The Highgate Hustle

St Aloysius Playing Fields, Highgate, Sunday 24 July 2022.

Railway Taverners 212-9 (34.3 overs: Eiran Reilly 101 retired out, Vivek Radhakrishnan 3-18, Sam Waddicor 2-41) beat St Anne’s Allstars 211-7 (40 overs: Vivek Radhakrishnan 66, Sam Macdonald 61, Sheahan Arnott 30*, Guy Gibbs 4-20) by 1 wicket.

Report by Garreth DuncanPhotos by Sheahan Arnott

So near and yet so far. By the barest of margins, Railway Taverners snuck home in the end – and their skipper Eiran Reilly, so often our nemesis, took them most of the way again. But, just like the near-miss against Edgware this time last year, such a summary barely scratches the surface of a see-sawing game where we twice fought back when all seemed lost, and we deserved enormous credit for our spirit and tenacity even in defeat.

The ground in Highgate was a new venue for us, and we had some welcome support as Sam Waddicor’s lovely lady Chloe and her parents joined us for the afternoon. With the heatwave not yet over, we were greeted by a flat-looking pitch and a parched, grassless outfield. Skipper Pete Cresswell, to much relief, won the toss and chose to bat.

Another familiar foe, Taverners’ opening bowler Dave Geensen, struck an early blow as Harshad Keskar was caught at mid-on. But this brought in our player of the day. Vivek Radhakrishnan, who had made a promising debut against Heartaches the previous week, was quickly into his stride as the boundaries flowed freely off his new bat, which he’d bought just hours before and was busy knocking in as he prepared for his innings. In no time at all, he’d reached a sparkling maiden Allstars fifty, and with Pete content to push singles and feed him the strike, at the first drinks break we were 77-1 after 15 overs and in good shape.

It was the Taverners’ Guy Gibbs who first turned the game their way, as he broke a stand of 69 by bowling Pete – and two overs later, Jibs Fardos ended Vivek’s superb knock as he was caught at point. Gibbs, bowling at a lively pace, then ripped through our middle order as he castled Paul Burgin, had Sam Perera caught at mid-on, and Samir Hafiz taken at point. In a blink of an eye, we were 120-6 and in big trouble.

Sam Macdonald has enjoyed a welcome return to form this season, and announced his arrival at the crease with an effortless pull for six over square leg. When his eye is in, there are few bowlers who can stop him, and with Sheahan Arnott providing strong support, they added a rapid 76 for the seventh wicket. Sam had reached a sumptuous fifty before he was caught at cover with a couple of overs to go. From an unpromising position, our eventual total of 211-7 gave us something to bowl at – but we knew who would be standing in our way once again.

Buoyed up by his supporters, Sam Waddicor gave us the perfect start as he wrecked Andy James’ stumps with the first ball of the innings. But Reilly went after us from the off, and with only 10 fielders (not helped by the opposition declining to lend us one) and a lightning fast outfield, runs came at a furious rate. Sam struck again as he had Dom Moger caught behind by Sam Perera, but we still couldn’t stem the flow of runs off Reilly’s bat. At the first drinks break Taverners were 107-2 off 15 and making it look very easy.

As we returned from the break, in the huddle, Sheahan fired us all up and exhorted us not to give in. Samer bowled a well controlled spell of left-arm spin, and got the next wicket – which, if we’d recorded it, would have had pride of place on many a “how village is that?” social media post, as Andy Pacey comically overbalanced and knocked over his own stumps.

Reilly continued on his merry way and reached his second century in successive games against us, before sportingly retiring. He must have thought the job was done, with his team only needing another 60-odd with plenty overs left – but suddenly, the game sparked into life as we roared back into the contest. Vivek’s cutters were perfect for the dry conditions, and the Taverners’ middle order was swept away as Matthias Winter was plumb LBW and Geensen and Fardos had their stumps rattled. Out of nowhere, Taverners had crashed to 162-7 and the game was wide open.

Chris Ives and Dom Ewer then mounted a counter-attack, but continued to live dangerously as a couple of aerial shots off my bowling just cleared the fielders. Sheahan, giving his all to the end, broke the stand as he bowled Ives. Somehow, Steve Chambers kept us out at one end as Ewer went for his shots, and the target crept closer.

