Barn Elms, Saturday 11 July 2020. St Anne’s Allstars 258/4 (35 overs, M Biss 52 ret, S Bruce 50 ret, M Smith 47, S Singh 40*, J Beagle 31, P Smith 2-44) beat Corridor CC 246/6 (35 overs, Stovens 66*, Parker 34 ret hurt, Hopkins 33, S Bruce 3-16 inc hat-trick) by 12 runs.
Allstars Debutants: Matt Smith, Stuart Bruce, Graham Bruce, Tim Parkin, Sam Waddicor.
Words and Photos by Pete Cresswell
Finally emerging from the darkness of lockdown, the recreational cricket season burst into life as the Allstars 2020 season began with a high scoring thriller at a sunny Barn Elms.
With only 2 weeks of recruitment time available after Boris finally gave us the go-ahead to resume, the Allstars team featured no less than 5 debutants, and an incredible 7 opening batsmen. In our opening fixture of last season, club skipper Cresswell and captain for today Paul Burgin had opened for the Allstars, but the depth of batting talent available to us today meant they sportingly took their places at numbers 9 and 11 respectively.
With both teams eager to get everyone involved after little time for practice, a retire-at-50 (and return later if necessary) condition was set. COVID-19 safety was of course uppermost in everyone’s minds, and we all set about it according to the ECB regulations with socially distanced field placings, masked umpires and hygiene breaks every 6 overs to sanitise hands and the ball.
Captain Burgin won the toss and opted to bat first, and the 2 Allstars Matts, Biss & Smith, strode out to the artificial wicket – to face an opening bowler also named Matt. The pair accumulated quickly, making the most of a lightning fast outfield and Corridor being a fielder short to score at 7 an over through the first 12 overs. The arrival of spin slowed the run rate slightly before Matt Smith, just three short of a debut fifty, smoked a drive straight back into the bowler’s hands to end a 91-run opening stand.
Stuart Bruce entered the fray, to be joined shortly after by his brother and fellow debutant Graham, as Matt Biss reached his second 50 in two matches for the Allstars and retired. The brothers quickly pushed the score past 150, with Stuart also retiring after smashing a 39-ball 50. A quick cameo from another debutant in Tim Parkin followed, before Jono Beagle and Sachin Singh combined to accelerate at the death, aided by Samer Hafiz after Jono was run out by a direct hit trying to feed Sachin the strike. A score of 258/4 represented an excellent return to cricket in 2020 for the Allstars, and our highest total on an opening day of a season.
After taking our own teas (COVID restrictions meaning we had to forgo our usual shared tea), the Corridor innings began in bright sunshine. Debutant Sam Waddicor generated pace and swing from one end, while Sachin managed to generate an edge that flew through the social distancing gap between keeper Cresswell and Samer at wide slip, as Corridor began steadily until Sachin made the first breakthrough as he held on to a return catch in his third over to remove Corridor skipper Duncan Mallard. Corridor’s second wicket pair then feasted on some slower bowling from Burgin and Parkin until the aggressive Davies was deceived in flight by Burgin and bowled, making the score 63/2 in the 10th.
Skipper Burgin continued rotating the Allstars’ bowlers in 3-over spells to get everyone involved and keep the Corridor batsmen guessing. Their opener Smith cleverly fed the aggressive Stovens the strike in a 69-run stand, before Samer then deceived Smith who tried to cut a sharply turning chinaman and could only inside edge it onto leg stump.
Stovens reached his 50 and retired shortly after, before Sherlock holed out off Biss which reduced Corridor to 151/4 after 21 overs. But with the opposition needing 108 from 14 overs, the game was still in the balance.
Hopkins and Parker took up Corridor’s attack, hunting boundaries on a pitch that gave bowlers little scope for error in length. They had reached 181/4 at the 3rd hygiene break, and added another 39 in the following 6 overs. With the score at 208/4, 50 were needed off 30 to force a super over – and the Allstars would be at a disadvantage there, fielding two Kiwi players to Corridor’s one. Nobody wanted such a great game to be decided on a boundary count-back.
Unfortunately Parker then top edged a pull shot off Sachin into his jaw, and retired hurt on 34 to clear his head. Thankfully, he was on good form to enjoy socially distanced beers post-match. It was then that Stuart Bruce re-entered the fray as our 9th bowler of the day, to complete a man-of-the-match all round performance. With the first ball of the 34th over, with Corridor needing 30 off 12 balls, Hopkins holed out giving Matt Smith his second catch at extra cover. Stuart then uprooted Aggers’ middle stump first ball, and cannoned the (now rather misshapen) ball into S. Raja’s pads in front of middle to complete a superb hat trick – remarkably, our second by a debutant, following Paul Nicol’s against Rain Men way back in 2002.
Needing 28 off 6 balls, Tucker & the returning Stovens managed to take 14 off the final over from Beagle, including a 6 off the last ball to end an excellent day’s cricket played in great spirits. We wish Corridor the best of luck for the rest of their season – in the meantime, we’ll be back in Barnes, this time on the Common, on the 26th to take on Plastics CC.