Allstars edge a summer classic

Marble Hill Park, Twickenham, Saturday 5 August 2017. St Anne’s Allstars 173-6 (Morgan 69, Bowman 42*) beat Crossbats 170-7 (Seth 2-20, Bowman 2-21, Asghar 2-32) by 4 wickets with 7 balls to spare.
By Pete Cresswell
Although this was our first regular season game against the Crossbats, we had played them in 2007 in the rain in Porto, so there was some trepidation at a weather forecast featuring mid-afternoon thunderstorms as the team travelled out to leafy St Margarets. The weather gods began having their say early, a pre-match hailstorm driving most of the team into the safety of the Crown pub. Once the weather cleared the fortified Allstars joined the Crossbats pitch-side, where an artificial pitch awaited, unaffected by the preceding downpour.
Captain Cresswell correctly called heads, and opted to make the most of the overcast conditions, inserting the home side. The ball swung prodigiously early for both Paul “KP” Bowman and Haroon Khalid, almost too much, making life tough on the bowlers as well as makeshift keeper Cresswell. The Crossbats’ openers got off to a steady start as the bowlers got used to the swing and bounce available, and then tightened the screws on the run rate. After a brief pause when the umpires objected to Khalid’s rubber spikes on the lush green carpet & forced a boot change, Bowman trapped opener Anir in front of middle & leg with a superb yorker, giving him figures of 1-6 from his opening 5 over spell. At 31-1 off 9 the scoreboard pressure was mounting, and the Crossbats number 3 Snowball tried to loft young off-spinner Umar Asghar, only succeeding in skying the ball to mid-on where Vivek took an excellent catch.
Some very tight bowling from Umar and Tony Grant kept things tight for the next 12 overs during which scoreboard pressure (and the slightly slippery astroturf) told, as Morgan & Cresswell combined in a run out. When Sir Viv came on and promptly held on to his second skier of the day to remove opener Wright, the Crossbats’ top scorer with 32 the score was 84/4 in the 22nd.
Grant finished his 7 over spell as the storm clouds began to regather, conceding just 24, meaning Garreth earned the tough task of bowling with a damp ball from the Southern end before both teams were driven from the field for 15 minutes. Upon the resumption under sunny skies Umar took a sharp return catch to dismiss Crossbats’ dangerous looking Scottish number 5 McAlpine in his final over. Vivek, KP and Haroon then rounded out the bowling, never letting the Crossbats’ lower middle order get away as they posted 170-7.
After a pleasant tea in the sun, Morgan and Cresswell strode out to the middle. There was still some swing evident, though more threatening was the bounce the home side’s tall seamers were able to extract off a length, forcing both batsmen to adjust their usual (low-pitch adapted) games, Morgan playing some lovely back-foot shots as the pair kept the asking rate in sight. With the shine seen off the new ball and the 50 stand posted, Cresswell abandoned his usual obdurate defence and began trying to hit out, holing out to mid-on for 15, leaving the score at 61-1 off 16.
That brought Sam MacDonald to the crease, and he and Morgsie accelerated the run rate after the drinks break, adding a brisk 49 before James edged behind, provoking a mini collapse. The high bounce tricked Umar, TG and Sam into edges that were pouched behind the wicket, and our loan player Iain Wilson from Weasels was undone by an off-cutter to leave us 117-6.
James Abrahams joined Bowman with 54 needed. James’ QC skills almost immediately came into play when he was incorrectly adjudged LBW off his gloves, persuading the opposition to withdraw their appeal. He then did a superb job of holding up his end & running 2s into the big outfield while KP tucked into the Crossbats’ 5th/6th bowlers who’d been brought on as the main bowlers ran out of overs.
The equation became 25 off 3 overs, and 18 off 2, before KP took to the 7th Crossbats bowler Snowball in the 34th over, 5 deliveries (and 1 wide) going for 21 for the first Allstars victory of the season. Bowman finished an excellent 42 not out, the 2nd Allstar (after Morgan earlier in the day) to pass 40 this season.
Editor’s Note:  Well captained Pete – that bottle of wine from Neale should be on its way to you!

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