By Richard Higginbottom
It’s the last game of the season and the Sun has come out. 1pm start is agonisingly 2 minutes too early for Conor who narrowly misses his train and then has a fruitless afternoon tour of Far North London’s cricket clubs, garden centres and golf clubs. Left stranded by a flat phone battery and a lack of local knowledge by the … locals. Lots of lessons to be learned here but let’s not dwell.
Richard called correctly and, as we still had hopes of Conor’s appearance later, decided to bat. Accurate early bowling pegged back openers David Stead and Paul Jordan a bit, but they were resolute and it was important we didn’t lose early wickets. Both loosened up a bit until first change bowler D Sanders got an away swinger to clip Dave’s bat for a catch behind. Searing test of Richard’s technique ensued which actually he failed – but fortunately the fielder at first slip let him pass by default. Paulie J got out shortly afterwards, skying left arm spinner R Sanders to square – also for 24. Richard and George planned to accelerate but it was surprisingly difficult to do on the slowish (though very good) wicket. The skipper had the advantage of recently scoring runs on another slow wicket at Lyme and was first to hit the gas, hitting four 4s in three overs as his late season good form continued until he called unwisely after a Cover Drive straight to the fielder and was run out for 20. George picked up the rate with Paul B who made 10 until he ran himself out in almost identical fashion to Richard – belting a good drive straight at one of the home team’s very capable fieldsmen and calling incorrectly. George is now crashing into the ball and scoring a few boundaries but some fantastic outfielding – particularly by McKenna and D Sanders – kept our scoring rate in check; Sachith was similarly hitting the ball well and finding the fielders until he skied one that D Sanders (now back on bowling) took with consummate ease. Sam (making his debut) and Gopala were both unfortunate to be run out as we tried to garner quick runs at the end of our innings and keep George on strike – who completed a splendid unbeaten 51 to leave us with what is a useful score.
Tea in a proper pavilion with a monster teapot … excellent thanks to our hosts.
Now into the field and it’s obvious that Conor’s phone is dead as Richard can get no response – so we were supplied with a number of Enfield’s younger players as a sub (all of whom were very good) – thanks again. Gopala was quick from the off and the technical ability of the hosts batting was quite impressive as we managed (with Dave Stead at the other end) to keep the scoring subdued at the start. This persisted until Wood was undone by a superb inswinger from Gopala and a run out off Dave’s bowling by Sachith to get us into good shape in the game. Derrick Sanders – the pick of North Enfield’s bowlers – is also looking good with the willow and we know he’s the man to beat. Gilmore was then undone by a Stead inswinger and we may be slight favourites – but McKenna and D Sanders combined to get on top of our bowler as George and Jason bowled a lot of useful deliveries. At drinks we had made no further progress though we had shelled a catch or two. So how to break the partnership? the Whitley Bay Champion asked the captain. “Sachith” replied Richard. The Sri Lankan all-rounder took a few deliveries to find his line and length but then a ball of utmost quality – pitching on middle-and-off and clipping the top of leg stump – removed McKenna for a powerful and enterprising 43 that had comprised shots all around the ground. We still have a chance here as Gopala came back on to try to secure another wicket but couldn’t quite make the breakthrough. Dave Stead was similarly unlucky and on another day George could have taken 3 or 4 (must sharpen our catching up). Sam came on late and bowled an excellent over making the captain think (and the opposition comment) that we should have brought our debutant on earlier. Home skipper Malleson had played a superb support role to D Sanders and they remained unflustered and unbeaten at the end. A very good match against a fine group of men.