Crouch End Cricket Club

C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ

3rd XI vs Birkbeck College 3s - 'Opponents stumped ...'

Last week's crushing loss away at Osterley had all but finished our promotion hopes, but we dusted ourselves down and set about winning the last two matches to continue our impressive second half to the season.  A sense of the 'near farce' that was to follow was provided early on by Shashi, who rang me five minutes before the scheduled meet time to inform me that he had just woken up.  Not a disaster you may think, but he does live 'near Heathrow'.  The rest of us made our way to our last game at our excellent Edmonton home and prepared for the match.

The fact that Shashi arrived just one over in to the match was not due to his navigational skills in whizzing over from west London, but the oppositions lack of them.  The new 12.30pm start time came and went.  Phone calls were made.  Some of them had apparently gone to Crouch End, some were stuck in traffic.  Classic.  When four of them finally turned up, the toss was claimed and they were informed to get their pads on.

Symon and Dhamendra started things off with good tight spells where runs were at a premium.  The two openers did a good job of stalling proceedings until other team mates started arriving, but it was slow going.  When both came off after eight overs each, the score was on 30.  Joe and myself replaced them and things started to happen.  I bowled one stubborn opener and then followed ... well, let's call it 'farcical moment #1'.  Joe deceived the number three batsmen and Richard removed the bails.  Out.  Stumped.  Out of his crease.  Bat in the air.  He stormed off, having a row with his own team mate who was umpiring at square leg.  After a lengthy 'discussion' he gathered his things, stormed off and went home.

"But your bat was in the air, mate ..."

This brought to the crease a batsmen that seemed to be in a hurry.  His first ball was smashed for six and he then proceeded to crash further boundaries off me and Joe.  A change in the field dried up his runs to a degree and he was getting increasingly frustrated.  I bowled the other stubborn opener and Joe claimed his second when a regulation catch was clipped to Shashi in the covers.  However, the other batsmen was still very threatening and creamed me for a massive six which almost landed in the next postcode.  I got my revenge by bowling him for my third wicket.  A fourth followed shortly after when the captain tried to smash a slower ball, was deceived and bowled middle stump. *

* Now at this point I am legally obliged to tell you that my first and third wickets were taken with rank short bad balls that drew much consternation from my team mates.  However, the third one was particularly important and I bowled some of my best deliveries of the season in the spell that went unrewarded.  So I do not really care.  It shows the benefit of bowling straight, if nothing else ....

Hamid and Shashi then came on to freshen things up, and both bowled well with Hamid claiming three good wickets.  He bowled with good pace and line and was rewarded by bowling two, including one particularly stubborn tail ender, and having another caught by Joe.  Symon returned, and much like last week, finished off the innings with the last wicket in his first over.  Note to self - maybe bring him back earlier in future.  The bowling and fielding performance was again very good, as it has been in virtually every game.  134 all out in 48 overs.

Tea - lots of cocktail sausages and fruit.  Also 'farcical moment #2' - apparently there was another 'disagreement' at tea and another Birkbeck player decided to go home.  So they took the field with nine ...

It was good to see Jon back in the side after his sabatical to the 2nd team but with George still away in Bonnie Scotland (and annoyingly texting me to tell me what a great time he was having at a whisky distillery) it was decided that Richard would again open.  And it worked.  The pair batted solidly and produced the best opening partnership of the season.  Both played some lovely shots as the initial tight bowling got looser and looser.  In the end, Birkbeck were to use eight of their nine players to bowl in an attempt to get something from the game.  In reality, we were never in danger after that opening partnership.

Jon survived a couple of lives, including one edge to the keeper who celebrated before catching it and subsequently dropped it, but played well on his return.  The support from Richard was superb and provided exactly what we needed.  Jon was first out for 37 after being stumped but the pair had put on 66.  Ross went out and immediately started accumulating runs with ease.  Richard was finally out for 34, but he had done his job and done it well.  The score was already in the 90s and the game almost won.  Mamun came out to join Ross and immediately played a couple of lovely shots.

Ross was looking in little trouble before we flattered Birkbeck with a couple of very late wickets.  Mamun perished and then Ross was bowled in what seemed like slow motion with the scores level.  No one could quite believe it.  It was left to Shashi and Rob to finish things off, with Shashi hitting the winning run.  But you've probably all heard about that by now!  135-4 with eight overs to spare. 

This was as easy a run chase as you could hope for.  We were never in any trouble and just accumulated the runs against dispirited opponents.  Importantly, amidst all of the problems that Birkbeck were facing - being late, infighting and defection - we were not effected by any of it and simply stuck to our task.  It was 10 points that had to be secured and now we move on to the last match with the prospect of third place and our highest ever league finish in prospect.

That match will not be easy however.  We play Kenton, who ten weeks ago were in the bottom two with us.  They have gone on a similar run to ourselves and now amazingly sit just 10 points behind us after beating table toppers Twickenham last Saturday.  As we know, that is no mean feat.  However, they will be more worried about us.  Let's finish with a flourish and enjoy the last game.  We deserve to after the excellent work that we put in during the second half of the season ...

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