A rain threatened afternoon at Old Minchendians.
Despite unbearable heat in the last week, a lot of rain fell on Friday and Saturday putting our return league fixture against Fives in some doubt. This location, next the famous Raynes Theatre for Chickenshed Productions, is basically a Parks Pitch, leading down along Cockfosters Road to where Saracens Rugby have been based including several squares and play areas. The elevation of the wicket on the pitch is not perfectly level and we soon found there was virtually no travel in the stodgy lush green outfield. Clouds overhead always threatened until sunshine broke through in late afternoon.
Suri, for Fives won the toss and asked us to bat first. He noticed before we did that there were only four players from our side who had played the early season match and he reckoned he had a stronger side his time. With Nadeem and Andrew unable to play nearer the game, Sam had stepped up and Arshad played as well, possibly the first time this season.
First rotation umpires were Newton, strapped after his recent injury, and Niroshan overseeing the bowling of Suri and Jaysu/Chetu against the openers Jeshant and Dom which our Captain of the day, Mendis, had determined. An incredibly slow start by our standards with Suri only yielding three in the fourth of his overs and 9 from Jaysu. Next up was Neil and Sujan. Sujan got first blood as young Amman made a clean catch in slip gully to take out Jeshant on 9. Note that position! It was still Sujan in the 16th who bowled Dom for 7. Ari had started with some boundaries and was now joined by Mendis.
He had no boundaries of his own but a careless overthrow resulted in a five obtained. In the 21st, with our score still only at 59! Ari was LBW off Suri but at 26 on tally. Next over and a direct hit from Jaysu meant Mendis was inches short and had gone for 14 and the score still on 59. Nothing yet from Niroshan and Newton coming in had a Golden Duck as Suri got through the gate. Sanjeev lasted a couple balls but after an extended appeal for LBW he was run out for being unusually out of ground. Arshad joined in momentarily as Niroshan blasted toward boundary and they really thought a three was possible but Young Om was very quick and Arshad was run out also for no score. 61/7, nothing could get worse?
Jonners survived the first ball, always a relief and took a single off Sujan to close the over but that left him on strike for rampant Suri. He parried. He struck out but all through this game the team were fielding tight and restricting to dot balls unless a real gap is found, one more ball but no, footwork wrong and LBW. Incredibly only 66/8 at end of 27th with Sujan able to bowl another three and Suri if maximums taken. Young Amman had not bowled yet today, Om could return, how long could Niroshan, currently on 6 and now Sam entering the fray to be followed by Mamun all last Out?
Little by little, Sam blocked, got unorthodox singles by desperately looking for a gap and Niroshan had stroke most of time and productively. The theatre boundary was too sluggish so 2 could not become 4, but overs passed by with singles and twos and a Maiden for Sujan to finish. Suri finished his spell on 20/3 off 12, Sujan 22/2. Hari tried an over giving away the only no ball of innings and one of only 5 wides as extras were absolutely minimal. Neil had another go and Sam spotted the overthrow and urged Niroshan to make it 3, with just enough puff remaining to see that over out.
Jaysu had another couple to finish on 17 off 6, Neil 24 off 6. From the other end now is young Om. The 61st ball that Niroshan receives, a subtle invitation that is launched to Long On but Nick runs across and secures and with a high score for second week running, Niroshan is undone at 32. We needed a Corfu now and Mamun was up for it. A bold 2 on second ball, a lovely sweep to Square Leg boundary for next ball, a ball not worth running on and then to close the 40th over, a hook that Krishna the wicketkeeper stretched high and right for successfully. 6 to the tally to bring us to a total of 108. Sam has 5 not out of the game stretching 9th wicket partnership of 36. Om was 19/2 off 3.
Tea beckoned after a few minutes as they all worked together to provide a mixed contribution buffet, make your own sandwiches with a selection of fillings, flavoured rice, plenty of fruit and sweet things, chillies, onion even some pizza, all very satisfying though I remain convinced Wagon Wheels are smaller these days unless Jaffa Cakes have got bigger. No rush as the clock stops and the interval will only be counted as 20 minutes. They still have 109 minutes and the last hour so a draw is highly unlikely. One side has to win by taking wickets or batting past the meagre target.
