By Tristan Hadd0w-Allen
Sanford v St Anne’s Allstars, Sunday 22nd May, Pirbright
According to urban legend, Vegas casinos employ people who emit bad luck. They just have to sit next to a big winner, or brush them on the shoulder, and a winning streak turns to dust, fortune turns to ruins. If there’s any truth in it, James Morgan may have found a new career. Not since The Charge of the Light Brigade have the words ‘I’ve got a good feeling about this’ caused such foreboding. Every good Allstar knows that when Morgsy, bless him, thinks we’re on to a winner, disaster cannot be far away.
So it was that he increased the likelihood of disaster by bringing his family and newborn son to watch him captain the Allstars against old rivals Sanford at their new home in Pirbright. The day was sunny, although very windy, and the pitch looked hard and golden, surrounded by short boundaries. There must be hundreds of runs in that pitch…surely?
Morgsy won the toss and elected to bat. It was what everyone wanted…for about fifteen seconds. Sanford opener Cooke, young and with a bit of pace, quickly changed everyone’s minds. Third ball leapt viciously off a length and struck Venay on the arm, ricocheting over gully. The next couple of overs proved the pitch was going to be a fearsome opponent. No one fancied a bat any more. And then it began….
The slower Quantrell, from the other end, had Andy Reid caught for a duck. 3-1, and without a run off the bat. THA went in first drop. First ball was a big wide, just off the edge of the strip, and very late he decided to have a flash at it. He was probably the only batsman with the reach to hit it, and managed to scythe it to gully, the local football team’s star goalkeeper, and probably the only fielder who would have caught it. On another day it would have been 4, today it was out and the Allstars were 3-2. Cooke got another ball to rise sharply at Venay who topped edged a catch to the keeper. 4-3, all out for ducks.
Time for a captain’s innings. Quantrell got another one to shoot through low at Morgsy, LBW for 4. Four down now, but at least we were nearing double figures. Cooke came off after three lively overs and the bowling eased a little. MacDonald and Halladay began the fightback, slowly at first, then rushing towards their fifties. Sam was eventually out LBW to another shooter for 50, then Dave was caught hitting out for 51. The rest of the innings was over in the blink of an eye, no one reaching double figures, although notable for Sir Viv Seth striking his first four. He may well have hit several more, but Morgsy said ‘Vivek’s looking good’ and he was clean bowled next
ball, and we were all out on the strike of tea for 142.
Could it be enough? Could it? Just possibly, if we bowled really tightly and took our chances. Chadders got us started in the style we meant to continue, bowling five huge wides on the trot. Seven off the first over and not one of them off the bat. Oh dear. Haroon opened well from the other end, looked sharp and getting the ball to cut back off the seam to clean bowl Banks. The pitch was still causing problems, but mainly for stand in keeper THA. Runs flowed happily from wides, byes, and edges.
Rarely did we manage to put it on the spot and let the pitch do the work for us. Vivek came on and bowled the other opener, Broadside, then had Bailey caught and bowled. Suddenly we looked like we had a sniff. Sadly, we were wrong. Quantrell hit a chancy fifty supported by 26 from Young and they knocked off the runs pretty comfortably, our attack failing to threaten again
After the horror start we got off to, we did well to make a game of it, and plaudits go to Sam and Dave for fifties which were probably worth hundreds. Hopefully lessons were learnt and a sharper Allstars will greet our next opponents.