Match report: Allstars v Gents, 2nd August

St Anne’s Allstars CC v Gentlemen of West London CC, Saturday August 2nd 2014, at Barnes Common.

Well, we came close but at the end of the day the victory cigars had to be returned to their boxes for another year.

Having won the toss we put the Gents of West London (GOWL) into bat and the opening bowlers of Hampton and Chadwick immediately went about their business with relish. 

Chadwick was soon rewarded with his first wicket, followed by two more in subsequent overs. All three wicket balls beat the batsmen, homing in on the stumps beautifully.  At the other end Hampton, although taking no wickets, kept the opposition’s run rate low with good accurate bowling.

New recruit Edwin Pillans – duly dubbed Edwin All-STARR (dot ball, what is it good for? absolutely nothing, say it again…) – took over from Hampton and marked his debut with a wicket with only his second delivery. The batsman launched the ball into the air and ‘Carry the Bat’ legend Pete Cresswell took a great catch to his left. It was Cresswell’s first catch for the Allstars.

Unbelievably, the usually dominant GOWL were on the ropes and the Allstars dared to dream – could it be our year, finally?

But Gents are no push-over, as Allstars’ single victory over them in thirteen years shows, and their middle order steadied the GOWL ship. Cloete, who through some fine stroke play knocked up 100, was ably supported by Clark (58) and Patel (29).

Our fielding remained tight with good bowling spells by Seth (who took a wicket after his delivery was struck into the air and caught by Begley), and Thompson from the Vine Road end. It must be noted that Begley’s catch was all the more impressive as he was not the only one in the chase for the earth-bound ball – the other was the Colossus known as Cresswell. Fears for Begley’s demise were thwarted as Cresswell put on the air brakes as Begley nabbed the catch.

I came on as a third change and to my and everyone’s surprise, took three wickets, including another catch on the boundary by ‘safe hands’ Begley.

Pillans – dot ball what is it good for? absolutely nothing…say it again – marked his debut with a second wicket (caught and bowled) late on.

Despite good bowling and fielding, the square (and constant change of balls through ones being lost and alternative ones found in the bushes and kit bags) provided an excellent batting wicket, and GOWL posted a target of 229, for the loss of nine wickets.

A fine Allstars tea provided the required refreshment for round two.

Knowing the need for an immediate impact, opener Begley set about knocking the ball around the park and with the introduction of MacDonald at number four,  a great partnership began.

Together the pair punished loose balls, which landed either side of the boundary rope, and made many quick singles. The Allstars dream factory started whirring once again.

Begley posted a foundational 31 before being dismissed. Undeterred, MacDonald went on to form another partnership with Hampton. There was no let up – runs were needed and Hampton (25) and MacDonald obliged. Sam’s time at the crease was beautiful to behold and a final tally of 105 earned him the Allstars Man of the Match award. 

However, sadly, it was not to be. An Allstars total of 206 for seven was not enough, but it has been noted that it is our hghest ever score against GOWL.

So close, but no cigar.

It was a day full of excitement and testament to the wonderful game of cricket. And if one thing can be taken from the match it is the Allstars have a great fighting spirit. Long may it continue. Well done.

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