Suri was Main Umpire with a second at Square Leg initially. Their player Colin, probably in my age group, was opener with Nick as 2nd. Newton opened and after Colin took a single on the 4th, Nick had audacity to take a boundary first ball. Sanjeev responded with a Maiden, his bowling attracting praise from the sidelines. Newton’s third ball of his second over saw Nick launch it high giving Niroshan opportunity to move over and safely catch it. Hari now in, taking a single and then to face Sanjeev, escaping the strike with a single, Colin got a 2 this time. On Newton’s fourth ball of his 3rd over, he was straight through and Hari gone bringing in Sanjeev for two more maidens for him to be 3 off 4 overs in a first spell. Newton continued and one ball went with power right down to a boundary on byes. Ari starts to bowl, leanly, and after 14 overs they only have 27 compared with our 32 at similar point, reflecting tight focused fielding, targeted bowling and the slow outfield.
Mendis now bowls and immediately has Krishna LBW for 4, player dissent but Sujan quite convinced. Suri took a boundary but a Maiden from Mendis follows. Suri had got a massive 6 off Ari, not a great sign but in the next Ari over, Suri launched again but Arshad covered the distance to catch cleanly at Long On removing him for a very rapid 11. Next Ari over, his 6th of the 20, Colin mistimed and Niroshan once again caught cleanly. 11 off 58 balls in 61 minutes. Jaysu now joined Neil who was mainly blocking and uncomfortable with the bowling of Mamun who just started his spell. Jaysu took a 2 and 4 in Ari last over, there being a no ball called on disputed action in previous of his overs. There was a call for drinks but usually that should be just before the last over but it was warming up a little with sun now breaking through lighter cloud cover. Mamun bowling the 24th and Jaysu thinks he is out of reach of Niroshan but Jeshant stretches and secures in slip gully. Drinks then at 23.3 and to our relief 53/6. Last time around, Om came in at 6 and made the game last a lot longer so plenty of work to do, Sujan came in now.
A powerful boundary was not a good sign but Mendis had two consecutive Maiden against Neil. Sujan then got tangled and Mendis had him LBW for 8. Amman parried the last ball of over but was put back on Mamun by a single from Neil. He connected but Ari appeared at Extra Cover to send him back. 62/8 was more promising but Gary and Neil wanted to emulate our 9th wicket success. In the 30th, Mamun induced Gary to copy Jaysu and Jeshant made no mistake at slip gully so Gary left on 8 with Neil now on 9. Last one today is Om, would he have 17 off 71 balls this time around?
The last hour was called after 33rd over. Time for Jeshant to bowl with Newton and Sanjeev being up again already and we still had Sam, Arshad and Dom in reserve if we needed to mix it up. Jeshant bowled his first ball and Mendis made no error at slip and that was it. 82 all out, a successful defence that if it were not for great teamwork once again could have been overhauled. Neil finished on 13 not out after 50 minutes, Colin had been in for 61 minutes. With excellent keeping, a solid score when needed, it was Niroshan today who secured Man of the Match. All credit to the bowlers though for keeping it tight as the 9 maidens testify. Photo shows their achievements.
With another 20 points from a win, we have virtually won this league with us needing to fail to get any more bonus points and losing our last two to be in any risk. We will know before our next league game against Chigwell on 18th August at Broxbourne if either Chigwell or Pacific are still mathematically able to hold us back.
This was an interesting game and plenty of explaining for Phil to do as he tells his friend Iru, at cricket for first time, how the game works. Phil was also our welcome matchball sponsor this week and we should be covered next week by Nadeem or Pat thanks to continued sponsorship offers. Ralph had plenty to enjoy for a second week running and Jim had to demonstrate slipping into a tight space with this scoreboard after making the flip board look easy last week. Robert also came along to Mayfield last week after his recent holiday but I don’t think he came on to clubhouse as he might have been tempted by those tennis courts. We socialised after with Fives and some Old Minchendenians who were there by then. A lovely afternoon of Cricket and Captain Manish was soon in touch to offer congratulations as was Leo from abroad and Stuart from elsewhere. Someone, possibly Captain Mendis, stood a jug(s) in celebration.
Next league is August 18th but next week we travel up to Rushden and then enjoy Sheen Park (scoring assistance welcome) on 11th.