The Sunday After the Weekend Before

Barnes Common, Sunday 5 September 2021.

St John’s Wood CC 144-2 (19.4 overs, McNee 55) beat St Anne’s Allstars CC 142-9 (35 overs, Matt Lo 40, Sirmad Shafique 40*, Chris 4-7 incl. a hat trick) by 8 wickets.

Allstars debutants: Askar Muhammed, Magnus Bascombe

Report by Pete Cresswell – Photos by Pete Cresswell and Matt Biss

On a lovely sunny early September Sunday, the Allstars convened at Barnes Common to take on a new opponent, St John’s Wood CC. The playing XI for the day had been slightly patched together (despite an initial squad of 16!) after five players managed to invalid themselves out playing cricket over the August Bank Holiday weekend, and another two were lucky enough to secure themselves day 4 tickets to The Oval. That did mean a first Allstars’ match in two years for Martyn “Lofty” Langridge, who also brought along some nice new colourful stumps for the occasion. We also welcomed two debutants in Askar Muhammed and Magnus Bascombe who stepped up to help out late in the piece.

St John’s turned out to be a collection of nice blokes, well sprinkled with Antipodeans. They were also impacted by injuries, their 11th man watching the game from the sidelines after arriving on crutches.

With 4 players delayed by west London traffic, skipper Cresswell heaved a sigh of relief on winning the toss, opted to bat first, and he strode out to bat with Matt Lo. St John’s attack of slowish, accurate seamers proved very handy, as is often the case at Barnes Common. A solid opening stand was broken by a brilliant diving save by cover off a lovely shot by Lo, the throw to the keeper leaving Cresswell out by five yards.

Amit Deverathippa joined Matt at the crease, and together they accelerated the rate with 3 boundaries before Amit fell LBW. Matt followed shortly after bowled trying to accelerate after drinks, leaving us 67-3. A nice 25-run stand between Sam Perera and Sirmad Shafique was broken by St John’s 6th bowler Chris, but we continued to progress well, despite a hip injury to Max Bascombe. Max’s dismissal – bowled playing back to Chris – prompted a collapse, with the Allstars conceding our first ever hat trick, Shanmugam Sama being bowled playing to leg, and young Magnus Bascombe echoing his father on the back foot.

Sirmad marshalled a few more runs with the tail to finish unbeaten on an excellent 40, but our total of 142-9 looked light. How light quickly became apparent. Shanmugam struggled a bit up the hill from the railway end initially (though his second downhill spell was excellent), and we conceded 31 in the opening four overs before Amit skittled the keeper “Road Warrior” for 16.

Amit also found the edge of St John’s Wood’s star number three McNee early, but the tough catch at slip went down. The second wicket partnership added 86 despite some good bowling from Martyn and Askar, before McNee was bowled by Shanmugam. It wasn’t enough to trouble St John’s Wood though, and their opener Preston and number four 4 Hogg eased them home off the bowling of Magnus and Jimmy Scott.

An enjoyable day’s cricket nonetheless, and we look forward to playing St John’s Wood again. Many thanks go to Matt Biss, who turned up to manage the scorebook despite a broken thumb. Next up, on Sunday, we face Railway Taverners at Bentley Heath CC in Potters Bar.

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.

The Watford White Knuckle Ride

Watford Town CC, Sunday 1 August 2021.

Edgware 143-9 (34.4 overs: Shanmugam Sama 3-19, Sam Waddicor 3-20) beat St Anne’s Allstars 142-9 (35 overs: Sam Perera 38) by 1 wicket.

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Pete Cresswell and Garreth Duncan

One wicket. It instantly evokes memories of some of the greatest cricket matches ever played. Ben Stokes (and Jack Leach) performing miracles at Headingley in 2019. Kusal Perera (and Vishwa Fernando) taking Sri Lanka to victory from a similarly impossible equation in Durban the same year. Brian Lara (and Courtney Walsh) seeing West Indies over the line at Bridgetown in 1999. And, at the end of one of the most dramatic afternoons in Allstars history, it was all that stood between us and one of our greatest victories. But it only begins to tell the story of an extraordinary game of cricket which had just about everything.

Watford was a new venue for us, part of a leisure centre and park where we were far from the only attraction: another bouncy castle (they must know we love them), a candyfloss stall, and a big screen, showing firstly the Bollywood movie Munna Bhai Zindabhad followed by the Disney classic The Jungle Book, formed a lively backdrop to the proceedings. Our incredible appetite for cricket brought 14 Allstars to the ground, Sam Perera captaining us for the first time as club skipper Pete Cresswell umpired for the day and I took on the book and scoring app.

