The sky was blue and the temperature high as the troops congregated at Victoria Park on Saturday lunchtime. In the shadow of the Olympic Stadium where Jessica Ennis et al were sending the entire country into a frenzy of national sporting pride, East London's other elite athletes were gearing up for a hotly contested encounter with unknown quantities St Mary's CC. With some potent bowling and aggressive batting already being demonstrated by the lads in the nets, London Fields were hot to trot come the advertised start time of 1pm.
Unfortunately our guests had overlooked the rather popular sports day taking place down the road in Stratford and their arrival was delayed by 90 minutes whilst they searched hopefully for non-existent car parking spaces in the neighbourhood. By 2.30pm they had arrived and, with the game being reduced from a 40 to a 35 overs affair, both sides took the field - with London Fields electing to bat.
The opening partnership of Will Hargreaves and Arthur Smart got us off to a solid start against some accurate, if unremarkable, bowling on the artificial wicket. Some powerful hitting from both openers, either side of a short break for a rain shower, got the score ticking over nicely. Arthur was first to fall attempting the big heave-ho over mid-on and was unlucky to see the ball held onto with just one hand by the fielder. Enter Taz Miller, looking comfortable at the crease straight away and working the ball towards the boundary on numerous occasions early on in his innings. With both men looking good, Will coolly got his half century before immediately mistiming his next shot and getting caught out. A fine knock of 51. Troy Utz up next, a relatively brief batting cameo, consisting of three boundaries and a single before he too found the fielder that could catch. Tim Stacey, making his debut for the club, came in at number 5 and immediately got off the mark with a slightly dodgy thick edge/perfectly guided shot down to third man for two. With the end of the innings in sight and both batsman deciding to hit the accelerator, there were big hits aplenty as Taz whizzed past his 50. Tim, not to be left behind, also began to swing the bat and got his score up to 14 before skying a shot almost directly vertically and unfortunately seeing it held onto in the field. Taz kept the run rate high as the innings drew to a close and ended up on an impressive 92, unfortunate that the reduced innings had prevented his maiden century. At the other end Ruby Quince and Paul Alexander had brief visits to the crease to with scores of 4 and 2 respectively before Dave Krohn did wonders for his average with 1 not out. London Fields finished the innings with a more than competitive total of 224.
A quick turnaround and the St Mary's openers found themselves looking particularly uncomfortable against paceman Tyrone Graham. Some tight bowling made runs particularly hard to come by for the visitors and Ruby Quince, opening from the other end, was more than happy to capitalise. Midway though his first over he forced the nervous looking batsman to dolly one up for a simple catch for Tim Stacey at square leg. With Tyrone continuing to keep the run rate to a minimal level from his end, Ruby repeated the trick in his second over and once again the ball found itself flying to towards Tim 'safehands' Stacey for the second wicket. London Fields began to start dreaming of an early finish and a cold beer.
As the innings continued, the standard of batting on display never really improved enough to worry the home team. Ruby's good form with the ball continued and he quickly picked up his third wicket with a full toss lbw. London Fields were also demonstrating some very tidy work in the field, certainly not giving St Mary's any easy runs, with plenty of acrobatic dives close in and industrious chasing in the deep from the likes of Jim Barr. Undoubtedly the highlight of the fielding performance was a fantastic reflex catch from Will Hargreaves at gully for the forth wicket off the bowling of Paul Alexander, who had replaced Tyrone. St Mary's were definitely wobbling now and this was demonstrated by a calamitous run out after some excellent fielding by Dave K. Their umpire tried his best not to give it, but the decision was a no-brainer. Despite their captain coming in and showing some genuine ability with the bat, the lower half of the order never threatened to mount a comeback and Dave K bowled excellently to ensure they were kept quiet. His fizzing deliveries and unpredictable bounce caused the tail no end of problems and he caused great excitement by getting himself into hat-trick territory with an lbw and another brilliant one handed catch from Will at gully. Cue massive expectation from his next ball, which was the first delivery of his next over. Wide. Oh well.
The innings, and the match, was put to bed with the last few men falling without much fight with the wickets going to Dave K and Taz who completed his excellent game with a wicket maiden. St Mary's had been bowled out a good 100 runs short of the total they were chasing. A good days work and a comfortable victory for London Fields, which concluded with a skinful of beer in the evening sunshine in the garden of the Britannia pub.