By Erik Samuelson
On the weekend when a valiant late stand by Dominic Cork and Darren Gough had delivered the Second Test to England, the scene was replicated when last man Seorais Graham strode to the wicket to join man-of-the-match Jim Monahan with 46 needed. Did they make it? Well read on.
The Gardeners’ match against Oak and Beech is one of the most popular in our calendar, set as it is in country scenery within a long six-hit of a quiet pub and with a stream running at the bottom of the slope. Also, we tend to win here, which is the main reason for liking it.
This week, the captain’s best-laid plans were cast aside when we lost the toss and with it our plan to bat first and thereby maximise our chances of getting home in time to see France versus Italy. With three of our four pace attack missing we relied heavily on Rod Birtles, returning for his first game of the season after vainly pursuing a career abroad (well, he said it was a holiday in Australia). A request to open with Rod from both ends was refused so Seorais Graham shared the new ball attack. Rod soon got into his rhythm and wickets fell regularly while Seorais quickly hit a steady length too, with three successive wides to open his account.
No wickets fell until the fifth over when the captain suddenly unleashed a startling incantation which included the words “walking in”, “statues” and various words that sounded like team members’ names as pronounced with the gift of tongues. The effect was startling as two wickets fell in successive balls to Birtles.
After that, wickets fell with remarkable consistency with five bowlers sharing the spoils. Seorais Graham bowled much better than his figures of 0 for 34 suggested, while Jim Monahan’s 2 for 14 in 7 overs was a testament to his accuracy and astute field placing; only a wily old fox like Jim would place Seorais at deep square leg and then bowl a wide full toss that tempted the batsman into hitting it straight there. Jim also took a catch of startling quality (not least to him). Immediately after being moved to short midwicket for the bowling of Adam Wood, he had the ball smashed towards him and, leaning as far to the left as his body will allow these days, he took a brilliant catch.
Birtles came back to snaffle two more wickets, and Mike Stewart pitched in with one, before Oak and Beech were all out when Ulrich Algar took the final wicket with a ball that turned savagely on the second bounce. It is probably necessary to explain Ulrich’s bowling analysis of 1 for 1 in only 0.1 overs, as it is surely a record to take a wicket and give away a run in a one ball over. Ulrich managed it by bowling a wide and taking a wicket next ball. The man is a maestro of the unexpected.
As always, a feature of the Gardener’s performance was the fielding. After regular exhortations to “walk in”, “keep it tight” and “stay on your toes”, the tip-toeing, tight-buttocked advance of the fielders as the bowler set off on his run was more like a Busby Berkely routine than a cricket match.
In all, with a somewhat weakened attack, the Gardeners’ bowled very well indeed except, perhaps, for the 10 wides. In aggregate, these propelled the ball over 30 feet wide of the stumps. In the light of this, tests are to be carried out to see if we can bowl just a single ball 30 feet wide next week, thereby getting it all over in one go and saving nine runs at the same time.
After a long tea, the run chase began. As is now usual, Erik Samuelson and James Tait opened with the objective of seeing off the opening bowlers; this time they proved unsuccessful, with Tait going in the fifth over to an LBW verdict (to a left arm bowler, over the wicket?? – he was saintly in his restraint) and Samuelson in the seventh, clean bowled by that most deadly of deliveries, the straight one on the wicket.
Wickets now fell with alarming regularity. As usual, Phil Sessions hit some mighty blows but was eventually taken by a juggling catch deep in the covers for 11. Amar Jamu batted nearly 15 minutes, with Mike Atherton-style resistance before falling to another LBW decision. Amar brought a rather conservative running style to his innings with the highlight a cautious “yes” just as the ball crossed the boundary for four from another Sessions hit.
Then came the defining moment of the innings as Rod Birtles, facing his first ball from a new bowler, was hit full on the face and had to retire hurt. Our best wishes to Rod who we hope will recover rapidly – it was a nasty blow indeed.
The bowler, having hit his length, about forehead height, proceeded to bowl three wides and two no-balls before finally reaching the end of an 11 ball over, during which Martin Carter smashed him for a 4 and a 2, his first runs for the club. But now with Adam and Mike Stewart going for 4 and 1 respectively, the last men were at the wicket, with the score 62 for 8 and Rod unable to bat again. Gradually, Jim and Seorais accumulated runs with Jim hitting the bad balls very hard and Seorais a model of Gough-like defence, interspersed with some elegant hits. The confident looks on the faces of the Oak and Beech fielders slowly faded as the score rose. Then Jim hit a huge six over mid-wicket and we were in the nineties and looking good. There was action everywhere, bowlers changing, mis-fields, a dog running around the fielders (“there’s a dog on the pitch – they think it’s old Rover” – OK, sorry about that) and Jim and Seorais calm amid the mayhem.
But, after a partnership of 35 and with only 9 runs needed, Jim hit across a ball that kept low and was bowled. So in the end, we lost by 8 runs but took a moral victory away with us. The scorecard follows and the author wishes the team good luck for the grudge match next week (which he will miss) when Camden Council will take revenge on Jim Monahan for all those planning protests over the years.
|Oak and Beech||105 all out (Hawkins 21, J Chapman 26)|
|Birtles||7 overs, 4 maidens, 8 runs, 5 wickets|
|Graham||7 overs, 0 maidens, 34 runs, 0 wickets|
|Monahan||7 overs, 0 maidens, 14 runs, 2 wickets|
|Wood||5 overs, 0 maidens, 27 runs, 1 wicket|
|Stewart||4 overs, 0 maidens, 15 runs, 1 wicket|
|Algar||0.1 overs, 0 maidens, 1 run, 1 wicket|
|Salmagundi Gardeners’ Innings|
|Samuelson||bowled J Chapman 13|
|Tait||LBW J Chapman 11|
|Algar||Bowled J Chapman 4|
|Sessions||Caught ??, Bowled Nash 11|
|Jamu||LBW Herridge 0|
|Stewart||Ct Nash, Bowled R Chapman 1|
|Birtles||Retired Hurt 0|
|Carter||Ct J Chapman, B R Chapman 6|
|Wood||Bowled R Chapman 4|
|Monahan||Bowled Tillsley 25|
|Graham||Not Out 17|
|Extras||Wides 3, No balls 2 5|
|Total for 9 wickets||97|
|Fall of wickets 17 – 24 – 30 – 39 – 39 – 51 – 51 – 62 – 97|