given LBW although this pitch had a lot of bounce and would probably been above the bails. We have no Hawkeyes and must abide by decision. Newton was next but after 10 minutes he was caught behind.

Stuart also had short tenure piling a shot over the bowler but another man was close to catch and score now 136 for 6 and 7 overs remaining. At this point we are told 170 is a good score on this pitch so a target beckons.
Manish strode in determined to hit up and apart from first ball every other was a scorer racing to 21 before being caught off a new spell from Karan. Racing was the game and at one point chasing two Manish was only just behind Mendis on first. Luckily they were not the strongest field and could not force any run out. Asad comes in and the final two don pads but are not needed as he strikes boundary to start and singles while Mendis has a final push with a superb 6 on last ball reaching 52 and this prolific last quarter took us to 193.

Tea was delightful with several home made cakes in the selection and we sprawled outside to enjoy.

Newton opened against Jaspreet and gave nothing away in two maidens with Asad giving little against Avi. Avi apparently needed to get away early but ended up late as colleagues went first. Newton took both Jaspreet and Biggs, each bowled for 4. Asad complements with bowling Avi for 9 and nothing on the third ball to Vimal. 24 – 4 after 12. Darshan was there a long time but only got 9 and was well held at leg gully by Jonners off Matthew. Just before Matthew had caught Indi securely at mid on off Mendis. In that 20, 12 conceded in one over but only 2 in 3 overs after.

The fight was going at 63-6 with little depth expected in tail Enders. Manish took Rob in his second ball who had a massive one after 20 minutes. Wali hit a big six off Matthew but went LBW on 7 off Manish. Apart from a few big hits where spectators were more inclined to declare six or four than given four or even two, Niroshan was consistent with the gloves and this was the teams contrast. Karan was a big hitter but had a lucky escape as Dean threw a long shot direct on bowlers wicket and only just made his ground. Asad caught Karan going to ground at Midwicket but legal off Matthew for 16. Talking of ground Matthew had gone to wicket to be ready for a return catch but it is hard to do the deed lying on the deck. No harm though and Steve as last man was caught behind off Matthew to finish the innings on 95. 98 and four wickets in deficit.

One or two of their players went home after batting and I dare say it was Indi lost trust in me – at the interval when everyone piled inside there had been BMW keys and a wallet left on table. Security conscious I pocketed them and it was some time before I returned the keys on request and never thought to offer wallet same time. He did get it though and left them again during his batting spell.
Looking to accounts, bowling was so tight today and credit each – Newton 6-2 in 5, Asad 21-2 in 6, Dean 4 in 5, Matthew 3-30 in 6, Mendis 14-1 in 4 and Manish 12-2 in 3 despite a 6 and 4.

I said I would return to Anthony. Behind me there was some grumbling over Manish bowling action, Anthony politely but firmly debunked them as we know Manish has been tested and deemed legal if unorthodox. Before clearing up and heading to nearby pub with Steve and Chris, Dom had the unenviable task of deciding man of match. So much to highlight. Niroshan just took it based on his solid work with gloves and his strong innings setting the pace. Nothing to do with chocolates shared for his recent birthday.

Many of us finished our evening dining in Battersea breaking up the return journey after a delightful day. New opposition is always a risk but the challenge was taken on. All about that team huddle at start as seen in photo from Hussain and Ben Hardisty also posted action shots.

Next week is Old Wimbedonians in Raynes Park, another chance to win as a team but as ever working hard for it.

Hampton Wick Royal – Won by 19 runs

Battling Graces triumph

Another lovely afternoon in Bushy Park
We are always welcomed here in Hampton Wick and the clouds cleared away to make it hot out there at times although there was a strong prevailing breeze. We were put into bat first and Mahender selected Niroshan and Asad to open. So far we have appreciated Asad for his bowling so was this a gamble? He did have an audience so would look to perform, in fact it is great to see so many spending time watching the games and James was roped in to help work the remote scoreboard gadget under tuition from Stuart.

