Wadham College ground, Oxford, Sunday 12 July 2009.
St Anne’s Allstars 144-6 (35 overs: Aidan Nicol 37) beat Salix 133 (34 overs: Dave Padmore 62, Jon Ryan 3-20, Garreth Duncan 2-5) by 11 runs.
By Garreth Duncan
As England were conjuring an unlikely escape in the first Ashes Test in Cardiff, another cliffhanger was taking place in Oxford as we snatched a famous win at the death from what looked like an equally hopeless position.
On a sunny day, I won the toss and had little hesitation in deciding to bat first. But the pitch turned out not to be quite the belter it looked, the awkward bounce making run-scoring difficult for both sides. We couldn’t blame it for our first wicket as we got off to a disastrous start, a run out cock-up in the very first over sending James “Tarka” Hindle back to the pavilion without scoring.
Tristan Haddow-Allen and Aidan Nicol steadied the ship, initially taking few risks as they saw off the opening bowlers Dave Padmore and Nick Gould. The change bowlers proved just as tricky to get away, but Tristan was just starting to get motoring when he hit Heaton to cover. Aidan continued on together with brother Paul before he too was run out, having batted very well for his 37. But with wickets in hand, the platform had been set for a late acceleration as we hit 81 from the last 12 overs, Jon Hautot, Dave Halladay and Chris Nicol (completing the Allstars’ second set of three brothers on the same team) all mixing clean hitting with good running between the wickets.
Our final total of 144 for 6 looked respectable, but we’d need to bowl out of our skins to defend it. Opening the bowling from the far end, Jon Ryan did just that as, buoyed up by some witty Allstars banter and the most nicknames ever in one game (Frank Sinatra songs and Tom Clancy books featuring heavily), he clean bowled both openers with full, straight deliveries before rearranging the dangerous Gould‘s stumps with a perfect inswinger. Just to add to it, he also took a sharp catch at backward point off Tristan to dismiss “CK” Kulasingham.
Salix were in trouble at 36 for 4 when their skipper Padmore strode to the wicket and went for his shots straight away. Chris Nicol, on his Allstars debut, kept the pressure on with a well-controlled spell of left-arm spin, producing the ball of the day, a huge turning chinaman to bowl Clews. But Padmore, seemingly hitting effortlessly in an arc between mid-wicket and long-on, found an ally in the stout, Collingwood-esque defence of Tony Fletcher, and the partnership took them within sight of the target with five wickets standing.
On the boundary, Salix were already contemplating victory. But what followed will go down in Allstars legend alongside our breakthrough tour win against Trengilly Wartha in 2002. With only 19 required, Tarka finally broke Fletcher’s stubborn resistance. Next ball, the big breakthrough – as Padmore cut me firmly to the leaping Aidan at point. He’d batted mighty well for his 62. As the pressure mounted in Salix’ ranks, their tailenders panicked: having been reprieved by a rare drop at mid-on from Tristan (who took a nasty blow to the ribs as he dived forward), Raj Sanwalka hit my very next ball straight to Tarka at mid-wicket.
Suddenly, we sniffed victory, and next over Tarka found another peach to clean up Heaton. As news filtered through on the radio of Jimmy and Monty’s heroic defiance, we did what the Aussies couldn’t and took the last wicket, the game finishing as it started with last man Spillane run out in a chaotic mix-up.
A great Allstars performance where everyone contributed with bat, ball and in the field, to level our enthralling series with Salix at 4 games all and set us up nicely for our tour to Hampshire.
Man of the Match: Jon Ryan. “Ol’ Blue Eyes” produced the spell of his life to give us a dream start with the ball.
Champagne Moment: Chris Nicol’s ripper of a chinaman – perhaps the first ever seen in an Allstars game.