Runs aplenty as Allstars retain James Abrahams Trophy

North London CC, Crouch End, Sunday 9 September 2018. St Anne’s Allstars (256-2 dec; Cresswell 91, Rattan 76) drew with Mighty Wanderers (155-4; Khalid 2-36).

By Pete Cresswell and Haroon Khalid

There is something wistful about club cricket in September, particularly on a balmy early autumn afternoon. There will be very little cricket left for the season. The winter will soon descend and the kit will be packed away until the following spring. When we do play, we want to make the most of the last remnants of the summer and to finish the season on a high. For one Allstar at least, this was to be the case.

The Allstars made their way to North London Cricket club for their annual fixture with our friends Mighty Wanderers for the coveted James Abrahams trophy. In a departure from recent meetings between the sides, a timed game format was decided upon.

The venue at North London is one of several on the same complex. With games simultaneously taking place on each, it has an idyllic allure. The ground for the encounter has one of the shortest boundaries on the Allstars circuit. Boundaries and singles would be the order of the day. In fact, it wasn’t until deep into the Wanderers innings that the first scoring shot accrued two runs.

Because of several dropouts, the game was reduced to ten a side with Stephenson kindly taking the field for the Wanderers. With the toss uncontested, Allstars skipper Nick Chadwick elected to make first use of a dry and slow surface. The innings soon got under way with Allstars stalwart Pete Cresswell and newcomer Ash Rattan opening the batting. The pair started cautiously, Wanderers’ first change bowler Nick Charlton being particularly challenging with a probing spell of fine outswing bowling. However, with a slip cordon spread too widely, a number of runs (frustratingly for the bowler) came through the third man region.

Both openers soon had the measure of the bowling and conditions, the fifty came up in the 10th over with the batsman matching each other run for run. The pair then firmly pushed down on the gas pedal with the century stand coming in only the 16th over. Rattan, making only his second Allstars appearance, continued his innings, driving with assurance and playing some delicate late cuts. Not to be outdone, Cresswell was brutal on anything off line; a clubbed on drive past mid-on off Jukes being particularly notable. Both batsman reached 50 within a short period of each other (Rattan in 49 balls, Cresswell 57). Aided by a generous number of extras, the pair posted the first Allstars opening stand exceeding 200 in only the 29th over.

A proud sight Allstars doubted they’d ever see (when we’re batting …)

All good things must come to an end, and in the 32nd over Rattan was adjudged lbw for 76 with the score on 214. The opening stand was an Allstars record for the first wicket, beating by almost 100 that set in 2016 by Sam Macdonald and Dave Halladay against the same opponents, and the second highest for any wicket in our history.

Ash’s wicket however only served to hasten the carnage. In 4.3 overs, the second wicket pair added 42 with new batsman Samer Hafiz tucking into the 35th over with alacrity, bludgeoning six boundaries. Realising the declaration would soon be forthcoming, Cresswell took 12 from five balls of the 36th over before being bowled by the returning Charlton for a magnificent 91, his innings coming from 99 balls with 19 fours. The declaration came immediately with the Allstars posting 256-2.

After an excellent tea at the main NLCC clubrooms the Allstars reconvened at Ferne Oval for a crack at the Wanderers’ batsmen. Wanderers’ opener Jules was quick to take advantage of the short boundaries and lightning outfield, taking a boundary off the first over from Haroon Khalid and another four of them in Chadwick’s first. However Khalid soon found the southern end to his liking, bowling Mathias in his second over & Jules in his wicket-maiden fourth to see the Wanderers on their heels.

The slowness of the pitch led skipper Chadwick to quickly turn to Tony Grant, who was unlucky to have a catch shelled by keeper Dharani first ball. But Samer’s left-arm spin quickly accounted for Maddison and at 58/3 in the 11th it was game on.

This wicket brought Andy and Nick Charlton together for the Wanderers, and they settled down to fight as the Allstars rotated their slow bowlers – Chadwick using 7 slow bowlers and 9 bowlers in total – in search of a breakthrough. The required run rate quickly grew in the face of some tight lines but the Charltons were resolute until Steyn Grobler deceived the elder Charlton LBW for the only wicket to fall from the northern end all day.

Chadwick and Khalid returned for the last 4 overs with super attacking fields in an attempt to blast out some wickets – but Nick Charlton and Tjasink were resolute, batting out for the draw, meaning that the Allstars retain the James Abrahams trophy.

Cricket’s second most important trophy remains in Allstars hands …

Player of the match: Pete Cresswell for his innings of 91.

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