Heartache for battling Allstars

Aston Rowant CC, Sunday 20 June 2021.

Heartaches 213-3 (30 overs; Chris Hutton 50) beat St Anne’s Allstars 140 all out (29.2 overs; Sachin Singh 46) by 73 runs.

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Amit Deverathippa

Our fixture with Heartaches is a marquee one in our calendar, Sir Tim Rice’s team having welcomed us to some stunning grounds since way back in 2005. It’s always been a big challenge – as the sides we have faced are strong ones – and we have only two wins to show for. Heartaches were to prevail again – but not without an Allstars side putting up a tremendous fight and emerging with much credit against superior opposition for the second fixture running.

This weekend marked a watershed moment for our club, as our ever-growing squad depth allowed us the luxury of scheduling two weekend fixtures for the first time in 16 years. The weather was, alas, to force the postponement of our Saturday fixture against Matfield, and nervous checks on the forecast ensured as Sunday approached. But Aston Rowant’s superb facilities meant the pitch was covered against the overnight rain, and we were on!

The weather remained overcast all day, and with moisture in the air and a pitch still looking a bit green, on winning the toss I broke the habit of a lifetime and put Heartaches in to bat. The Banbury Two, Shanmugam Sama and Amit Deverathippa, resumed their opening bowling partnership, both finding swing and some variable bounce to give Heartaches’ opening batsmen A.D. Fox and Chris Hutton some early difficulties. Both were unlucky to go wicketless, as each opener survived a close LBW shout. Heartaches began slowly, but Fox started to find his range with some clean hitting down the ground, and at the 12 over sanitisation break they were 69-0.

Sachin Singh came on first change and got our first breakthrough, trapping Fox LBW just as he was really beginning to get going. We were also delighted to welcome back the good doctor Sanjay Dindyal after three years’ absence – and a tough 14 hour shift the day before – and after an uncertain start, he began to work up some pace and rhythm. Hutton continued to tick along and reached his fifty, and after 22 overs Heartaches were 134-1.

With Sachin’s excellent spell complete, Paul Burgin replaced him and struck with his second delivery as Hutton, trying to hit over the top, was well caught by Sirmad Shafique at mid-off. Pace off the ball seemed the way forward, and so I brought myself on at the other end and found some turn and decent length. Left-handers Tim Whittome and Tom Luttman Johnson began to accelerate with the overs running out – though their innings was to be somewhat cut short by their own skipper. With the light getting no better, after 29 overs our old friend Torquil Riley-Smith came onto the pitch to suggest shortening each innings to 30 overs – and we were happy to agree. Sanjay returned for the final over – and it was a superb one, ending Whittome’s innings with a pearler which hit the top of off stump. On a quick outfield, Heartaches’ 213-3 was a good effort from us in the field – and maybe, just, chaseable.

Though COVID restrictions means we missed out on Heartaches’ usually sumptuous tea, suitably refreshed, we set about the chase in good heart. Matt Biss began with a couple of lovely boundaries in the opening over, but left-armer Luttman-Johnson quickly struck as he disturbed his stumps. Amit was given LBW to Jordan Frieda the following over, and we were 14-2.

Then began the partnership which gave us dreams of victory. Paul Burgin, whose batting gets better year on year, saw off the openers, kept finding the gaps, and although the outfield had slowed, the twos and threes kept coming. At the other end, Sachin oozed class as, having played himself in nicely, he then slammed on the accelerator, boundaries flying off his broad bat as 24 came off an over. With 14 overs to go, we were 90-2.

But Heartaches were once again to show their strength. Sachin was four short of his fifty when he drove Edington to long-off – it would have been six on most grounds, but Jordan Frieda held a difficult chance on the boundary. Nevertheless, new dad Sachin can be well pleased with another excellent all-round effort on Father’s Day.

With the run rate now climbing to above ten an over, the remaining batsmen all went for their shots – but it was all too much. Paul’s excellent knock came to an end on 24, as Edington bowled him. Sam Perera came in and hit some mighty blows once again – but he was to get out in bizarre fashion, as spectators and scorers alike shared his puzzlement even as to the mode of dismissal.

Pete Cresswell, in an unusual role down the order, was caught at cover, Sanjay unluckily given out LBW, and our guest Roshan Herath, bravely batting with a runner having sustained a hamstring injury in the field, was caught and bowled by Pressland. Sirmad continued to hit out – but he was caught at mid-off. Shanmu played the shot of the day – a scorching square cut through point – but I was last out, caught at cover in the final over, and we were all out for 140.

Nevertheless, it was another thoroughly good day out, with everyone delighted that we’d beaten the weather and managed to play the game. Sir Tim was a generous host once again, as he and his team-mates shared a drink with us after the game. We look forward to playing them again next year – but next up, we’re back in the capital as we face Mighty Wanderers at Crouch End. It’s a ground where records are there to be broken, with club skipper Pete and Ashwin Rattan sharing their famous 214-run opening stand against the same opponents back in 2017. Onwards and upwards!

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