Cleo Laine sang about September in the rain, and some threatening skies in late morning gave us a bit of concern; but then, like Cleo, the rain forgot the script and skatted off somewhere else leaving us with an afternoon of hazy sunshine to enjoy a game against our old pals the French House.
Skipper Dave Stead lost the toss and opposing captain Johnny Spitfire invited us to field. Lots of start times had been bandied about for this game eventually settling on 2pm. Jeff arrived bang on 2pm and was still ahead of Nick and Lord Fakenham, the former giving the Ambassador a run out in the early Autumn sunshine. Dear old fellow in his braided uniform with a handlebar moustache (no not really – I’m referring to Nick’s car, the Duckmobile).
Chris Packham opened from the Finchley end, finding a length and keeping the batting in check whilst at the other end Roger opened for the second consecutive week and his extravagant inswing meant the batsmen were finding difficulty laying a bat on the ball. The pressure told in Chris’ second over, Jordan trapped right in front of middle stump. Poor old Johnny (umpiring) had no option but to send his team mate back to the bench. Reg then shaped up well as the other French House opener Ash was starting to get into his stride – but then got under a cover drive, the skipper making the catch look simpler than it was to give Chris his second wicket. In the meantime the French’s own Chris was so desperate to escape Roger’s guided missiles a second run was attempted to Nick; Dead-Eye Duckett took careful aim and threw down the stumps with a bullet-like throw. “I pity the fool that takes a chance on my arm” he said, removing his cap and showing off his new mohican haircut as his heavy medallion glinted in the afternoon sun.
Time for the Ghost … our guest from the Players Mike Callaghan was decent enough to reproduce his deadly accurate skyballs that he usually expertly delivers against us. The French were equally bamboozled as four very cheap wickets went to the nonpareil – the highlight being where Ghost made the batsman swing the bat so vigorously he dislocated his shoulder and two balls later (having put his arm back in – click! -ouch) stood miserably outside his ground as ‘keeper Jeff completed a stumping that Stevie Wonder would have been able to execute. I should point out at this point that two other stumpings in the innings were a just reward for a tidy display by our erstwhile lumberjack. Meanwhile Ash had been collecting runs imperiously and was becoming more proficient at harvesting the strike – which in the end was his undoing, a mix up leading to his demise for a fine 81. Much of this fascinating cricket was put in the shade by the moment of the match – Roger at short Cover took a stunning one-handed catch off a well timed Spitfire drive, giving our skipper the satisfaction of removing his opposite number. Jim’s excellent 7 over spell baffled us all as it was without a wicket – and The Lord Fakenham took his second catch of the season – again at Midwicket.
French House 120 all out off 34.2 overs
Jordan lbw Packham 3
Ash run out 81
Reg ct Stead b Packham 4
Chris run out 0
Spitfire ct McCann b Stead 7
Gordon st Round b Callaghan 0
Hubert ct Fakenham b Callaghan 2
Nick st Round b Callaghan 0
Andy b Stead 4
Lawrence st Round b Callaghan 1
Oscar not out 0
Chris Packham 6 overs 0 maidens 26 runs 2 wickets
Roger McCann 7 – 2 – 18 – 0
Mike Callaghan 5.2 – 1 – 12 – 4
David Stead 7 – 1 – 24 – 2
Lord Fakenham 2 – 0 – 16 – 0
Jim Monahan 7 – 1 – 15 – 0
Tea was as good a team effort as the fielding performance, Richard making a chocolate cake to commemorate his impending (is that an appropriate choice of word?) 20th Wedding Anniversary. Mrs H is lucky there isn’t a game on Wednesday. Still, I’m sure she’ll enjoy her surprise trip to Grace Road to watch Leicestershire vs Gloucestershire.
Into bat … Roger was as close as he gets to being Mr Grumpy following his early exit last week, and a steely determination was evident from the off as he dealt with some excellent deliveries from Spitfire and the wholehearted Ash. Suddenly – bang! – a loose delivery from Johnny – actually a head-high full toss – that Roger effortlessly deposited over deep square leg as the umpire called no-ball – the Gardeners’ reply was ignited. Roger was getting good support from the inside edge of opening partner Fakenham’s bat (actually I checked it between overs to see if it was broken so chronic were the sounds emanating from it). To be fair to the baronet (not something I usually am) a lot of us wouldn’t have got a bat at all onto many of the Spitfire and Ash yorkers. An exasperated Johnny cried “you lucky b*stard” at one point, the minor nobleman agreeing readily. Ash duly got his reward finally removing Fakenham’s leg stump shortly after the 50 opening stand had been reached. Adam then had to contend with further sharp deliveries, culminating with Johnny producing a Jaffa that our bold number 3 couldn’t keep out. The skipper came in and played some almost subterranean strokes, the bounce getting lower and Dave showing great adaptability in tailoring his game to garner runs. Roger was now batting like a millionaire: a textbook on-drive, a lofted straight drive, a checked pull that he ended up hitting straight back over the bowler’s head – marvellous stuff. The scoring rate duly accelerated and the target was reached with more than 10 overs to spare, Roger unbeaten for 67 superb runs, Dave not out 27.
SGCC 121 for 2 off 24.2 overs won by 8 wickets
Lord Fakenham b Reg 13
Roger McCann not out 67
Adam Wood b Spitfire 1
David Stead not out 27
Richard Higginbottom, David Hollingsworth, Jeff Round, Mike Callaghan, Chris Packham, Nick Duckett and Jim Monahan did not bat
French House bowling
Spitfire 7 overs 0 maidens 31 runs 1 wicket
Reg 7 – 1 – 17 – 1
Chris 5 – 0 – 32 – 0
Hubert 3 – 0 – 10 – 0
Ash 1.2 – 0 – 15 – 0
Lawrence 1 – 0 – 11 – 0