C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
This was a slow burner. By the end it was highly combustible, with victory or defeat hanging on the last ball. In farcical circumstances it was a Crouch End win.
Despite the 4th XI’s poor record for chasing, it was decided to back our bowling strength and field first on winning the toss. Dhamendra took a while to settle bowling up the hill and into the wind, while Kashif looked very dangerous down the hill. The Swamibapa openers rode their luck and by getting to 50 looked to have nullified Crouch End’s field-first strategy. With a possible 50 overs to bowl Crouch End needed a long spell from Dhamendra and fortunately he got a caught and bowled in his 8th over and then bowled No. 3 in his 9th which gave him a new lease of life. The Swamibapa talisman then fell to a good catch by Joe off Kiran and their frailty was revealed. Nabil got a stumping off Dhamendra who now couldn’t be persuaded to take a rest. Joe kept everything quiet at the other end with six very tidy overs. One of life’s most reliable maxims however is to beware the tail-ender wearing brown trainers: whilst generally looking a novice this one made very crisp contact with several big swipes until he was well caught by a nerveless Dominic off a skier in the deep. The Swamibapa innings dwindled to 131 all out in the 42nd over.
We should compare notes with the 3rd XI but runs always seem hard to come by at the Church Road home ground. The boundaries are long, the outfield lush, the pitch seems to help the bowlers and scores have generally been low. The last time the 4th XI had to chase they made a meal of getting to 67. Things didn’t start well when Khalid failed to say ‘No.’ when Simon invited him for a second run. It became clear that Swamibapa had a couple of capable seamers who relished the conditions. Scoring opportunities seemed few and far between. The No. 1 seamer put Stu out of his misery, Nabil after looking composed and patient soon did what Nabil usually does and clipped a firm catch to mid on. Richard and Andrew however showed a bit more resolution. It wasn’t pretty but they just about kept 3-an-over in their sights and took the score to 96 before Richard hit a return catch on 39. Runs were still hard to find: the nervousness on the boundary started to be audible. Andrew started to open up and with the aid of Dominic’s excellent running and calling pushed the score to 119 before, on 38, hitting an inviting full-toss too close to extra cover, leaving his side with a bit too much to do for comfort. Good running took Dominic and Joe to 128 when their luck run out and so was Dominic. 4 runs were still needed with an over from the star bowler to go.
The over started with three dot balls: hopes were receding; and it was here that the drama started. The fact that Swamibapa play the game with an intensity that borders on hysteria had had a deleterious effect on Richard who was umpiring. Despite a warning at the start of the game that we should not allow ourselves to be wound-up by their combative approach, Richard had already been voluble about their opportunistic appealing. Now, with three balls to go, the bowler ran up but held on to the ball and took the bails off as Kashif backed-up. The convention of course is that the bowler gives a warning of his intent to make this sort of dismissal; but the bails were off and Richard thought he had no option but to give the batsman out. The fact that, allegedly, he did so with an angry flurry of verbal abuse meant he was immediately surrounded by a team of hyped-up, indignant players and was soon involved, allegedly, in more physical interaction. Andrew’s arrival on the pitch with ambitions to act as Solomon (if you’ll excuse the Judeo-Christian allusion) and point out that the bowler was already into his bowling stride and therefore could not run out the non-striker, fell on deaf ears since the Swamibapa captain pointed out that the batsman had been given out and he was not inclined to use his prerogative to call him back. Richard left the field: Andrew took over as umpire and announced that there were two balls left with 4 runs needed.
Joe and Kiran debated the situation: Joe suggested it was just a matter of getting two twos, boundaries being almost out of the question. He proceeded to hit the next the ball back over the bowler’s head for the first of the twos. However he then thought there might be a third in it, which there certainly wasn’t, and Kiran became the fourth run-out of the innings. As well as a miscalculation by Joe this was clearly a tactical error because it brought Dhamendra to the crease and handed Swamibapa the possibility of a win if they could get him out off the last ball.
The events of the last ball require the start of a new chapter or at least a new paragraph. Dhamendra made contact in the direction of square leg and sprinted up the pitch calling ‘Yes’. Joe, whose grasp on reality was obviously deserting him started to respond but Andrew, the impartial umpire, yelled ‘No.’ since a run-out would mean defeat rather than a draw. Joe, from half-way down the pitch, then sent Dhamendra back in what now seemed a hopeless cause. Dhamendra’s little legs worked overtime: Swamibapa with probably eight men clustered round the stumps, fluffed the run-out. Then one of them flung the ball at the bowlers end in the hope of running Joe out. He missed the stumps by a good distance. Frantic cries of ‘Yes’ filled the air from all Crouch End lungs. More composed fielding might still have run Dhamendra out; but showing speed of which one had never imagined them capable, his little legs carried him home. Crouch End 132 for 9 in 50 overs.
Richard made a fulsome apology but the Swamibapa team went home without saying goodbye.
I was brought up when the game of cricket was played with intensity but with the intensity of a game of chess rather than all-in wrestling. People only said anything if they had something really funny to say that would amuse both sides. There would certainly be a stigma attached to anyone who appealed for a catch which had obviously hit the ground or for an LBW if they were not in line with the stumps. An appeal was based on a high expectation of success not used as a means of intimidation or as an automatic preference for noise over silence. I’m aware cricket is a part of different cultures, Australian, West Indian, Indian etc. and different temperaments are brought to it. Bowls played in Glasgow is a much noisier game than bowls played in Bournemouth, dominoes played in Brixton is deafening: but some ‘cultural differences’ can camouflage sharp practice. My Argentinian friend said that her countrymen applauded Maradona for getting one over the authorities with his hand of God. Even sharp practice can be tolerated if the perpetrators know they are doing it and don’t insist on their integrity even when the game’s over. The laws may be broken but morality is intact.
It might be simply that the way things are going are not to my taste: it may be that cricket is at risk.
A question for umpires: if the non-striker is run out by the bowler is a ball deemed to have been bowled or does a wicket fall on an un-bowled ball?
Add a Comment