With only four runs required, Harshad broke through as Ewer was caught behind by Sam Macdonald – and after the longest appeal you’ll ever hear, dragged himself from the field. We had one last chance for victory – but it was Gibbs, their other star of the day, who swung Harshad through fine leg for the winning boundary. Having thought the game gone, Reilly’s relief – as his mighty cheer on their Instagram video showed – was palpable.

But this was a terrific contest where we gave it all, and we can be proud of our never-say-die spirit. Taverners treated us to beers at the end, and we all celebrated a great game of cricket. We wish them all the best for the remainder of their season – but after a couple of weeks off, we then head south of the river to play Gradcasts at Dulwich on 14 August.

One Day in Rowant

Aston Rowant CC, Sunday 17 July 2022.

Heartaches 261-8 (35 overs: J Cohen 95, A Deverathippa 2-39, V Radhakrishnan 2-45, S Arnott 2-47) beat St Anne’s Allstars 201 all out (33.2 overs: S Perera 38, V Radhakrishnan 29, S Arnott 22*) by 60 runs.

Allstars Debut: Vivek Radhakrishnan

Report and photos by Pete Cresswell

(Set to the tune of “One Night in Bangkok” from the musical “Chess” – lyrics by Tim Rice –

Rowant, Chilterns setting

And the Allstars don’t know that the Allstars is getting

The creme de la creme of the cricket world

In a show with even the bat of Jos Buttler

Time flies doesn’t seem a minute

Since the Civil Service Ground had the All-ie boys in it

All change don’t you know that when you

Play at this level there’s no ordinary venue

It’s Matfield or Pousaflores or Antibes or

Or this place!

One day in Rowant and the world’s your oyster

The pitches are roads and the teas are free

You’ll find a scone in every golden clubroom

And if you’re lucky then it’s a cracking tea

I can feel a scotch egg sliding up to me

One pitch is very like another

When your head’s down over your creases, brother

Toss is lost, it’s a bowl, it’s really such a shame

To be wilting on the field, too hot to chase the game

Whaddya mean?

We dropped short, oppo captain cashed in big

Tea, fours, hot, sweat

Cresswell’s doing the scorebook – prime shaded seat 

We tried, picking up lots of wickets 

Even though plenty went to the pickets 

A few balls went above the waistline, sunshine

One day in Rowant makes an Allstar humble

Not much between despair and ecstasy

One day in Rowant and the tough guys tumble

At least Allstars are such great company

I can feel the te-eam walking next to me

Second dig’s gonna be the witness

To the ultimate test of cricketing fitness

This grips me more than would a

Muddy old river or reclining Buddha

And thank God I’m only watching the game controlling it

Next up is our guys batting

The asking rate we’re contemplating

Chase worth the watch, we did invite you 

But though we fell short it would excite you

So you better get out of your bars, your cinemas 

Your nice sun loungers 

One day in Rowant and the world’s your oyster

The pitches are roads and the teas are free

You’ll find a scone in every golden clubroom

And if you’re lucky then it’s a cracking tea

I can feel a scotch egg sliding up to me

One day in Rowant makes an Allstar humble

Not much between despair and ecstasy

One day in Rowant and the tough guys tumble

At least Allstars are such great company

I can feel the te-eam walking next to me

Wham, Bam, Thank You Sam as St Anne’s Go HAM in the Glitz and Glam of the T20 Slam, Fam.

King’s House Sports Ground, Chiswick, Wednesday 13 July 2022.

St Anne’s Allstars 118-4 (16.1 overs: Sam MacDonald 33* ret) beat Agricola CC 114 all out (20 overs: Calvin Smith 3-15; Sam Waddicor 2-24) by 6 wickets.

Allstars Debuts: Ahmad Rabbani, Calvin Smith, Niz Sirisena, G-W Welsby, Tee Bizayi.

Report by Sheahan Arnott – Photos by Pete Cresswell

Like Neil Diamond workshopping his lyrics, it was a hot July night with the leaves hanging down and the grass on the ground smelling like bore water as Brother Cresswell’s Travelling Salvation Show rolled into the King’s House School sporting complex in Chiswick.

We don’t venture too much into the world of T20 – largely as it lacks the gravitas of The Hundred – but a midweek pink ball contest against the farm-based-soft-drink-sounding Agricola was the order of the day, and I was keen to avoid a repeat of my Allstars captaincy debut.

