Abdul Aziz 27 July

By Chris Packham

Salmagundi Gardeners played Abdul Azis at Parliament Hill Fields last Sunday. Unusual names, but not the ones in question: they are Fernando and Harry. Fernando being SGCC’s newest young recruit – signed-up on the day by the canny Mike Fox after watching him bowl rather swiftly in the nets – and Harry being a long standing elder statesman of Abdul. These two were the leading lights in the match, with some spectacular cameo’s, in the form of catches, from members of both teams. So age versus youth, ringer versus team man. Let’s see how it panned out.

In my last report I was accused of being The Bearded Wonder meets Stato (Angus Frindall?) – and something unprintable by James for my attempt at Scottish. This week I have no score book and no score to settle, so it will be a more Gilkesian report with regard to facts and figures, and, as I am feeling chummy, mostly first names. Also short, so no glossing over now, yer hear!

The heavy overnight rain after a long dry spell produced the proverbial ‘sticky wicket’ and therefore a bowlers delight. This proved to be the case with the Abdul bowlers keeping to a good line and length, letting the pitch do the rest. Even with the score ticking over at a not unreasonable 3 an over this can be frustrating for a batsman. James tried to force the pace and was caught at long off after about ten overs. Fellow opener Chris fell a few overs later to a good slip catch by Howard, having scored 23. This was SGCC’s top score, so not an innings to wax lyrical about. Things which should be noted were: Mike Stewart unlucky to fall to a spectacular diving catch by Eric: and the fact we had three Fox’s in the team, and two Michael’s in the Fox’s. Take the Mick’s out of the Fox’s – as if I would – and you’re left with Joe, who had one of his best knock’s for SGCC, scoring 20.

Joe had a partnership of about 25 with last man Fernando, which ended with them both at the same end and Joe exhausted. Joe’s exhaustion, fit young footballer that he is, was mainly due to Fernando’s technique for running between the wickets. This decree’s that even the most defensive of shot’s demands the courtesy of at least setting off for a run before charging back to your crease, and never run a single when there’s three for the taking. It was like watching the Road Runner on speed. I would have loved to have seen him bat with Father Fox (who has just managed to finish writing last week’s report).

All out for 119 runs.

James produced a tea fit for a Cambridge graduate: although I did worry when I thought I spied cheese and mandarin sandwiches (memories of the peaches and cottage cheese from past summers just will not go away). This proved false. The golden tomatoe and cheese sarnies were as good as the pecan nut and toffee tart and all the other delights.

With such a small total to defend early wickets were essential. Surprisingly they came. Chris got one to rise up and beep beep took an energetic diving catch, moving quickly from silly mid off to silly point. Mike Fox then removed the stumps of the opener’s replacement. Harry, the other opening bat, was making steady but unspectacular progress. Fernando was then called on to bowl.

Now I was worried that, although quick, he would be wayward and give away runs in wides. I was proved to be completely wrong. Bowling left arm over the wicket he was so accurate that in the space of one over he took two wickets LBW and another caught – one handed off a full toss at forward short leg by Toby, the catch of the day, on a day of good catches (I won’t mention that he dropped a sitter off his own bowling later on).

So Abdul were 45 for 5 and with Fernando bowling like an express train we were in with a chance, and the thought of having to be a bit sheepish over our recruitment drive. But we didn’t take it: because Harry rose to the occasion, took Fernando on and batted the best he ever has to steady the innings and produce an unbeaten career best 75. Only one other wicket was taken, another good catch, this time by Joe.

An unbiased view might say that it was good to see one of the original opposition members have the game of his life, and a biased view (in my case) would agree.

Besides, with a name like Salmagundi Gardeners you can’t go around having ringers with exotic names like Fernando. A bit of balance is required. Whatever next, a wicket keeper called Laughing Spam Fritter?

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