London Fields (84 all out) lost to Strongroom (more than 84 -5)
by Ben Sanders
After a slightly delayed start (due to the opposition captain struggling to find a place to park) on a beautiful late April afternoon, the toss was taken and lost by vice-colonel-captain Ben Sanders. London Fields were asked to have a bat.
With a strong team being fielded Sanders was confident that a decent score could be posted. Strongroom had other ideas though. Both Colin Black and Steve Fernbank struggled against the opening bowlers. Martin's sharp pace and ability to move the ball around caused particular difficulty. Steve fell first, caught behind for 1. New Aussie boy Karl Lacis came to the crease hoping to build on his good form in the winter nets, but struggled against the swinging ball. He was bowled for 2 by a full ball from the other opening bowler Ujal.
Rhodri Evans walked to the crease in defiant mood and with the intent of bringing some calm to the proceedings. Unfortunately, Colin was bowled moments later with not many to his name and not many to the London Fields' total. Richard Johnson, having pondered his weapon of choice, walked out with his trusty £5 dyslexically-signed bat, but was quickly back to reconsider his choice, having been bowled by Martin, who was proving especially difficult to get away.
Colonel Sanders promptly had to stop enjoying his freshly made pasta, slip his gloves on and wander out. Encouraged by the shouts from Arthur Smart on the sidelines that what was needed was a captain's innings, Ben set about seeing off Martin with the help of Rhod. However, a little bit of over confidence saw Rhodri edge behind for a solid 19 in Jon Gower's first over, (Jon having replaced Martin). Dave Miller, christening a shiny new bat, joined the captain in the middle and proceeded to take the game (a little bit) to Strongroom. With Gower dropping short regularly, Dave was quick to pull him for four before getting a slightly quicker short ball and was caught behind down the legside (again) for 19. Ben, who was 'digging in' and defending with patience and had very little to hit, saw Matt Cowie and Steve Donelan go in quick succession - Matt was bowled by a good swinging yorker, while Steve unluckily played on from an inside edge.
London Fields at this point had only just struggled over the 65 odd run mark.
A change of bowling finally brought Ben a slowish, short delivery to smash through the covers. It was executed beautifully, except for it being a fraction too early and the fact that the cover fielder, after juggling it a couple of times, finally took it one handed half a foot off the ground. Ben thus departed for 10. The final pair of Travis Willis and Ben Davies were left with a lot to do and 15 overs or so to see out. This proved too much and Travis top edged a pull which was caught by the Strongroom's keeper to bring a nend to a much truncated London Fields innings of 84 (19 of which were extras).
The Strongroom's response was initially hampered by some fine quick bowling from Ben Davis, who induced a number of wafts outside the off stump, but to no avail. Travis from the other end, after his initial over, found a good line and length and had the opening batsmen playing and missing. But with so little to chase the batsmen could wait for the bad ball, which duly came, and the score board ticked over with Strongroom reaching 20 without loss after only 5 overs. The captain putting down a relative sitter at mid-off from a mis-hit drive aided neither London Fields' cause nor Travis' figures. The breakthrough eventually came though with Travis getting one of the openers plumb LBW and giving a whiff of hope for the Fielders.
Ben, very unlucky not to get a wicket, and Travis were replaced by Steve D and captain Ben, and both quickly got some reward. Steve claimed a wicket a la Travis with a plumb LBW before Ben, in his first over, removed the Strongroom's no. 3 with a tidy inswinging delivery which knocked back the off-peg. Runs were still being steadily accumulated, however, and Strongroom's total was creeping towards the required 85 to win.
However, captain Ben managed to claim another couple of wickets which staved off the inevitable for a time. The first of the two was a blinding catch from Dave Miller at point who held on to a fiercely hit square cut to remove the Strongroom's captain, Jon Gower. Ben's final wicket was pretty much a repeat of his first: the late inswing resulting in the batsmen playing at fresh air before having his middle stump rearranged. Soon, however, Strongroom completed the rout by 5 wickets with a pull over midwicket for 4 to take them past 85.
A disappointed London Fields - having fielded and bowled well (in particular Steve Fernbank in the covers) - left the field wondering what might have been if they'd batted better and had put another 50 on the board. The only consolation was the warmth of the sun now beating down on them as they shared a few cold beers amongst the rest of the local sun worshippers and the usual suspects of London Field club members who had congregated to cheer us on.
This gave them time to deconstruct the 'performance' and plan their revenge against Strongroom up in Highgate later in the summer (scoring more runs will be the aim). Their spirits were also raised by being merrily entertained by an alcoholically lubricated Jason Lord, who was fresh back from a stag-do in Cambridge (and last seen waiting for a bus on Mare Street).
Scorecard "in the book, coming later"...London Fields Batting
84 for 10 in 0.0
84 for 5 in 0.0London Fields Bowling