C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
Saturday was a funny day. After much rain during the week, some of it at a biblical level, the forecast was for more during the match. With the middle of the division very congested – seven points separating third from eighth – any points gained could be crucial, especially as some matches may be abandoned or struggle to finish.
The pitch was green and I lost my first toss of the season. We were put in to bat and as we began, so did a few spots of rain. Nine of the side from last week’s good win against Richmond remained and we will need this consistency if we are to cement our place in the top half of the league. That would be a good achievement in our first season in Division 2.
Ross, fresh from an excellent unbeaten half century last week, and Dilan opened. This time Ross fell early to a simply horrible ball that was short and kept very low. Sadly it was also aimed at middle stump and the LBW decision unavoidable. Khairul came in and almost immediately hit a massive six in to the allotments, which after a lengthy search was located amongst some fine looking potato plants.
Khairul mixed up his usual expansive strokes with some good defense as he picked off ones and twos thanks to most of the fielders having been put out on the boundary after that first big shot. We were having a steady start. Dilan was looking good also and was accumulating well. Then the rain got heavier and heavier before we had no option but to quickly get the cover on and head to the dressing room. 58-1 off 16 overs.
Over an hour later and with 21 overs lost, we resumed. Our innings was now a maximum of 39 overs and we had to change emphasis. Khairul was almost immediately out and was quickly followed by Dilan. Both had played well, got into the mid-20s and given us a platform to push on from. Rob and Apu continued the good work and both played superbly before getting also out in the mid-20s.
Our trio of middle order big hitters – Quayum, Symon and Moh - were then lined up to get us up to somewhere like a decent score. 175 was in my mind. Quayum smashed his first ball for six for the third time this season, this time straight over deep mid-on’s head. The trio combined to get us over the 150 mark, Moh in particular impressing with two huge sixes, but then we fell away after all three departed. Hassan and Kam were the last two out. 168 all out from 35.5 overs.
This left Indian Gymkana 35 overs to get the total, which would be tough if we bowled and fielded as we have in recent weeks. It would also be tough to bowl a side out in that time.
The less said about their innings, the better. They blocked out from the very beginning and never once attempted to go for the win. Or even for the winning draw. The defensive strokeplay made it very difficult to create any chances despite us all – Kam, me, Symon, Moh, Quayum and Hassan – all bowling well. Kam struck with two in two balls – the first putting the off stump back 45 degrees, the second ripping it out of the ground. We also got two run outs thanks to some suicidal running (a strange fact considering they were not going for the runs). 82-4 off 35 overs.
Saturday was incredibly frustrating for our side on a number of levels. I do not expect any side to just roll over but I do sort of expect them to have a go, especially when set a reasonable total in the same time that we had made it, and then shut up shop if wickets tumble. We would do the same to be fair. I believe we would have won had the rain not taken so many overs out of the game.
Their negative tactics pushed the concept of sportsmanship to almost breaking point – the constant changing of the field, almost on a ball to ball basis, meant it took our opponents three hours to bowl just under 36 overs. We took two hours to bowl the same. There was also lots of un-necessary bickering at the end between players from both sides, which threatened to boil over and become much more unsavoury.
The bizarre sight of two batsmen who had blocked us out, including one of the stubborn openers, ‘retiring’ to let two others ‘have a go’ for the final over was the icing on the cake. When I questioned their captain, I was rebutted with ‘it’s not against the rules, we can do what we like’. Ultimately, they did not even get half way to our score. What did they achieve? One point. At least we got four and moved above them.
Having said all of that, it keeps our good recent run going and this has seen us pick up 24 points from the last three matches. We face the ultimate test next – Hampstead away. They have won seven out of the eight matches this season and only didn’t win because of the weather last weekend. The last game they actually lost was to us on the opening day of last season ….
This report may seem unfair to our opponents or that I am speaking out of turn. Equally, it may come across as me being unsporting in their eyes, but in my view only one team was attempting to get a result and only one team was taking the match seriously – the shenanigans at the end proved that. That team was us. Luckily we have not experienced this type of thing very much and we move on.
On the flip side, Indian Gymkana’s actions were a huge compliment to us, as was the way they celebrated their one point – that can be the only conclusion after they played so negatively, especially after winning the toss and putting us in to bat, against a newly promoted side in their first year at this level.
Saturday irritated me a bit – can you tell?
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