On a sweltering evening ripped from the pages of a Tennessee Williams play, I called wrong and we found ourselves in the field. Sam Waddicor took all of three balls to dismiss Mohinder, taking a tricky caught-and-bowled on a fly-ball (as our baseballing brethren would say) that might have endangered the plums of the gentleman in seat 9C of a low-flying aircraft.

New chum Calvin Smith started well and was rewarded when he found Matt Coles’ woodwork in his second over to put the clamps on a free-flowing start to the Agricola innings. 2 became 3 as Sam “The Leg Gully Panther” MacDonald’s first run-out of the day sent Alex packing after a barbecue that would make the even great Aaron Franklin weep salt tears and leave Agricola rocking at 34-3.

Maneesh and Marko began to resurrect the innings, with Maneesh finding the boundary regularly. But in a cruel twist of fate, he found himself dismissed in that classic cricketing detective fashion – just 1 run away from retirement – caught by The Leg Gully Panther off the bowling of debutant Niz Sirisena.

Debutant Tee Bizayi was unlucky not to get a breakthrough in his spell at the crease, and Agricola began to fight fire with fire, as Marko – an off-brand TG by way of Richard Kiel – opened his shoulders down the ground with some lusty straight hitting off the bowling of Ahmad Rabbani. Ahmad joined our ranks halfway through the third over as he’d mixed up the dates and arrived a week early for his team’s fixture against Agricola.

A captaincy masterstroke (though it’s not for me to say) saw Sam Perera chime in with an over of spin, as the batsmen looked to use the pace of our attack to their advantage. It had the desired effect as The Panther struck again, this time running out Agricola’s captain, Sam Farnham, in a shocking display of self-hating anti-Sametism.

I returned to the crease with the desired effect, adding Justin to my ever-growing list creatively titled “Blokes I Bowled”. Craig proved to be more industrious until he hit a lofted cover drive straight to Tee to give Sam Waddicor his second wicket and leave Agricola 105-7.

Calvin then produced a double-wicket maiden 19th over, which included a neat stumping by Richard Slatford – just reward for a man who, like the Artful Dodger wearing clothes accidentally washed in the wrong laundry detergent, had been itching to pick someone’s pocket all day. It was a fine debut for Calvin claiming 3-15 from 3 overs including 3 wickets in 4 balls.

A final run-out from Sam Perera dismissed Marko for 31, and we were set 115 for victory. I don’t remember a better fielding and bowling performance from the Allstars, and it made my job very easy. This is what Sheahanball is all about.

Coming into the game, I felt our batting was probably our strength, so I was comfortable with our ability to chase down 115 and square my captaincy ledger. In a near carbon copy of our first over, debutant ‘GW’ Welsby skied a return catch to leave us 1-1 after 3 balls. But Sam MacDonald instantly showed his class and fearlessness with a beautiful straight six off the last ball of the first over.

Pete Cresswell was keen to get his feet moving early, and was harshly adjudged LBW off Mohinder despite being so far down the wicket it made the Thames Path Challenge seem like a short jaunt to the shops.

Tee then joined Sam at the crease, and the two began to find the boundary regularly before Tee offered a catch to point off Modi for 12. The two Sams – Perera and MacDonald – then guided us from a precarious position in typical counter-punching fashion before Sam Perera, having hit 17 off just 9 balls, lost his wicket to a 1-in-100 catch on the boundary off Modi, leaving us 58-4 in the 10th.

Sam MacDonald continued unfazed as Slats joined him at the crease, and retired at the agreed mark of 30, finishing his day with 33 from 31 – a key hand in getting us home. The experienced heads of Slats (16*) and Ahmad (18*) then guided us home by 6 wickets with the best part of 4 overs remaining. Once again, I was left with a padded-up DNB, but with no one to blame but myself.

In true Allstars fashion, we shook hands and retired to the bar to break down the evening’s entertainment. It was an excellent all-around performance – especially given we weren’t as experienced at T20 as our opponents – and it augurs well for our game against Heartaches on Sunday, as we attempt to show that Rice guys do finish last.

Landray and Grant Spit Fire under scorching Kent skies

Matfield, Sunday 10 July 2022.