A dynamic opening partnership of 111 ensued taking us to 24th over and a 6th bowler in Zubair Ahmed before Niroshan was bowled on 45 looking to catch up now with Asad who had just reached his 50 off 66 balls. Both had found boundaries and made great shots and the scoring was a seesaw watching each climb above the other. Maybe, he having had 3 days at Edgbaston, it was the comment that Asad had to stay out there till Pakistan dropped at least 3 wickets that drove him, he was certainly on fire. Newton came in for a brief tenure before 5th choice Ed Charlton got his first bails flying in his 4th over and having tasted success he also despatched Asad in his next over when he had been there for 100 minutes scoring 56. Chris and Stuart now faced and in Charlton’s next over he bowled Stuart for a pittance and getting the taste in his set of 8 overs he also bowled Dean for little credit. 150-6. Colt Chris Cole had good figures in his first spell and on returning when Mahender finally faced a ball he sent it out far but Yasir Ahmed ran well to deny him any score. 153-6 in 32nd over. Manish strode in determined to raise the rate and Chris was his strong support, so much so that Chris lasted to fall run out after Rehman returned the ball  on the last ball of innings when had amassed 46 and out of time to get the 50 on cards. Manish also went to a catch by Ritchie with Taylor bowling but in 31 balls had got 22 out of the 60 partnership. As they had crossed, Leo never got to face the last ball  and the target was now set at 214 to win.

Tea was a lovely selection of rolls and fancies and then it was time to contain the Royals. Dean and Newton opened with Asad behind the wicket for 7 overs, Niroshan taking the rest. Some really good economy with Dean having the first maiden of match then following up with his Wicket Maiden as Niroshan caught Harwood cleanly. Chris opened his spell with a maiden as well and Newton had only yielded 10 in four overs spell. Yasir Ahmed never seemed in any hurry to run but relied on the ball to go the distance to amass his score of 37 and it was a relief when the capable gloves of Niroshan took him off Mamun and Ritchie was a golden duck in the next ball with end of over denying Mamun any more. Manish also opened with a maiden then having yielded a boundary struck to take out Rehman on 14.  Matthew wanted in on this and bowled Ed Charlton for 10 on his second ball for a wicket maiden, with a maiden following. 81-5 in 23rd, some difference to our account and maybe a big win was on cards.
Phil Miles had been in for a while, not known as a high scorer and had a few singles by now. 12 year old Chris was now in and settled well to play confidently. After he hit a couple boundaries it seemed like a trigger happened  and certainly Miles was transformed taking runs left right centre and behind. Young Chris was run out far from wicket but had 32 acquired well into Mamun’s second spell. His father Richard replaced him till Mamun caught and bowled him for 7. 168-7 in 37.  Graham Smith partnered Miles now but Dean came back in for the final over and Miles was run out as Mahender returned swiftly and Dean was duly in position to do the deed. Captain Will now had two balls to face and scored a 2 with Smith surviving on 13. Total was 194 and so they fell short by 19. There were moments after the 72 partnership that they hoped to overhaul but we had a great bowling display with Leo also having four overs as did Mahender. 8 bowlers used and Asad was still available if needed and in fact the other two are capable when required. Highlights of the bowling were Manish 1-6 in 4, Matthew 1-17 in 5, Chris 0-19 in 3, Newton 0-20 in 5, Dean 1-21 in 7 and Mamun having three in the full eight for 38.

Highest score of match was their Phil Miles on 57 but at 56 runs, being wicketkeeper for a spell and general fielding the man of match for us was Asad with Mahender also citing other prolific batting and the bowling/keeping. Our fielding was tighter than theirs and it is hard to find a way to mention Stuart dropping a (difficult) catch. That opening partnership of Niroshan and Asad did much to set the game and there is nothing else close to it all season to date.

Most headed to the club bar afterward as this is a fixture we play virtually every year and as Cricket should be on a Sunday the game was played in great conviviality.

New opposition Verdayne next week in deepest Surrey.
(And Pakistan collapsed to lose the test with only the last pair trying hard to salvage a draw.)

Merton – Won by 78 runs

Merton thwarted again

Beddington hosts Graces and Merton

A late drop out of Beddington coincided with Old Wimbledonians dropping their game so Merton were pleased to accept our game request, still played at Beddington.
This was the day of Ride London so some travel was difficult. For the full SP ask Dom who was massively frustrated but did arrive in time to bat lower order in our innings. Mahender had stepped up and captained whole game.

