Maxed out by The Min in Morden

Sunday 26 June 2022, Joseph Hood Recreation Ground, Morden.

The Min CC 182-3 (28.1 overs: Richard Beswick 71 ret ht, Brock Boyd-Taylor 66*, Sheahan Arnott 2-44) beat St Anne’s Allstars 178-7 (35 overs: Matt Biss 72*, Jim Carroll 2-17, Richard Earney 2-36, Chris Etheridge 2-33) by 7 wickets.

Allstars Debut: Andrew Deller

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Sheahan Arnott

The Min are true stalwarts of London social cricket, having just celebrated their 40th anniversary. They share with our club both a similar founding story – a group of friends who attended Bristol University together – and a more recent regeneration, bringing through a cluster of new players in the last few years while retaining many of their long-standing regulars. Given all this, it’s perhaps surprising that our paths haven’t crossed before now – but following a recommendation by our mutual friends the Railway Taverners, we were delighted to take up their offer of a game. We had our moments in our inaugural fixture – but it ultimately belonged to them, as they coasted to victory with nearly 7 overs to spare.

Morden was a new ground for us – though not without access problems, the aftermath of the rail strikes delaying both teams’ arrival at the ground. On a sunny day, The Min’s skipper Richard Beswick won the toss and asked us to bat first – though I was more than happy with this, as the pitch looked pretty good, a substantial improvement on the same council’s minefield at Dundonald Road a couple of miles away.

Matt Biss and Hywel Roberts strode out to open the batting for the Allstars, and initially cashed in on some loose stuff from Luke Horden and left-armer Chris Etheridge. But Etheridge struck back quickly, Hywel being the first to go – caught at point by substitute Sean Jun, who looked mortified to have played a part in a fellow Allstar’s dismissal. It really wasn’t to be Hywel’s day – having previously left his wallet on the train, his game was to be cruelly cut short, as he aggravated an old shoulder injury while himself substituting in the field for The Min’s late arrivals. Steyn Grobler started positively with a couple of boundaries – but yorked himself in Etheridge’s next over to leave us 39-2.

Even after these early setbacks, the runs continued to flow as Sam Macdonald also began brightly with some crisp straight drives and delicate sweeps. But it was the Min’s change bowlers that changed the course of this game. Off-spinner Jim Carroll first took a sharp, low caught and bowled to remove Sam, and then he and skipper Beswick turned the screw. Their accurate bowling proved impossible to get away as we just kept hitting the fielders, the next 6 overs going at just a run an over. Tony Grant pulled Carroll over midwicket to try and break the stranglehold, but then holed out to point, and just after the drinks break we were 83-4.

Sam Perera had had a nightmare, 3-hour journey from far away to reach the ground, but quickly got to work as we looked to lift the tempo. With Matt turning ones into twos, and twos into threes, the pair added 61 before Richard Earney (the fastest milkman in the West) had Sam caught at third man. Andrew Deller, making his Allstars debut after five years out of the game, looked he’d never been away as he kept the momentum going, only for the returning Beswick to have him snapped up at mid-wicket, and Earney then finished the innings by having Iain Wilson caught off the final ball. Matt Biss remained undefeated, carrying his bat for 72, a mighty effort against a challenging bowling attack, and his third fifty in succession (including one for NCI the previous day). Still, our final total of 178-7 looked 30 or 40 light on a pitch showing few demons and a monstrous outfield to defend.

To have any chance of defending it, we needed early wickets in reply – and we got them, as Sheahan Arnott charged in and struck twice in his first two overs. Having first bowled Earney, he then produced an absolute peach of a delivery to castle the dangerous Carroll. At the other end, skipper Beswick was living a charmed life as a couple of aerial shots just cleared the infield. Sean Jun and Sam Perera both ran in with whole-hearted spells, but both went wicketless, and it was TG who made the breakthrough as he trapped Stephenson LBW. The Min were 55-3 in the 13th over, and we were still in it.

But that was as good as it got for the Allstars, as the pugnacious Brock Boyd-Taylor joined Beswick to take The Min to the brink of victory with a stand of 119. Jimmy Scott, Iain and Dell all tried their best, but with little help from the surface, runs came more and more easily. Sheahan was recalled for one final go, but after Beswick retired hurt to give Usanga a go, a flurry of boundaries from Boyd-Taylor carried The Min over the line.

Nevertheless, it was a top day out for us all, and it’s been fantastic to find an opponent with whom we have so much in common. We decamped to the Leather Bottle pub for drinks and cricket chat with their players and enthusiastic supporters. We wish them all the best for their upcoming tour to Somerset, and look forward to playing them again next year – but next up for us, it’s one of the highlights of our season, as we head to Kent to play Matfield on their stunning village green ground.

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