Hot day at Winchmore Hill

Winchmore Hill Tigers vs Whalers CC, The Paulin Ground, 3rd September 2023

Day started with the skipper arriving 5 mins to 1pm and immediately losing the toss to put us to field in the 25 degree heat (felt like 35 degrees). 

Sangamesh and Ramzan, the pace spin duo, started with economical spells at the start. Sanga providing the first breakthrough, an LBW given by the umpire, despite a massive edge by the batsman. Fortune does favour the bold. Nirmal and Bilal came as first and second changes, with Bilal bowling out the other opening batsman and Nirmal took his first wicket with a sleek caught and bold. This was followed by good spells from Russel and Vishal – the latter bagging a wicket as well. The skipper chipped in a couple overs as well.

Second spells by pace bowlers – Sangamesh, Nirmal and Bilal – were less quiet to put it lightly. A flurry of boundaries led to the opposition adding 70-80 runs the last 6 overs. This included a 21 run smashing in Bilal’s over by a kid probably 12 years younger than him. A brace by Sangamesh at the end restricted the opposition to a total of 253 at the end of 40 overs

Our opening pair was debutant Ali and club stalwart Raman. Ali started the innings with a six damaging the side screen. Whereas, Raman played the anchor. The first wicket brought the skipper Amit to the crease. Then began the aggression. A flurry of sixes, with the oppo losing the ball quite a few times in the bushes. Ali was bowled out for 48. Hopes rested on Amit and Fraser to bring us home but Fraser was only able to contribute 10 runs to the chase. 

Despite losing batsman on the other end, the skipper carried on valiantly. His confidence, however, gave us the muppet moment of the season. Batting at 93 runs, Mr Kushwaha decided to go a switch hit slog sweep. Ended up top edging the ball to the fielder at midwicket. A Ben Stokes esque effort by the fielder led to him dropping the ball while celebrating. Amit meanwhile was stuck halfway down the wicket, leading to a runout at the non-striker end (check Whalers instagram page for video). Hopes of a chase were brought down after this wicket. A continuing collapse by the tail brought Whalers to a total of 234 runs, losing by 15 runs.

Full scorecard

Man of the match: Amit for his 93.

Champagne moment: Bilal for getting a clean bowled wicket.

Muppet moment: Amit for switch-hitting, getting dropped and run-out on the same ball.

Honourable muppet mention: Sangamesh for swaying the fines session.

Match Report by Bilal Talpur

Whalers have a ‘Tea’rrible Saturday

Cricketers Club CC vs Whalers CC, Richmond, 12th August 2023

After a drubbing from Octopus CC the previous week, Whalers made a trip to Richmond on a Saturday to face The Cricketers. With decent weather and the nearby bars buzzing with activity from a Lionesses world cup victory and a following England Wales encounter in nearby Twickenham, there was a more than decent crowd to watch Whalers overcome their batting woes from previous encounters at this venue. Was this going to be the case?

For a change, every Whaler was on time, as rewards in the form of batting higher up the order were promised to Nirmal in exchange of his timely appearance. Captain Russell lost the toss and Whalers were put into the field. Losing the toss was not a bad outcome as Whalers didn’t know what to expect from a council park pitch. Sangamesh and Rohan opened the bowling and it was apparent quiet early that the pitch will have a major say in the outcome of this game. With balls keeping low, the Cricketers’ openers resorted to stepping out and playing on front foot to negate the pitch. Sangamesh provided the first break through by trapping the opener in front of the wickets. Meanwhile Rohan continued bowling consistent lines and keeping it tight at the other end. The Cricketers no. 2 and 3 started taking a liking for Sangamesh’s bowling, taking him apart for boundaries. Rohan finally got a reward for his consistent bowling as he bowled the opener for 28. Nirmal was brought into the attack and started bowling accurate lines with fierce pace and bodyline bowling at times, even injuring Whalers keeper Geoff in the process. Nirmal was rewarded for his toil as he removed the dangerous looking number 4.

Saurabh started with an expensive over but soon found his rhythm and struck twice to remove Cricketers number 3 and 5 batsman. At drinks, Whalers were looking in control and confident of winding up the Cricketers under 130. Russell brought himself into the attack and struck immediately with a controversial LBW decision. The Cricketers batsman was not amused with the decision and this was to be the first of many controversial umpiring decisions on the day. Soon Russell was denied a LBW opportunity, which seemed closer than the previous LBW given out.

Similar to the umpiring, Whalers fielding was also not up to par. A series of misfields on the boundary and overthrows gave the Cricketers lower order the opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking. Dan nursing an injury, bowled an accurate line with a shortened run-up to keep the scoring low. Will and Raman were handed the ball to finish off the proceedings. Both dismissed a batsman each in their first over to bring the last Cricketers pair on the crease with the score around 120. Cricketers looked unlikely to play out the full quota of 35 overs, but the last pair of Abhi and Rash had some other ideas. Abhi started accumulating boundaries and Rash holding one end dented any chances of Whalers advantage. They added 40 runs for the last wicket, taking the score to 159. It was clear that this was more than a defendable score given the variable bounce in the pitch.

It was decided to have tea after the game (more on that later), which meant a quick turn around for Whalers openers to start the chase. With Whalers batsman used to playing on the consistent pitches of King’s House and Barn Elms this season, chasing 159 on this pitch was going to be a challenge. Amit Kushy and his latest recruit Mathew went out to open the innings.

