Pacific CC 102-1 beat London Fields 101 all out by nine wickets
by Paul Teasdale
London Fields' 2009 season got off to an ignominious start as we were crushed by a strong Pacific side that included one of the Fields' own members in the form of Vince Croft.
His patient (but in context, wildly aggressive) 20 in an opening stand of 80-odd with fellow Pacific opener Mohammed (33*), allowed the home side to cruise to an easy victory following a shambolic batting performance from London Fields who only managed to use 29 of their allotted 40 overs.
Opting to bat first in the picturesque setting of Wray Crescent under a blazing April sun, London Fields' opening pair of Teas and Vice Colonel Sanders struggled to adjust to the slow pace and tennis-ball bounce of the artificial wicket.
Coupling this with the physical deficiencies of the weedy pair as well as the lushness of the soggy outfield, where thwacked shots barely managed to dribble off the square, it was clear that a bit of patience and application at the crease would be key to building a defendable total.
Unfortunately, virtually none of the Fields' batsmen were able to hang around long enough for these virtues to even become relevant, as eight batsmen threw their wickets away for single figure scores, including golden ducks apiece for new skipper Chris and Colin playing in his first match for London Fields.
Opener Ben was first to go for 4, seemingly hypnotised by a full ball and forgetting to bring his bat down in time. In strode the destructive Alec McCrindle who, as is his wont, started throwing his hands at almost everything (figuratively speaking of course). A couple of big shots got him runs but the third one got him caught behind going for 5.
Poor Colin in his debut game went the very next ball for a golden (if not platinum) duck, LBW for 0, and the Fields were three wickets down in no time with the Pacific opening bowler on a hat-trick.
In came the wise cricketing brain of Jason Lord, accompanied by his body. Luckily, Lordy's been around a few boundaries and knew what was required, proceeding to guide the sweating, shaking, dehydrated Teasdale through some tricky overs and into a decent partnership; the two looking to slowly rebuild the innings.
With more nervous ticks than Owais Shah in an acid bath, Lordy took full control of the situation and the volume of his calling must have sounded to anyone within a mile radius like someone was engaging in very intermittent, violent and contradictory intercourse.
After some patient and wary batting, just before the 20th over and with the words of Lordy ringing in his ears: "let’s not go into drinks 80-5", Teasdale played at the kind of ball he had been previously leaving all innings, edging behind for 43.
In came new captain Chris Skinner. Out went new captain Chris Skinner. Another Pacific bowler on a hat-trick, another mini-collapse, and at drinks London Fields were 84-5 and reeling.
To make matters worse, prolific batsman Robin Friend arrived to cheer on the Fields and everyone was a bit embarrassed and pretended to read the paper.
However, with stalwart Jason at the crease, there was still a slight chance that if someone could stick around with him, the Fields could put together a partnership that might result in a defendable score.
This didn't happen. Another first-capper, Andy, hit some good-looking strokes before getting caught for 6. Then the previously solid as a rock Jason missed a full toss and was given LBW for an epic and crucial knock of 21. If only more of the Fields batsmen had batted with his resolve, we might have posted a real score rather than an infamous room number.
Dave Lane with his eyecatching pink bat handle was quickly bowled for 1 and now the Fields were truly out of it. Tyrone played some attacking strokes before unluckily gloving on to his stumps attempting a savage pull shot and Arthur, sporting bigger lips than if Scarlett Johannsson had rubbed her face in a bee's nest, tried to slog sweep the useful Pacific spinner, Toby, into the Emirates Stadium and was also bowled for 1.
Carl Death, who had been padded-up and prowling the boundary like a gladiator with blood-lust since roughly the drinks break, was left stranded. The Fields had made a paltry 101 all out.
It seemed that Pacific were just as dumbstruck by the Fields' 29 over performance as we were, when the captain of their side asked if we minded if tea was taken even though most had barely digested lunch. Fields sheepishly agreed and tea was took. It was one of the few highlights of the day.
With the sight of LFCC member Vince Croft striding out to open the batting for Pacific, the Fields bowlers looked determined to wreak some revenge or at the least, get Vince out.
Tyrone bowled really well when he managed to get let go of the ball at the bowlers crease rather than at the batsman's, beating the left-handed opener Mohammed's bat on numerous occasions but without finding the all important edge.
Arthur unleashed his quick stuff for the first time outdoors for Fields and gave Vince the hurry-up with a good, sharp spell of 'reverse full bowling'.
To be fair to Vince, he did demonstrate some flamboyant cut shots yet frustratingly for Arthur and the eager slip cordon, these were being exhibited as the ball was in the keeper's gloves or racing past the keeper to the boundary which sadly was an all too often occurrence.
Extras, both needless byes and no-balls, really hurt the Fields' chance of building pressure on the openers. In fact, 36 of the Pacific 102 total were extras, which is a pretty shocking percentage by anyone's maths.
Thankfully the useless keeper (the author - Ed) was subbed off for a more reliable pair of hands. But just when he thought he could slink off and hide in the long grass, he promptly dropped a catch off his skipper's bowling. Sorry Chris.
With Ty and a heavy-blowing Arthur getting no joy from the obdurate openers, Carl and Dave Lane came on to see if pace off the ball could tempt the Pacific batsmen into a rash shot. Both bowled beautifully but couldn’t get the all important breakthrough.
Andy and Chris had a go next and in keeping with fashion, bowled tight but still no wickets were forthcoming. Sorry again Chris.
Eventually it was left to Ben Sanders to claim the 'prize within a prize' of Vince Croft's wicket, remarkably getting 'the Prince of defence' (this joke works if you say it in a New Zealand accent) with the very same delivery that brought about his own demise.
Eventually, and somewhat inevitably, Pacific sailed past the 101 target with the ease of Usain Bolt racing a dyspraxic toddler; some crashing straight hitting from their number 3 showing the Fields just how it's done.
Because Pacific are a decent bunch, and because most of London Fields are borderline alcoholics ("borderline"? that's a slur on LFCC's proud traditions - Ed), all of us accompanied them to a nearby pub where due to our 'shortened' game, we were able to sup pints - some bought from the bar, some from elsewhere – on the street in the beautiful evening sunshine and listen to the primitive groany/shouty/sweary commentary of those watching the Arsenal vs Chelsea FA Cup semi final.
Given that this was the first hit out of the year, no one was, or should be overly concerned with this early season aberration, especially as our bowling was pretty decent, the sun was out, beers imbibed and some of us were going to get horrifically drunk later that evening. Sometimes, especially in friendlies, it's the peripheries of cricket that really matter.
Here's the scorecard:London Fields Batting
101 for 10 in 29.0
|Carl Death||—||Not Out||Unknown||0|
102 for 1 in 20.0London Fields Bowling