Well done Chaps! A Damn Good Try. (Asian away 8/6/08)
Asian were our hosts, this being the team that plays on the ground to the other side of the pavilion to the stark multi-pitched field where I cut my cricketing teeth. The ground is much more pleasant, although the pitch was not topographically flat, which was a bit worrying. The trials of getting an eleventh man were only resolved with fifteen minutes remaining until the scheduled start, Imran Ali the late volunteer. Notwithstanding this the team looked a little fragile, and with last week's debacle in mind I was dismayed to lose the toss, certain we would be inserted. Fortunately the Asian captain, Iqy, eased my pain by deciding they would bat first.
Rob had arrived uncharactaristically late, falling victim to a dizzy spell just before he was due to set off, and he was clearly nowhere near the best of health. It was certainly out of the question for him to open the bowling, so Frank took the new ball at one end, with Tim supporting him at the other.
Frank was a little wayward to start and was smashed for 6 when he dropped his second ball short, but after this he increasingly found his line & length and was very unfortunate to finish his (7 overs for 33) opening spell wicketless, a couple of very tough chances not quite being taken. Meanwhile Tim slotted straight into a Jimmy Anderson style swing bowling groove and claimed the wicket of Iqi, the sole league umpire raising a positive finger in response to our claim for an LBW which was dead in front, if a fair distance down the wicket. Tim bowled his eight overs straight through, he and I mindful of making sure he got some sort of rest between bowling and opening the batting later on.
Rob felt well enough to bowl and replaced Frank, Zarghum replacing Tim who finished with the excellent figures of 8-2-26-3 - and the 3 were the top 3 in the batting order. Wickets began to tumble with Richard pouching 3 catches, including a stunner at mid-wicket from a long-hop from Zarghum. At best we had Asian at 120 for 7 and 131 for 8, but the crucial moment was to prove the not out decision to Jamil, who, we are certain, under-edged one to James behind the stumps. Alex heard the nick from the boundary, but the umpire was unmoved. Rob's figures then suffered a bit (final analysis 8-0-49-3) as some powerful batting saw Jamil accumulate a quick 56 before I dismissed him rather fortuitously with one that kept low, hit bat and pad and rolled onto the stumps. An annoying last wicket stand ended with a stumping to leave me with figures of 8-1-30-2 and the Asian innings closed on 180 from 38 overs.
Tea was a delightful mixture of sandwiches and biryani, enjoyed picnic style by Chigs as we contemplated chasing a good total given the cloying mixture of long grass and grass clippings of which the outfield was composed. Tim and Rob were unsurprisingly asked to open, James accepting the responsibility of batting at 3. We were undeniably short of batting depth, but hopefully a good start would carry us to victory.
Tim again looked the class act, but sadly the vaguaries of the pitch were to see his demise on 20, when Iqi bowled him with one that kept very low indeed. James departed shortly afterwards LBW and from that point on only Imran, apart from Rob, could manage double figures. Rob kept things ticking over, but the required rate was climbing fast and my presence at the wicket only made it worse. I frittered time away, unable to connect with virtually any shot with aggressive intent. I was finally put out of my misery by one that kept low, whereupon Richard arrived to blast 8 quick runs before he was excellently caught on the run by mid on. The game could not be won by this time, so the revised target was to add a batting point or two to our 5 bowling points. Sadly we were unable to achieve the 125 required, Rob the last man out for 58 in the 39th over, with the score on 121, or 120 as it was to become after a post-match scoring adjustment.
Man of the Match: Rob for battling on despite feeling so rough.