It rained the night before; it’s cold, barely struggling up to double digits celsius. Therefore it must be the cricket season. The Gardeners mustered for the first time at Edmonton, intrepid captain Higginbottom finding this new fixture. The skipper called correctly and for many reasons (damp wicket, uncertain of opposition, good manners when visiting a place for the first time) inserted our hosts.
Vice captain Stuart Bruce opened from the Pavilion End and the Edmonton openers were very circumspect as Stuart and opening partner George Tebbutt (on debut) always looked likely to get a wicket against some stout defence. The breakthrough came in the fifth over when Bimal edged off Stuart to present George with a slip catch that he took well. This ushered in Imran who announced his intentions early with a square drive to the boundary off Stuart. We were maintaining pressure pretty well at this stage and this resulted in the run out of Loui, who prodded to Paul Jordan at Cover and set off for a run Imran was simply not interested in. Paul returned neatly to keeper Chris Spicer to complete the run-out. Time to change the bowlers and Jason Amesbury took over from the Pavilion End whilst Sachith Dassanayake deployed his speedy off-spinners at the North End. Sachith was struggling with the still quite new ball that was kept shiny by the damp outfield and Imran took advantage with some powerful strikes either side of the wicket. So Jeremy Gostick put in three overs and also got some harsh punishment – but the figures don’t show two dropped catches. Jason was similarly unlucky as we toiled in vain for a breakthrough, Abbas Ali also driving and pulling very well in a century stand with Imran which was eventually broken by the returning Sachith – Abbas clubbing the ball straight to Jason at wide Mid On who took the catch cleanly. Paul meanwhile had commenced a superb spell, constantly troubling the batsmen and resulting in the delivery of the day – a quicker ball that smashed into Peiris’ off stump. Imran completed his century and remained unbeaten. At least we kept them under 200 (just).
Richard and Paul opened up in reply and found the bowling to be very tight, the only boundary early on being a snick by Richard between ‘keeper and slip. Richard duly perished to Chung when he got a thicker edge to one and Loui at slip made quite a hard chance look easy. 6-1. Paul edged one off Beaumont and Loui took another slip catch; 6-2. Can Matt Incleden and Jeff Round stop the rot? Matt pulled a rare short ball from Chung in the air but unfortunately located Fayaz Ali at MidWicket. 12-3. Jeff had thumped a boundary but then got beaten by a sharp off-spinner from Beaumont and it’s 12-4. The captain has at this time taken over scoring duties and gets some sort of idea what it’s like to be an accountant at wartime, counting the bodies down in rapid succession. A bit of resitance followed … Keshan Dickwella and Sachith put on 14 until Keshan was lbw to Chung. Sachith continued to smash the ball until he was out lbw to Chung also for 21 off just 10 balls. 33-6 now and I’m starting to recite Morrissey (you know which song). Stuart decided to dig in, but (in his own words) succeeded only in getting deeper into a hole, lbw to Bacchus for a duck. I was hoping Bacchus would be running the post-match entertainment, but this didn’t happen. Chris was showing dogged resistance unlike Jason who was unlucky to get a Bacchanalian Beauty first ball for an aquatic fowl of the golden variety. George batted splendidly thank heaven as he and Chris put on 40 for the 9th wicket and more than doubled our score (35 to 75) until he miscued back to the bowler to give Bacchus his third wicket. Jeremy was left unbeaten on 0 as Chris’ vigil ended via top edge and face to the keeper Peiris off Abbas Ali. So as the late great Richie Benaud would put it, we simply need to improve our batting, fielding and bowling.