C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
Saturday saw us against Twickenham at our Edmonton home. They absolutely smashed our depleted side in the first match this season, but since then we have re-grouped and gone on a good run. They on the other hand have suffered an inconsistent season. Following last week’s frustration of not removing the last Alex Park batsmen to win, it was important that we got back on track.
The match started slightly late due to Twickenham getting stuck behind a fatal accident on the North Circular and then an impeccably observed minute silence in memory of our Club President Farry Meer, who died in the week. It was a classy touch for Twickenham to agree to take part and if anyone from there is reading this then I would like to thank Hinay, the captain, and all of the players for doing so again.
The toss was lost again and we were asked to bat again. Jon and Keith started off well but then both fell to their skipper in quick succession – Keith first was adjudged LBW, then Jon creamed one back to the bowler that he somehow caught. This brought two in-form players together - Khairul and Rob. They set about rebuilding and with some success. Rob dropped anchor while Khairul started to hit his stride.
Khairul was timing the ball well and cleared the rope on a number of occasions - the most impressive was a massive six in to the allotments. Even more impressive was that Jon found the ball amidst the tangle of weeds. He finally fell having amassed 42, skewing a catch to deep mid-off to give their skipper his third wicket.
Hassan was then out LBW first ball to an impressive left-arm young colt, although the rapid speed at which the decision was given raised an eyebrow or two. Twickenham’s standing umpire turned out to be the lad’s grandfather, which may have explained the gusto with which he gave the decision. Musan, a late morning call up and friend of Moh, was then bowled but not before almost running Rob out. We were suddenly teetering at 80-5.
Then our long batting line up showed why it is a real strength. Rob continued his good form and was happy to play the support role to Quayum, as he had been with Khairul. His role in the rest of the innings cannot be underestimated – he was the glue that held us together and he went on to record his second well deserved half century in two weeks.
Quayum, after a few airy shots and attempted lusty blows, settled down and batted more sensibly. He began to reap the rewards as Twickenham’s captain tired and the rest of the bowling attack struggled. Then on 48, he was bowled. It had been a good innings and the partnership with Rob a hugely important one of 79 runs. Then Moh came in and did similar. He bludgeoned a good 39 in not much time for his best score of the season.
Both Moh and Rob were out quickly then, followed by Ricardo for a duck. He seemed unlucky to be out LBW falling victim to the keen Twickenham umpire again. Ranil added a few nice runs at the end before I was last man out by hitting a ball straight to mid-off as we attempted to get runs before our planned declaration after 46 overs. 221 all out in 45.4 overs.
Ricardo and Quayum opened the bowling and instantly offered more pace than anything Twickenham had offered. The benefits were there for all to see as both extracted extra bounce from the dry, hard pitch and had the batsmen swapping caps for helmets. Progress was slow and they were clearly not going for our score and the win. Ricardo made the first break through with an excellent inswinging delivery that rearranged the stumps.
Then it was Quayum’s turn. He persisted with an excellent ‘corridor of uncertainty’ line that induced the other opener to nick one that was eventually caught by me at second slip. I say eventually as I did not take it cleanly initially, tried to catch the rebound, parried it to Ricardo at first slip, who sort of parried it back to me as we ended up in a weird man hug with me finally holding on to the ball. Ricardo then had the number four caught at gully by Quayum and we were in the driving seat at 30-3.
Moh and myself replaced them and wickets followed – Moh grabbing two, one bowled and one taken well by Ricardo at mid-off after the ball had gone miles up in the air, and I got one thanks to a smart stumping by Ranil. At 50-6 Twickenham were in all sorts of trouble. However, the real rearguard action was to come as two batsmen negotiated many of the remaining overs despite what me, Moh, Quayum, Hassan and Keith could throw at them.
The returning Ricardo finally broken the deadlock as their skipper fended off a sharp rising delivery to the safe hands of Keith. With Twickenham only having 10 men, that left us with just two wickets to take but in not much time. Further stubborn resistance saw us in to the last over. Quayum set up a tense finish by bowling the other longstanding blocker with the fourth ball, but the young colt defended the remaining two balls. 81-8 in 46 overs.
Again, we were ultimately frustrated by the last man standing for the second week running. On other days we could have 20 points in the bag, but we have to settle for eight. I am convinced that had we won the toss and fielded first that we would have won both games against negative opponents. It shows how far that we have come and developed that we are so disappointed with these two results. We are now unbeaten for eight matches though and must look forward.
We have now dropped to fourth in the table as Indian Gymkana won to go above us by a few points. We have to play all three teams above us in the remaining five weeks and these matches will determine what we achieve. This sequence begins with Osterley away next weekend and it is a crunch match that we simply cannot consider losing if we want promotion. Ideally we must win.
We are in a decent position and certainly a better one than predicted at the beginning of the season. This is especially true as a number of the 4th team are coming in to great form as their fortunes change for the better. Let's hope that we can maintain our strength and give it a big push that everyone gets behind. This is also true for the 4ths fight against relegation. We must all support each other and we may be successful on both counts. It’s going to be an interesting five weeks ….
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