By Chris Packham
Cricket report 12th August 2001 – White Swans
GARDENERS IN ANOTHER LAST OVER THRILLER
Once again, Salmagundi Gardeners managed to devise a cliff-hanging end to a game, this week against White Swans. Batting first, and with several of the team making their first appearance of the season, Gardeners amassed 161 for 7 in the full 35 overs. At the start of the 35th over of their innings, White Swans were 145 for 4 and so needed 17 from the final over to win. Edgar Saunders was entrusted with this crucial over and was hit for 4, 6 and 4 from his first three balls. Next came a dot ball and so Swans needed 3 to win from 2 balls. And then – horror – Edgar bowled a wide.
Now, regular readers may recall that a recent report contained a fairly unsuccessful tension-raising device whereby you were offered a choice of possible endings and had to read to the end of the report for the denouement. At the risk of becoming repetitive, this week I unashamedly use this device again, although I promise it is the last time this season I’ll do so. So, before you read on, guess which of the following happened:
- 1 the batsman pursued the wide ball, edged it and James Tait took a flying catch in front of where 3rd slip would have been. White Swans could then only score a single from the last ball to give us a win by one run
- 2 a thunderstorm started and the SGCC captain took his team off because the conditions were too dangerous. He then declared the game a draw, while White Swans claimed the game and refused to play us next season because of our lack of sportsmanship
- 3 White Swans’ batsman skied the next ball for a catch. It was, in fact, caught by a fielder (who shall not be named, Erik) who then tripped and fell across the boundary, giving them a 6. We therefore lost by 6 wickets
- 4 Edgar bowled a further two wides and we lost by 6 wickets
Take your pick.
Gardeners won the toss and chose to bat. The pitch was very green and played unevenly throughout, with some balls shooting and some rising steeply from a length, or at least that is our excuse. Shots were hard to play and some very tight bowling from the Swans’ opening bowlers led to an impatient and mistimed drive by James Tait who was caught at short mid off for 5. In came Chris Packham, with the intention that he should provide some of the stability he brought to last week’s innings, but he was beaten by a fast rising ball which brushed his glove and was caught behind for 0 with the score at 10 for 2. Meanwhile, Erik Samuelson had tried desperately to run himself out, possibly to avoid another ignominious dismissal from a full toss, but fortunately umpire Mike Stewart was unconvinced that the stumps were broken in time and gave a rather debatable “not out” decision. Erik and Jim Monahan took full, but painfully slow, advantage of this and put on 26 for the third wicket before Erik played a terrible cross-batted shot at a straight ball and was out for 19. Jim then became the anchor of the innings as Phil Sessions transformed the run rate with some dramatic and clean hitting.
Now many people don’t realise that Phil plays with a badly cracked “lucky bat” which, from the noise it makes when he hits the ball, is probably not even suitable for taking guard. This bat also has the distinguishing mark of being covered in tape which flaps in the wind and, if the wicket keeper is standing close, is quite likely to smack him in the face. Phil refuses to change this bat (but imagine how far the ball would go if he used a proper one) and there are now plans afoot to construct a new bat for him made entirely from sticky tape. If parts of it were reversed this would the ball to stick to the bat, whereupon Phil could run up and down the pitch while the opposition looked vainly for the ball or, possibly, chase him desperately trying to remove it and claim a catch. You never know – it just might work.
At the other end, Jim was weighed down by his admission after last week’s game that he has almost as many initials as he has letters in his surname. So, J. F. A. G. P. H. Monahan played an untypically becalmed game and, at one point, he faced 13 successive balls without scoring. Spookily, this is exactly the number of letters in his extended name. I now realise that Jim was named by parents who were lacking almost the entire top row of their typewriter. Anyway, he was eventually bowled for a very solid 15 in a stand of 47 with Phil.
In came debutant Matt Crisp and he played a very stylish innings indeed. With Phil he put on a further 23 and transformed the runs per over from less than 3 to well over 4. Eventually Phil was bowled for an invaluable 46 by a slower ball that he spotted but somehow still missed. In came Steve Graham for his first innings of the season and he quickly got into his stride. After several innings last season when Steve looked good, but then fell for a low score, today he hit the ball cleanly and often. Together with Matt he put on a further 54 in rapid time before Matt went to a good low catch at gully for 30. Steve was joined by Alex Butt, another debutant, for the last over. This was brilliantly bowled by the Swans’ opening bowler who yielded only 1 run in an over which saw Alex run out for 0 from the last ball of the innings. In total, SGCC made 161 for 7.
White Swans’ innings followed a similar path to ours, in that tight bowling from opening bowlers Chris Packham and Alex Butt kept the run rate below 3 per over. However, wickets proved hard to come by, with only Alex making inroads by bowling one of the openers in the 6th over with the score then 8 for 1. This was followed by a long and rather slow stand that took the score along to 84, in the face of some accurate and very unlucky bowling from Chris, Alex, Matt Crisp and Edgar Saunders, aided by good ground fielding by the whole team.
Seeking inspiration, the captain brought Mike Stewart on to bowl but his first, rather wayward, over cost 12 runs. However, in the next two overs Mike had a chance dropped and then bowled the Swans’ dangerous-looking number 3 for 34. We were now into the last 11 overs and Swans needed 76 to win. Alex was brought back for his last two overs and had an immediate impact by taking two wickets as the score slumped to 90 for 4 and the required run rate mounted. With Jim Monahan and Chris Packham’s second spell keeping the rate per over well below the required rate, the Swans needed 49 from the last 4 overs and, as described above, 17 from the last over. Had the Gardeners taken any of the four chances put down at this stage then the game would almost certainly have been all over, but they all went to ground.
So Edgar bowled the last over and was hit for 4, 6, 4 and dot ball before the fateful wide. What happened? Well, Swans’ O’Grady (who had amassed a very impressive 46) unbelievably chased the ball, instead of leaving it alone and gaining the single from the wide, and snicked it. And there, swooping from the sky like an eagle (his words, not mine – I thought I just saw him fall over), came James who got a despairing hand to the ball, flicked it up and then clawed it into his chest as he lay on the ground. The last ball of the innings was almost an anti-climax as the new batsman hit it into his pad and managed 1 run before James collected the ball and stood threateningly by the stumps in case another run was sought.
This was one of the more improbable of the Gardeners’ many improbable wins (and losses) and was all the more pleasant for apparently having blown it at the end. It was a genuinely enthralling game of cricket with both sides bringing much to the game in terms of good bowling and aggressive batting.
- Samuelson bowled 19
- Tait caught 5
- Packham caught 0
- Monahan bowled 15
- Sessions bowled 46
- Crisp caught 30
- Graham not out 31
- Butt run out 0
- Stewart, Saunders and Jamu did not bat
- Extras 15
- Total 161 for 7
- Packham 7-1-19-0
- Butt 7-0-15-3
- Crisp 7-02-22-0
- Saunders 6-0-47-1
- Stewart 4-0-24-1
- Monahan 4-0-29-0
Finally, our best wishes to Amar Jamu who stopped many a run today at third man and mid off and has now retired for the remainder of the season as he and his wife await the birth of their second child. Thanks, Amar, and enjoy your new child.