I wasn't sure before Saturday's friendly whether I'd be putting in a report; and when we were about 6 down for 40-odd chasing 276 I was fairly certain I wouldn't bother. But then a marvellous thing happened. We didn't snatch a victory - not that marvellous - but those of us who stayed had the pleasure of witnessing a very special innings from Wasif. With the score on 199 he was last out for 120.
Wasif seldom hangs about: he hits the ball hard, and often in the air. He got going with a flurry of off side boundaries managing to avoid the fielders though strength rather than guile; and though this continued to be an innings of big, fearless hits, including a six over long on to get to 100, it also had its moments of good sense and restraint. I don't recall any dropped catches, except perhaps one difficult one. It was an innings of good clean hitting and of course admirable temperament; which of us can say we scored 120 in adult cricket at the age of 15?
It was also Wasif who made the most impact with the ball. With the wicket fast and hard it felt like mid-season. N London made good progress against adequate if unspectacular spells from Matt, Shiva and James. Kamlesh Patel started to exercise some control with his left-arm spin; and with Wasif getting immediately into his stride at the other end there was a period of a dozen overs where the batsmen were reigned in and the run rate came down. Wasif bowled his 6 overs with great accuracy and little luck. Wickets were few and far between. Without access to the scorebook I recall that Matt had disposed of one opener, no. 3 retired hurt after being hit on the head with a beamer from DJ, Kamlesh then got the top scorer out LBW before DJ got a legitimate victim and James got 2 in an over. However, despite a tidy return spell from Matt and some excellent 'keeping from Keith, a succession of young middle order batsmen came in and made telling contributions until N London declared on 276.
The Crouch End top order batsmen faced a lively attack. DJ made a sparkling start but then edged an outswinger to the 'keeper. Keith and Kamlesh both fell to excellent bowling, Shiva mishit a rare poor ball to extra cover, Andy J and James both got first-ball LBWs. At this point the game was lost; but N London soon realised they might be embarassed by Wasif. He was untroubled by their change bowlers; and even the returning opener needed several overs before Wasif had a swing too many and the game was won and lost with 8 of the last 20 overs remaining.
As far as we were concerned therefore it was the day that Wasif made his mark. (The 2nd youngster this season to do so after Rusharb's innings last week.) As he progresses through the club he will come across bowling that requires him to add technique to his talent but there's no reason why he shouldn't emerge a very accomplished cricketer.
There was one other gratifying moment for me. Wasif was fielding at fine leg, saving 1. We took a man out of the leg side field and Wasif immediately adjusted his position. Without needing to be asked he put himself exactly at the right angle and distance from the bat. The boy's a player.