A summary of the season from www.coventgardenlondon.com – written by Mark Gilkes

1997 was Salmagundi Gardeners’ most successful season up to that time. It was decided to spare readers of this report the exciting (edited) reports for the 1997 season, as they would have run into many pages. Not wishing to disappoint regular SGCC fans, however, we would like to share a few highlights:

13th September: vs. Case & Co at Uplyme (Gardeners on tour (1). SGCC 186 for 6, Cases 134 all out. Despite a downpour overnight, the Uplyme ground was ready for a noon start under a bright sun. The first two wickets fell quickly and the Gardeners were 6 for 2. Then Gilkes became the fifth Gardener of the summer to score a half-century. Monahan made a quick 27 with 3 sixes, then led the bowling with 3 wickets.

14th September: vs. Ashbrittle CC at Culmstock (Gardeners on tour (2). SGCC 157 for 9, Ashbrittle 143 all out. Wroe (47) was the backbone of an innings which saw the top eight batsmen all scoring.  Lord Fakenham entertained with 31 runs in eight scoring shots, including a nice six, which was bettered by Stewart, who flicked one off his legs into the next field. Wroe inspired a great fielding performance with a spectacular backward diving catch, and the final wicket fell with a Sessions stumping off a Monahan ball.

27th September: Abdul Aziz at Haydons Rd, Wimbledon. Abdul 118 for 4, SGCC 122 for 7. Abdul batted slowly but steadily to make 118 off 7 bowlers. The Salmagundi reply also started slowly but much less steadily. Fox opened the innings but had only the contribution of Oputu 19 to cheer him as his other 6 partners fell for 7 runs between them. It was 45 for 7 when Henry Monahan came to join Fox, but even with the ethos of the season being “every collapse is an opportunity for heroism,” this looked one game too many squeezed in at the end. However, Monahan and Fox batted sensibly and moved closer and closer to the target. With one run needed, Fox was 47 not out. The debate round the scorer’s table was: “should we tell him to hit out for his fifty?” Although opinions on this were divided, nobody felt brave enough to risk breaking Fox’s concentration at this vital stage. He played out a maiden and Monahan, who had become increasingly fluent as the partnership progressed, clipped the next ball for the winning runs to finish on 39 not out. Another incredible victory had been achieved.

Previous readers of Salmagundi reports might recall mention of over-aged and over-sized schoolboys munching too many cucumber sandwiches and quaffing fine ales at the crease, yet 1996 was Salmagundi’s most successful season, and this achievement was then bettered in 1997. New players are still as hard to find as ever, so the players who now bask in glory are those same individuals who once basked in the outfield like white-flannelled walruses. James Tait has been the skipper through this period of success: he can be contacted at cafés, patisseries and public houses in the Covent Garden and Soho areas.

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