C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
As I walked to the club on Saturday morning, it was muggy and gloomy. There was an ominous and slightly unsettling feeling in the air. The match was against old foes Highgate 4ths, who were enjoying a good run that had seen them leapfrog us in to second place the previous week. The pitch was green and damp. It was not a toss to lose. The toss was lost. We were politely asked to bat amidst mild, restrained opposition celebration. Simon and Richard opened up in very tricky conditions and proceeded to make slow progress against some accurate bowling. It was drizzling and seemed to be getting darker.
We were still missing 2x Dindyals, so the instruction to stay put until at least one arrived was being followed. Both openers eventually perished in the gloom but had made a solid start. Sanjay arrived, got changed and went for a 'call of nature' against a tree. Phil carried on in watchful mode. Sanjay went for another 'call of nature'. Mark looked classy as he broke loose to crash a four and six in quick succession. Sanjay went for another 'call of nature'. After the fourth 'call of nature', questions were beginning to be asked. After the fifth, sixth, seventh, possible even an eighth time the concern had turned to ridicule and back to concern again. How could it be? Was he nervous? Was it something medical?
With the score starting to move, Mark was suddenly bowled. With Shiva still somewhere between Paddington and Edmonton, the order was re-jigged and Sanjay was next in. Another quick visit to the tree and then he too proceeded steadily against naggingly accurate bowling. Shiva finally arrived and had to get to change rapidly as Phil, Sanjay and Mike all fell in quick time to leave us on 85-6. He joined Symon for the best and most dynamic partnership of the innings and carried on his brutal hitting of last week. Symon was to play a stylish knock full of effortless power and timing. The pair got us back on track before Shiva fell and Ranil was run out by a direct hit for the second week running. Symon was adjudged LBW on 49 and Ruskin followed shortly after, leaving me for my fourth not out of the season. 153 all out in just over 42 overs.
Tea - own brand Milky Ways ('Nougat Whip') and spring rolls.
Things started well in reply as Symon zipped in down the hill and removed both openers with only eight on the board. It was an accurate and menacing opening spell that had Highgate in trouble. He was well supported by Mike, who had little luck from the other end. However, the numbers three and four began to settle as both tired. Ruskin and myself came on but both struggled a bit - Ruskin with his line, me with my length. The score began to accumulate and much needed wickets were not forthcoming. Ruskin did claim one with a simple catch to Mike, but I was to again finish wicketless thanks to a poor drop at slip and a stonewall LBW being turned down.
Mark came on for his first bowl of the season and did well. A good accurate spell was rewarded with a wicket thanks to another catch from Mike in the covers (that's five catches in two weeks for him). Symon returned and picked up where he left off by claiming his third wicket of the afternoon. Despite their best efforts, no further wickets came. A couple of poor drops again cost us. Highgate held firm and gradually got closer to the winning total, sealing victory with a four over mid-off with five overs to go. It had been a solid, steady batting display to finish on 154-5. They did exactly what was required ...
So our unbeaten start to the season came to an end on a fittingly gloomy afternoon. To be honest, we got what we deserved - we did not bat enough overs or get enough runs, and then we did not bowl or field well enough as a unit and dropped what proved to be important catches. The result against a team that we hope to be fighting promotion with seems damaging, but there is still two thirds of the season to go. Highgate and the relentless Hampstead are now 18 points ahead of us, but we have plenty of time to pull that gap back.
I was hugely disappointed following the game, gutted actually, and a bit negative. Apologies to those that went for beers afterwards with me. However on reflection, I have taken a look at the reality of our situation. This was only our second loss since the end of June last year. We have become accustomed to success - that is why it hurts more and we should be more determined not to taste defeat again for a very long time. Success has its consequences - we have seen a number of those players that have made us so successful move up and do well in higher teams. We need to move on and get back on track as soon as possible. Watch out Birkbeck - we are a wounded animal ...
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