C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
Saturday was hot. As I walked to the game with the sun blazing down, I had the baking and long hard afternoon at Uxbridge a few weeks ago in my mind. There I won the toss and we had to endure our most difficult session of the season and wilted in the heat as they smashed us to all parts. Should we bat first this time? Should we stick to our guns and bowl first? As I walked out with Acton's captain, I still could not decide. He won and chose to field, so taking the decision away from me. It proved a good toss to lose ...
New man Jeremy and Ravi opened up and did not look in much trouble to begin with until Jeremy was struck on the pad by a full toss and adjudged out with the score in the mid-20s. Patrick, who had won the race of the late arrivals to be ready first, came out to join Ravi and the pair set about a partnership that was to ultimately win us the match. Both ruthlessly dispatched the bad ball and defended the good ones, and the score began to accumulate nicely. At drinks it was around the 80-mark and Acton's bowlers and fielders were starting to look a little forlorn in the heat.
The pair carried on and increased the run rate as Acton tried numerous bowlers to break their partnership. Patrick was first to his 50 and accelerated after reaching it by peppering the boundary and piercing the demoralised fielders. Ravi was soon to join him with his first 50 for the club. Then inexplicably both were out one ball after each other - Patrick smashing one high in to the sky that was very well taken on the deep mid on boundary and Ravi hitting a catch in to the covers next ball. Their efforts were superb and each innings was equally as impressive and important. The partnership was worth 130.
A period of consolidation was to follow as Shiva and Sanjay settled in. Both were watchful against a rejuvenated opposition and fell without really showing what they can do. With a positive declaration in mind, Rob and Ricardo were tasked with getting us up to and over 200 by the 46 over mark. This was achieved with some good running (well, until Ricardo was run out going for a sharp second) and some big hitting. None was bigger than the massive six that Rob smashed deep in to the neighbouring allotments - a shot that made me glad I was not out pulling up potatoes that day. Kamuran, in his first appearance for us for a couple of years, scampered a couple at the end and the declaration was made. 210-7 in 46 overs.
Tea - pilchard wraps. Weird.
Acton's reply was almost over before it had even really started. Kamuran and Ricardo tore through the top order with minimum fuss. Ricardo claimed his first in the first over with a good yorker (those who claimed it was a full toss were being harsh #bowlersunion), before bowling another and plucking an extraordinary caught and bowled from a seemingly great height. Kamuran was equally as dangerous, bowling good lines and with good pace. He was rewarded with a wicket when the batsman skewed a catch to Patrick in the covers. Good work by Ravi and Ranil then produced a run out and Acton were 27-5.
There was to be no let up as Sanjay replaced Ricardo and he bowled fast and straight, taking three wickets in his five overs. He claimed his own impressive caught and bowled by diving away low to his left, bowled another and then prompted the batsman to clip a simple catch to Patrick in the covers. Dave replaced Kamuran and his slower pace tempted the lower order batsmen in to a few shots. He was to have the last laugh as he claimed a wicket thanks to a high catch being well taken in the covers by Jeremy. It was left to me to administer the last rites by bowling the number 11 with my fifth ball. 64 all out in 22.5 overs.
Bar some stupid and un-necessary silliness at the end, this was a very satisfying and convincing win. It keeps us third in the table behind the relentless Hampstead and Highgate, who both won convincingly again. The division is now split and we are in a clear four horse race for promotion with Winchmore Hill just behind us. With both of those above us 12 points ahead and not showing any signs of faltering, it is important that we do not have any slip ups or a drop in standards. It looks like we will be required to keep up our own good form right until the very end and also beat at least one of them in the second half of the season.
What did we learn this week? Ravi only drinks water from a bottle, Ricardo can jump very high and Rob does not like pilchards. Also, we are a very good side on our day.
Next week sees us away at Lohana, who finished third and above us last year, but who have struggling so far this year. The balance and quality of our team on Saturday would have beaten most teams in the division above in my opinion and we must maintain this availability and healthy competition for places. It is forecast to be an even hotter one, so I will not be too disappointed if I were to lose the toss again ....
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