With a few players caught in traffic, we batted first by arrangement. But once again, our season of difficult starts continued as Edgware’s opening bowlers Suraj and Dip made the most of the moisture in the pitch. Sheahan Arnott, in an unfamiliar opening role, in the first over edged to slip off Suraj, who followed up by bowling Richard Slatford. Dip then struck twice in successive balls as Matt Biss edged to slip and Steyn Grobler was unluckily given out caught behind off his shirt and shoulder, and after 8 overs we were in disarray at 15-4. Edgware were cock-a-hoop and their banter – especially from their chatterbox keeper – was in full flow.

But we have bounced back from dodgy starts this whole summer, and Amit Deverathippa and Sanjay Dindyal began the fightback. The chatter was soon silenced as Edgware realised they were in a game. Amit’s impressive debut season continued as he ruthlessly punished anything short, launching Dip for a mighty six over square leg. Sanjay was initially content to push ones and twos, but then he too started to get into his stride, and they had put on a handy 39 before Edgware skipper Vid had Amit caught at mid-wicket.

54-5 was a daunting situation for skipper Sam to step into, but he quickly found his touch as he crunched a couple of boundaries before heavy rain forced us off the field. It looked like we were facing our second successive abandonment, but after 20 minutes or so the rain relented and we were back on. Left-armer Saj was looking useful and bowled a probing line, but the scoreboard kept moving, and we’d almost brought up the hundred when Sanjay was caught at mid-on. Edgware’s catching was very sharp, and continued as Roshan Herath fell to a blinding, one-handed catch at point, and with 10 overs to go we were 105-7.

On a pitch that remained difficult, it was important that we used up the overs, and Paul Burgin played himself in as Sam Perera continued to play shots. The return of the opening bowler Suraj saw the end of Sam who was well caught at cover, and Shanmugam Sama was bowled by a beauty from Saj. But, just as he’d done against Gents, Sam Waddicor provided a sting in the tail as he went after the bowling, and Paul joined in with some fine shots as they put on a sparkling unbeaten 28 for the last wicket. 142-9 didn’t look much, but with plenty bowlers in form and the pitch still drying, we fancied our chances of defending it.

Fired up by his batting display, Sam Waddicor got us off to the perfect start as he had Edgware opener Nik caught by Steyn at point in the first over, and then struck again in his second as Alpesh was caught behind by Slats. Shanmu was quickly into the rhythm he’s shown all season, and he bowled Suraj before Nanz was brilliantly held at cover by Sean Jun. Unbelievably, Edgware were 11-4.

Sean replaced Sam, and soon began to hit a good length – but we were then to suffer our first injury of the day, as Slats had to retire to the sidelines having taken a nasty blow to the forehead. Deano and Saj put on 40 – but Amit’s excellent all-round day continued as he too found his lines, and he got the breakthrough by dismissing Deano as back-up keeper Steyn held a smart catch.

At 53-5 after 17 overs, we appeared in charge of the game – but Edgware had seemingly reversed their order, as Canbashers had done in our classic encounter in 2007, and we still had plenty of batting to get through. Our club founder Maxie Allen, gripped by following the action on WhatsApp, was giving us a run rate equation every over. Skipper Vid looked a very handy batsman indeed, and he and Saj continued to tick down the runs before Sanjay got a vital break as Saj was well held by Amit at cover. Edgware were 90-6 with 9 overs to go – but what did they have left in the hutch?

Sheahan bowled a whole-hearted spell as always, and was unlucky to go wicketless – but his day was also to end in agony as, running in to bowl the final delivery of his 7 overs, he went down with a torn calf muscle. Sam Waddicor returned to start a new spell with the last ball – with stunning results as he rearranged the dangerous Kabir’s stumps. At 115-7 in the 29th, the game was on a knife edge.

Vid still seemed the principal danger, but Monk looked a very useful number 9 indeed, and with a few well run singles and the odd crunching boundary, they took their team within three runs of victory. But we just do not know when we’re beaten, and Shanmu capped an excellent performance in his final over by dismissing Monk as the returning Slats took another good catch behind the stumps. 140-8 with one over to go, and all three results possible.