St Anne’s Allstars 264/7 dec (31 overs, T Landray 120*, A Grant Jr 76, Bowden 3-48, Dann 3-50) drew with Matfield Green CC 147/5 (38 overs, G Heady 59 ret, H Cooper 49, M Bergot 2-5, A Grant Jr 2-26).

Allstars Debuts: Ted Landray, Max Bergot

Report by Pete Cresswell – Photos by Pete Cresswell

The Allstars’ trip to the beautiful Matfield Green is an annual highlight of our season. This year we were also able to welcome back club stalwart Tony Grant’s son Gus, turning out in a Canbashers (TG’s other team, from whom we inherited the fixture) shirt for his first Matfield appearance in 15 years. Gus also brought along a couple of mates in Ted Landray and Max Bergot to make their Allstars debuts.

The day dawned scorchingly hot, and we were greeted by a flat looking pitch, and a lightning fast outfield – somewhat daunting with both sides reduced to 10 players due to injuries. TG lost the toss and Matfield (sportingly) opted to field in the heat of the day. Their opening bowlers Craig Bell and Greg Dann found some seam movement with the new ball, Dann getting balls to angle into middle then seam away, uprooting Chris Woods’ off stump with a superb delivery. In the 4th over Sam Perera dispatched a couple of loose balls from Dann to the fence – but he was then given out trapped in front with one that may have cleared off stump.

Debutant Ted Landray then joined the (typically) watchful Pete Cresswell at 9/2, and the pair rebuilt the innings, taking the score to 50 by taking advantage of the lightning outfield before Hal Cooper brought one back in past Cresswell’s inside edge, trapping him in front for 15, and Matt Biss became the 3rd lbw of the innings shortly after.

We were then treated to a quick cameo from our second debutant Max Bergot. He hit three boundaries in his 13, before he was bowled by Bowden, who next ball tempted Sam MacDonald to chip to extra cover leaving the Allstars reeling at 94/6 in the 16th.

This was the moment the match turned, as Gus Grant joined Landray, and the pair teed off against Matfield’s change bowlers. They added a breathtaking 118 in just 6.2 overs even though Ted had a straight six chalked off (the conditions of Matfield’s public liability insurance stating that any six hit into the garden of the house on the straight boundary counts as 0 – even though, since the condition was applied, the new home owner has joined the club as a player).

The stand ended when Gus holed out off the returning Dann for 76 – but the carnage hadn’t ended, as Gren Thompson quickly opened his account with a six. He and Ted added another 52 in 9 overs with Ted completing a superb debut ton before TG declared 20 minutes before tea. That did make us somewhat unpopular with the local tea committee, who were still heating savouries – but a longer break was rather welcome in the heat, as was the excellent tea.

After tea, Gren Thompson and Sam Perera led our attack. Gren struck with the third ball of the innings, striking Greg Dann on the glove, with the ball looping over the batter’s shoulder onto the base of the stumps. Giles Heady then joined Hal Cooper, the pair playing positively as they added 113 for the second wicket, taking full toll of any chance to pierce the field, as a World War II P51 Mustang flew tributary circuits in the distance. A tidy spell from Matt Biss and the introduction of Gus Grant slowed the scoring rate, with TG bringing himself on after Matt’s spell and turning in some tight overs.

The last time TG & Gus played Matfield together was about 15 years ago for Canbashers. On that occasion TG dropped a catch off Gus’s bowling. Happily this time he was able to put that right, snaffling Cooper at slip to open up an end.

Giles Heady retired for 59 shortly after battling with the heat and sunscreen and sweat in his eyes. Gus then bowled Jaime Curtis to give us a sniff of a chance though we were well into the final hour of play. But Matfield’s skipper Ed Barsley weighed anchor with Andrew Peaple, the pair getting to the final over before Max Bergot made his debut a memorable one, coming on and picking up both batsmen as a Spitfire graced us with a low fly pass.

All our bowlers had toiled well in the heat, and Sam MacDonald put in an excellent shift behind the stumps to get us close to a win, but it wasn’t to be as Matfield saw the remaining overs out for the draw.
Still, it was a very sociable day once again, with beers enjoyed with the genial opposition afterwards at the Star pub, next to the ground. We thoroughly look forward to a trip southeast next year – but we have a busy week ahead, with an evening T20 against Agricola at Chiswick on Wednesday followed by another of our marquee fixtures, against Heartaches at Aston Rowant next Sunday.