When we played in mid June we beat Merton so they hoped to even the honours. Then they had scored 123 all out and we passed them with 52 balls spare and 126-6.

Openers this week were Leo and Mamun. Both fell fairly soon to catches while James Hurst bowled. In Leo’s case it was a reflective catch in close slip from Whiting who had never fielded that position before and he was probably as surprised as Leo that the catch happened. Youngest player Nabil had a safe pair of hands when Mamun sent a powerful drive looking for another boundary.  Niroshan and Stuart were next at wicket with intention to stay and they did for 30 or so minutes each. Niroshan kept strike mainly and totted up runs to reach 25 before being caught behind  by wickie Ward in the fourth over from shorts wearing James Prebble. Then came in Sam and took two boundaries almost instantly punishing Prebbles figures. At 10 overs the score was 58-3. Bowlers changed and in second over from Shiv, Stuart could not move that foot on a straight ball and was gone for 234, I mean 9. Mahender now entered the fray but exited within 2 overs against accuracy from Smither. 65-5 but Sam was in and now had 9. Newton followed and hoped Sam would do most running as he was limping with a tender knee. When that did not happen, he just had to find the rope on a swift outfield and with clouds of dust on the fine wicket. About the time Newton passed 50, Sam had now got 20. Drinks meanwhile had come at 20 overs when our score was 79. At 30 overs it was up to 133. No wickets had gone to Gunn or young Milton so it was second spells looking to dislodge as Sam was still there. Smither came back in over 36 and also bowled Newton for a tally of 59. Sam was still there as Manish came in. Manish chased every run to get the target up and only had two dot balls. Sam duly inspired had a boundary for the third time but soon fell to another LBW from Shiv for 30 in minutes short of two hours. Frustratingly, when Newton went they had a stunning partnership of 97. Still the lack of wickets had frustrated Merton. With 3.2 overs left, Dom came in to make his mark and an 80% strike rate. Innings closed at 198 with Manish on 23 and Dom on 7. In their bowling, Shiv finished on 2 -33 giving away 10 in his 6th of 8. Also bowling 8 were Hurst 2-43, Prebble 1-38, Smither 2-29. Gunn and Milton had four each yielding 17 and 25.

Tea was pleasant but not a patch on Merton’s usual fare but we were both guests this day. There was another Colts match in colourful wear being played on the other pitch. There was also a proscriptive notice about who was entitled to take tea and who really should buy refreshments.

Captain Simpson faced Asad and got running practice of bye and wides but got no score of his own when he faced a second ball from Mamun and lofted into the ever open Stuart.  Mamun was smarting as Wagner had taken two boundaries in his first over. Asad tightened up and the run rate was slow between Whiting and Wagner who had similar build, helmets and even similar straps on pads. (My excuse for confusing identity of the next wicket) this fell as Newton had his first over and Whitingxx Wagner went his way thanks to Stuart running to take it. They had crossed so Ward got to face Manish  and did not keep guard and the bowl was deadly accurate and the Golden Duck quacked. Young Nabil now strode in and took a couple of singles before sending what looked like a fine catch but it was adjudged a bump ball. Unsettled though, Newton bowled him next ball. Milton came in and was clean bowled by Newton in the next ball so the duck quacked again. No hat trick possible as end of over. Gunn survived a maiden over from Manish and took a four from his first strike against Matthew but was then induced to send a very high ball and of the two running for it, was Newton that caught it cleanly.  Hurst survived his first ball at end of over and watched Manish deliver another maiden to Whiting. Getting strike though he had it in for Matthew but Matthew had three dot balls to cap that over. He also took a boundary off Manish in his final 6th over, he finishing at 1-11, Mamun previously had four overs including the wicket maiden and 1-19. Facing Matthew again was his undoing and he was drawn into a boundary shot, almost another 6, at Deep Cover, but Stuart was not missing that chance and he was gone for a rapid 16 and a score of 81-7 in the 21st.  Interestingly at the drinks on 20 overs Merton also had 79, but for 6 not 5 and the match felt far different with their only player of endurance being Whiting. Prebble now came in and lasted well but was mainly getting singles.  Mahender was now also bowling and started with a maiden, kept the tally short and bowled Whiting very cleanly in his fourth over, a wicket maiden.  He had amassed 38 in 97 minutes. At one point we had told no 11 Shiv that we would require a century last wicket partnership and as Prebble sent the ball high towards Long On, Stuart raced over to take it very cleanly off Mahender. Both Smither and Shiv tried but the game was up and Smither sent one past Leg Gully and this time  Asad got his first catch. Asad was the only one to bowl 8 overs and had an economic 27.  So at 120 all out, we had an impressive margin of victory of 78 runs. Mathew finished on 2-34 off 6 and Newton 3 -13 after 3. Mahender had mopped up the tail with 3-12 off 6.2 overs and there were 5 overs untouched.