Sam stepped up to bowl the final over, and Vid took a single – but, as they went for a second, Dip was brilliantly run out by a direct hit from Sean. Two to win, one wicket left, and as close a finish since our nail-biter against Mighty Wanderers all the way back in 2003. With Edgware having only ten players, lowest-scorer Nik was invited to bat again. Vid found another single to level the scores – but leaving Nik on strike to face Sam. The cricketing world held its breath … and Nik straight drove the next ball for the winning run for Edgware.

But this was a performance of which we can feel immensely proud – there is never any shame in losing such a thrilling game of cricket. Holding our own against opposition who play regular league cricket (featuring a number of 1st XI players) and running them so close shows how far we’ve come as a team, and all were in fine spirits at the end. We wish Sheahan and Slats a speedy recovery from their injuries – but next up we return to our old home ground of Barnes Common, to face our old friends the Weasels on the 15th.

Plastics Oh No Abandoned Plastics

Barn Elms, Sunday 25 July 2021.

Plastics 131-6 (Bishop 32*, Bradbury 22, Vivek Seth 2-24, Teddy Bascombe 2-34) v St Anne’s Allstars. No result.

Allstars Debuts – Teddy Bascombe, Martin Ostrowski

Report by Sheahan Arnott – Photos by Pete Cresswell

While the eyes of the sports world are trained on Tokyo, the eyes of the cricketing world are firmly planted on the game’s hottest new format. No, it’s not #TheHundred, it’s Catch-22 – the new 22-over-per-side variation that debuted to the public at Barn Elms circa 1pm on 25 July.

But historical significance aside, today’s debut of Catch-22 (patent pending) did not go as planned. When captain Vivek Seth walked out with Jamieson to flip the farthing, the two agreed on a 25-over fixture with an eye on the meteorological goings-on of South London. Our intrepid captain lost the toss, and the mighty Allstars headed into field first – but it was a good toss to lose, as Captain Viv told us, so who are we to argue.

Though weather more than played its part, it’s safe to say the cricketing world is richer for its new addition. And keen cricketing historians will note that one day internationals came about thanks to a rain-affected Test in 1971, so I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn calling today’s fixture a watershed moment in cricket history.

The Allstars’ attack looked suited to modern day limited-overs cricket with 4 generously-termed off-spinners due to provide the bulk of the overs including debutante and second-generation Allstar Teddy Bascombe.

After playing out a maiden in the first over, Bradbury began to make hay – despite the sun barely shining – and he took a liking to both opening bowlers with firmly-struck boundaries down the ground. Captain Viv slipped one past an aggressive shot too many to claim what looked to be an important wicket. Bradbury was replaced by the equally aggressive Webb who didn’t waste time getting his eye in before opening his shoulders up. Webb’s cameo was short-lived as he added his name to the list of Sheahan’s LBW dismissals this season (shhh), before Viv got his second in the next over – rearranging Hatton’s furniture like a bored IKEA employee.

Bishop and Clifton started their partnership with some aggressive running between the wickets as Max and Teddy Bascombe took up the attack. Richard “Slats” Slatford looked threatening with the gloves on from the start of the day – picking pockets like he owed Fagan a serious apology – and when Teddy beat Clifton’s outside edge, Slats was there to whip the bails off and give Teddy her first Allstars wicket.

As the game swung from one end to the other and the heavens began to open in earnest, Jimmy Scott lured the dangerous Daley down the wicket with his first ball and Slats did the rest completing his second stumping of the day. Daley ended up flat on his back with none of the grace and poise of his Olympic namesake.

Players from both sides ran for the pavilion as the rain got too heavy to continue, but we were out in the field before you could say “Pete! Don’t bother with the rest of the covers!”. Jimmy completed his over, but our joy was short-lived as we ran for cover once again in the next over. The captains agreed to change the face of cricket forever and Walker’s Catch22™ was born. We battled on through persistent rain as Plastics worked hard to set us a total. Teddy returned to claim her second wicket – bowling Sandham – and when Jimmy delivered the final ball we looked set to be chasing 131, with Bishop finishing with a well-made 32 not out.

But the weather gods had other plans, and despite moving the game to the adjacent synthetic wicket, we abandoned the match as the Matt Brothers – Lo and Biss – had barely got their pads on to open our innings. 

We adjourned to the Red Lion to make the most of our free-ish afternoon as Allstars near and far told us that we could have played in Wales, Borehamwood and Tokyo. It was a small comfort but the pints helped as conversations ranged from underappreciated golf courses of Scotland to which Allstars bowler would you least like to face. 

