C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
Saturday was hot. Very hot. Thankfully we only had a short trip to Alexandra Park to negotiate. The toss was lost and we were asked to bat on a dry, hard and dusty wicket. It looked like a good toss to lose and save ourselves an afternoon wilting in the sun. This would be a real test of our excellent good form against a side that caused us plenty of problems in the reverse fixture.
Jon and Khairul opened and progress was brisk with both exploiting loose deliveries from the pair of left-arm opening bowlers. Jon settled in and looked to find form, while Khairul carried on his recent imperious run until he mistimed one high to mid-on. The opening partnership was 42. Apu hit one lovely four before he too departed thanks to a leading edge that was caught.
George survived a very close LBW appeal first ball but then settled in and went on to bat himself back into a bit of form. Jon was making good progress and treated us to a couple of trademark booming cover drives and peppered the short leg side boundary. Having brought up his half century he was stumped shortly afterwards.
Having accumulated 21, George was also stumped. This brought Rob and Hassan together for what was to prove a very fruitful partnership. Both batted superbly and treated us to a vast array of shots. The highlights were a couple of exquisite cover drives each that raced to the boundary. Rob, who is having an excellent season, brought up his half century with another boundary but was out almost straight away. He had scored 52.
The Quayum Challenge failed to materialise this week – the first ball only going for a two, the second bowling him with a yorker. Hassan was going along very nicely before getting out for and excellent 37. Moh, Joe, Ranil and myself then helped us progress to 243-9 before declaring after 46 overs. A massive six by Moh, a cracking cover drive for four by Joe and a first ball four for Ranil were the highlights.
Alexandra Park seemed intent on chasing from the start but were stunted by a decent opening spell by Quayum and myself. Quayum in particular was causing all sorts of problems and picked up two wickets – one a sharp catch by Joe at point to remove their in-form batsmen and the second bowled as the opener chopped on. I removed another caught and bowled, and AP were 30-3.
As we both tired a bit in the late afternoon heat, runs started to flow. Joe and Hassan received the same brutal treatment in their first over each from numbers four and five, but recovered well to remove one each – Hassan bowling one and Joe seeing a short ball slapped to Hassan in the covers. At drinks we were in the driving seat at 92-5.
Then saw a frustrating partnership for us as AP’s number six and skipper stubbornly resisted some decent bowling to build a good partnership and use up plenty of overs. Moh finally removed one and then the other but they had added nearly 70. He removed another shortly after and it was game on. All had been bowled. A late order basher frustrated us further. We needed two more wickets.
The crucial moment came five overs from the end. The returning Joe tempted the late order basher to slap one straight to Khairul at deep-ish mid on but it was dropped. An over later, Moh suffered worse as first Jon and then Joe failed to hold on to more difficult chances out in the deep. Joe finally bowled him with one ball remaining to set up yet another exciting finish. But the young colt confidently strode down the wicket to hit it through the collected group of close fielders. 192-9 in 46 overs.
Essentially this match was the reverse of the first fixture earlier in the season. That day AP were largely the better side and we toughed it out for a losing draw. This time we were the best side for long periods of the game and almost forced a result. In the end we had to settle for the winning draw and four points. Unfortunately, Hampstead and Osterley both won to extend their advantage over us.
We now move on to next week and Twickenham at home, who dealt us our one proper thrashing this year when we were severely weakened. We know from past experience that they will offer tough opposition. We now have six weeks to get as many points as we can and try to catch Osterley in second place. We are leading the chasing pack – if we do as well as we have in the last six weeks then we will be very close to our second promotion in two years.
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