Saturday 12th September
Turning up at Court Lane for our return fixture with Castle Brom 2’s. All was set fair, the keys for the changing room were there, there were no bowlers for car park wars, Onkar had prepared the strip and the sun was shining, and warm too so a decent afternoon to look forward to.
A decent side on paper, perhaps with bowling bias, but enough to hope we could avenge our defeat last time. I walked out to the middle and, again, lost the toss and we were batting.
A solid, if unspectacular start from Dhruv Mahli and Luke Gillam was setting a foundation. Runs from the bat were not plentiful, but the extras kept ticking over. Indeed, we were seven overs in before the Court Lane curse struck. Dhruv flicked one down the leg-side and admittedly a good diving catch saw him go. To Dhruv’s credit he did walk as I was pondering whether it was a thigh pad (in the umpire position).
Then three identical wickets fell to a very late swing with each batsman giving the WTF look. Bowling from the bowling club end their bowler was tidy but contained. Then each batsman getting a swing on the ball so late that it moved from outside off on pitching to taking leg. This sadly put paid to Luke, who was getting ready to build an innings, Amaan Nassar who came in confidently struck a boundary and then got the swinger, and Reiss Chagar, again a confident start before swung out.
George Wyatt was doing a fine job in batting and became our top scorer with 21. He was doing really well running plenty of 2’s before playing one of his trademark shots, the cut through gully. Four was written all over the shot until a salmon-like dive by a fielder, with bigger proportions than my dad, flew through the air and caught him one-handily and held on as he bounce landed.
Zain Ali and I were then at the crease, dream of recreating or even beating our 99 partnership of the previous week came to the fore. Zain started in Zain fashion with two soundly hit fours, I whipped one off my legs to the fence too. The rebuild was on, but Zain chased a wide one, a really wide one and got the bottom edge to flip it to gulley and that dream was over.
A junior team renaissance was next with Sam Lumb joining me at the crease. Sadly, we recreated a junior league faux pas with Sam calling a run as the fielder is picking up the ball, I went and despite a dive that would have not been out of place in the Premier League, I was dusting myself down all the way back to the pavilion.
Tom Cleaver, Scotty Pepper and Ryan Delport all briefly wagged at the tail as we set a target of 105. We took to the field; they had their big destroyer set to come in at three and so my task was to try and give all a game with not many runs to play with.
Sam opened; I am hoping that the swing that Castle Brom got was coming our way. Sadly, the warm sun had burnt away those early conditions, but he started with a maiden. Zain came in from the housing end and ball number five dispatched the opener for a duck. In came the man mountain who played himself in slowly with two singles before taking a liking to Sam and dispatching him for two big 6’s. The other opener was king of the singles.
The score board was ticking over apace and by over nine 49 was on the board, I brought on the hot chilli to see if our luck could change and first ball to the man mountain from around the wicket, low hit on the pad, up goes the shout and Scott, followed by the umpire’s finger and the mountain crumbled.
This exposed a weaker underbelly and enabled us to make more of a game. Their captain, to his credit, made sure their “kids” would not be exposed to potential tail end-pressures and mid-teamed them. A very sensible learning. They gave Tom some target practice as he started with a caught and bowled before hitting the stumps three more times to finish with 8 overs, 1 maiden, 4 wickets for 9 runs, to vie with George for our player of the day.
This then brought maturity of mind and body back to the crease and in the 33rd over, yes, we got them that far, a four took them over the line and we were back for tea!