Friendly Match vs Merton CC, Sun 10th September 2017, To Be Confirmed

Fielders suffer Achy Breaky Hearts at hands of Merton Pirates

by George Sargent

London Fields travelled away to Merton on Sunday September 10, 2017 to play a 35-overs per innings friendly match against Merton Pirates.

After losing the toss captain Steve Fernbank sent his boys into the field, still stiff and slightly grumpy from the one hour plus drive from north London to the Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Park.

Fielders were glad to see the local Sunday football league team quickly finish their game which had been taking place well within the boundary limits. The wicket was wet and sticky, the consensus being it could be a difficult day for the batsmen.

Pirates’ opening batsman was coming off the back of a 120 not out the previous game and the square leg umpire confided that he was wearing his lucky backwards red baseball cap underneath his helmet for good luck.

First to test such luck was one Laurie Sayer, bringing pace and bounce on the wet wicket, but the opening batsman picked up where he had left off, playing what would become familiar cover drives to the boundary.

Ruby Quince was at the other end, pressuring the batsmen with tight bowling, going for only five runs off his first two overs.

The pair bowled for a total of 10 overs, bogging down the number two batsmen while their opener continued to score runs.

Coming on first change was Rupert Ekblom, crowding the gun batsman with straight, accurate bowling. He went for only 25 off five overs and did much to begin swinging the game towards London Fields.

At the other end was Darrin Lewis who accidentally bowled his first ball with his hat on. It was enough to throw the player, going for a few boundaries before transforming his bowling in the second over.

Now hatless, he was a man reborn, going for one run in the second over, two runs in the third and bowling a maiden in his fourth and final over.

Next up was Tom Hughes. The second batsman had been pinned down by Lewis and Ekblom but he began to show signs of cutting free to Hughes’s bowling, slashing him for a four through midwicket.

But he had not banked on a now fired up Hughes bringing even more to his deliveries. An effort ball came to the batsman higher than predicted. He proceeded to lob it up to Hughes who took it, caught and bowled.

Fernbank in his desperation then turned to George Sargent to try and keep Hughes’s good work going. Sargent proceeded to launch the ball into the stratosphere, hoping the recently disturbed thermals would provide the variable he so desperately needed.

When the ball eventually did come down, George went for two off his first over.

His second would give a stunned Fernbank what he wanted: a breakthrough. Fernbank had cleverly put tallest man on the field, Laurie Sayer, at midwicket who pouched a catch coming at an estimated height of 11 feet and rising. The third batsman had gone for a duck.

Two balls later George pitched a ball into the disturbed turf outside the leg stump of the right hander, the lack of bounce and surprising turn causing the batsman to play onto his stumps, going for another duck.

At the other end Hughes continued with his accurate bowling, at one point going for only seven runs off 22 balls. He eventually finished with figures of 1-41 from his seven overs.

The game appeared to be now in the Fields’ hands if they could control the opening batsman who was now on over 80 runs.

At drinks Lewis had overheard the batsmen saying they would be coming down the wicket to Sargent to counteract his grenadier-esque bowling tactics. Fernbank and Sargent agreed the first ball of the next over would be a fast dart down leg for a stumping opportunity. When the ball came, the batsman stayed in his crease and a verifiable wide was given.

Then after a consultation with Ekblom, Sargent bowled a full, leg break delivery outside the off stump. The opening batsman tried to hit it to cow corner, only to drill the ball into the rock-steady hands of Ekblom himself at mid on. He was gone for 88.

Two deliveries later the sixth batsmen, using a similar shot, drilled another one into the grateful hands of Sayer again at midwicket. Sargent finished on 4-25.

Hands still stinging, Sayer began his second spell, going for only three off his penultimate over. He finished with figures of 0-44 from his seven overs, not rewarded for some testing bowling.

Four balls into Ruby Quince’s second spell, he skittled their number seven batsmen, bowling him middle stump for a duck. Quince finished with figures of 1-19 from five overs. The Merton Pirates had scored 180.

After a cracking tea of sandwiches, sausage rolls, mini-rolls, McCoys crisps, tea cakes and Orios, Fernbank sent Alex Turner and Kapila Perera in to do their best with what was now a very sticky and muddy wicket.

