As we look forward to our 21st Allstars season, here’s a look back at a highlight from each of our second 10 years as the Allstars … click on the links to see the match reports and photos!
2011, Barnes – KP goes nuts as Gents beaten
Victories over our great friends the Gentlemen of West London are the ultimate prize for the Allstars, and we began our second decade in some style by beating them for the second time. Paul “KP” Bowman was the star of the show, taking two wickets in a disciplined bowling effort to limit the Gents to 181-6, before playing one of the great Allstars knocks, a magnificent 91, to take us to victory with 7 overs to spare.
Only the Allstars would organise a cricket tour around the wedding of two of our own. After we celebrated Tristan and Liz tying the knot, we faced Rock on their beautiful rural ground in north Northumberland. Tony Grant’s brilliant 5-39 and a hostile three-wicket burst from James Hindle helped us restrict Rock to 135-9. Felix Haddow-Allen played the perfect anchor in reply, batting right through the innings for 21 not out while all around him swung merrily, as we chased down the target to win by 6 wickets.
Baker Street Irregulars have been a well-matched opponent for the Allstars over the years, and this contest of two innings of 18 overs each was to prove a classic in which everyone contributed. Matty Boa’s 37 led the way in our first innings of 123-6, but despite wickets being shared all round, Baker Street edged to a narrow first-innings lead of three. A dashing innings of 44 from Sam Macdonald and a second handy knock from Haroon Khalid set up a victory target of 123, and it was James “One Dart” Devlin who held his nerve with three wickets at the death as we got home with 15 runs to spare.
For the second year in a row, Baker Street Irregulars brought out the best in the Allstars. After a change of venue to Ham Common (having arrived to find the original pitch triple booked), Ben Hampton, with three wickets, and Tony Grant, with two, led the way with the ball as Baker Street posted 220-9 off their 35 overs. It looked a challenging target – but a stunning unbeaten 136 from Clarence Marshall made it look easy, as we cruised to victory by 8 wickets.
On a difficult Barnes Common pitch with an uncut outfield, we avenged a humiliating defeat by Mighty Wanderers the previous year to win back the James Abrahams Trophy in an epic, low-scoring contest. Miserly bowling and fabulous fielding – including two direct-hit run-outs – put the squeeze on Mighty Wanderers’ innings as they limped to 83-8 off their 35 overs. Mighty Wanderers were to prove a much greater force with the ball, as our old nemeses Steve Tjasink and Maggie “the Cat” Page brought about a top-order collapse to leave us reeling at 17-4 – but a gem of an innings from Sam Macdonald, well supported by Chris Burke, took us over the line for a 4-wicket win.
2016, Aston Rowant – a strike out over Heartaches
Sir Tim Rice’s Heartaches have long been the glamour fixture on our calendar, as we rub shoulders with knights of the realm on stunning rural grounds – but they’re a strong side and we’ve suffered some heavy defeats. But this time was different, as we prevailed in one of the closest finishes in our history. With only 130-odd to defend, it looked like Heartaches would stroll to victory once again. Heartaches’ opener Torquil Riley-Smith has been a tough opponent over the years – we still haven’t found a way to get him out – but we showed there’s more than one way to win, starving him of the strike while drying up the runs at the other end, to edge to victory by just 3 runs.
2017 saw the beginning of the great rebuild of the Allstars on and off the pitch, and our new recruits combined with old hands to take us to a memorable victory over Edgware. On a tricky pitch, a classy 71 from Sachin Singh, well supported by debutant Darren Curry, saw us to 161-4 – but Edgware had got more than halfway to our total with seven wickets in hand. Enter Martyn “Lofty” Langridge to turn the game on its head with a superb hat-trick, finishing with figures of 6-20 – the best analysis in our history – as we won by 40 runs.
Having finished the previous year in style, we did it again in 2018 with a close fought victory over our great friends the New Barbarian Weasels on a sunny September day at beautiful Marble Hill Park. A lightning fifty from Sachin, with good support all the way down, took us to 232-6. The Weasels fought bravely in reply, led by a hard hitting 80 from their league cricket star Iyas – but we weren’t to be denied and finished the job to win by 28 runs.
Our third victory over Gents – and, in contrast to the solo efforts which won the previous two, this one was an all-round team performance to rank amongst the finest in our history. After a sticky start, contrasting fifties from Sam Perera and debutant Vikash Choudhary got us to 178-3. The game looked up when the Gents were 98-2 at the drinks break – but spin twins Ashwin Rattan and Joe Silmon brought about a stunning collapse, taking seven wickets between them, as we went to a famous victory by 25 runs.
Perhaps the most important game we’ve ever played, as we showed that even a global pandemic can’t stop the Allstars. With barely a week’s notice from the ECB of recreational cricket resuming, we scrambled together an eleven for our fixture with Corridor CC and put all the COVID-19 safety protocols in place – and the game was to prove a classic. With fifties from Matt Biss and debutant Stuart Bruce and handy contributions elsewhere, we racked up an impressive total of 258-4 – but at one stage even that didn’t look enough on a perfect Barn Elms surface. In a nail-biting conclusion, Stuart Bruce proved the match-winner – finishing the innings with a hat-trick – as we scraped home by just 12 runs.