By Richard Higginbottom
The skipper managed to confuse everyone before this match by stating the wrong location; fortunately Jim spotted the error and got us all to Golders Green; except Paul who managed to avoid 2 emails and 2 text messages. Good job he was on his motorbike – he got there just before the start. Richard won the toss and took the option to bat as the temperature was 28C and not going to abate for a while. Bendev had brought lots of drinks and lots of ice … what excellent planning.
Richard opened the batting with Chris and took advantage of a couple of short balls outside off stump to play two trademark cuts for four. Well that’s how I like to regard them … though to be honest my trademark is more like a stupid run-out or a spoon up to Cover. Anyway, Chris decided to adopt the latter one of my failings (uncharacteristic for him) and perished early. Toby came in and hit a lot of beautifully struck drives – almost without exception straight at fielders. Richard stroked a full toss away through Extra Cover. Shane came on and bowled a good off-cutter to have Toby lbw … a faint nick was later reported but no-one on the Salmagundi side who was close to the fray heard it. Debutant Sas strode to the middle and faced some fine bowling by Nish and Shane before getting on the wrong end of a shooter by Shane. We’re now 30-3 and in serious trouble as Jim walks in to report a groin strain to his captain that will limit his running. Didn’t look in too much trouble as he clattered a Cover Drive straight to the fielder and called for a run … the captain was having none of this and sent him back; Mr Monahan was lucky to retain his wicket owing to the sort of fielding inefficiency that usually blights the Gardeners. “Keep calling like that and you’re batting at 11 for the rest of the season” advised the surly East Anglian. Jim was playing very well against tight bowling … just as well as Richard hardly seemed to be getting any of the strike. Jay bowled some off-spin which was dealt with quite well by the Gardeners until Richard attempted to pull a rare long-hop … only succeeding in giving a soft catch to Sunil at midwicket. Jeremy followed in almost identical fashion soon after. Conor hit a super lofted drive. Jim continued battling along but was caught by Sunil at slip – a superb low catch – off Sagar. Conor was then caught by Sunil at slip – a superb high catch – off Mihir. The returning Richard The Hammer got one that stayed low. Paul played some excellent shots including two sublime fours but was caught at the wicket for 11 though he didn’t hear or see a nick … so fair play to Jim (now umpiring) who gave it out. The 9th wicket had now fallen with exactly 100 on the board. Earlier in the week the captain had reminded the team of the rotation policy for the not-so-coveted number 11 slot and all-rounder Stuart was taking his turn. He belied his number 11 position as well as number 10 Vikas (on debut). Expansive strokes sent the ball in all directions – lots of 4s swiftly moving the score onto 132 before Vikas chanced his arm once too often off Nish who had impressed us throughout the innings with his pace and movement.
Tea vs Bendev is the stuff of legend … the sandwiches were very pleasant but the Samosas, Pakoras, Dalia Ghapta, lime pickles and savoury spice cake were truly marvellous. Thanks very much this was a real treat.
Crazy Paul strapped on the pads and we re-emerged into the searing heat to try to take the wickets to win the game … a tall order, I think we needed at least 150. Toby takes the new cherry and thunders down the hill, building his pace up to a crescendo; or as Paul put it following another tumbling take “b****y hell Toby!”. Vikas hasn’t played for a while but was getting a lot of movement up the hill with his off-cutters and we certainly look to be in the game. Jay’s monopolising the strike and dealing pretty well with the bowling. Toby’s third over … quality ball finds the outside edge of Jay’s bat … screams past Paul – Richard at slip puts out his left hand and it STUCK! SALMAGUNDI! I have to say I felt 10 feet tall. Perhaps I will take that job I was offered catching bullets between my teeth. In the meantime Vikas has found a probing line outside off stump so the captain moves Stuart into 2nd slip and immediately Kenny edges a low chance which Stuart expertly holds. This makes Vikas look very proficient and Richard appear a tactical marvel.
Vikas very unluckily twisted his ankle after 2 balls of his fourth over; Richard finished the over which got Sunil off to a flier as he struck 2 fours. Chris bowled a tidy over after replacing Toby down the hill and then Jim struck in his first over (a wicket maiden) trapping Sunil in front. Chirag and Vishal took the option to consolidate against some very accurate bowling from Jim and Chris, nudging runs here and there as the field got pulled in. Chirag was successful in picking off the odd loose ball; Vishal bided his time until Chris tired a little in the withering heat and he teed off in the Kentish all-rounder’s fourth over. Stuart took over just as Chirag upped his scoring rate and the game was starting to look lost … time for drastic action thought Richard and Toby was re-introduced. Immediate impact: Vishal’s off stump knocked back by a fast yorker, swiftly followed by Prakul offering up a simple return catch. Jim’s now into his stride, though Chirag temporarily broke the shackles with the shot of the day – straight six back over the Architect’s head. Very soon after Chirag’s fine innings was ended as Jim got one to rattle the stumps. Six down now and 15 to win … at least we’ve made it look respectable. That’s not enough for Jim who bowled Bhavish and Mihir in quick succession to set up a grandstand finish. Jim’s allocation is up – Stuart takes over and keeps beating the bat, as does Toby. Couple of loose ones from Stuart are skilfully dealt with by Shane. Then Toby steams down the hill, Shane takes a big heave and the ball spins erratically off the toe end of the bat in a high loop over the keeper’s head … Richard runs back from first slip, gets both hands on it …… but agonisingly can’t hold on. I’m nearly in tears recounting it. Scores now level and Shane makes no mistake with the next ball, hitting it for a handsome four to win the game. What a great match.
Bendev won by 2 wickets