By Richard Higginbottom
Brilliant sunshine at Parliament Hill as we made our season bow at our favourite home ground. A number of the Salmagundi team had got there a bit early for some practice as our net session was a casualty of the weather on Thursday (so that’s why indoor nets are a good idea). Anyway, the skipper had promised diabolical consequences for anyone not getting there on time – then took 1 hour 20 minutes to complete a journey that usually takes 50 minutes. Note to London drivers – if you’re not carrying the cricket kit bag on a Sunday, use public transport. The Touran was loaded to the gunnels with food, team kit, stumps, boundary markers, water, cups, plates. As well as the captain and his own gear (he doesn’t travel light). Abdul have a new captain – Sheeraz – who was as adept as most of our opponents at calling correctly and took the intelligent option on such a lovely day of batting first.
Now, who’s bowling …. Chris P needs to open as Lord Fakenham is on his usual schedule (i.e. late). Crazy Paul B texts to say really sorry but he can’t make it / got home at 7am / blah blah. Captain uttered something that can’t be printed here and his Lordship showed up so he took the second over. Good start from both of them as Chris induced a nervy though quite powerfully struck uppish drive from ‘Big Toe’ Craig, opening for Abdul as usual. Induced a drop of course – after all, it was Chris a.k.a. ‘Unlucky Alf’. After some prodding and poking, Rob who was opening with Craig whispered some inaudible advice … “WHAT! Get on with it as we want to give our big hitters a chance?” boomed Big Toe. Someone with a Norfolk accent opined that we were trying to keep them both in to keep target small. Then the Noble Shoesmith got a snick from Rob and Mark wrapped those great hands of his around the ball for a very good slip catch. Craig’s calling had been a bit suspect up to this time and he next pushed the ball directly towards Matt and called new partner Vinnie for a sharp single. Vinnie remained unmoved and shouted “NO!”. Matt returned the ball to Chris S to complete a simple run-out whilst Craig ranted at Vinnie much to the amusement of the Gardeners. “Big NO!” someone said in a direct reference to Craig’s odd encouragement of “Big Toe!” to his own team-mates. Bruce came to the wicket and left quickly as a low-ish one from Fakenham rattled his off stump. We changed the bowling to off spin at one end (Jim) and not much spin at the other (Richard). Both batsmen decided to take the long handle but fortunately Vinnie did not quite get to the pitch of one from Richard and Chris P took an excellent juggling catch on the straight boundary. There then followed a period of attacking batting, good chasing in the field, but 3 dropped catches enabling a century stand to develop. Rohan broke a tile on the Parliament Hill staff offices; Richard told him “a real man would have cleared that building”; this almost did the trick as Rohan tried such an outrageous heave at the next one he completely lost balance and missed, the ball ricocheting around after hitting his boot but unfortunately dropping safely. Richard and Jim completed their allocation of overs and we tried returning to our two Hams (Pack- and Faken-) to get a breakthrough. Jason got two very close calls as he beat the bat a few times then the skipper took a good catch at deep midwicket but was agonisingly straddling the boundary. Time to roll the dice for the remaining overs … and Paul J and Nick were superb, each taking a wicket and stemming the flow of runs. That’s a high target, though … at least we got back up to 11 players just before tea as The Whitley Bay champion – turning up to umpire in his convalescence – agreed to play, being loaned a shirt by Dave H (i.e. 2-Bats has 2-Shirts).
Tea was well received. Someone said how much they appreciated the captain’s commitment. Thanks, that makes it worth it. Now get out there and make some runs.
Wish I hadn’t said that … neither of the Abdul openers were bowling a consistently good line and length (witness the very high number of extras) but every time they found a good ball it ended up sending a Gardener back up the hill to the bench. Mazbah took the top 3 -Paul J lbw for 1, Hollingsworth (8) and Packham (1) both bowled. Debutant Matt and Mark settled things down for a little while before Sheeraz delivered a good yorker to dispose of Matt for 5. Mark (4) was shortly after bowled via inside edge and boot (yes when the wickets are falling everything goes against us) by George. “Where’s Jim?” asked Lord Fakenham. The answer was obvious, our Founder Member was utilising Parliament Hill’s plumbing facilities and was literally caught short by the clatter of wickets. So the Baronet headed in to witness Chris S nudging one to Craig behind the stumps off George and now Jim was ready to see some action. A few lusty blows before the Praying Mantis was caught in two minds whether to belt or block one and gave Tom some catching practice off his own bowling. Fakenham quickly followed, Sheeraz finding a way under his Lordship’s bat. 8 wickets down and Nick and Dave are at the wicket with only 50 on the board. Nick displayed dogged defence whilst Dave played himself in for a short while before cutting loose with a Cover Drive for four. This was soon followed by a neat pick-up six off Tom immediately followed by a one-bounce straight four. I’ll have one of those Cortisone injections please! Eventually, just after the 50 stand Nick was bowled by Rohan. The target was now over 20 per over so Richard played cautiously whilst Dave stuck to shot making without ridiculous risks, bringing up a quality half century. The two accountants accumulated until Dave went after a wide one and edged behind to Craig to seal our defeat.
ABDUL AZIZ WON BY 106 RUNS