Despite the day not panning out the way we might have liked, the impact of Catch22 (copyright St Anne’s Allstars 2021) may not be felt for generations. And perhaps Teddy may lead England’s Catch22 XI out at Lord’s in years to come. 

We head north to Watford next week to tackle Edgware CC and maybe a sneaky pre-match team bonding trip to Harry Potter Studios for some butterbeer and questionable views of the modern world.

Allstars tread Line of Duty in Cambridge scorcher

Parker’s Piece, Cambridge, Sunday 18 July 2021.

St Anne’s Allstars 147-7 (40 overs, Matt Biss 39, Amit Deverathippa 35*) beat Cambridge NCI 4th XI 130-8 (40 overs, Rumble 36, Sheahan Arnott 5-5) by 17 runs.

Allstars debutant: Tom Cadmore

Report by Pete Cresswell- Photos by Pete Cresswell and Shanmugam Sama

Summer dawned fiercely hot on Sunday as the Allstars journeyed up to Cambridge for the annual fixture against our good friends NCI on historic Parker’s Piece. Five Allstars in the playing XI (including the loaned debutant Tom Cadmore) had turned out at least once for NCI in the past, making for a very friendly day in the sun.

On arrival we were greeted by a well browned wicket, that required use of a jug of water to aid setting up of the stumps. Given the temperature and the pitch colour, Allstars skipper Cresswell had no hesitation in opting to bat first after calling correctly – he then surveyed a fairly handy looking Allstars batting line up and hid himself away at number 11.

There was quickly agreement between the captains that any batsman hitting the cow sculpture on the boundary (at wide long-off/fine leg to a right hander so sadly not a proper cow corner) should be rewarded with a “10” for on the full, and a “5” along the ground.

Shortly thereafter, Matt Biss and Paul Burgin walked to the crease to take up the attack. NCI were fielding an attack reminiscent of a ‘90s New Zealand side, pace off the ball and accurate, which worked very well on a slow, lowish pitch. Burgin, Jono Beagle and Shanmugam Sama all spent some time occupying the crease but were unable to push the score along before perishing. With all three gone – Burgin bowled by a ball that drifted away and cut in off the pitch, Beagle caught and bowled by one that stopped, and Shanmugam to a good catch at gully, the Allstars were under 30/3 for the third consecutive week, and 15 overs were gone.

Sam Perera joined Biss fresh off his Mill Hill ton, and showed off his power and timing, hitting 3 fours and a 5 into the cow in his 22 to provide some much needed acceleration, before Hywel Roberts joined Biss in working the ball around to push us up to 80/5 in the 27th. That became 88/7 in the 30th as Biss’s long vigil ended as he was stumped trying to accelerate, and Cadmore holed out. But the Allstars batting line up ran deep, and Amit Deverathippa and Samer Hafiz came together to add an excellent 59 in the final 10 overs as NCI flagged a little in the heat. 147 off 40 overs was looking a very defendable score given the slow pitch and long boundaries.

After tea, it was the Allstars’ turn to field in the heat. Shanmugam and Sheahan Arnott took up the opening attack, the “Shhh” brothers proving very economical. By this point the pitch was slow enough to have keeper Cresswell standing up to the stumps! Sheahan was getting considerable swing and was rewarded early, bowling NCI skipper Duby in the 2nd over, and pinning Schlichter in front in the 4th. Another two in his 4th had NCI reeling at 12/4, Sheahan taking an incredible 4-1 off his opening six overs.

Samer Hafiz (S.H. being named the newest Shhh brother on the day) bowled Foster in his first over to make the score 22/5. At this point NCI veteran Eddie Ashfield was joined by Sally Kent, and the pair essayed a recovery, a 30-run stand being broken when Kent pulled a leg-side long hop from Paul Burgin straight to Cadmore at square leg.

Rumble at number 8 played aggressively, taking boundaries off Burgin and Cadmore. The heat forced Ashfield to retire, but Swarbrick also played positively until skying the returning Arnott to Cadmore (who took 2 good catches playing with a broken finger) to give Sheahan a well-earned ‘Michelle’. We have now added 3 names to the Allstars’ honours board in 4 weeks!

Rumble and Kapil managed to add another 35 in the final 8 overs, but the asking rate was too high, and Shanmugam picked up a deserved wicket yorking a charging Kapil on the last ball of the match.

Some cold beverages from the Thai restaurant that shares a building with the Piece changing rooms followed as both sides enjoyed a balmy evening after a great day’s cricket.

Games are coming thick and fast this season, and next up we face Plastics CC at Barn Elms on Sunday.