Throughout the second innings, Graces had a close defensive field which paid dividend. Many times there were great stops of the ball to keep the score minimal. Sam took a ball nastily on lower shin and Newton battled past a swollen knee. Newton was given the match award with three wickets, a catch and  the match top score of 59. Our many supporters enjoyed the game, still making it after the splendid tennis and barbecue evening hosted by Sam and Dean in Docklands. Our team also umpired cleanly with Niroshan being as fair as usual when the batsman was ready to start walking back. He also was wicketkeeper. Their field had moments of sloppiness but worthy of mention was young Nabil throwing a fine shot directly on wicket with Stuart escaping by a whisker.

Next week will be Hampton Wick at Bushy Park, another popular opposition

Youngsters come out on top!

Youngsters come out on top!

So the afternoon of the much anticipated oldsters v young pups match arrived. After a bit of bargaining Dom and Mahender, the respective skippers, finalised the line ups. A great turn out of spectators and better halves provided a lot of banter. Nick Swinburne , Richard Bielby and Pat came along to catch up.

Amongst the oldsters were Jason Groves , Andy Whitmore , Myall Hornsby , Shane , Andy Q , Jonners and Noddy (as ever nursing various injuries!) More recent players were Leo, Manish and a poached Dean!

40 overs was the format and the pups were soon in trouble as Mamun and Matthew were back in the pavilion with the score on 16 as Andy Whitmore’s bowling nous hasn’t been lost picking up both their wickets. Sam & Stuart steadied the ship taking the score to 61 – Andy W again in the action catching Stuart on the boundary for as ever an entertaining 26. Kosala and Stuart S batted well with some nice strokes taking the score to 104 for 5  off 20 overs – the oldsters thought a nice containing job had been done and looked forward to Dom’s astonishing spread at the break.

However , Mahender and Newton , having only one setting – competitive! – then proceeded to batter the bowling for absolutely tons of runs with a range of punishing strokes. The fielders were pegged back on the boundary and did a lot of chasing as well as collecting a lot of bruised fingers as the onslaught continued. Eventually having added almost 100 runs in only 8 overs they retired bringing in Scott (playing with a broken finger) and Assad. The final score was 283 which looked out of sight!

The weary oldsters then collapsed around Dom’s great picnic to nurse their injuries. After a lot of chat and scoffing Manish and Jonners opened with a stand of 50. Andy W and Dean then took up the battle and soon began to emulate Mahender and Newton with multiple boundaries taking the score to 183 in the 30th over. The youngsters, who had been very confident, then started to get a bit worried as the boundaries racked up.

Andy was eventually run out for a fine 49 – Shane came in and provided a supporting role as Dean continued to a remarkable century before retiring. After Shane was out Jason Groves came in at 6 and proceeded to score a quick fire 30 with some fine shots including a six over extra cover off Newton!

 

The oldsters finally ran out of overs finishing on 260 for 5. So a thoroughly entertaining match that was surprisingly competitive! It was great to catch up with players from early in Graces’ past – hopefully they can be lured back! 

Piccadilly Pitchers – Lost by 2 wickets

Graces edged out in tense match

Match report 17th July away to Piccadilly Pitchers – lost by 2 wickets

The best Sunday of the summer so far saw Graces venture into zone 6 close to Northwood to play new opposition. The day got off to a bad start as Stuart was marooned with a broken down vehicle near Brighton and we had no 12th man to cover. With a little assistance from a helpful local the venue was found – and what a venue! Old Merchant Taylors school possess a multitude of immaculate cricket pitches among their first rate sports facilities.

