On a gloomy August afternoon, after pitch inspections at 10:30 and 12 o'clock, and a brief but violent rainstorm at 1:30pm, London Fields took the pitch against friendly rivals The Occasional Casuals. The Occasionals can count a number of London Fielders in their ranks, and this normally makes for a good game with a decent amount of (sl)edge(ing).
Today was to prove no different; London Fields captain for the day Rob Harries generously allowed the Occasionals to bat first, as they were three men short at the start of the match.
Despite a relatively dry outfield. the wicket was a quagmire, especially in the middle, though it was pointed out that any bowler landing the ball there deserved everything they got. Good line and length bowling from openers Paul Turley (from the Turley End) and Simon Yates (from the Tedore End) and exceptional keeping from first-time 'keeper Vincent Croft (see Hackney Gazette's passim) restricted the Occasionals to just 40 for 1 from the first ten overs.
Around the seventh over, one of the Fielders noticed we had only 10 players on the pitch. After a brief look at the team sheet, captain Rob Harries realised that Donny had not turned up, and Dave Hickey was depatched to the sideline to phone him (and, it transpires, wake him up from a deep slumber. At 3:15pm!).
Ex-German International Jakob and the eponymous Tony Tedore then came on to bowl. Jakob immediately bamboozled the opposition batsmen with his tricky leg spin. Despite being hit for two consecutive sixes, he returned excellent figures of 1 for 24 from his allotted four overs. Tony also bowled well, his crafty line and length slow bowling conceding just 22 from his 4.
Although the captain endeavoured to spread the bowling amongst all 10 London Fielders, we continued to exert pressure on the Occasional batsmen. Ex-skipper Carl Death returned figures of 3 for 13 off his 4 overs, swinging the ballall over the place, and Davin Choy chipped in with 1 for 23 from his 4.
As captain, I selflessly let all the others bowl before bringing myself on (to rapturous , if slightly cynical, applause). Unfortunately I'd miscalculated the over count and was only able to bowl one over, which went for just two runs thank you very much.
Good bowling, great fielding (led from the front by the captain) and inspirational wicket-keeping from Vince kept the Occasionals down to a very gettable 167 from 35 overs.
After a short break to devour the tea so kindly provided by the Occasionals, London Fields padded up and took to batting.
Some strong hitting through the on side from Davin brought him 19 quickfire runs, but the Occasionals must really have been kicking themselves when they got him out, because that only brought Dave Hickey to the crease. Dave has been in a run of bad form recently, but a combination of short bowling, which sat up on the pitch and begged to be hit, and a succession of powerful hooks and pulls really dragged the game in London Fields' favour. Also, Dave is a left-hander, which nobody really likes bowling to (except Matthew Hoggard) - it's about time they had their own league really. Or country. Anyway, Dave reached 40 runs from 12 balls (his first ball faced was powerfully hooked for 6) and 50 from just 18. The spirit of Monkey was indeed... irrepressible.
Nothing the Occasionals bowled at him could stem the flow of runs, and, ably supported by Vince at the other end, we reached the target with some 15 overs to spare. Dave finished on 112 not out (from 47 balls), his highest score for London Fields, and after we had retired to the Pub On The Park to socialise with the Occasionals, he sensibly decided to ditch the car and concentrate on celebrating his innings properly. Vince also recorded his highest score for London Fields (23 not out), so congratulations all round.
Thanks to the Occasional Casuals for a great game and for the fine tea.
Here's the scorecard: