By Richard Higginbottom
Another beautiful Sunday and we’re up at the Hampstead Heath Extension to take on Antares. At 1.40pm there are about 6 players altogether on both sides. At 1.50pm it’s 20. Were they all hiding in the bushes? Anyway, Richard won the toss and so can’t claim to be permanently unlucky with the coin because that’s about even this season, and we took to the field as we are well aware that Antares have a fine bowling and fielding side so we want to test their batting.
Lord Fakenham’s outswingers were working nicely in the opening gambit, but The Prodigy (Stuart) stormed up the hill to skittle the opposition skipper Joe Banks for 3 in our second over. A solid stand by Henry Llewellyn and Hugo Boatwright ensued as Fakenham and Stuart completed four overs each before Jeremy came on for the baronet and got Boatwright to swing one away to deep midwicket where Conor took the catch tidily. At the other end Crazy Paul Brasted was having a challenging time, Llewellyn belting everything he could reach. The score was galloping along but Jeremy found another good ball to lure Piercy down the wicket, Chris Spicer expertly completing the stumping. Westgarth now batted very well with Llewellyn as the score continued to move along … so the skipper deployed the brake (he hoped) with the introduction of Roger. Phew! That worked … the scoring rate eased off and Llewellyn’s excellent innings was brought to an end by a trademark inswinger from the Ulster Maestro. Montgomery (though I only saw one badge on his cap) smashed a couple of fours and then attempted another … the cross batted swipe achieving a top edge off Jeremy, skilfully taken at slip by Roger. So this is working well … and Richard takes Roger off after just 3 overs … is he mad? Amidst this maelstrom Stuart had taken a painful blow on the end of his index finger and was currently laying recovering with his hand between two ice blocks as we ploughed on with ten men. So what the captain had done was to switch Roger to down the hill as Jeremy’s excellent spell ended, bringing Will Towers on up the hill. Will showed a lack of match practice, struggling to get his length right with Westgarth and Norman profiting; final ball of his spell was a beauty, could easily have been lbw. So … Stuart’s just come back on but at around 40% his usual intensity … captain decides to have a whirl himself. Roger finishes a very tidy spell and Fakenham comes back on down the hill. Pretty soon he’s induced a top edge from Westgarth, Will taking a steepling catch comfortably at midwicket. The batsmen had crossed so the next ball was a pearler that castled Norman who’d hit a brisk 20. Winter and Flynn tried to move the score on … skipper had one put down and another missed (both very difficult) – but thanks to team mates who encouraged him to keep bowling … the elbow not giving so much pain today (perhaps it’s finally on the mend). The nobleman got a third wicket as the ball cannoned off Flynn’s heel for an lbw before Winter and Leaman put bat to ball in the final couple of overs to take Antares up to 201.
Tea … an experiment this week as the skipper bought some long and short baguettes, cooked meat, Hummus, vegetarian pate, Kettle chips (the rest fairly standard). This saved me over an hour of sandwich making on Sunday morning and went down (literally) very well, so I’ll use this model again.
Into bat … Higginbottom or McCann to open with the other at 3 (Paul J being the fixed opener)? The captain elected himself 3 and watched as Roger got a jaffa from O’Neill to return to the boundary for a duck. Good line and length with considerable swing … it was easy to determine the reason for Roger’s undoing. Paul was laying down anchor, correctly surmising that this was going to be a tough challenge. Richard played a neat cut and punched a cover drive before swinging across a low full toss to offer up a simple chance from a leading edge . 2-Bats got another beauty from O’Neill who now had all 3 wickets whilst we had only 10 on the board. Conor hung around a while but also recorded a duck as Flynn (who’d relieved Norman) induced a catch to Banks at Point. Now at last a stand was put together as Chris and Paul worked the bowling around for a while (there was no weak link in all of the Antares attack) until Paul got out in identical fashion to Conor. Lord Fakenham attempted a big drive but could only locate Llewellyn at Mid Off as Banks joined the wickets column. Soon after Chris went in exactly the same way. Will hit a handsome 4 but then Westgarth (who bowled a fine spell) bowled him for 6. Stuart had come in down the order because of his injury but played a controlled innings and looked comfortable against the continuing excellent bowling. Jeremy kept him company well as our biggest stand materialised until the fearsome Boatwright (having been cudgelled for four over Mid On the previous ball) shattered his wicket. Paul B tucked one around the corner then Stuart was caught attempting to add to his score and we’d gone down to a comprehensive defeat. Well played Antares.
Salmagundi Gardeners 89 all out off 31 overs McCann b O'Neill 0 Jordan c Banks b Flynn 11 Higginbottom c & b O'Neill 5 Hollingsworth lbw b O'Neill 0 Aspel c Banks b Flynn 0 Spicer c Llewellyn b Banks 11 Amesbury c Llewellyn b Banks 0 Towers b Westgarth 6 Bruce c Westgarth b Winter 21 Gostick b Boatwright 7 Brasted not out 1 Extras 27 Antares O M R W O'Neill 4 0 4 3 Norman 4 1 6 0 Montgomery 3 1 8 0 Flynn 5 0 11 2 Banks 4 1 12 2 Westgarth 3 0 6 1 Winter 5 1 17 1 Boatwright 3 0 14 1 ANTARES WON BY 112 RUNS