C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
The 4ths trudged across a swampy outfield in confident expectation that, even if they agreed to start a reduced overs match on the least squelchy of the strips offered, the encircling black clouds would cause its speedy termination. Seven hours later, after no rain and quite a lot of sunshine, they were congratulating themselves on having retrieved a point for a losing draw against a strong and noisy Expatriates 3rd XI.
Recruited no doubt from the cancelled games of their higher teams the Expats openers aimed all their attacking shots at the mid on boundary; but with a sodden outfield still littered with concentric rings of grass cuttings few boundaries came; and Crouch End were quite pleased with themselves for keeping the scoring down to three an over for the first 15 overs. A few wickets would have been nice. Shashi bowled well down the hill with little luck and a dropped catch. Dhamendra struggled gamely through the mire and sawdust at the other end. Kiran put in a decent spell down the hill; and on 84, had the bigger hitter caught by Shashi off a skyer. Joe was tidy up the hill: Andrew wasn’t; but Shashi bowled spin up and Ian bowled seam down to pick up two wickets each. Catches were at last being held; and a by now mud-encased Bhanu got a stumping. Expats however had got away, declaring on 162 for 6 after 35 overs. Dhamendra 0 for 20, Shashi 2 for 44, Joe 0 for 24, Kiran 1 for 24, Andrew 0 for 17, Ian 2 for 5.
It was always going to be a struggle. Top order wickets fell. Shashi’s top score of 12 included both the Crouch End boundaries. At 30 for 5 after 10 overs defeat seemed inevitable. But then came the heroics. Bhanu (8) batted in text-book mode for 16 overs, Ian (9) restrained his attacking instincts for another six and Kiran his for another two. Stu (7*) meanwhile had practiced his forward defensive at the oher end for a match-saving 21 overs. At the close Crouch End were 66 for 7 in 35 overs.
An odd game; but one that will be cherished for the rearguard action. Courage in the face of adversity Bhanu had shown before; but for Stu, Ian and Kiran it was useful experience of tough conditions for which their cricket will certainly be the better.
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