Shakespeare (192-6) beat London Fields (191-9) by 4 wickets
by our special correspondent, Hugh
A Grinding loss at Millfields
Bumcheeks squeaked audibly about a slowish Millfields pitch, where LFCC engaged old ‘foes’ Shakespeare (does anyone remember why this is a ‘grudge match’?) Between soaking showers, we managed to suck the marrow from a 35-over game that went down to the last ball. Decent carpet held the deck together, allowing us to resume straight after rain breaks without leaving unsightly skidmarks, but the ever-juicy sky meant heavy balls and low value for shots.
Inserted by the oppo, out strode Fernie and PA under grumpy clouds. Shakey’s nippy right- and left-arm openers hit good spots when they managed to keep their feet, and PA (3) was soon out hitting on the up on the two-paced pitch. Fernie, however, looked his usually silky self, dropping his Clive Lloyd-style railway sleeper on a few signature back cuts, and driving with authority. Two gullies were quickly set. Quality company came in the form of VJ, back one week after his season-ending finger injury, and keen to drive over the infield and punish anything ill-directed. Sadly both took the rock-star’s way out, perishing in their twenties (Fernie’s 27 a clear homage to Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix; Vijay’s 22 including a short run that will rear its petty ahead again in this retelling.)
This brought Teaser, our pony-tailed Sam Curran, and Vidders the Trini smasher, our skipper for the day, to the crease. Unfortunately I can’t be precise on partnerships (amongst other things), as both books were not so much ‘filled in’ as defaced with bizarre runes and crayon daubs telling only a sketchy tale of the contest. Suffice to say, Vidders managed to pop an over-eager sweep off the back of his bat for 2, while Teaze looked the biz from the beginning: driving, cutting and pulling his way to the classy 78 that was the backbone of our otherwise flaccid innings. Oli (5) looked in murderous mood while playing straight, then impetuously tried to deliver the ball to Homerton Hospital, managing only to disturb the airspace above the square, where several Shakies gathered to chat as they awaited the catch, safely snaffled.
Tristan batted intelligently for 11, returning the strike to Teas at every opportunity, before nobly running himself out in the push for runs. Other than a few Muffi boundaries (11), the tail didn’t wag, and we had only 191 to defend over 35 overs. However, given the heavy outfield, the drying pitch and our bristling phalanx of flingers, we felt this could prove defendable.
Commencing defencing, Muffi and Al took the new shiny thing, and Fernie donned gloves, as a gentleman should. To paraphrase Shakin’ Stevens, ‘lovely stuff’ ensued: Muffi beat the edge frequently and Al tied both openers down with great control of swing and length. The book being such a hot mess, rich in psychedelic colours but innocent of necessary detail, it’s hard to recapture the detail of the next 18 overs. Suffice to say that good bowling met determined batting, and the Shakes were none down but falling increasingly behind the rate at drinks, mainly due to the sturdy leash and ball gag applied by Alex in his excellent, seven-over spell.
Various change bowlers got stuck in either side of the break, with Hugh bowling two overs of shite that thankfully escaped condign punishment; Vidders putting in a fantastic spell of skiddy outswing; Sam threatening the edge but occasionally dropping short when rustiness and slippery run-ups conspired; and Oli getting the vicious rag and bounce he’s spent lockdown perfecting. With our modest score slipping further away from the oppo, shots had to be played, and wickets began to fall. Shakey’s very solid opener (65) was calmly snaffled by Al, running in from the boundary to accept a mishit off one of Oli’s viper-balls, while Vidders inconvenienced the stumps of the other opener (50).
Now the game had shape: two down, with a required run rate of around 7 or 8 needed from the last 10(ish) overs. Really, it’s impossible to be more precise with the books marked as they were. As there was no scoreboard, we kept badgering their scorer for the runs/balls equation, trying to make sense of the chase under patchy showers. Suffice to say, the intelligence from beyond the boundary wasn’t consistent (at one point the scorer lost a whole over, at another 13 runs to win magically became 12, and at yet another, he lost count in an over).
Things were getting very tight: Vidders generously called their number 3 back when he was run out colliding with his partner (Sam/Fernie broke the wicket before the batsmen clashed heads, but we’re just lovely guys. But not so lovely that we gave the fortunate batsman the dead ball he wanted – every dot was a delight at this stage).
As the confusion mounted, and at the risk of sounding like a sucker of sour grapes ‘Sunday wides’ suddenly got a lot stricter, and a clear run-out was not given because the umpire was busy (erroneously) signalling wide, and ‘wasn’t watching the crease’. Luckily Shakey’s sporting number 3, the beneficiary of our call-back, gave himself out (as he was, by about two feet) and walked.
With rain returning and the ball like soap, Muffi’s last over was a tall order. The 13 we expected to defend, having carefully counted every run for the last eight overs, and been assured by the scorer 24 were needed from the last two, mysteriously became 12. Muffi bowled some excellent stuff, beating the bat, but the soapy pill slipped out for one genuinely-high no ball, then another that was extremely harsh, given the genial umpiring that had prevailed all day, and the fact that the delivery passed the batsman around pocket height. Another harsh wide, several clothed shots and scurried byes, and scores were level on the final ball. It beat the bat, a bye was scrambled, and the game belonged to Shakespeare.
Before celebrating a really tense, gripping game of cricket and giving the victors their dues, we took a moment to roundly curse the umpire who called VJ for that short run, without which we would have tied. Who was the officious twat, you ask? Me.
191 for 9 in 35.0
|Tristan Jones||—||Run Out||Unknown||11|
|Hugh McNaughton||—||Not Out||Unknown||0|
192 for 6 in 35.0London Fields Bowling