Sunday 7 June 2015, London Playing Fields, Boston Manor.
Toss won by: Gents.
Allstars debut: MHJ Murray.
By Garreth Duncan
The Gentlemen of West London are one of our oldest and friendliest rivals in social cricket. Our long history of fixtures against them has yielded just two Allstars wins and the odd near miss amidst a number of painful drubbings. Last year we had run them much closer than usual, and they came into this fixture having unusually lost their opening four games. For 15 overs we dared to dream of a third Allstars victory, only for normal service to then resume in the cruellest of defeats.
The ground was a new one for us, and the pitch looked a very good one for batting with a temptingly short leg-side boundary from the pavilion end. My bad luck with the toss continued, as Gents skipper Horace Hibbert called correctly and unsurprisingly chose to bat first. But we were to get off to an incredible start as Paul Bowman, charging in down the slope, struck twice in his second over, rearranging Hemin Patel’s stumps before Sachin Desai aimed an ambitious drive over the top for Ben Hampton to take a steepling catch at mid-off. Unbelievably, in KP’s next over Nilesh Dubey attempted the same shot and fell in identical fashion, and the Gents were 20 for 3. As KP remarked himself, a most un-Gents like start.
Nick Chadwick fared less well from the other end as the Gents began to find their way back into the game. Haroon Khalid, who had bowled well without any luck in the previous games as catches had gone down, replaced him and finally took the fielders out of the equation as he produced a crackerjack yorker to bowl Praveen Bocha. Next over, Ben repeated the dose from the other end as he wrecked Mamidi’s stumps with a full delivery. The Gents were 56 for 5 and we were pinching ourselves.
Bearded opener Jonny Small had watched the devastation from the other end while his own wicket looked far from secure. A run out chance went begging as he dawdled in mid-pitch, and he began to unveil his shots as he and Komal began the Gents fightback. Komal was living dangerously too as a couple of shots just evaded the fielders. At drinks they were 92 for 5 with the game in the balance.
We gave both of them a life just afterwards, a desperately tough chance at gully and a skier at mid-on both going down, and another run-out opportunity was missed as Chadders’ throw went inches wide. Like the good side they are, the Gents made us pay as the short boundary was ruthlessly targeted. As so often happens when two batsmen get in on a good pitch and a hot day, heads dropped and our ground fielding suffered as Small and Komal ran riot in the closing overs. Their partnership of 213 was, according to Gents stalwart Andy Burman, a club record for any wicket.
270 looked an impossible target, and the Gents opening bowlers were to prove up to their usual standards. Jamaican Hibbert quickly found his line and trapped James Abrahams lbw on the back foot. Ben Hampton went on the attack in his usual death-or-glory style, but Anil Uruganti proved just as sharp from the other end as he knocked over his stumps in the following over. KP also started positively, but he tried to hit Aguirre’s opening loosener out of the park and perished at cover.
The game looked gone at 34 for 3, but Chadders, in the batting form of his life, and debutant Matt Murray mounted a courageous fightback. Chadders punished anything short or leg-side, and Matt unveiled some classy cover drives. At the drinks break they’d put on 50 and an unlikely victory was still just possible.
The dream died after the break as our old adversary Sanjay Patel dismissed them both, Matt picking out the fielder at mid-wicket and Chadders losing his stumps. Paul Nicol, who had made one of his trademark disappearances during the tea break as he went shopping for tea bags, was also bowled by Sanjay, and the run rate soon went way out of reach. But the Allstars spirit was unbroken as we refused to give in, Ben Marshall putting up stout resistance and Neale Adams, braving a back problem to make up our numbers, going for his shots. Though they both fell, Haroon and Richard Stephenson continued the fight right to the end as we saw the overs out.
Gentlemen of West London
+J Small not out 131
H Patel lbw b Bowman 0
S Desai c Hampton b Bowman 0
N Dobey c Hampton b Bowman 5
P Bocha b Khalid 12
S Maimidi b Hampton 0
S Komal not out 74
Extras (b20 lb4 nb1 w22) 47
Total (5 wkts, 35 overs) 269
Did not bat: T Aguirre, S Patel, A Uruganti, *H Hibbert.
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (2), 2-10 (3), 3-20 (4),4-47 (5), 5-56 (6).
Bowling: Bowman 7-0-32-3, Chadwick 7-0-45-0, Hampton 7-1-53-1, Khalid 7-0-42-1, Nicol 4-0-32-0, Murray 3-0-43-0.
St Anne’s Allstars
B Hampton b Uruganti 7
J Abrahams lbw b Hibbert 0
PM Bowman c H Patel b Aguirre 9
MHJ Murray c Aguirre b S Patel 28
N Chadwick b S Patel 30
PTS Nicol b S Patel 2
+B Marshall b Desai 5
HR Khalid not out 14
NB Adams b H Patel 12
RJ Stephenson not out 1
Extras (b6 nb 3 w10) 19
Total (8 wkts, 35 overs) 127
Did not bat: *GA Duncan
Fall of wickets: 1-10 (2), 2-12 (1), 3-34 (3), 4-89 (4), 5-92 (6), 6-97 (5), 7-99 (7), 8-118 (9).
Bowling: Hibbert 5-1-16-1, Uruganti 5-1-14-1, Aguirre 4-0-33-1, S Patel 7-0-20-3, Desai 5-1-13-1, H Patel 5-1-16-1, Bocha 4-0-10-0.
Result: Gents won by 142 runs.