C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
In the run up to Saturday's game, news filtered through that bottom club Brondesbury had conceded their fifth game of the season and had been removed from the league. In addition, the results of all of Brondesbury's games were expunged and points gained by their opposition removed. The revised league table did not make good viewing, with Highgate firmly bottom, 9 points adrift of closest rivals Kenton and 12 behind 3rd bottom team Lohana. However, with Kenton our opposition on the last weekend of the season we knew that 2 wins would definitely see us survive.
Saturday itself saw us travel to Crouch End Calthorpe. Not the short journey down the road most of us hoped for but instead a trek north to the Church Road Rec. near Edmonton. Gillham played taxi, chauffeuring 3 of us from the club and on arrival Dan and Ollie went searching for caffeine, whilst Gillham and I sought out the pavilion. Almost all our team had assembled before our opposition turned up so we passed the time watching some fairly average penalty taking on the adjacent football pitches.
Having won only 3 coin tosses all season it was no surprise to see the coin coming down heads after calling tails. It was also no surprise that we were asked to bat first on a spongey green wicket. Gillham opened up with Dan Taylor and the pair faced some testing bowling from the pair of young seamers who took the new ball. Dan, playing his first game of the season, looked in good touch, despatching his second ball for four before losing his off stump in the 5th over.
Spibey joined Gillham at the crease and the pair batted watchfully to set a platform for the middle order to build on. After seeing off the opening bowlers Gillham looked to go on the attack, getting dropped a couple of times in the process before he was eventually caught at point trying to hit the ball over the infield. Highgate were 45-2 after 17 overs.
Shelley played an oddly restrained innings, taking 10 balls to get off the mark as he struggled to time the ball. He fell in almost identical fashion to Gillham, and when Spibey gloved a the ball to the keeper we had slipped to 69-4. Ubayd and J-Flo kept the score ticking over with some good, aggressive running. The long outfield meant that boundaries were hard to come by but the pair put on 50 in 12 overs before J Flo chipped a ball back to the bowler.
Crouch End were hampered when one of their key bowlers pulled up injured after his first ball, having to leave the field and playing no further part in the game before Ubayd stepped up a gear and began to find the boundary with some regularity. He was eventually dismissed for 49, an excellent score on such a slow pitch. After Binu was dismissed for a run a quickfire 14 it was left to the lower order to make the most of the last 10 overs.
James Maby, finally getting a bat having faced just 1 ball since June, shepherded the tail fantastically, allowing Highgate to declare on 187-9 after 48 overs. Maby finished not out 17 despite responding to my call for a suicidal single to short cover. Only a fumble by the bowler prevented him being run out by about ½ a length.
At this point of a match report it is customary to say a few works about tea, however this week's spread deserves special mention. Chicken fajitas, vegetable curry, pasta salad and the obligatory platter of sandwiches were gorged upon before we took to the field.
Following last weeks dismal fielding performance J Flo took it upon himself to run a few fielding drills to sharpen everyone up. Ubayd took the new ball and proved quite a handful on the lively pitch, passing the outside edge with some regularity. It was no surprise that he made the first breakthrough, shattering the stumps with a full length delivery in his 4th over. At the other end, my bowling was causing less problems as the batsmen saw an opportunity to score some runs. The remaining opener looked to launch one over the top but got more elevation than distance allowing Paul Close to take a fantastic running catch over his shoulder. Curiously, the new batsman tried to do exactly the same thing to the very next delivery, resulting in the same outcome with Paul taking a slightly easier catch at mid on.
At 33-3, we were well on top although Crouch End still had some dangerous batsmen at the crease. Ubayd finished his spell with a wicket, again beating the batsman for pace and disturbing the bails. His 10 over spell brought him 2 wickets for just 16 runs and set us well on the path to victory.
Runs then dried up and the introduction of James Maby's spin brought us another wicket. Closey replaced the skipper and picked up a wicket of his own before a double wicket maiden from Maby put us on the brink of victory.
The last wicket fell to a run out, Closey involved again as the final pair tried to steal a run to short fine leg. Crouch End Calthorpe were all out for 55 to give Highgate a winning margin of 132 runs.
Unfortunately all of our relegation rivals took maximum points from their games, Kenton benefitting from Richmond's inability to get a team out, meaning that positions remain unchanged going into the final game.
And so, after a long season, it all comes down to the last match. Highgate play Kenton at the Slack on Saturday knowing a win will keep us up and send our opponents down to division 4. Anything less and Kenton will survive at our expense. Time to practise some coin tossing...
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