Crossbats squeeze home at Marble Hill

Marble Hill Park, Saturday 31 August 2019.

Crossbats 206-6 (33 overs: A Dubey 47, J Morgan 2-33, J Beagle 2-38, Shanmugan 2-53) beat St Anne’s Allstars 204-3 (35 overs: M Lo 62*, J Beagle 39, P Cresswell 33 ret ht) by 4 wickets.

Allstars Debuts: Jono Beagle, Martin Barker

Report by Pete Cresswell – Photos by Ashwin Rattan and Pete Cresswell

On an autumnal day at beautiful Marble Hill Park, Crossbats won the toss, and invited the Allstars to have first use of the flat, green artificial deck and lightning fast South West London outfield. The Crossbats were also fielding another XI across the Thames in Ham that day, impressive for a village side!

Accordingly skipper Pete Cresswell strode out to bat alongside debutant Jono Beagle, and the pair built a 62 run stand in 14 overs before Jono nicked off to the 2nd-to-last ball of Crossbats’ veteran Larry Gray’s spell for 39.

Jono Beagle, batting on his Allstars debut

Cresswell and James Morgan then accelerated, the Blenheim Blocker striking his first boundary of the season, dispatching a full toss through square leg. Morgan had managed 3 boundaries in his 14 before being adjudged lbw to a doosra from Avi Dubey, the Crossbats’ best bowler (and batsman) on the day.

That brought Matt Lo to the wicket, where he promptly dispatched his first ball for 4, and he and the accelerating Cresswell added 36 in the next 6 overs, Cresswell being dropped 3 times along the way as Crossbats struggled a little to cover the big field. Cresswell was then struck on the forearm off Srikanth, and retired hurt with the Allstars on 126/3 off 25. While Tony Grant was unluckily run out by Carter soon after, Sachin Singh joined Lo, and the pair smashed 69 off the final 8 overs. 204/3 seemed a handy score at tea.

All 9 Crossbats fielders on the boundary in the last overs of the Allstars innings!

Clouds began gathering during tea however, and with a couple of injuries in the bowling ranks to cover the Allstars took the field.

Crossbats’ opener Mark McAlpine (or “McHunt” as he was addressed by his teammates) went on the attack immediately against Shanmugan. But Shanmugan’s bowling improves with every Allstars game he plays, as he produced a superb ball to draw an edge behind off Stuart Skinner.  A rain shower then arrived and everyone took cover at 22/1 in the 5th. The rain made the pitch and outfield greasy, a tricky prospect given that no spikes were allowed because of the artificial wicket.

Unfortunately Sachin Singh slipped and injured his ankle in his delivery stride upon the resumption, forcing his replacement by our other debutant Martin Barker. McAlpine and Dubey immediately took the opportunity to attack, but Shanmugan’s excellent spell continued as he struck again at the end of his 4th over, bowling McAlpine. 49/2 off 7 was still a decent start for the Crossbats.

Crossbats’ skipper Carter then joined Dubey, and the pair played their shots against a damp ball and several injured fielders, adding 80 in 10 overs before the advent of Beagle and Morgan. Carter lofted Beagle to Morgan at mid-on who juggled the catch, ultimately trapping the ball between his knees. Morgan then sent Adam Skinner and Wright back in short succession, both having their off stumps cartwheeled as 3 wickets fell for 9 runs. When Sachin took a screaming catch at slip to remove Dubey for 47 the Crossbats were 152/6 and worried about their long tail.

However with only 53 needed off 13 overs, Venkatachalapathy and Sayers were able to take their time and use the pitch and outfield to their advantage. They had the odd nervous moment as Barker generated pace off his shortened run up, but ultimately got the Crossbats home with 13 balls to spare.

So after our narrow wins in 2017 and 2018, the Crossbats finally win another close game.  We look forward to seeing them next year.  We then decamped to the Crown, whose publican is a Crossbat, to help them celebrate a double-win Saturday.

A huge shoutout goes to Ashwin Rattan, who stepped in after a late drop-out on Friday, umpiring our whole innings and fielding at fine leg all day while nursing a broken finger.

We have one final game of our regular season to look forward to, against Railway Taverners, before we head to the sunshine of Portugal for our end of season tour in October.

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