By Richard Higginbottom
So after quite a few weeks elsewhere in our cricketing world the Gardeners are back on Hampstead Heath Extension to take on Woodstock. Richard won the toss and as only 8 Gardeners were likely to make the start time, decided to bat. Bit of a mess on the batting order side as the prospective numbers 2, 3 and 4 were those gentlemen still en route. Adam never shirks a challenge so headed to the middle with the captain.
Usual tidy stuff from Bob and Darren for a start; Richard is looking to play some front foot shots and punched away a couple of decent drives then reverted to type and pulled one away for four off Bob. Then tried to repeat the same shot in the next over against Darren – ball not getting up – the result being an ugly (and plumb) LBW. Adam shortly after got a good ball from Bob and we were 14-2. Jeremy didn’t look the calm presence at the crease he has often been this season and was also back at the boundary in short order. Dave H then determined to dig in. Conor’s trying to work out whether to block it or bang it and as a result of being caught in two minds was also out in no time. 4 wickets down; quite a few overs gone and not very clever. Nick struggled for quite a while – he’s been away for a month doing up his new house, and figured it’s time Mandy wielded the paintbrush solo style whilst he attempted some repair work (it’s usually that way for a Gardeners’ number six) of a different sort. Tough and gritty innings ensued from both players until drinks at 18 overs when we were on 26-4. “Do you think I should get on with it?” Dave asked Richard. “Yes, all the latecomers can bat and they’re all here now. HEAVE!” came the reply. Not quite as easy as it looked. Darren returned and bowled some lovely stuff. Paul was immensely tidy and Alex proved very difficult to get away. Dave managed some good strokes after a while – Nick played some good cuts and pulls and compiled 22 all in 1s and 2s – and was run out on the last ball. Dave’s 63 featured just four 4s (to be fair he tried to strike a lot more, but a long outfield and (earlier) a misfiring bat didn’t help. No wonder they looked knackered as the 35 overs came to a close. A stand 0f 87. The skipper doesn’t think it’s enough runs. Jeremy said “you can only tell how good a wicket it is after both sides have batted”.
Salmagundi Gardeners 110 for 5 off 35 overs Higginbottom lbw b Darren 11 Wood b Bob 2 Hollingsworth not out 63 Gostick b Paul 1 Aspel b Alex 2 Duckett run out 22 Extras 9 Woodstock O M R W Bob 7 3 11 1 Darren 7 1 18 1 Paul 7 1 21 1 Alex 7 1 17 1 Noel 7 1 29 0
Tea was a magnificent spread, thanks very much to Woodstock for an excellent effort.
So, into the field and Stuart’s charging in like a bull, angry because he couldn’t quite figure out the answer to 23 across in the team crossword that came very close to completion during the epic stand. The opposition skipper (also named Stuart) stood firm. Dave S is opening up from the Golders Green end and produced some lovely outswingers, Bobby pushing forward to intercept came out of his ground and Richard removed the bails to get us underway in the wickets column. Next ball and Dave bowls what every batsman doesn’t want for his first ball – a yorker on the stumps. Kevin got his pads in the way but the umpire pointed skywards. Stuart vs Stuart continued at the other end as Bob slammed a couple of big hits – a four off Stuart and a six off the only bad ball Dave bowled. “Focus, pitch it up, make him drive” said Dave to himself – a good length ball on the stumps ensued; Bob eased forward and slammed the ball like a shell at the middle of the umpire – can he get out of the way in a split second to enable it to get to the boundary? In less than a blink of an eye, the Whitley Bay Champion dived to his right and IT STUCK. An outstanding catch which Bob – great sportsman as well as a super cricketer – was quick to recognise, shaking Dave’s hand as he returned to the boundary. Lord Fakenham has replaced Stuart at the Hill end and is finding some extravagant inswing to left hander Darren to keep the pressure on. Dave’s in his pomp now and Stuart was undone with another yorker. The baronet is a most generous fellow but wants a bit of the attention himself and finds a pearler of a delivery himself to account for Paul. As Dave has a chance of a five-for the skipper keeps him on but we’re into our fourteenth (and Dave’s last) over so it looks like a nearly-but-not-quite until on his penultimate ball another full length ball swung in enough to get the faintest of inside edges off Darren’s bat before going on the rupture the woodwork. Every way you look at the scorebook Dave’s performance is outstanding – 5 for 14 off 7 and the batsmen he got out – numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Richly deserved as well – line, length, movement and variety all rewarded. Jason won’t be totally upstaged and bowled Alex with another jaffa, his own analysis of 2 for 11 off 7 being remarkable. Let’s apply The Clamp – and Tim was also very tidy, picking up Noel’s wicket with a classic off spinner sneaking its way through the gate and just dislodging the bails. Stuart’s not going home empty handed – bowled his fast off breaks instead of seam up and sent David back to the boundary (also bowled). So one more wicket to get … and Tim’s arm ball claimed a faint tickle by Hugh and Richard closed his gloves around it to seal the victory. Jeremy the tea-time sage proved right.
Woodstock 57 all out off 23.4 overs Stuart b Stead 4 Bobby st Higginbottom b Stead 0 Kevin b Stead 0 Bob c & b Stead 12 Darren b Stead 13 Paul b Amesbury 3 Alex b Amesbury 1 Hugh c Higginbottom b Clamp 4 Noel b Clamp 0 David b Bruce 0 Brian not out 4 Extras 16 Salmagundi Gardeners O M R W Bruce 5 0 11 1 Stead 7 3 14 5 Amesbury 7 2 11 2 Clamp 4.4 2 6 2
SALMAGUNDI GARDENERS WON BY 53 RUNS