This one needed quite a spirited post mortem in the Three Hammers afterwards. The 3rds put Brentham in, failed to make any impression with the new ball and had a long, hot afternoon in the field. It was no mean achievement to limit Brentham to 226 for 7 in their 50 overs, but the run-chase never materialised and Crouch End had to settle for one point for a losing draw on 126 for 9.
Liam never found his rhythm, Hamid pitched consistently short and Brentham got off to a flyer. James however looked in very good form with the ball and drew first blood but gave runs away as he tired. The Brentham top order continued to take advantage of the bad balls while keeping out the good ones; but Srinath and Matt answered the call and bowled in tandem for 30 overs and the run rate was brought down to under 4 an over. Sri got the first of his three classic off-spinners’ dismissals – flighted balls outside the off stump which spun back to hit the wicket; and the Brentham no 5 brought his considerable frame to the crease. He might so easily have had to take it all the way back again after his first ball missed the stumps by a whisker. Instead he stayed and smote 47 runs in no time before Matt bowled him and a normal game of cricket could resume. The Brentham opener ground on to a very good 100. Both Sri and Matt could have helped themselves by accepting a caught and bowled, there was one glaring miss in the covers, a blatant LBW not given, and a couple of stumpings might have been taken, but the ground-fielding was generally very good, a great improvement on last week. Sri’s line and length were excellent and he did very well to end with 5 for 77 off 15 overs. Matt had to be taken off on humanitarian grounds after his 16th over having done an excellent job (1 for 66 ); but the last 15 or so overs of the innings definitely went to Crouch End.
The Crouch End reply quite quickly dug itself into a hole. Liam looked in good form and was looking to break the hold of some fairly tight bowling, but he mistimed an inswinger and brought Richard in to join Simon. Quick singles were ruled out by Richard’s suspect hamstring and the bowlers were firmly on top. Simon (18) top- edged to third man, Richard (7) was, inevitably, run out; and Crouch End’s chances of getting up with the run rate were remote. James and Rob had a go: 11 came off one over, 9 off another; but then James was bowled for 19 - exactly the same shot to the same bowler that had beaten Liam: Rob (22) and Sri was also both beaten by his inswing to be LBW. Vikash swung and missed, Naggers and Hamid were both well caught: Andrew and Matt played out the last few overs.
So next time? In the field we have to use the new ball a whole lot better and take the chances offered. If we can add this to the stickability the bowlers have shown and Saturday’s higher standard of ground fielding we will make good progress.
Batting? It may have been true, as some suggested, that the pitch got harder to bat on as the match went on, but we have to look to technical and tactical solutions – finding ways to take runs off good bowling and having the composure to make the most of the loose ones – to wrest the initiative from the bowling side. And a spot of attitude: not 20/20 swagger, but just a sense that we can play our way out of trouble if we have to.
Huge thanks to Mike Alexander who came to watch and got roped in to fetching the teas from Mill Hill Village and then did a lengthy stint of umpiring; and to Mr Asher for his support.