Down to the cricketing oasis amongst the North London hills that is Shepherd’s Cot. Oasis a little too accurate on this occasion. Heavy overnight rain had created a six foot stretch of mud between the pavilion and the outfield that meant that sartorial elegance was abandoned earlier than usual. Out to the middle to toss up … determined to be decisive, we should bat first – more batsmen, try to put the opposition under pressure, etc. Then I arrived at the square – obviously need to bowl first as a brisk wind and the temperature rising should mean a better batting wicket later. All academic as I lost the toss and we were put in to bat.
Our friend from the French House Paul Jordan joined Adam to open up. Adam crashed a boundary back over the head of opening bowler Davies. A fielder moved back to cover the shot. Repeat ball, repeat shot … yes you’ve guessed it Adam on his way back to pavilion. Stuart joined Paul and both were very watchful against some accurate swing bowling, both looking increasing comfortable until Paul received a superb outswinger from Davies that started on leg stump and would have hit middle-and-off. Well, that’s how I saw it as I raised my finger. I tried not to cry as it tends to give the game away that I’m desperate for our boys not to get out. Tom faced a few before having his stumps rearranged by Connell with a superb yorker. Oh dear now we’re in a scrap. 2-Bats played sensibly with Stuart in very testing conditions as the opening bowlers were replaced by canny spinner Holmes and Mr T-lookalike Fowler (“ain’t no crazy fool gonna block one o’ my inswingers”). Dave’s been shuffling across his stumps of late (I keep telling him not to copy me) with the consequence of deliveries with late movement making lbw appeals difficult to deny. Laser-like accuracy from Homes unfortunately did for Dave … some footwork drills necessary in the pre-match knock up on Saturday in Lyme. Maybe in the car-park where we make our coffee stop. Lord Fakenham hit some nice shots – actually a very good late cut featured – but one stopped on him and our rout continued. Stuart had been playing some classy stuff at the other end with some delightful off side strokes featuring. But then tickled one behind off Harry Brown (just after Fakenham had said “Harry is there to hit where you like”). Chris hit a lovely pull for 4 and looked a bit more comfortable than he has been in his “annus horribilis” with the willow as he made his way to double figures, then stroked a handsome off drive … only to have it brilliantly caught at short mid-off. ‘I should have hit it harder’ he berated himself with on the walk back to the mudslide. Jeremy and Richard joined forces. “No risky singles” the skipper advised. Jeremy spanked a 4, then Richard hit a square cut straight to a fielder and called for a run. Jeremy gamely took it on but the throw beat him. That’s another Gardener who won’t be sending me a Christmas card. Paul joined the fray and belted a splendid pull-drive over midwicket for 4 then got out. Nick was given not out by committee decision – those nearest the bat agreeing it was a bump ball, the bowler and umpire thinking it was. Richard got a beamer that smacked him on the wrist (karma for Jeremy’s run out) and was so incensed he smashed the ball back over the bowlers head later in the over. He decided to keep the strike against the beamer-bowler so Nick wasn’t going to end up with rearranged features. Unfortunately Richard didn’t tell Nick and the innings ended in farce as Nick trotted through for an easy run with Richard belatedly sending him back and then being run out himself. Oh well the Gardeners in the pavilion had a damn good laugh.
SGCC 119 all out off 34 overs
Paul Jordan lbw Davies 3
Adam Wood c G Brown b Davies 4
Stuart Caughlin c Morgan b H Brown 35
Tom Monahan b Connell 0
David Hollingsworth lbw Holmes 6
Lord Fakenham c G Brown b Fowler 13
Jeremy Gostick run out (Higginbottom) 9
Chris Packham c Storm b Davies 10
Richard Higginbottom run out (Higginbottom) 9
Paul Brasted c Storm b Holmes 4
Nick Duckett not out 0
Tea was alright but terrible bought cake (didn’t know you could cut cake that small) and nasty biscuits spoiled it. Bread was a bit dry too. Cold pasta? Coming to think of it, tea was rubbish. Please let me know if our standards ever drop this low.
Into the field and Chris bowled a very tidy spell with no luck whatsoever – his first four overs costing just 9 runs but then Chris took a breather after five. Lord Fakenham opened from the other end and was constantly threatening (with the ball I mean, he didn’t challenge anyone to a duel). He delivered a splendid ball that Richardson inadvisedly tried to hit back over his head that spreadeagled the stumps. He was also unlucky not to have G Brown caught early in his innings. Fowler joined G Brown and the strollers commenced steady accumulation, Bruiser Brasted taking a little while to find his range but then hitting a fine line and length after switching to round-the-wicket. The skipper rolled the dice and brought on Nick, who has got the opposition’s best batsmen out more than once this Summer. Unfortunately the aerial balls didn’t get close enough to fielders so Stuart and Dave H tried their luck, but by this stage our meagre total had proved insufficient to defend.
Strollers 120 for 1 off 22.1 overs
G Richardson b Amesbury 18
G Brown not out 50
S Fowler not out 39
SGCC LOST BY 9 WICKETS