Down to Ham on a cool and overcast day. The Bruce Family: Stuart, Graham and their Dad (Derek) are all playing so the Vice Captain is promoted today leaving your correspondent as opening batsman (I like this skipper) and shouty ‘keeper (bowling-BOWLING-BOWLING!!!). Stuart is however as hapless with the coin as Richard but gets the result we wanted as we were invited to bat.
Stuart and Richard were calm at the start, Richard accumulating a number of singles and Stuart doing likewise until he punched a classic straight drive down the ground. Ali then found a decent inswinger to knock off Stuart’s off bail; 22-1. Shahed joined Richard and was finding it hard to middle the ball because (a) he was trying out the newest of his three bats (note to David Hollingsworth: something to aspire to) and (b) Richard apparently kept stealing the strike (this is purely down to perception rather than reality I believe). Richard amazed most of the Gardeners by playing two drives through Extra Cover for four each and pulling a bouncer for four and was a bit disappointed to nick a wide one from Harper when he’d reached 30. Shahed changed his bat and now (apparently) Dom was stealing the strike off him (perhaps he’s getting paranoid). Very elegant strokes from our debutant (thanks to Sachith for bringing three friends along to get us up to 11 today), curtailed by Bob Forsyth taking a well judged catch off Amin. Sachith didn’t steal the strike from Shahed (because he very rarely calls) and this put our number three off, perishing for 36 after a lot of good quality shots and some furious running (his energy has returned post Ramadan). Sachith and Graham now combined brilliantly, accelerating the run rate in electrifying fashion until Sachith was caught and bowled by Ali for our top score of 46. Graham was caught on the boundary off the last ball of our innings for an enterprising 32. 198 for 6 off our 35 overs.
A good tea provided by Gabriel – always nice to have a mug of tea – even if the milk had been forgotten (but that was the only very minor gripe).
Back into the field and Hugh Dorman stood and delivered some lofted drives to get the Actors going whilst Stuart and Joe sought to gain control. Actors had got to 40 in six overs before Joe bowled Amin – backing away to leg to attempt to pierce the off side – off his legs for 16. Ali was playing a more conservative game than the last time we met, but is actually therefore more menacing – great control and selective power. Let’s see if Jason Amesbury can slow the scoring rate. Oh yes, the Clerkenwell Cobbler is swinging and cutting the ball today, many near misses and generally becalming the mayhem until Ali tried to clobber one and (surprising coincidence) was bowled off his legs. A period of attritional cricket followed in which we spilled some chances and got a little sloppy in the field at times – we managed to get this back after drinks when Dorman was bowled by a neat off-cutter from Priyankara for 35. Gabriel Hurst and Aadil were tentative at first and we should have pressed home our advantage, but then they both started to cut loose and the home team were now looking like favourites. The skipper brought back Joe for a late burst and he got the breakthrough, bowling Aadil for 45. Stuart came back on himself as Gabriel sought to monopolise the strike but then clothed a pull-drive to Jason at midwicket off Priyankara. Keep it tight for the last over Stuart – very good stuff – and we got a late bonus with a run-out off the last ball to emerge as winners by 7 runs (though it was thought to be 3 runs at the time, a technical review of the scorebook by your reporter in his rarely used forensic capacity showing that a no-ball hit for 4 runs had been included as both 4 no balls and 4 off the bat). I’ll get my anorak.