Strongroom (256 -7) beat London Fields (237 all out) by 29 runs
by Troy Utz. Again.
A second hot and sunny day in a row (in April – what Climate Change issue. eh?) greeted the players as they assembled on what I imagine Mars would look like if it had a giant lawn: Hackney Marshes (Martians?). Not a good place for the agoraphobics amongst us.
We managed to assemble a playing 11 after a week in which it became clear just how many practicing Christians this club has (or Easter egg hunt addicts). A couple of ringers and players lured over from their Saturday match (‘Dude, I’ll need to negotiate with the other half’) meant that we assembled a reasonable side to take on the historically aptly named Strongroom. Indeed, a couple of them may have found themselves in said club name without the appropriate key as they only fielded 9.
Captain Laurie demanded to bowl first and then confused the opposition by removing his Fascist cap and donning his Altruism headpiece to allow them to send back in any 2 batsmen they liked to plug spots 10 and 11.
We took to the short-boundaried playing area where the new pill was tossed to new boy but now net veteran, Perry Harding, who it must be noted, looked resplendently lithe and whippy in his brand new, long sleeved whites. A lesson that skipper Laurie pointed out to shame-faced Dan, who had left his whites at his parents house with the intention that he would buy some new ones first thing on Easter Sunday morning. Much mirth was had at Dan’s expense. To be fair, he took it well whilst he loaded his sniper rifle and added Laurie to a list in a little notebook that had a skull emblazoned on the front, in blood.
Perry had brought his girlfriend along. No doubt he grew a foot with the opportunity to show off his manliness. Imagine: new club, first game, sparkling whites, dangly earing lilting about with his effortless stride to the bowling crease as he delivered the new ball; swinging it at pace to rip apart the opening batsman’s pegs. Now, you’d imagine that by this point his girlfriend would be screaming on the sideline like one of those girlies in the grainy footage of the Beatles exiting airplanes in the mid-sixties. But no. She followed the long tradition of wags at the cricket and sat on a blanket, reading a book as if in a vacuum. Luckily, 10 men were there to slap palms and bottoms as Perry did a Mitchell Starc a few balls in to claim his first of what will be many wickets for LFCC.
Laurie complemented this bowling with his usual brand of pre-release chaos followed by sublime swing and pace. LFCC were looking good until their number 5 entered. He looked like a slogger; a chancer. Well, he had a pretty awesome day out and finished 149*. He clearly had a brilliant eye and strong arms. Indeed, your humble author bowled many balls full and on the stumps only to see them dispatched for 4. My aorta swelled to near critical girth as my inner Phil Clark became almost overwhelming. Having assumed the Club Captaincy this year, it demanded that I keep the lumbering Aussie giant contained and so I chuntered to myself and mumbled feeble excuses on most returns to my bowling mark. The now fabled Clarkism of ‘You Lucky C**t’ attacked the inside of my lips with pitchforks and flaming clubs but I held them back, no doubt shortening my heart’s life span. But I digress…
Taimoor bowled his usual cat-like spell. The man is such a smooth operator: no fuss, minimum effort for maximum gain. A brilliant 5 overs for only 18 runs. In a score of 256 from 35 overs this was indeed a feat of some magnitude.
Ringers Liam and Josh bowled some good balls but were also victim to GoodEye.
Stuart held a tricky catch at cover, Liam a caught and bowled and then Skipper Loz took a brilliant tumbling catch at mid off to give Josh a wicket late in his spell.
(Dan dropped GoodEye on 60-odd. Without doubt, had he been in whites he would have caught it. We were sure to remind him of this and that he only needed 80 odd to return to parity. I think he mumbled something like ‘F*** Off, you w*nkers’, which I felt was very much in keeping with the club ethos and spirit. Top man.)
The innings break came and with it the usual ineptitude that really makes one wonder how the hell some club members have managed to stay alive for so long. Despite the pre-match reminders and the experiences of previous years, many fielders (most of these with respectable, professional roles in the society that you and I depend on for our collective survival) were heard to exclaim with genuine surprise: ‘Oh, I don’t have any water, can I borrow some?’ / ‘Anyone know where the shop is, I might need some food’. I for one, gave them nothing – knowing that the ensuing dry lips and rumbling bellies would remind them off their own stupidity (but only for a few hours as next year the same culprits will be back for an encore – mark my bitter words).
A daunting 257 was all that stood between us, and victory. Alex and Tom Hughes strode forth to slay the beast. Alex went early playing a scoop (ha! Just kidding, he was actually out LBW). Enter Vijay, who seemed to have ingested some type of Viv Richards drug as he played calypso style lay back cuts and flicks through mid wicket both off the toes but also from outside off. A commanding innings that would no doubt have been a match winning, career defining double ton except that he got out on 84. Boo.
Tom had also departed with an uncharacteristic head-lifting heave, only to be bowled. Clearly he has spent the winter watching re-runs of your author’s video stream of how to get out. Speaking of which, I came in, hit 17 in short time including the customary 6 over long off and then partied too hard and got bowled by… well, we all know how that dismissal goes.
Last night, the middle order should have beaten themselves with whatever whip-like implements they could find. I know I certainly worked my back over with the traditional cat-o-nine tails for my impulsiveness. Several more dismissals for single figures and it was left to Perry and Laurie to rescue things; to knock off 50 odd at 8 an over. Surely, you cry, Perry’s girlfriend had the live facebook feed running as she shook with barely-contained excitement at his chance to win his debut match? But no. I thought I saw her head lift to watch his inside out 6 over cover off the opening bowler, who returned late in the innings, but then she just swatted a troublesome fly, turned the page and carried on reading. His ego was deservedly saved for the second time that day as his boundary riding teammates whooped and began to dream big. Pez and Loz (as we had now coined them – a sort of opening bowler equivalent to Chaz and Dave) continued to whip it about until Laurie played what many said was the only legside shot they had ever seen from him: an elegant chip off the toes that was heading for 4 out to deep cow only to be brilliantly caught by the diving Gwynn, who quite rightly threw the ball high in the air and was thoroughly endorsed by his team. Little did they know that Alex – the scoop – Turner (yes, we really are milking it this much) was due to come back in as a result of the ‘lack of players mid match law change’ that captains had arranged.
Fevers were at bursting point but there would be no vein bursting excitement today as Alex contrived to dismiss himself by taking a suicidal single made all the worse by a brilliant return stop and stump throwdown by the bowler. He was greeted on the boundary with backslaps at his somewhat bad luck and assurances that ‘at least you didn’t get out scooping’.
In the end, a pretty decent, if somewhat strange match. Well done to LFCC debut captain Laurie who managed to get everyone a thorough match. Great to see Tom Hughes back. Thanks to the ringers – good guys. Perry looked good in long sleeves. Dan batted well in shorts with a belt. Perry’s girlfriend read an entire, thick novel.
We all began the 5 mile trudge to exit the marshes, guided only by the mysterious pathways of the endless football goals and hazy horizon that suggests the salvation of urban oasis. Some headed to the pub but I went to the nearest Zipcar, laden as I was with kit and springback stumps. I can’t be certain but I was sure I heard someone say, ‘So, this pub, do THEY serve water or food?’London Fields Batting
237 for 10 in 38.0
|Perry Harding||—||Not Out||Unknown||22|
|Alex Turner||—||Run Out||Unknown||9|
256 for 7 in 40.0London Fields Bowling