C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
Last Saturday saw us take on fourth placed Teddington at our Edmonton home. They had beaten us in the first game and were lurking just four points below us in the table. Despite this, I was cautiously optimistic given our recent good run of form. The side saw four changes from that which has performed so well over the last five weeks.
Despite the warm day, the pitch was very green. After three successive toss losses, my luck returned and Teddington were asked to bat. Quayum started and immediately trapped one opener LBW – it was a great start. I bowled from the other end and spilled a caught and bowled in my first over – that would have been an even better start. The score ticked along until I got the second wicket after the other handy looking opener skewed one to Hassan at mid-on.
With Quayum and myself starting to tire in the heat, Moh and Hikmatullah took over. Hikky in particular bowled very well in his first five overs and claimed three wickets – one LBW and two bowled. His bowling was quick and skidding through and suddenly Teddington were 90-5. This brought together their two most dangerous batsmen who proceeded to get on top of the bowling and pepper the school grounds and allotments with regularity. Four balls were lost. I was scrabbling around in my bag looking for more.
With the score accelerating and almost out of control, it was time for a change. Moh and Hikky had bowled well but it was time for Hassan and Keith. Hassan bowled one of the danger men with his first ball and Keith got the other in his one and only over, thanks to a good catch by Hassan at mid-off. Hassan then finished the innings off with two wickets in his next over – one bowled and the other caught by me in the covers. The Hassan Show was complete and he had got 3-3 and two catches. Hikky had taken 3-47. Teddington 168 all out in 42 overs.
Tea – lacking in quality and quantity. Edmonton advised.
With 50 overs to chase the runs, we had plenty of time. Keith and Khairul opened and the score ticked along at 2-3 an over. Khairul, after his recent excellent form, was slightly more subdued than in previous weeks before clicking in to a different gear with a massive six in to the allotments. Make that five balls lost.
He then started picking off the bad balls as we know he can. Keith was also batting well and was looking classy before playing one on from Teddington’s promising young spinner. They had put on 64 for the first wicket. George came in and sadly departed shortly afterwards after slapping a wide one to be caught in the covers. Khairul was now getting in to full swing and brought up his third successive half century after being joined by Rob.
Shortly afterwards, Khairul was out for 56 to a quite magnificent catch out at deep mid-on. He launched a shot high in to the air and the fielder checked his position, set his feet millimetres inside the rope and then maintained his balance as he took the catch arching backwards. It was one of the best I’ve seen for a long time. Shiva followed shortly afterwards, bashing one in to the midriff of mid-wicket. When Hassan was out almost immediately, bowled by one that kept very low and crept under his bat, we were teetering at 100-5. Were we throwing it away?
Next was The Quayum Challenge – this week he could only manage a four off his first ball. With Rob looking solid at the other end, Quayum proceeded to bring us within touching distance of victory with an array of good shots and a couple of risky ones. When he departed for 34, his highest score of the year, we were still 20 runs short.
This signalled Rob to take up the mantle and see us home, aided by solid play from Moh at the other end. Rob’s endeavour, which is seeing him have the best season I can remember, saw him bring up the victory with arguably the biggest six of the day. Make that six balls lost. He finished on 32 not out. Someone is going to find a lot of cricket balls in that allotment one day. 171-6 in 30.5 overs.
This victory saw us continue our recent excellent form. The last six weeks have seen us claim five wins and a winning draw and put us firmly in third place. Even in last year's promotion run we did not have a run like this. Teddington were tough opposition, especially when their two middle order hitters were in and then by reducing us to 100-5. But we were solid and got home with 19 overs to spare. Above us Hampstead got back to winning ways but Osterley could only grab a winning draw. They are 17 and 10 points ahead of us respectively.
Next week we travel to Alexandra Park, who have replaced Teddington in fourth and who are six points behind us. This will be another tough match and we had to settle for a losing draw first time around after being outplayed. If we can keep going and play with the same skill, teamwork and intensity then the next seven weeks are going to be very interesting indeed. Let’s hope we do it.
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