Run scoring proved difficult with the now steady, light drizzle making the outfield very slow. Could lumps of wet grass clippings be the difference between winning and losing?

Turner was keen to get the ball to the boundary and he hit three fours, slamming one big hook close to the rope in cow corner.

His partner across the wicket, playing a watchful and considered innings was Perera, who played some wonderful cut shots through point and gully.

After 31 balls and 35 minutes in bat, Turner gloved one to the wicket keeper while on 18 runs.

What ensued was a strange stare off between Turner (batsman) and Quince (umpire), both of whom knew he was out. After it was clear Turner was not inclined (this time…?) to walk off, Quince raised the finger.

In came Chris Rice who looked untroubled by the bowling, but similarly wanted to move the score line along. He hit a good four and in 14 balls scored nine.

Meanwhile off the pitch, Fielders noticed Turner had transformed from white-wearing batting master into a rustic version of Billy Ray Cyrus. Sitting cross-legged on the soggy ground, he sported a denim jacket and denim trousers as he quietly ate his “classic beef” flavoured Peperami. Lilts of “Achy Breaky Heart” were heard drifting across the boundary courtesy of one Darrin Lewis.

Rice was then caught and now it was Jason Lord’s task to get the run rate up and he did so, making some nice runs in “the v”.

Before long however Perera, after battling for 41 balls and hitting three fours, was caught and bowled for 25.

With the score at 61/3 Fernbank sent himself in to try and turn around his team’s fortunes.

He and Lord kept the runs ticking before Lord was run out in his keenness to take the runs when the boundaries were proving elusive.

After a steady start, Tom Hughes was bowled for two runs by a proficient wicket-to-wicket bowler who finished with figures of 2-21 off seven overs.

Step up Ruby Quince who was set on bypassing a slow outfield by clearing it. After some wonderful straight drives and hits through the covers and midwicket, he smashed a six down at cow corner.

Having kept on top of the required nine runs an over, the score was 159 with twelve balls remaining. It was looking like the momentum was with the Fields.

However Quince’s luck ran out when he went for a straight ball which bowled him. He had hit a very impressive 32 which included three fours and one six.

In came Sayer to try and smash the runs, he scored one before getting bowled to a good ball. Ekblom then arrived to swing the willow, scoring two not out.

Soon after, Fernbank was out, caught by the wicket keeper. There was confusion on the pitch as the Pirates scrabbled to run him out, before realising the batsman was quietly taking off his gloves and walking back to his teammates on the boundary. His was a standout batting performance in which he scored 55 runs, including five fours and a near record amount of very quick singles.

Sargent was at the crease with Ekblom, needing eleven runs to win off three balls. He flashed at his first delivery, trying to go big, but was caught at mid on.

Darrin Lewis had only a couple balls to show his talent which sadly was not enough time, though he finished not out. After facing their 35 overs, the Fields had ended up 10 runs short of their target.

Fielders went to the club house and enjoyed a beer with the Pirates whom it was agreed played the game in the right spirit.

A few Fielders pushed onto a local curry house, which was offering a whopping 20% discount on food, where the finer points of the game were settled over hot dishes, Kingfisher lagers and coconut rice.

All in all a nice day out for all involved.

London Fields Batting

 NameScoringHow OutBowlerRuns
1Alex Turner CaughtWaleed18
2Kapila Perera Caught & BowledAnurag25
3Chris Rice CaughtT Allen9
4Jason Lord RunOut12
5Steve Fernbank CaughtSachin55
6Tom Hughes BowledAnurag2
7Ruby Quince BowledSachin32
8Laurie Sayer BowledSamir1
9Rupert Ekblom NotOut2
10George Sargent CaughtSachin0
11Darrin Lewis NotOut0
    Total 170 for 9

Merton CC Bowling

No Details

Merton CC Batting

180 for 7 in 35 overs

London Fields Bowling

1Laurie Sayer70440-
2Ruby Quince5027127.00
3Rupert Ekblom50250-
4David Lewis41190-
5George Sargent712546.25
6Tom Hughes7041141.00

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