Mighty Wanderers edge a one-day classic

Saturday 6 July 2019, Mill Hill School.

Mighty Wanderers 240/9 dec (50 overs: Leahy 67, Knight 53*, Thompson 2-37, Bowman 2-39, Burgin 2-42, Shanmugan 2-47) beat St Anne’s Allstars 223 (47.1 overs: Perera 55, Lo 54) by 17 runs.

Allstars Debutants: Matt Lo and Tom Abrahams

Report by Pete Cresswell

Photos: Pete Cresswell, Iain Wilson, Gren Thompson, James Abrahams & Paul Bowman

Following our epic win over the Gentlemen of West London two weeks earlier, the Allstars entered July on a high. After last year’s high scoring draw over Mighty Wanderers, where we retained the James Abrahams Trophy, both teams agreed that more time was needed to ensure a result in 2019, and accordingly we played a full day fixture for the first time in our history.

The lovely Mill Hill School ground was our venue. The Allstars were able to lend Iain Wilson (himself already on loan from the New Barbarian Weasels) to the opposition, allowing a full Allstars debut for Tom Abrahams, a couple of months short of his 13th birthday, becoming the first child of an Allstar born during our playing history to make his debut for the club.

After a slightly delayed start, Mighty Wanderers won the toss and opted to bat first. Openers Smith and Winter took the crease and began cautiously against probing seam bowling from Paul “KP” Bowman and Gren Thompson on a pitch featuring fairly low, slow bounce. They negotiated the opening 10 overs before Bowman trapped Smith LBW in the 11th, with just 33 on the board.

Leahy came into bat at 3, and could have fallen early had Sam Perera held a tough chance running around the fine leg boundary, but he then showed off some imperious drives, interspersed with a couple of French cuts passing agonisingly close to the stumps. He and Winter added 52 for the second wicket before Shanmugan bowled Winter in the 23rd to claim his first Allstars wicket on the stroke of lunch.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch – pictures shared on the club WhatsApp group so moved club president Maxie Allen that he missed the posted lunch score update, and instead spent the lunch break demanding score updates from poolside on his holiday in Spain. When we resumed, Sam also took his first wicket for the club by bowling Mathias in an excellent an 11 over spell broken only by the break. Shanmugan then grabbed a second as he bowled Wilson for 12 to reduce Mighty Wanderers to 120/4 off 33 overs.

Wilson’s dismissal brought Knight to the crease. We know from previous years that Knight is a very capable batsman, and he and Leahy attacked the spin of Paul Burgin and debutant Matt Lo. Paul conceded 20 off his first two overs, but bounced back well to take 2 wickets in his third, deceiving Leahy in flight to get him stumped by Dharani Ronanki and bowling Mighty Wanderers’ debutant Dinesh for 1. At 166/6 the match was nicely poised.

Knight and Hughes continued attacking, forcing the reintroduction of Bowman and Thompson, who quickly clamped down on the scoring. Hughes was bowled by KP for 24, and Thompson was rewarded for some tight bowling with the wickets of Tjasink and Martin before Wilson completed his 50.

The declaration came 30 minutes before tea with Mighty Wanderers 240/9, leaving skipper Cresswell to stride out with Burgin to negotiate a tricky 20 minute spell. We couldn’t quite make it to the break without losing a wicket: with 5 minutes left in the session Cresswell was somewhat ignominiously stumped off a wide from Tjasink for 90 fewer runs than he made in this fixture last year, his tactic of batting out of his ground to seamers allowing Knight a shy at the stumps from 5 yards.

At 17/1 we took tea, which surpassed lunch – the Allstars have truly been treated to some amazing teas this year – after which Matt Lo, making an impressive Allstars debut, began aggressively, well supported by Burgin in a half-century stand. The introduction of Dinesh, bowling right arm around the wicket, seam drew edges behind from Burgin and Bowman for 12 and 2 respectively to reduce the Allstars to 85/3.

Sam Perera joined Matt Lo and the pair put together a brisk 41 run stand that put the Allstars on top, only for the returning Tjasink – a stalwart for Mighty Wanderers who’s taken plenty Allstars wickets over the years – to seam one back through the gate and bowl Lo for a well crafted and attractive 54. This brought Sachin Singh to the wicket, hobbling on a rolled ankle. He and Sam advanced the score in singles and boundaries, but they still kept up with the required 4 runs an over as the game entered the final 20 overs after 6:15pm. Sachin holed out after a brave 19, before James Abrahams added another 10 with Sam to get the score to 174/6.

We needed 67 to win in 17 overs, and the game was still in the balance – but this was the point where the game swung in Mighty Wanderers’ favour. Sam was bowled by Smith for 55 – his second successive fifty – and Shanmugan and Dharani quickly fell without any further score leaving the Allstars reeling at 196/9. Wilson’s shout of joy at trapping Shanmu plumb LBW and avenging his own dismissal may have been heard in South London.

Young Tom Abrahams then joined Gren Thompson, showing a resolute defence and some shots that belied a number 11. Some lovely strokeplay from Gren at the other end, along with some more of the 28 wides bowled in the innings, kept the required run rate below 4. With 5 overs left, all four results were still on – could we snatch victory against the odds and hold on to the trophy?

Sadly, this time it wasn’t to be. With just 18 runs needed to win, Tom edged Leahy and was taken by a good slip catch after scoring four times as many as his old man. He proved a chip off the old block however, channelling his inner Stuart Broad and waiting for the umpire’s finger before walking off. Gren was left unbeaten on an excellent 19, and the Mighty Wanderers regained the James Abrahams Trophy.

All in all, an excellent day of cricket. Many thanks go to the Mighty Wanderers for being excellent hosts and genial opponents, and their tea ladies for excellent food at lunch and tea. Mill Hill School provided a lovely picturesque venue, and Iain Wilson proved a true gent in first turning up to help the Allstars, then agreeing to play for the Wanderers.

We will be back next year to try and regain the trophy – but in the meantime, next Saturday takes us to one of the most scenic venues of the Allstars season, as we take on Matfield on their picture postcard village green in Kent.

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