Debutant captain Mahender had no hesitation after calling correctly to bat first on a strip that looked at least of county standard – a rare treat for us. Mamun opened with Niroshan. After pulling his second ball for 4 Mamun tried the same shot resulting in him being bowled – one down for 7 runs. Scott joined Niroshan and things looked serene until the remaining opener had a rush of blood and was bowled for 9. 2 down for 20 bringing in skipper Mahender who was almost caught second ball off a miscue.

Scott was run out for 7 after being called through for a risky single leaving us at 34 for 3 in the 8th over. Newton then joined the skipper who was taking the bowlers on with some aggressive shots. We had reached 60 when Mahender was stumped for an entertaining 24, Sam soon followed bringing Dean in – 66 for 5. We needed a good partnership to get our innings back on track and Dean and Newton batted well against what was steady rather than penetrative bowling from the hosts who were mainly quite a mature team of experienced players making us look like spring chickens!

With the score at 113 Dean misjudged and was bowled for a valuable 28, Jonners then supported Newton who attacked the bowling eventually being bowled for the day’s top score – 62. He also passed a personal milestone of 1000 runs for Graces – Congratulations to him!

The psychological 150 barrier was reached in the last of our 35 overs. After a fine tea in the plush club house the hosts faced our openers – Newton and Dean. Accurate bowling brought regular wickets and the game always looked finely balanced. We took wickets just as the batsmen looked settled but their middle order knuckled down putting the poor balls away.

We fielded well – a highlight being Niroshan running out the resilient number 4, Dane, with a direct hit as a second run was attempted. This raised Graces’ spirits and Mahender juggled the bowling around making Piccadilly work for the runs. A stubborn 7th wicket partnership took them to the brink of victory but in the penultimate over their danger man,all rounder Raheel, was bowled by Assad for 29. The last over and the scores were tied – First ball a skier and Mamun making up a lot of ground couldn’t hang on to a difficult chance bringing the hosts home with  2 wickets left.

It was a great game that swung either way – another 20 runs for us would have made it very interesting. A very hospitable home team who would love to have us back next season – we won’t be short of players available to play at their great ground. Special thanks to spectator Tom who took the field for us to make up for us being a man down.

Hawks CC – Lost by 108 runs

Graces pummeled!

Away to Hawks CC – lost by 108 runs

A sunny afternoon saw Graces take a trip to new opponents in north London. On arrival a heavy roller was busy on the green looking strip. Our hosts chose a 35 over format with anything legside a wide. The toss was lost and Hawks batted first with one of the openers bearing a resemblance to a robust Gordon Greenidge.

Graces took the field wearing black armbands in recognition of Dom’s loss. Newton and Assad bowled with the latter managing a maiden over first off (one of the only two we managed all afternoon!)

Unfortunately things didn’t progress as smoothly for us as the batsman showed a lot of aggression and soon got the score going at an alarming rate. All we could do was try to contain them but anything short was dispatched. A couple of drops didn’t help our cause with Mahender finally taking a good catch in the deep to see Mr Thomas (Greenidge) out for a rapid 45. The score was then 90 – 5 runs later Mamun bowled Shivon, the other opener for 38.

Graces breathed a sigh of relief to see the back of them and when Scott took a smart catch to see the number 3 ,Hammond, out for 14 Graces had managed to reign in the free scoring Hawks. However the left handed number 4 bat (one of 4 Lords in the team!) initially rode his luck dropping short of the field a few times before renewing the aggression with some cultured drives. Wickets fell regularly at the other end but Mr Lord continued to an entertaining 50 until Newton finally bowled him for a top score of 53.

Again we were made to pay for dropping him a number of times. A few overs later the innings was over with the score at 209 for 9. At one point a far higher score looked possible. Mahender , twice on a hat-trick , was the pick of our bowlers finishing with 3 wickets for 15 off 4 overs. We didn’t bowl badly but anything loose seemed to be pounced on.

After a filling tea Dom and Newton opened our reply – unfortunately they were both soon back with the score at only 8. A bizarre 4th over saw Phillips bowl a succession of wides most of which were run adding a handy 18. Their skipper kept faith with him changing his end with a remarkable improvement.

Niroshan , in at 3 , showed good positivity taking the attack to the Hawks taking the score to 42 with Mahender  before Mahender was caught in the deep. Luck didn’t go our way as nothing fell short of their fielders. Niroshan was eventually bowled for a top score of 27. Wickets fell steadily as Hawks kept the pressure on with tight bowling. Manish hung around for a patient 16 before we were all out for 101.

