Following the disappointment of a cancelled fixture on the previous Sunday, Richard applied his net surfing skills to arranging a game for the bank holiday weekend that is traditionally left fallow for the Gardeners. A match was duly arranged at St Albans, Hertfordshire against a mixture of colts and senior players. On reaching the ground we were much impressed with the pavilion – also a grandstand, holding a committee/tea room and a ground floor bar.
Richard skippered for the first time and then started off on an interesting set of decisions; 1 agreed to 40 overs, 2 lost the toss (I would have fielded anyway), 3 gave regular skipper David Stead the gloves (“I haven’t done this job since 1991” commented Whitley Bay’s finest). Sagaar opened up giving Richard his 4th surprising decision as after some uncharacteristically indifferent bowling he confessed his shoulder had been troubling him. Anees therefore took over and proceeded to bowl with extravagant swing from the Hatfield End. Meanwhile at the Pavilion End Roger put in 5 excellent overs, constantly threatening to take a wicket, culminating in the removal of Jones lbw for 19. Lord Fakenham replaced Roger at the Pavilion End – and somewhat exasperatingly proceeded to bowl his full quota of 8 overs unchanged for 13 runs and no wicket. His only reward was constantly getting the ball past the bat – David cleanly gloving everything – and having 2 chances put down. Anees was similarly unlucky also having a couple put down in a fielding display that looked as if we’d been bribed by a subcontinental gambling cartel to keep the batsmen in. M Telkman played classical strokes throughout this period and steadily accumulated. Fakenham took his sweater bemused as the legend that is Jim Monahan took over at the Pavilion End. Sure enough, Jim struck in his first over, removing the barnacle-like Glenister for 21. Watkins joined M Telkman and upped the scoring rate as Anees was replaced by fellow debutant Sami at the Hatfield End. Sami strived to take wickets and showed some genuine pace, continually switching from over-the-wicket to round-the-wicket in the search for a scalp. Time for Richard’s 5th “brave” decision – replacing Sami with Nick. Now, I’m a particular fan of the lob bowler – and it looked like the Albanians were too as Nick conceded a few runs in his first over. However, Richard proceeded with his 6th odd decision (keep Nick on) and Mr Rhythm ‘n’ Blues duly delivered the killer doosra, stumper Stead taking his 2nd victim – Watkins out for 20. Jim was now also finding his range and made short work of St Albans’ number 5 Milton, breaking his wicket for 4. R Telkman joined his younger brother at the wicket and played a forceful innings as his sibling at last perished, Dave taking a third stumping (this time off Jim) – a score of 85 featuring textbook shots all around the wicket. Sandi Channar – our hosts’ 1st XI wicket keeper – played some beautiful lofted drives in racking up 23 in no time. We reached the last over and Richard’s 7th challenging idea – Jim to bowl it. For once RH was right, Jim taking 2 more wickets (consecutive balls) and leaving what we thought was a reasonable 40 over target on an excellent pitch.
St Albans 220 for 7 off 40 overs
M Telkman st Stead b J Monahan 85
M Jones lbw McCann 19
D Glenister st Stead b J Monahan 21
D Watkins st Stead b Duckett 20
K Milton b J Monahan 4
R Telkman b J Monahan 24
S Channa not out 23
J Telkman ct Mayani b J Monahan 0
T Townend not out 0
Sagaar Mayani 3 overs 0 maidens 29 runs 0 wickets
Roger McCann 6 – 0 – 22 – 1
Anees Razzak 8 – 0 – 36 – 0
Lord Fakenham 8 – 3 – 13 – 0
Sami Razzak 4 – 0 – 29 – 0
Jim Monahan 7 – 1 – 40 – 5
Nick Duckett 4 – 0 – 41 – 1
At the splendid tea in the room at the top of the pavilion we discussed how we could have done better. Not dropping 9 catches (yes nine, neuf, ix) would have been a bonus. However our keeper only let through 2 byes (off one ball) and generally there was no Fine Leg in place so splendid work there.
Into bat and immediately a disappointment as Roger fell to an excellent catch at 3rd slip for 0. Anees played some expansive strokes but then galloped down the wicket looking for a sharp run, retreated and was spectacularly run out by a great piece of fielding for 6. Dave played a couple of good shots before being bowled round his legs by promising leg spinner Hall for 5. Some of us were put in mind of Peter May being bowled around his legs by Richie Benaud in the 1961 Ashes that took the urn back to Australia. Chirag took charge by playing some very elegant strokes but was not supported by Dave 2-Bats or The Gunthorpe Gamesman who collected a brace of ducks. Sagaar played some classy shots until Towned rattled his stumps and then the skipper made questionable decision number 8 by calling Chirag for a run and stupidly running our young stylist out. Scratch that – not a questionable decision, an outright stupid one. Richard then scraped around looking all at sea until he fell to the second excellent slip catch of the day for 2.
8 wickets down for 58. Could we get to the target? Don’t be stupid. However, Jim played some excellent strokes making us all look inadequate in an unbeaten 46 whilst Nick played the sort of innings that people used to enjoy in Test Matches back when he was a boy. Images of Trevor Bailey, Ken Barrington, Geoffrey Boycott and Chris Tavare all came to mind as Nick ground out an unbeaten 5 in what seemed like forever. Apologies to Sami who got a bit bored waiting to bat and was threatening to encourage a passing stray dog to leave a “present” in Nick’s kit bag. Still, I suppose we lost by (just) under 100 so some sort of limited respectability was reached.
SGCC 122 for 8 in 40 overs lost by 98 runs
Roger McCann ct Channa b J Telkman 0
Anees Razzak run out 6
David Stead b J Hall 5
Chirag Patel run out 21
David Hollingsworth ct R Telkman b J Hall 0
Lord Fakenham b J Hall 0
Sagaar Mayani b Townend 8
Richard Higginbottom ct Jones b Townend 8
Nick Duckett not out 5
Jim Monahan not out 46
St Albans bowling
J Telkman 8 overs 2 maidens 21 runs 1 wicket
J Hall 8 – 3 – 13 – 3
T Townend 7 – 2 – 25 – 2
D Watkins 6 – 0 – 17 – 0
K Milton 8 – 3 – 29 – 0
N Telkman 2 – 1 – 5 – 0
M Jones 1 – 0 – 5 – 0
Lovely bar and great company after the match – thanks very much to skipper Neil for hosting us and we’d love to play at St Albans again – we promise we’ll play properly next time (catching practice most importantly).