By Richard Higginbottom
Ah the early May Bank Holiday … usually about as useful a chocolate fireplace owing to its proximity to Easter and the Late May holiday … but this year the weather was very good. Several Gardeners had excellent foresight of this rare event and decided to book the weekend away leaving the skipper to scrape together an XI using intellect, cunning, wit and charm. So an impossible task, then …
One of SGCC’s best features is the ability to make friends so our recently formed alliance with the Wrong’Uns served us very well, four of their number joining us. Jeff managed to persuade Julia to hang on to the impending sprog for a few hours longer and that meant that the XI was formed. Game on … erm wait a minute … Abdul have fared less well than us and turned up with six. I heard Sean Connery’s voice in the back of my head: “Ishn’t that jusht typical … turn up to a cricket match with an Ice Hockey team”. [Note – name the movie I’m paraphrasing and you win a pint]. So two of the Wrong’Uns swiftly became Abduls (thanks Luke and Mike), we lent them a fielder – they had the audacity to win the toss – and game underway for 9-a-side, with lowest scorers batting twice.
Ricky Day and Steve Bulman coped pretty well with the opening salvoes from Abdul skipper Graydon and Arnold. Ricky picked up a number of handsome boundaries to anything straying off the stumps whilst Steve felt his way in. John Leonard replaced Arnold and took a while to locate the stumps, Steve cashing in. However, it was short lived as John’s second over saw him come into form, a good off cutter trapping Steve in front. 41 on the board so a reasonable start. Bobby had worn himself out getting his team-mates to support us and looked a bit out of sorts, nudging some singles before John found another fine delivery to remove him; now on 51 and Ricky still looking good. Jeff batted like a man enjoying his last few days of unbroken sleep, thumping two fours and looking authoratitive. Then he lofted one to Arnold who made the catch look easy, giving Luke a wicket. The big fella had bowled a good spell and earned the wicket … he then lost his line putting in a couple of big wides to bemuse Doosra Duckett who couldn’t reach the errant deliveries. Ricky told us Luke was getting tired as he doesn’t often bowl many overs. Yeah, right … next ball was probably the best delivery of the day, yorking the unfortunate Lancastrian. “Booger” I suspect he said. Mark Buttle … wow we’ve waited a long time for his second appearance – in 2011 Mark took a fine slip catch then got a duck on his debut. No such problem this time as he’d stroked a 2 and a 4 in his first four balls. Then Ricky who’d kept us in the game and was eyeing up a half century got an unplayable shooter from John and was skittled for 43. The skipper entered the fray and was given several short balls outside off stump and quickly got into double figures before a cunning ploy was devised by Abdul … occasional left armer Halward came on and bowled a succession of wides that proved beyond reach. Richard got distracted and eventually a ball was just near enough to reach … getting a thick outside edge and going swiftly above Luke’s head – who put his hands up and took a very good catch. “What a strangle!” the disconsolate son of Norfolk uttered. Stuart and Chris got 5 and 6 … the wicket was getting no better … then we were allowed our two lowest scorers to go back in … who both managed ducks second time around. So I’m not naming them in this report. Mark was unbeaten on 25 … a great second innings for the Gardeners.
After a splendid repast featuring the season debut of half a dozen boiled eggs (Salmagundi!) we took to the field. Chris opened from the Hampstead End and was neat and tidy – Stuart bowled seam up for a change and was pretty hostile from the Golders Green end, causing Rob Wilson to misjudge a good length ball in the fourth over allowing Jeff to pouch a good catch off the inside edge. 13-1. Abdul’s skipper Dave Graydon looked pretty unflustered as always whilst Smilie was being tested by our boys, culminating in Stuart pinning Smilie in front of his stumps to get our second wicket with 25 on the board. Come on! Stuart ramped the pace up a bit more inducing a false shot from Graydon but Steve at Point was not quite able to hang on to the catch. 10 overs gone and 50-2 so we’re a little behind. Steve and Ricky replaced our openers and both took a while to find a good length against some quality batting from Graydon and Arnold. The target was looming into sight but just when we were looking at the game fizzling out, Ricky found a ball from the top drawer to remove Graydon for a solid 48. Two balls later Ricky over-celebrated his second wicket as it was that of his brother Mike. In the meantime Bobby found a good ball to beat Halward, Jeff completing a good bit of cricket with a stumping. Luke came in and played with some confidence, causing Arnold to also settle back down and Abdul calmly scored the winning runs with an annoying degree of composure (from my point of view, obviously).
Abdul Aziz won by 5 wickets.