By Richard Higginbottom
It’s the first leg of a Parliament Hill double-header against our good friends Woodstock. Consternation at the start of the afternoon as the captain showed up following his “Discover the Regent’s Canal” guided walk – click here for more details if you fancy attending one of his monthly walking tours from Angel to Camden. Most of the Woodstock players are there plus Lord Fakenham and Doosra Duckett. What’s happened? Richard had agreed a 2pm start with Kevin; Darren had advised 1pm to his team-mates. I thought these communication issues only happened during one of the SG captain’s all-too-frequent run-outs. Anyway, we got away at 2pm after Richard had once again called correctly and taken the option to bat.
The two Daves got us off to a good start, the new cherry biting into the middle of Dave Stead’s bat particularly well as the ball started to ping around the Hill. However, the Whitley Bay Champion didn’t quite get enough on a leg-side clip off Darren and Noel took a neat leg side catch behind to return Steadley to the boundary for 16. Kalpesh is now right into his groove and a good delivery stayed low to defeat number three Michael Day for 2. Solid rebuilding stand by Jeff and Two-Bats as Kalpesh and Darren continued to probe. The Seal Clubber had hit a couple of handsome fours and then Kalpesh skittled him for 9. This was swiftly followed by Mike Smith bagging a debut duck (read on, it gets better later on for him) and we were now in considerable trouble at 44 for 4. Which then became 45 for 5 as Mark got Darren’s best delivery of the day and then Dave’s innings was ended for 9 by a straight one from Bob in his first over (a wicket maiden). 49-6. And very soon Adam holed out to Paul off Lorne (a good catch) and we are now on 51 for 7. The captain thinks “we need to double this score to be competitive” as Lord Fakenham takes guard. Nick digs in determinedly at the other end and the pair add 15 – Jason playing a couple of good shots – before Bob bowls the shoesmith for 11. The captain joins Nick at the crease and there’s quite a lot of overs left … a policy of getting runs safely is deployed as Richard and Nick managed to hang in whilst picking up around 3 runs per over (Extras helped a bit). Three overs left and Richard opens up – Stuart must be getting itchy – and then swipes across a straight one to go for 15 – releasing Stuart into the fold who works well with Nick to get a quick unbeaten 8 (Nick also undefeated on 9) as we closed on 102-9. So perhaps we are competitive.
After a delightful tea we’re back out into the field with Richard (as he always says when we’ve batted first and are a few runs under par) reckoning “we can win this”. Woodstock openers look high class (Kalpesh) and resolute (Paul) until Stuart bowls a neat off-cutter to castle Paul for 3. The South Coast Seamer then works with opening partner Mike Day to test both batsmen resulting in another wicket for Stuart as Noel goes for 1. Here’s the Woodstock captain and batting nonpareil Bob. The wicket is not very good and the bowling is handy so scoring is a little difficult and then Michael bowls a quality ball to trap Kalpesh lbw for 22. Our opening bowlers established such a great rhythm the captain felt obliged to bowl them both through their allocation of seven overs, having faith in the rest of the Gardeners attack. Faith richly rewarded as Jason induced a lofted drive by Bob to MidWicket which Stuart made look easy, running backwards and steadying himself to take high above his head. Darren’s still there and playing good shots as Mike Smith starts to spin his magic spell and traps Alex Huby lbw and shortly afterwards bowls Alex – both for 1. Jason won’t be outdone and traps Lorne lbw for a duck. Mike has been frustrating Darren by bowling a tight line on the left-hander’s legs, restricting his room to advance and drive. The frustration this caused was then milked by a slower ball that had been given more of a tweak, finding the outside edge and describing a perfect parabola to the waiting Mark Buttle at slip. Indeed it features on a short section of the game captured by a spectator on his ipad – click right here (good work Jeff in getting the clip). Kevin played some handy shots but was left without partners as Mike induced a catch off Bob S to Dave H – diving forward at short Cover – and then Dave Stead had Brian fend off a ball to Stuart at Point. Excellent bowling by the Gardeners – all took wickets. Salmagundi!