Match Date & Time
|September 24, 2023||12:30 pm||2023|
I am the batsman and the bat,
I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
The roller, pitch, and stumps, and all.
As swallows and martins depart for warmer climes, following the swifts who left long ago, the end of the season rolls around once again. The season was to have finished a week earlier but games lost to rain had left a pitch fit for play for one more game.
At first, perhaps a month earlier, a large squad of players had made themselves available. Opposition was yet to be selected, and talk of double wicket competitions was made. Hampstead Norreys. a team from the Berkshire countryside agreed to make the trip North. As the day approached the squad of sixteen gradually diminished, until with two days remaining just ten remained. A whoosh of messages and requests and an eleventh player was found just in time.
Paul Wordsworth had worked tirelessly to prep the pitch. Early September had been warm and dry at last the ground was firming up, The previous two matches had been rain affected but the sheet had kept the surface dry. Alas the rain and gales of Wednesday would have torn the sheet to shreds, which followed by further rainfall on Thursday left the chance of play in the balance. Cutting and rolling the pitch on Friday afternoon and cutting the outfield, thanks Seril, was a exercise in optimism. Saturday had been a good drying day so the drizzle that greeted Sunday morning was the counter to that optimism. The sheet had kept the rain off, but the worms were loving the damp dark condition. Had it not been the last game, this game would never have started.
It was worth the effort to play, more so when the sun shone later in the afternoon. Hampstead Norreys arrived early, they were on the ground by 12, wondering if the home side knew something they did not. In dribs and drabs Middleton’s players appeared. Sathya by way of Heathrow, Rob from dropping Eliot at county trial. Matt C brought with him Tahir, our eleventh player. Captains winning the toss usually insert on a wet wicket, not at Middleton Park.
Tahir opened with Jay. A thumping blow towards the farm end boundary announced his intentions. A firm “no!” from Jay announced his intention to run as little as needed. The pitch was holding up well, Tahir lofting twice back past the bowler and Jay playing one glorious clip through mid wicket. A cunning delivery from the opening bowler beat Jay, playing for inswing that never came. All too soon Tahir’s dashing innings came to an end, a leading edge looping to first slip.
Anirudh Sharma and Matt Carpenter batted positively, seeing off the opening bowler, Aki, then finding the short pitched attack much too their liking. There was always something in the wicket for the bowler, but the third wicket pair were well on top. Anirudh made the top score of 35, including seven boundaries. Matt was close behind with 31. Michael Robinson came and went for 3 before Sathya and Matt added another 30 runs to take the score into three figures. Sathya was cross with himself for holing out at midwicket for 23 as the skipper joined Matt with a score of 170 plus and a declaration looking likely.
Matt, starved of the strike, lost a little patience and played a shot across the line, soon to be followed by Tim R, bowled by good ball from the returning Aki. Arvin Sharma played some pleasant shots, but looked likely to be run out when Matt Dipple called him through for a quick single. Jay Mumtaz, umpiring had a minor misunderstanding with a Hampstead Norreys fielder, an disagreement that inspired Jay into his most vocal fielding performace later in the day.
The Middleton tail tried to wag. Matt Dipple found the fielder he was confident could not catch, in fact could. Robin and Rob both fell to debatable umpiring decisions meaning MSCC were all out for 152 in 39 overs.
After tea the clouds became lighter and the sun shone on Middleton Park. It was only half past three when the Middleton regulars started to appear, each one announced by the barking of the Captain’s dogs. Matt D and Rob had the ball in hand, Matt choosing to bowl down wind, Rub puffing into it. Matt found a sweet spot and good rhythm and had the visitors in deep trouble. Rob found rhythm elusive but kept the runs down. At the end of ten overs Matt had hit the stumps twice, been awarded an LBW and conceded only two runs. He was sent off to graze awaiting a second spell, as Rob switched ends to his preferred Church end.
Jay was leading the support for the bowlers, finding the positives while mentioning the slow scoring rate to the opposition. Rob had his best chance for a wicket when a short ball was pulled toward Jay at deep midwicket, but Jay was unable to cling on.
Arvin Sharma bowled a good spell of flighted deliveries that had the visitors mystified, The slow pace was clearly not to their liking. Robins Cummings replaced Rob and ran through the full repertoire of his variations. Somehow a very short ball beat the bat an descended to hit the leg stump. Hampstead Norreys Nikuil, the bemused batsman.
The fifth wicket partnership between Gajay and Rasib led a good recovery. It is a mystery how Arvin, and Sathya, who replaced Robin did not take a wicket. At one point Satyha beat the bat three times in a row, which each time, keeper Matt looking more and more amazed.
At the start of the last hour of the season, 90 runs were still needed, or six more wickets. Tahir bowled a very useful spell which broke the stand and had top scorer Gajay so out LBW that the batsman was walking off before the finger was raised.
Hampstead made a good effort to keep up with the run rate as fielders started to cluster around the bat. Matt Dipple returned picking up two more wickets, one with his slower ball that gave unconstrained joy. The ninth wicket pair just about held on for the final 18 deliveries as the game and the season finished in a draw.
As the sun lowered the skipper dragooned the players into hard labour, the sightscreens migrated like the swallows and martins to their winter home, the boundary rope was pulled in, (and coiled thanks to Peter and Ann). The bags of loam were put out by the square ready for renovations. The birthday boy, Simmo took control of the barbecue station and did a fine job, as did Andrew and Seril behind the bar. Once again Chris did his duties as scorer, we are all so grateful.
Roll on April!
Hampstead Norreys CC
|Hampstead Norreys CC total||0|
|Hampstead Norreys CC total||0||0||0||0|
Reserves: 1. Arvind Sharma 2. George Robinson