C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
After last week’s heroics against league leaders Hampstead and the subsequent euphoria, it was always going to be a tricky and different challenge against bottom side Edmonton. On paper a match against a side that had lost all nine previous games and not gained a single point looked a formality. It proved anything but that.
With great availability this week, it was pleasing to be able to name 10 of those that beat Hampstead. Keith replaced Dilan behind the stumps as the only change. The consistency of selection over the last few weeks has seen the side gel very well and produce a series of increasing impressive results.
Edmonton won the toss and decided to bat. The next three hours proved to be much tougher than any of us could have imagined. Edmonton came out slogging from the beginning. A combination of wayward bowling, poor fielding and a number of dropped catches from us and a series of dubious umpiring decisions, lucky shots and lack of knowledge of the rules from our opponents led to a frustrating afternoon.
We were suffering the most serious of hangovers from the Hampstead win and only Ricardo really came out of Edmonton innings with any credit. He toiled away on a warm afternoon to record his first ever six wicket haul and career-best figures of 6-69. It was a superb effort. Quayum also bowled well and claimed a wicket. Hassan and myself got one each also, plus Rob and Keith combined for a run out.
By the time Edmonton were all out off the last ball of their allotted 50 overs, they had amassed 276. It was an embarrassing performance but we simply had to go for it and aim for the win. Before the match I said that anything other than 10 points would be unacceptable given their poor record to date. The positives were that we bat deep these days and the ground was small, particularly on one side.
The decision was for Apu and Khairul to open and take on the Edmonton bowlers from the off. The idea was to get ahead of the 6.5 an over run rate as early as possible and make the chase a little easier. Wow – did they execute that plan to perfection. After three overs we were on 53-0 with Khairul having been particularly brutal by smashing 30 off just eight balls. Then it was Apu’s turn to plunder the bowling – when he was out for 30 off just 18 balls our score was 87-1 off eight overs.
That partnership proved pivotal as it meant that we only needed five an over from that point and it had also crushed any optimism that the opposition had. Ross joined Khairul and looked classy from the start, stroking the ball around and picking up ones and twos. Khairul finally departed for a rapid 66 but he had done his job and kept up his incredible form since coming back in to the side – he now has 254 runs in just four innings.
Keith came to the wicket and along with Ross progressed our score nicely and over the half way run point. We were still well ahead of the run rate when Keith was out in a horrible way – he took a swish at a very wide leg side delivery (I was about to call it wide) and it somehow hit the back of his bat on the way through to give a simple catch to the keeper.
Ross was serenely going about his business and was helped along by Rob, who after taking time to settle started to produce some excellent shots. Their partnership was another key one really as it maintained the high scoring rate and took us over the 200 mark, breaking any faint Edmonton resilience in the process. Rob was peppering the boundary until he smacked one straight to a substitute fielder at deep mid on. He had scored 41.
Hassan sadly came and went quickly, which brought Quayum to the wicket. Having hit a six off his first ball in four of his innings so far this season, he took the challenge on again – this time falling inches short as his effort bounced once and over the rope for four. A brisk 20 runs later and he too fell, but we were tantalisingly close to winning. Ross and Moh saw us home, Ross bringing up a well deserved half century in the process – he had batted superbly amidst plenty of noise and nonsense going on around him. 277-6 in 33.4 overs.
We had won with over eight overs to spare and chased down what I think is our biggest ever total. The fantastic start given to us by Apu and Khairul set a solid foundation but then everyone else contributed to maintain a run rate of 8.2 an over. Ross also deserves a special mention as he glued the innings together after the two openers had departed and saw us home.
As good as our run chase was, the first half was very poor – we let ourselves down badly with our sloppy ground fielding, wayward bowling and dropped catches. We got away with it this time but will not against the better sides in the league. We must sharpen up.
That said, we kept up our impressive run that now stands at four wins and a winning draw in the last five matches. That is 44 points and has put us clear in third place in the league. It is a great position going into the last eight weeks. With Hampstead and Osterley (the two above us) only getting a losing draw each, a chance of back-to-back promotions is a possibility. But we are going to have to work very hard to keep ourselves in the mix. We are only 16 points behind second place now. It is going to be an interesting eight weeks.
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