London Fields (213) lost to Alexandra Park CC (216) by 3 runs
by new correspondent, Paul Holden
A balmy Sunday afternoon in the shadow of the impressive Alexandra Palace was bedevilled by logistical and communication problems. Trains were running infrequently and information was mixed as to what route could be taken to and from the local rail station. The opposing team arrived in rather ramshackle fashion an hour late as they had failed to inform their members about the 13:00 start. Too bad London Fields was unable to break the pattern, instead displaying a vast logistical ineptitude when it came to running between the wickets. Batsmen raced like steam engines from their stances, only to receive delayed and mixed signals. The result: a car crash (you weren't expecting that mixed metaphor, were you?).
LFCC used the hour delay to practice ground fielding and catching, after which the action began in earnest. Simon Yates and Vincent Croft opened the bowling for LFCC. To ensure that Yates remained grounded after his previous preening about Arsenal making the Champions League, LFCC fielders conspired to rob Yates of the many wickets he deserved after bowling a probing line and length. APCC's Australian opening batsman and wicketkeeper was dropped twice, once juggled dramatically at slip (Tim Stacey, as stand-in LFCC keeper, was THIS close to catching the ricochet) and another by a devilishly handsome newcomer (myself) at point (it was a difficult chance, as everyone very generously agreed after I promised to get a round in). Croft made it clear to all involved that most trains lack radar by spraying his first few balls wide or directly at the batsman's head. But when he did hit the right line and length, he was immediately rewarded with the wicket of the second opener.
A third wicket fell shortly after to Jack O'Connor, introduced by Captain Alec to replace Croft. Jack produced a wicked spell of fast bowling that the opposition struggled to despatch with any consistency. Much like fellow newcomer Tom, a hatful of wickets is surely around the corner. A second bowling change, introducing a rather worked up Krohn, also snaffled a wicket, although in somewhat combustible circumstances. APCC's opener was subject to three LBW shouts in concession before being given out by the harassed looking umpire. The first appeal - unanimously agreed to be plumb - ended with Krohn taking the opportunity to explain the LBW law to the poor fellow. God forbid anyone give Krohn a captive audience and an overhead projector.
With wickets falling consistently, Fields fielders were hopeful of restricting APCC to a low total. However, a terrific middle-order stand between APCC's captain Hawa (a very graceful stroke player) and biffer Patel drove APCC to a decent score. Once again, bowling changes were needed to effect a change. Skinner, with a faster ball, caught Hawa unawares and bowled him clean. Sighs of relief were heard all round - Hawa had scored 150 the last time Fields faced APCC. Skinner's second wicket, this time a catch off a skyer by Vincent Croft on the offside, was due reward for a spell of canny bowling. Mark Holden puffed in at the other end. Like Krohn, Mark was unlucky to have two rather solid LBW appeals turned down after bowling a reliable line and length. No matter. Towards the end of his spell, Mark induced Patel, fresh from his half century, to wallop the ball back towards the bowler. Mark swung his hands up instinctively to hang onto a sharp caught and bowled chance, taking his maiden wicket for the club.
As the innings wound down, action took on an expectedly frenetic pace. APCC's low order tried their best to hit out, but were limited in their endeavours by Captain Alec McCrindle, introducing himself late on in order to steal all the glory (according to Skinner, at least). Bowling straight and fast, McCrindle skittled out the last three wickets in unruffled fashion, ending the APCC innings on a gettable 216 off 39.3 overs.
A friendly tea (the APCC fellows were awfully polite) was hurried along in order to make up for lost time. Openers Stacey and Paul Holden (devilishly handsome, runs around the corner etc.) saw off only a marginal amount of overs, both undone by the wicked swing of APCC's Rajani. Stacey, in particular, looked in good form with a delicate drive through point for four before getting a faint edge to one of Ranaji's out-swingers. I, meanwhile, was undone by a nasty inswinger that took my off-stump (handsome stroke for two, runs around the corner etc.)
Fortunately that brought Rice and McCrindle together to the wicket, which made matters rather difficult for LFCC's scorer who found it almost impossible to tell the two apart in the middle. Not only are the two gifted with ample dimensions, but they also appeared to adopt an approach that was as indistinguishable as it was unexpected: mature stroke play with little to no lusty hitting. It was only the silvery glint off McCrindle's 'bat of the future' that betrayed their different identities. With some terrific shots around the ground, the two added a partnership of over a hundred runs in quick time. Some Fielders (including one devilishly handsome one who is assured that runs are around the corner etc.) were relaxed enough with progress to grab a quick pint from the pavilion taps. Unfortunately, the two Fielders most responsible for the drinking were also given the task of bringing out drinks to Field's star batsmen, wafting alcoholic fumes in their direction. With Rice and McCrindle's sufficiently addled, the two conspired to involve themselves in two run-outs. Rice was first to go, McCrindle claiming not to hear his foghorn call (hold on, isn't that a maritime simile?), for 30. McCrindle went shortly thereafter for a swashbuckling 90 after a rather close call for a run from Jack O'Connor. With 3/11 and a run-a-ball 90, McCrindle was clearly Fields' player of the day.
Despite an accomplished display from Jack, and some typically powerful hitting from Skinner, wickets fell regularly and the run-rate slowly crept up. From a gettable 5 runs an over, Fields were faced with a target of 8 to get off the last over, with only Mark Holden and Vincent Croft left standing. Some sketchy runs left LFCC needing 3 to get off three. And, with pressure placed on some inexperienced drivers, signal failures were an expected outcome. After watching Croft waft at one off-stump, Mark H set off for an ambitious single to the wicketkeeper's end: probably the right plan, if it was executed correctly. Displaying a canny appreciation of the situation, APCC's wicketkeeper ran to the stumps and whipped off the bails to end LFCC's innings tantalisingly close to the target.London Fields Batting
213 for 10 in 39.0
|Chris Rice||—||Run Out||Unknown||30|
|Alec McCrindle||—||Run Out||Unknown||90|
|Mark Holden||—||Run Out||Unknown||4|
|Vincent Croft||—||Not Out||Unknown||0|
216 for 10 in 39.0London Fields Bowling