Amit shines as Allstars retain James Abrahams Trophy

Hampstead Heath Extension, Sunday 19 June 2022.

St Anne’s Allstars 254-3 (35 overs: Amit Deverathippa 117* ret; Matt Biss 51* ret) beat Mighty Wanderers 216-9 (35 overs: Lars Smith 53, Amit Deverathippa 3-22; Amiya Ranjan 2-20) by 38 runs.

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Pete Cresswell, Garreth Duncan and Chris Deeley

The Allstars’ encounters with Mighty Wanderers go back almost to the beginning of our club in the early 2000s, and the James Abrahams Trophy, named after our club’s very own legal eagle, has been keenly contested over the years, with both sides celebrating victories in recent years. On Father’s Day, we retained the trophy with an ultimately comfortable win, thanks largely to a brilliant all-round performance from Amit Deverathippa.

It was touch and go whether the game would take place at all, North Middlesex CC having disgracefully cancelled our ground booking on the Wednesday and prompting a scramble to find an alternative venue. Fortunately, for us if not for them, our friends the Salmagundi Gardeners were unable to use their ground booking (their opponents having pulled out) and we were grateful to sub-let it from them for the game. The Hampstead Heath extension, near Golders Green, was a pleasant enough public park location, with some practice nets where the local kids were keen to test out their cricketing skills on us (and one family kindly providing some thirsty Allstars with water).

Mighty Wanderers won the toss and asked us to bat first, no doubt seeing a pitch which many feared might misbehave, and skipper Pete Cresswell marched out to open the innings with Paul Burgin. Brothers Nick and Jono Charlton started well for Wanderers, left-armer Jono striking the first blow with a ball that kept low to bowl Pete for a duck (a fate which he had predicted the day before, having had a more fruitful afternoon playing rounders that day). It was a blow for Wanderers when Nick Charlton pulled up with a groin injury and was unable to bowl more than his initial four overs – but this brought in their best bowler Taylor into the attack. Pablo had begun with attacking intent, hitting three boundaries in his 18 – but Taylor bowled him with another shooter to leave us 41-2 in the 13th over.

The fall of the second wicket brought in Amit to join Matt Biss at the wicket, and together they put together an epic stand of 189 that took the game completely away from Wanderers. Having carefully seen off the dangerous Taylor, they then accelerated as all of the change bowlers were put to the sword – Rigby the first to be blasted out of the attack with an over that went for 19. One felt for the Wanderers’ fielders as, like the Dutch players in the England ODI on Friday (and us on many occasions at Barnes) they frequently went searching for the ball in the undergrowth. They must have been wondering what their captain was doing too, strangely keeping the field in for far too long when common sense surely would have dictated that more men be placed out on the boundary.

Had they gone on, a whole stack of club records could have been under threat, but after Amit had brought up his hundred and Matt his fifty, they both gracefully retired to give others a go, much to the relief of the Wanderers bowlers. Amit’s hitting was the most powerful I’ve ever seen in an Allstars game – square leg and long-on being particularly targeted – mixed in with deft deflections through third man. His devastating 117 included 14 fours and 7 sixes. But Matt’s contribution to this monster stand shouldn’t be forgotten, defying his own frustrations to put the bad balls away for boundaries while running singles to get Amit back on strike. Sanjay Dindyal and Sam Perera finished with a flourish, adding a quick 23 before Sanj was caught off the final ball to leave us on an impressive 254-3.

Even with such a big total on the board, success is never guaranteed, and we still had to bowl well to defend it. Sheahan Arnott gave us the perfect start, pushing back Wanderers opener Softhus with two well-directed back of a length deliveries before blasting his middle stump out of the ground with a third. Shanmugam Sama was finding some lovely rhythm at the other end – his low, slingy action being perfect for what still remained a difficult surface, and quickly added a second by bowling Shubat. Amiya Ranjan is settling quickly into Allstars cricket and, just as he had done on his debut, struck with his first delivery with a steepling caught and bowled as Tjasink tried to launch his first ball out of the ground. Wanderers were 34-3 in the 11th over and already had a mountain to climb.

Thereafter we kept nipping in with wickets just as Wanderers thought they were getting some momentum going. On his first Allstars appearance of the season, the good doctor Sanj took the next wicket as Rigby feathered a catch to Sam Perera who had an excellent day behind the stumps. Chris Deeley stuck to his task as Wanderers desperately tried to keep up with the run rate, and he deservedly took his first Allstars wicket as Shashank dragged on. At the drinks break Wanderers were 96-5 and the game was surely out of their reach.

To their credit, Wanderers refused to give in, and Jono Charlton and Smith continued to go for their shots. But this was Amit’s day, and his off-spin ended any remaining hopes Wanderers had winning the game. Firstly, he broke a threatening sixth wicket stand by bowling Jono Charlton. Radomic ludicrously refused to walk when he nicked the following ball into Sam’s gloves – shades of Stuart Broad in the first Ashes Test of 2013 – but he didn’t last much longer as he strayed down the pitch in the same over for Sam to complete a superb stumping. Taylor soon followed, caught behind by Sam, and Wanderers were 140-8 and the game was up.

Smith and Nick Charlton continued to hit out – Smith carting me for a massive six over cow corner – but by now, the required rate was way beyond them. Fittingly, it was Amit who had the final say as he took a well judged catch at long-off off the returning Amiya to dismiss Smith after he had completed a brave fifty.

We finished an excellent day’s cricket just before the heavens opened and we quickly headed for the pub. Mighty Wanderers were gracious in defeat, and we look forward to playing them again next season. Next up, we cross London to face a new opponent, The Min CC, at Morden on Sunday.

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