Tigers tamed as Allstars win Vivek Clasico

Barnes Common, Sunday 16 August 2020. St Anne’s Allstars 167-6 (28.5 overs: Matt Lo 56, Matt Biss 51) beat Zambuca Tigers 166-8 (35 overs: Samer Hafiz 3-19) by 4 wickets.

Allstars debut: Hywel Roberts.

Report by Garreth Duncan – photos by Pete Cresswell

After the heatwave came the cloud and rain. At the Ageas Bowl, farcical scenes as rain and bad light led to the least amount of play in an England home Test for 33 years. Down in Kent, our old foes the Rain Men lived up to their name as only two overs were possible before their game was abandoned. But we were to have much better fortune with the weather, as the showers only briefly touched Barnes Common as we avenged last year’s defeat against Vivek’s Zambuca Tigers, putting in another excellent team performance to win for the second Sunday in succession.

The post-resumption clamour for cricket reached new heights, no less than 15 being signed up at one stage. Indeed, one of our finest, Sachin Singh, was to end up starring as a guest player for the Railway Taverners as we couldn’t quite fit him into our side. 13 Allstars arrived at Barnes to face 9 Tigers, and so Vivek Seth captained his other team and Tony Grant also became Tony the Tiger for the day.

The Barnes Common pitch did not look in good condition, and after winning the toss Vivek, no doubt with the Plastics game still fresh in his mind, opted to bat first. Gren Thompson and Shanmugam Sama opened the bowling, and it was quickly evident that the pitch was misbehaving even more than we’d thought – one ball rearing off a length, the next scuttling low. The oohs and aahs were coming more regularly than an Eric Cantona appearance. Somehow, Tigers openers Elsom and Richards survived Gren and Shanmu’s initial burst – but critically, the first 10 overs had yielded only 20 runs.

Samir Hafiz replaced Gren at the Railway End and continued his superb form from the Weasels game, getting the first wicket by bowling Elsom as he tried up the rate. Samer then grabbed a second thanks to a smart stumping by Dharani Ronanki, who excelled behind the stumps in the difficult conditions. Apu Chauhan, who’d been the difference between the sides in the Tigers’ victory at Brighton last year, came in and looked threateningly at ease – but Jono Beagle dismissed him off the faintest of gloves to Dharani. Seemingly everyone heard it except Chauhan, who wasn’t too happy with being given out – but he’d gone for 14 and the Allstars remained in control.

Samer took a third as he bowled Craddock, completing another excellent spell, prompting Pete to give my leg-spin a try. After a nervous start, I found better rhythm in my second over and dismissed left-hander De Silva, superbly caught by a diving Neale Adams at slip. It’s great to see Neale back with the Allstars, and his enthusiasm and joie de vivre remain undiminished as ever.

After a cautious start, TG began to find his touch with the bat as he drove powerfully down the ground and through mid-wicket. Hywel Roberts, on his Allstars debut, took on the tough job of bowling from the Vine Road end and produced a useful spell of left-arm spin. Majithia was also getting into his stride, and the rate began to climb. But Gren and Shanmu, having been luckless in their opening spells, were to be rewarded on their return. Shanmu ended TG’s fun as Neale took his second stunning slip catch of the day, and Gren had Majithia trapped plumb in front. Shanmu finished his spell in style as he clean bowled “Pele” Styles, and the Tigers’ eventual score of 166-8 looked chaseable – if the pitch permitted it.

The rain began to fall at the end of the Tigers’ innings, and continued as ours began. Vivek, who knows how to bowl at Barnes, opened the bowling for the Tigers and quickly bowled Pete Cresswell. Hywel began positively, but Vivek got him too courtesy of a smart catch from TG – an all-Allstars dismissal, but perhaps not one we would have liked. At the first sanitisation break we were 25-2.

This was to bring together the partnership of the day as the two Matts, Biss and Lo, continued their fine form from the previous week. Matt Biss belied his own self-declared reputation as a nudger and nurdler as he unleashed some fine shots and Matt Lo played the shot of the day, a sumptuous six off left-arm spinner Ryan. It was perhaps not the day to be looking for the ball in the undergrowth, as always seems to be the case at Barnes Common – though we were fortunate that lost time was our only problem, as it was subsequently reported by the BBC that a 5ft boa constrictor was captured that day, less than a mile from the ground.

At the drinks break we were 93-2 and seemingly cruising to victory – but the Tigers are most dangerous when cornered, and they wouldn’t go down without a fight. Having reached his third fifty of the season, Matt Biss was bowled by a shooter next ball to end a stand just one short of our second hundred partnership of the season. Jono Beagle was unlucky to be given out caught behind shortly after, the ball deflecting off his wrist and helmet and lobbing into the keeper’s gloves. Matt Lo also reached his fifty, but then was lbw to another unplayable shooter in Richards’ first over, and Gren was bowled the same over. 122-2 had become 142-6, and suddenly the Tigers smelt blood.

But we needn’t have worried as Samer and Shanmu, having already starred with the ball, finished the job with the bat. Deciding that attack was the best form of defence, they both hit out, Shanmu crunching three boundaries in an over as we went to victory with more than 6 overs to spare.

The Tigers are always sporting opponents, and they joined us in the Sun Inn as we celebrated another excellent game. Quarantine permitting, we hope to see them next in the South of France – but next up we return to Marble Hill Park to play Crossbats on Saturday 29 August.

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