28th May 2016,
35 over game,
Weather - sunny,
Itinerants won the toss and chose to bowl.
Back to 11 men this week though as light on batting this week as we were light on bowling last. Our problems though were as nought to those of the Dodfather’s - down to 9 that morning and as it happened the 9th never showed either. So he borrowed Santha’s oldest boy Abhilesh and a fielder from us on rotation and started with ‘Chaos’ and ‘TFL’ two words that often go together. Both used the pitch well - not that the pitch played well. The bounce was erratic and yet consistently awful - the pitch soft and yielding more than the usual number of pea rollers and shooters. It took me 3 overs to get off the mark and while Dan looked more fluent he was also the first to fall - bowled by a low slinging ball (off “Chaos” Wilson 7). Jon Dyson at 3 made the right noises about covering up but got across too far when he tried to keep out Davis and was adjudged plum (b “TfL” - 1). Santha Kumar was playing his first innings in England and didn’t have the time to get accustomed to the difference between Chennai and SW London. He played over a low full toss and edged onto his stumps (Chaos- 0). Things didn’t get much better when George came out- he saw off Chaos but then played expansively off Geordie Al and it nipped back through the gate (more a barn door for width- b 1). So things were looking pretty hairy when Mahesh joined me - 56-4 off 16. Mahesh was not fazed though and picked up his first ball (a chest high beamer from Geordie Al) and planted it over the very long square leg boundary for six. We tried to reconstruct the innings and hitting the ball well (and calling atrociously) and it was a surprise when Staples (on when Chaos finished his spell) got a thick edge from Mahesh’s off drive and it sailed high to backward point (well held - Mahesh 13). Dave Dawkins played a trademark back foot off drive, where the pitch needed front foot play and was bowled second ball (Staples again- 0). 79-6 off 21 and Southbank in a mess of trouble with just Michael Mcintyre between the Itinerants and our 3 number 11s in Matt, Ranj and Peretz.
Fortunately Michael showed a solid defence getting right across and getting the bat down to avoid the lbw. He supported me as I started to reap the reward of patiently building to 50 and now being able to get stuck into Itinerant’s 4 and 5th bowlers. Walker “Flakey” bowled medium pace but too many full tosses and they went back the way they had come though covers and the slow bowling trio of Abi, “Dodfather” and “Barbarossa” were regularly dispatched to and over the boundary (the skipper Dodman most often - conceding 22 off one over). Michael was scoring more freely too- especially working the ball fine and square but when they brought back Geordie Al he got one through the gate (b 20). Not quite a hundred partnership but a magnificent pairing and just after this I biffed one down the ground to give my first chance (on 97) thankfully Abi dropped it and a flick to leg later and I’d made another hundred against my favourite attack (3 not out tons in a row against these guys). Matt and I scampered and stole our way to a few more off the last 3 but couldn’t quite surge to 200 (Simon the Pirate aka Barbarossa bowled a tight last over conceding only 1 boundary) and SBCC closed on 188-7 me on 113* and Matt on 1*.So about a par score and something to bowl at.
“chaos” Davis 7 overs, 3 maidens 9-2
“TFL” Wilson, 6 overs, 1 maiden, 31-1
“Geordie Al” Hutchinson, 7 overs, 1 maiden, 30-2
Abi Kumar 1 over, 0-8
Staples, 5 overs 23-2
“flakey” Walker, 5 overs, 32-0
“Dodfather” Dodman, 2 overs, 31-0
Barbarossa (with his own theme tune- “Simon the pirate, de do do” to the tune of 7 nation army. My god the man has two nicknames) 2 overs, 0-14
A tea seemingly sponsored by Tesco later (judged by the amount of products on offer from same) we walked out to defend our total against a strong Itinerant batting line up. Flakey and the Dodfather found he going tough from Porter (Barnes end) and Ranjan (from the railway end) as both made good use of the latest version of the match ball - a rough and much battered 3rd edition of same (the others swallowed by the boundaries the way out of bounds scrub claims golf balls). Ranj got Dodfather- a straight one missed and rightly lbw (3). CJ came in at 3 and looked scratchy (as he does) but then settled and seemed ominously hard to shift. Peretz came on and was rewarded for good bowling by getting a wicket with a bad one - Flakey pulling straight to George at square leg (the big man taking a great catch moving to his right - 14). Michael replaced Matt and was a very useful addition to the attack- getting a play and miss or two and nearly nabbing CJ who cut hard and Peretz and Gully got a hand on it diving to his left but could only parry it down. More successful was when he got Geordie Al to top edge over the keeper- and I nabbed it cycling back behind Mahesh (Al -4). When Peretz bowled Davis (“Chaos“) who chopped on playing back to a full ball (4), Itinerants were 77-4 at 18 and we were well in the game.
But CJ was still there and ably abetted by Staples they set about pushing on with the chase. Peretz and Michael contained them to the rate but at second change things started to slip. Santha bowled ok off breaks but was not supported in the field- a punch to cover beat the fielder and went for four (ought to have been 1) and the next ball was smashed past point for another 4. Dave “Golden boots” Dawkins bowled two good overs and his third started to slip. A couple of full tosses went sailing away to square leg. But he finished strong and I gave him a fourth which was alas a disaster. Despite picking up Staples at cover he went for 25 and I had to return to Ranj and Matt to try to break things up as the Itinerants had rocketed to 166-6 with 6 to go. Abi played well and smacked a couple of fours through the covers and was unlucky when CJ called him on a suicide single to cover (even my arm beat him and Mahesh broke the stumps -10). Ranj and Matt built some pressure but Itinerants found regular release- Simon the Pirate (de do doo) planted Matt over his head for four and CJ just cleared the fingertips of the ill fated Dawkins at mid off. Dan needed to defend 6 off the second to last and conceded a boundary early in the over. Then CJ lamped the ball to cow where Santha had been placed for the eventuality but he’d drifted* 3 yards off the cone marking the boundary and in backpedaling slightly spilled it and past the rope it went for the winning runs and his century. A fitting reward for his effort- he was often troubled but never flustered and deserved his ton.
South Bank CC bowling
Matt Porter, 7 overs, 24-0
Ranjan Bhattacharyya, 7 overs, 1 maiden, 23-1
Simon Mcintrye, 6 overs, 23-1
Peretz Milstein, 7 overs, 35-2
David Dawkins, 4 overs, 45-1
Kumar (S), 2 overs, 23-0
Dan Cohen, 1 over, 9-0
Another disappointing loss but Itinerants have always been a strong batting line up and have pushed us close when we had posted larger totals. That said, we fielded well for the most part (Mahesh’s keeping especially) and if I had stopped Dave after his two good overs and bowled George (he bowled very well for Dodgers on Sunday) maybe we could have clung on for the win. Still all of it paled into irrelevance as we sank pints of mad goose at the Sun Inn in Barnes as the sun went down and reminisced and thought that there are worse things in life than losing a cricket game.
* Aficionados of village cricket memoirs will know this is called stone drifting and there is no known cure.