 

So our biggest defeat of the season against strong opponents. Our bowlers didn’t give up with a good fight back after the initial batting onslaught but we’ve definitely had better days with the bat!

Southall Dragons – Won by 5 wickets

Graces too strong for Dragons

Dragons loose in the Park

Today’s venue is not so far away from Greenford but seemingly more inaccessible so apart from one welcome visitor and friend for a while who may become a supporter/player we had none of our frequent supporters with us. The pitch itself is rather sparse and basically no obvious facilities but some construction visible might provide toilets and showers in the future, so it was a change in the open. I think the hosts feared bad light so we agreed a 35 over innings.

We were fielding first and I subbed until Chris who had been delayed could arrive. Dean opened in great form with two successive maidens (the only two in match) and in his other two yielded very little to finish on 13. (More likely 9 as I know from the field there was a bye for 4) Assad opened bowling as well and kept great lines but the first pair were very solid and only dribbled to 36 in those first eight overs. They did not make Assad’s wides obvious in the ball by ball and as I copied up at that stage it needs more forensic to grant more than 19 off him

Newton and Matthew were the next set of bowlers and Newton made swift inroad taking their Colin for 9 as Anosh stretched for a good slip catch. Their new man Robbie tried to show he was aggressive but that was his undoing and he sent a shot to deep gully but Dean made a great firm catch and he was gone for 17 and a wicket to Matthew’s tally which only yielded 21 in 4 overs. In the next over Newton was responsible for opener Prad sending one to cover and the hands of Mendis as a top scorer with 25 and Newton having 2 for 17 off 5. Now 61-3 at 15.

Suraj and Jasmeet, both bowlers, tried to open up but first Suraj went for 15 bowled by Anosh as he started his spell then Chris induced Jasmeet to send a catch that Newton positioned well for. Rob wanted to get going but Anosh sent a high ball that he connected aiming for Deep Midwicket but Chris made sure that was his. To the annoyance of the sideliners, this was not given no ball and they were quite animated or was that the beverage consumption ongoing? 90 – 6 in 21.

There was no strong tail. Anosh claimed two wickets in his next over to end 4 for 6 off 3 with Leo reaching a catch at Midwicket and the other bowled on a golden duck and every chance of a hat trick. Chris completed the task in the 24th with a wicket bowling on ball one and on ball three taking number 11 for LBW. 99 scored and Chris having 3-16 in 3.3

Tea was platters from Subway, crisps, tiny cookies, bananas and fairy cakes and squash to dilute. Mind you the sun could burn today even though not too obvious. Difficult to arrange much else and they did provide the same provisions for each team.

This week it was Stuart and Leo to open. Jasmeet and Rakesh as bowlers. On the whole they forced defensive play and it was the 8th over before we lost the second wicket as Rakesh bowled Leo for 8 soon after a fine boundary. Rakesh also bowled a straight ball to Stuart in his first over………gone for 5. In the 11th Niroshan was bowled as Suraj had his first over and although he had a lot of the strokes the fielding was not yielding him more than 9. 33-3 and at this point they were 45-1 so were we finding it tough going after all.

Our middle order saved the day with first Mendis bedding in then opening up to end the match still in place on 46. Newton was his partner for 41 and scored 13 before he too was LBW but off Akash. Matthew also was in support but was caught behind. Finally, Dean came to crease and now the result was inevitable or would have been a collapse to rival any International team but he was no spectator and took 7 off his 4 balls including the last delivery that took us over the target.

So we did surpass the lower than usual target but still had to draw on team strengths to do so. Once again it was the fielding and catching that was our strength on top of the contribution of Mendis. It took us three more balls than they did to reach the target so our strike rate today was comparable except we got all their wickets.

With all bowling acceptable and Dean and Newton pushing Chris and Anosh, the man of the match was Anosh today, his economy was amazing and that first slip catch was a game turner, not that there were no other fine catches too. It remains difficult to get that accolade without finding team mates with much to plead. Before today, Dragons considered they were having a fine season. So are we. In fact decidedly better and we hope to make that evident even more on matches to come.