Thrilla in Mill Hilla

Mill Hill Village CC, Sunday 25 April 2021.

St Anne’s Allstars 169-5 (35 overs, Nic Knight 44, Hywel Roberts 26, Steyn Grobler 23, Pete Cresswell 21, Purana 3-13) lost to Superstars CC 170-8 (34.5 overs, Sears 67, Gigg 44*, Sheahan Arnott 3-18, Shanmugam Sama 2-20, Paul Bowman 2-35) by 2 wickets.

Allstars Debutants: Nic Knight (no not that one!), Amitkumar Devarathippa

Report by Pete Cresswell – Photos by Nic Knight and Shanmugam Sama

On a sunny (but chilly) late April Sunday, an impressive 13 Allstars converged on Mill Hill Village Cricket Club to start the 2021 season against new opponents, Superstars CC. With a herd of cows spectating from the next field over it was hard to believe we were in London.

Club captain Pete Cresswell was held up by both South London traffic and Thameslink delays so Hywel Roberts stepped up to make his Allstars’ captaincy debut. He got off to a good start by winning the toss and elected to bat on a green but hard-looking surface. Our strip was on the Hertfordshire side of the block, meaning a short downhill boundary on one side, and a long uphill one on the other.

The (finally arrived) Cresswell and Paul Burgin padded up and headed out to face the new season. Superstars’ opening bowlers proved accurate, and used the slope of the two-paced pitch well, tying up the openers initially with 5 consecutive maidens from the 2nd over. When Burgin nicked off to change bowler Kumar the score was just 15 in the eleventh.

The first of our two debutants, Nic Knight, strode to the wicket and immediately accelerated. With Cresswell pushing singles to feed the strike, the pair added 65 in 12 overs in the face of some unorthodox but impressive bowling, Sears managing to swing the ball up the hill bowling pacey left arm around the wicket. Knight nicked off (sorry!) after drinks just 6 shy of a debut 50.

New batsman Steyn Grobler wasted no time, picking up a four first ball, and with Cresswell also accelerating (nearly collecting Grobler with one blistering straight-drive, and hitting the bowler’s stumps with another) the scoring rate continued to rise. Cresswell eventually played on for 21, to queue the start of the slog. Grobler, Roberts and our second debutant Amit Devarathippa all added handy runs, Roberts planting a superb six over mid wicket. Some tidy running between Amit and Paul Bowman saw the Allstars through to a competitive-looking 169-5.

That score quickly looked very good indeed as Allstars opening bowlers Bowman and Shanmugam Sama quickly removed the Superstars’ top order, reducing them to 28-4 off 7, including 2 good catches in front of the wicket by Sam Waddicor. Number 6 bat Harris smashed a six and a four before being bowled by Sheahan Arnott, which brought Sears out to join Superstars’ captain Gigg at 45-5 in the 11th.

This proved to be the match-winning partnership for the Superstars, as Sears immediately teed off, while Gigg rode his luck pushing singles and finding gaps in the slip cordon. Sears survived a couple of strident caught behind shouts, but continued to slog away as Roberts rotated the bowling, trying Waddicor, Jagath Dasari and Sean Jun before bringing back Bowman and Shanmugam. By the time Amit, generating impressive pace, yorked Sears for a 65-ball 67 the pair had added 113 for the sixth wicket and the Allstars cause looked lost, with the Superstars needing just 11 off 5 overs with 4 wickets in hand.

But the Allstars never know when they’re beaten, and some tight bowling from Amit and Arnott built some pressure, which told in the 34th over as Arnott bowled Thomson and trapped Kumar in front first ball. Purana blocked the hat-trick ball and the rest of the over. That double-wicket-maiden left Superstars needing 3 off the last over, but with the well-set Gigg back on strike. After 2 dot balls he managed to scramble a 2 to tie the scores, and on the 5th ball he tipped the ball out just wide of point and the pair sprinted through to end an epic match.

There’s never any disgrace in losing a fabulous game of cricket like this. Superstars were a really nice team to play against, and we wish them all the best for this season and look forward to seeing them again in 2022. Next weekend takes us to beautiful Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, where we resume our gripping contest with Corridor CC.

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