Barnes Common, Sunday 6 September 2015. St Anne’s Allstars (84-6) beat Mighty Wanderers (83-8) by 4 wickets.
By Garreth Duncan
Although we have played Mighty Wanderers for over a decade, the award of the James Abrahams Trophy to the winner of this fixture is relatively new. Last season, we had surrendered the trophy in humiliating fashion, with one of our worst ever batting displays. On a sunny September day, we had our revenge in a gripping, low-scoring encounter, with some disciplined bowling and fielding and a gem of an innings from Sam Macdonald.
The pitch was almost as green as the one we’d used for the Festival a week earlier, though it had at least been cut – in contrast to the outfield, which looked as hirsute as Ben “Hipster” Hampton’s face. Our new Allstars stumps got their first outing in a competitive game, having been adorned with a message not printable on a family blog like this. We’ll have to wait another game for our IPL-style light-up bails, which failed to arrive in time.
Skipper Vivek Seth won the toss and put Mighty Wanderers into bat, and right from the start the big squeeze was on. Haroon Khalid picked up where he’d left off in the previous fixture, giving openers Steve Tjasink and Richard Winter very little to hit and the odd “Rain Men stare”. At the other end, Martyn “Sex Panther” Langridge was similarly miserly as we made runs very hard to come by. He was unlucky to go wicketless as we gave both openers a life in his final over, two difficult catches behind the stumps and at slip going down. But Haroon, having had his fair share of bad luck this year, made the breakthrough by taking the fielders out of the equation, a full delivery knocking back Tjasink’s stumps.
Ben Hampton replaced Haroon at the railway end and was quickly in the action as he bowled Sotherby. At the other end, Pete Cresswell teased and tormented both batsmen with his flighted leg-spin, Winter getting another let-off as an awkward, overhead chance was missed at square leg. But Chris Burke made no mistake as he caught Andy Charlton as he tried to sweep Pete.
With almost half the overs gone, Wanderers had limped to 17 for 3. But this brought their main man James Knight to the crease, and he set about repairing the damage. The score had more than doubled before skipper Winter’s luck finally ran out as he was bowled by Chris. Next man Grant, who walked out to the crease replete with sunglasses, looked useful, but having pinned him at one end, was run out by Martyn’s brilliant direct hit from cover.
Bryn Rhys, the man with the Welshest of Welsh names, similarly struggled to get off strike as Lucian “The Sky with Diamonds” Phipps kept up the pressure, before Chris struck a second blow as he had Rhys caught by Pete at mid-wicket. Skipper Vivek brought himself into the attack, and had Gaf Matthias smartly taken by Sam behind the stumps – everyone except the umpire hearing the massive nick – but it didn’t matter as Vivek bowled him next ball. We struck again the following delivery as Brown lofted Vivek towards mid-on. I got a hand to it but couldn’t hold on – but the batsman was still on his way as I picked up and ran him out with our second direct hit of the day.
Having watched the carnage unfold at the other end, Knight began to find the boundary in the closing overs, and Maggie “The Cat” Page finally gave him some worthwhile support as she scampered singles to get him back on strike. Wanderers’ total of 83 for 8 didn’t look much – but the spectre of last year’s catastrophe was still in the back of our minds.
The best way to approach a small target is to be positive from the beginning, and Richard Stephenson, in an unfamiliar opener’s role, went for his shots from the start. But both Wanderers opening bowlers started well, Tjasink quickly finding “the Barnes Common length” as he bowled Rocket. Pete had seen off the first couple of overs, but the first time he really middled one he was unlucky to pick out their best fielder at mid-wicket. Ben Hampton began in his usual positive fashion, only for Page, who had made light work of our lower order in last season’s debacle, to get him again as she found some turn with her off-spin. Next ball, Tjasink bowled James Abrahams with a beauty, and we were 17 for 4 and facing another Wanderers batting nightmare.
Sam quickly got into his stride, and I hung around for a bit to give him some support. Page’s immaculate line and length began to err, as Sam swatted a full ball effortlessly for six over square leg and I lofted her down the ground for a one-bounce four. We’d doubled the score before Tjasink found another peach to hit the top of my off stump. Haroon replaced me, and had almost seen off Page when he was given out to a shocking LBW decision – apparently on the grounds “it hit his leg”. Next on our shopping list of gadgets – a DRS ball-tracker. We were 39 for 6 and still not halfway to the target.
Chris joined Sam at the wicket, and the two left-handers saw us to the drinks break. But the first over after the break effectively settled the game, Sam taking the grassy outfield out of the equation as he launched into skipper Winter’s bowling with some powerful aerial shots through the leg side. Winter’s over disappeared for 20, equalling (I think) the Allstars record for most runs off an over, and we were nearly there. Chris began to find his touch too, and he finished the game in style by smacking Brown over cow corner.
So the second most important (and second smallest) trophy in cricket is safely back in Allstars hands after a splendid game against some sporting opponents. The hype for next year’s return fixture is already beginning …
Man of the Match:Sam Macdonald. A class above every other batsman on the field, making mincemeat of some difficult batting conditions.
Champagne Moment:… can I claim it just this once? Certainly the first direct-hit run out of my long Allstars career.
S Tjasink b Khalid 7
*R Winter b Burke 12
T Sotherby b Hampton 3
A Charlton c Burke b Cresswell 0
†J Knight not out 41
D Grant run out (Langridge) 2
B Rhys c Cresswell b Burke 1
G Matthias b Seth 1
M Brown run out (Duncan) 0
M Page not out 6
Extras (b2 w8) 10
Total (8 wkts, 35 overs) 83
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (1), 2-16 (3), 3-17 (4), 4-39 (2), 5-46 (6), 7-52 (7), 8-60 (8), 9-60 (9).
Bowling: Khalid 7-2-12-1, Langridge 7-1-9-0, Hampton 6-2-6-1, Cresswell 4-0-20-1, Burke 6-1-17-2, Phipps 3-0-16-0, Seth 2-1-2-1.
St Anne’s Allstars
P Cresswell c Grant b Tjasink 1
RJ Stephenson c Knight b Tjasink 3
J Abrahams b Tjasink 1
B Hampton b Page 8
GA Duncan b Tjasink 4
†S Macdonald not out 39
HR Khalid lbw b Page 0
C Burke not out 15
Extras (b3 w10) 13
Total (6 wkts, 19.1 overs) 84
Did not bat: LSD Phipps, M Langridge, *V Seth.
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (2), 2-8 (1), 3-17 (4), 4-17 (3), 5-34 (5), 6-39 (7).
Bowling: Tjasink 7-0-19-4, Page 7-0-24-2, Grant 3-1-3-0, Winter 1-0-20-0, Brown 1.1-0-15-1.