After an early season full of excess availability (thanks to all those taking part and to anyone patiently waiting for a place in the team) some late withdrawals and injuries meant we were only 10 strong heading into this match. Two more than the unfortunate opposition who suffered even worse t with late decliners. We switched Shah over to the Actors (thanks Shah) and agreed that the low score could go in twice and that we’d lend each other a fielder. This meant that with two umpires, a scorer, a sub fielder and the next two padded up, relaxation / extra curricular activities were at a premium. Thanks very much to all the Gardeners for taking on some extra duties.
Richard got back to his usual form and lost the toss. Actors captain Jamie Harper took the option to bowl first on a green top. With the excellent opening bowlers Arham and Nav, the rationale was clear. Stuart and Paul knuckled down well, aiming to see off the opening spells – almost done until Stuart steered one to Gully. Paulie J and Shahed reaped the benefit as Harper and Blackburn struggled to maintain the pressure, both of them belting the ball away. Shahed reached 18 before offering a tame catch to Forsythe; Paul got to 32 before departing in similar fashion. A spectacularly high number of extras kept the scoreboard ticking over; Nick added 5 and Sachith 10. Harper smelled a chance to pick up further wickets and reintroduced Nav, who trapped Jason in front of his stumps. Richard and Spike determined to see off the returning openers as well as Harper, who also bowled an excellent late spell. Spike hit some beautiful blows in a lively 25 before he was bowled by a ‘skyball’ from Mike; Ashwin played a classy unbeaten cameo of 9 and the captain was not out on 12 having failed to find the middle of his bat at all. 164 looks a tough challenge on this track.
Thanks to the team for bringing the tea – excellent teamwork. Stuart pinned Michael Keane in his first over to get the wickets column moving. Spike was achieving some big swing, but Arham climbed into a number of his deliveries, striking very cleanly. Although this was looking ominous, opportunities were coming but we weren’t completing the job – until Stuart bowled a lovely off spinner and the Actors opener hammered it to Sachith at Long On who took the swirling catch with a great deal of skill and courage. Shahed and Ashwin came on and put the Gardeners firmly into the ascendant with some darting seamers from Shahed and elegant flight and variety from Ash. Shahed took four wickets and could have achieved a five-for with some more objective umpiring (ahem). Ash took two and gave all the batsmen questions they were struggling to find answers to. Sachith and Jason strived for the final wicket in vain – can’t believe that seven magnificent overs from Jason in which the bat was beaten so frequently (3 maidens) didn’t get a wicket. We eventually took the final wicket in the last over, a bullet throw from Shahed testing Stuart’s reflexes at the stumps – the South Coast slammer did a fine job. Salmagundi!