The Marble Hill Mob

Marble Hill Park, Twickenham, Saturday 28 August 2021.

Crossbats 202-4 (35 overs: Nichols 76*, Tony Grant 2-22) beat St Anne’s Allstars 147-7 (35 overs: Roshan Herath 58) by 55 runs.

Allstars debut: Steve Bradshaw

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Pete Cresswell

Marble Hill Park is one of the busier grounds on our schedule, with visitors to the English Heritage-owned house (currently under refurbishment) and a steady stream of runners, cyclists and dog walkers passing by as we play. It’s Crossbats’ regular home ground, and they have emerged victorious on or previous two visits. The outcome this time was to be the same- but not without another brave fight in which we gave it everything once again.

Bank Holiday weekend games are often tough to recruit for, with so many having other plans, and we were shorn of all of the Shh… brothers who had run Edgware so close four weeks earlier. But Allstars from far and wide answered the call, with NCI’s Steve Bradshaw making his debut, and we were also delighted to welcome back Sam Macdonald after a couple of years away.

On a cloudy afternoon, Crossbats captain Duncan won the toss, and chose to bat. Allstars skipper Vivek Seth led from the front and opened the bowling, with Steve instantly entering the fray at the other end. Crossbats’ openers Avi and Oli began slowly as Vivek kept a tight line, but Avi soon settled and upped the tempo with some crunching boundaries through mid-wicket.

After an ominous-looking start, Crossbats’ progress was checked by the ageless duo of Tony Grant and Jimmy Scott, their joie de vivre for this great game shining out once again. They combined to get the first breakthrough, as Jimmy found Avi’s outside edge and Tony took a stunning, one-handed catch at slip to remove Avi one short of his fifty. TG followed up by bowling Aman off a bottom edge, and at the drinks break we’d kept Crossbats to 82-2 and were well in the contest.

TG’s excellent spell continued after the break, and he grabbed a second as Oli was given out LBW – though the batsman looked far from happy with the decision. But by then Crossbats’ number four Nichols was into his stride, and the rate began to climb again. Our ground fielding was exemplary – Steve and Roshan Herath both making some fine stops – but on this day our catching hands were to prove more fallible as a number of chances went down.

Sam Perera ran in determinedly with a hostile four-over spell, and was rewarded with the wicket of McSweeney as he played on. But Nichols rode his luck – and, despite one of my better bowling spells, I cursed my own – and went to his fifty as Crossbats upped the rate in the final few overs. We were still pleased with our efforts in the field, and 203 looked chaseable on a flat pitch.

Roshan and Hywel Roberts opened up for the Allstars, seeing off a testing spell from the lively left-armer Samin. But as we tried to accelerate, wickets began to fall, as Hywel was bowled by Ash looking to drive, Jono Beagle chipped to cover, and Pete Cresswell gave Ash a second as he was caught and bowled. We were 47-3 in the 17th over and had a monster job to do to win the game.

The fall of the third wicket brought Sam Perera to the crease to join his great mate Roshan – and while they were together, we believed. Even with the required rate at ten an over, it still seemed possible as Sam attacked all the bowling and Roshan also broke out of his shell with some belligerent strokes. With 10 overs to go, they had taken the score to 105-3 and Crossbats were beginning to look worried.

But Sam’s dismissal to an LBW decision was to end our dreams. Roshan battled on to reach a maiden Allstars fifty, but his innings ended as he was taken at mid-on. We battled hard right to the end – and Sam Macdonald began to look like his old self again as he unleashed some fine shots in the closing overs, but the game was long beyond us by the time he was caught off the final delivery.

Crossbats were as hospitable in the pub as they’d been sporting on the field, and we all enjoyed a few beers to celebrate a good day’s cricket. We look forward to seeing them again next season- but next week, we return to our spiritual home of Barnes Common for the first time this season, as we take on a brand new opponent, St John’s Wood CC.

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