Where are we going now? Alexandra Palace … our numbers were looking a bit low then we reached full complement as Toby (working from home nearby) and Dave H (leaving Nicky in charge of the house for the first time) threw their Gardeners caps into the ring. Amazingly we all got there on time, Stuart apologising for being late was quite amusing as it was 5.54pm when he showed up – and as he changes faster than Superman, effectively that’s 10 minutes to spare for us men not of steel. As we had a full team, Stuart agreed to bowl first with Sachin and Nik opening up, bowling tidily as Nik removed Dodd for 6 to get us going. Bailey and Torrance combined well to put CIPA into the ascendant and they saw off the openers; Stuart got Bailey out for 24 (caught by Nick) and shortly after Torrance retired having reached 25 in very short time with a wide range of power hits. Now we’re in the fiddly middle bit and Stuart’s bowling an inspired spell. However, Graham is not going to be outdone by Big Brother and reacted well to being slapped to the boundary by getting out Fraser, caught by John. Then immediately had Bell caught by Nick. And … the very next ball … bowled Duffy for a golden duck. HAT TRICK!!! We were delirious; Sachin thought I’d thrown myself backwards attempting a back flip (no – I’d fallen over having lost my balance celebrating). By the time I got up to hug Graham (not very manly, but this is a rare thing), Sachin (apparently accidentally) punched me in the mouth. Not too much blood and nothing broken (phew). We continued to bowl well (could have been a bit tidier fielding) with Toby and Matt also getting wickets. Oddly only Sachin failed to get one – though he only went for 14 in his 4 overs. It’s 135 to win.
Dave and Gavin had to cope with the odd combination of Spurr (fast medium) and Pidgeon (prodigious off spin) and the winged wonder removed Dave with a low bouncing big turner that he played on. Toby was very composed as Gavin, John and Matt toiled against continuing tidy bowling, Duffy and Bell being particularly difficult to get away. However, there were lots of wides which augmented our score, though we could have done with reaching a few of them to dispatch to the boundary as we crept behind the rate. Josh and Graham attempted to apply the necessary humpty as Toby retired and the required rate increased, but we kept losing wickets. Stuart looked good but was run out in the maelstrom. Sachin couldn’t get on strike. Nik tried to hit the ball onto the palace roof when the runs-per-ball equation was becoming extreme, resulting in Richard hitting his only ball (last of the innings) for 1, leaving us 11 adrift. Dammit, it’s a close match every year against these boys but we haven’t won one yet.