Amit started the innings strong, punishing any bad balls for boundaries. Meanwhile young Mathew was watchful, but soon got out for a duck on his Whalers debut. Raman went in at 3, and started ticking the scoreboard with his enthusiastic running. Meanwhile Amit continued his boundary hitting spree, not missing out on any scoring opportunities. The Whale was floating comfortably at this point with both batsmen looking in good touch. But this was about to change.

Amit got unlucky, with a ball keeping surprisingly low and hitting him on the pads ending his innings on 26. Raman soon edged one to the keeper, departing the crease in disbelief over being given out by Russell. He later found out that it was indeed a correct decision. Nirmal and Dan, both promoted up the order, tried to salvage the innings. But Dan was given out LBW by Sangamesh, with the ball missing the wickets by a big margin. Nirmal, playing his natural game, got bowled, playing one shot too many. What followed was another classic Whalers collapse. Geoff, Will, Saurabh and Rohan all failed to trouble the scorers. The bowling duo of Rash and Taker made full use of pitch bowling consistent lines. From 37-1, Whalers found themselves 54-9. Russell hit a boundary and extras(14) chipped in as well to take the score to 64 before Taker got his 5th wicket of the day and ending the misery for Whalers. 

Some newer Whalers were worried that this might be the lowest ever total for Whalers. But our in-house statistician Geoff reassured them that it was comfortably above the record lowest score of 26. Finally, it was time for tea. An unusual tea session ensued with delicacies like spicy chicken, egg cutlets, fried potatoes and other finger food was served. The whole set-up reminded some of the Whalers of an Indian wedding buffet. Following the trend from the previous week, Nirmal suggested skipping the fines session and giving each Whalers fine of 5£. A fun fine session followed, but Nirmal did get his wish for an almost 5£ fine. 

Overall, a game of cricket played in good spirit with The Cricketers using the home advantage well to turn out the clear winners. Whalers will look to turn things around in their familiar setting of King’s House for their last home game of the season.

Full Scorecard

Man of the match: Extras for scoring 14

Champagne Diet coke moment: Raman getting a batsman stumped by Geoff

Muppet moment: Nirmal for his ‘airplane’ misfielding on the boundary.

Match Report by Raman Preet Singh

Octopuses Ink Victory Over Whalers in a Cricketing Massacre

Whalers CC vs Octopus CC, Barn Elms Sports Trust, 6th August 2023

Whalers have had a fantastic season so far with 6 great wins and after having completely decimated Quokkas with a 9 wicket victory, Whalers were up for the next challenge. This time they were facing the formidable Octopus CC(was established in 1947, which my Indian eyes couldn’t help but notice). Whalers have had too many games where they were forced to bowl first either by sheer luck or by sometimes the captain generously giving the opponents the option to bat because they were short. The Whalers captain was dead set to bat first on winning the toss, which eventually ended up happening.
 Dean and Raman opened the innings for Whalers. The lefty-righty duo was met with a lefty-righty bowling combination(insert our battle will be legendary meme). The conditions were favoring the bowlers and the relatively slow outfield meant a frustrating start for the batsmen unable to settle down with those confidence boosting drives. Early in the spell the Octopus bowler bowled a surprising yorker to Raman which he couldn’t find the answer to and was clean bowled for 7. Amit, the skipper for the game came in at number 3 and started strong with a couple boundaries but in an awkward front foot misjudged the ball from the left handed pacer and was bowled out at 8. Fraser followed Amit on a very similar dismissal and Roland joined the party to what was turning out to be yet another Whalers collapse, which I must say had become surprisingly rare. Dean, who was looking in great touch, quickly followed after scoring 18. The scoreboard read 34-5 and our newcomer Karan was leisurely gearing up to bat next without any worry in the world. There were great efforts in the team trying best not to pressurize the new batsman by asking him to hurry. There were some “take it nice and slow, and try not to concede wicket” suggestions, I wonder if there was more emphasis on the first part of the sentence. Well, Karan came to the crease and was quickly dismissed for a duck. Whalers were down to 40-6 with Rohan and Paul at the crease. The Octopus had a bowler who bowled some very tempting deliveries trying to lure in the batsman and given the situation Paul and Rohan decided to take it easy and play sensible cricket. They steadily added 28 runs for the seventh wicket when Paul was dismissed for 13. Sangamesh joined Rohan in the effort to get to a fighting total. Rohan was having difficulty finding those initial boundaries and was running singles and doubles which didn’t look like he was enjoying the most. Amit, who was now umpiring, saw an Octopus bowler whom he remembered from a different club was completely fanboying over how great of an allrounder he was. Rohan decided to switch gears on hearing those praises and a few boundaries started to flow and Whalers finally crossed the 100 run mark. Rohan, looking well settled at this point, decided to just swing the bat on an extremely slow short pitched delivery which went up a fair amount and was well caught by the Octopus skipper. It was a well fought innings of 40. Sangamesh quickly followed Rohan and Nirmal’s 4 was the last Whalers boundary for the day. Kamal’s dismissal finished the Whalers innings at 110.

The Octopus were facing a comfortable total of 111 to chase in 35 overs. Sangamesh and Rohan started with the new ball. The Octopus openers took their sweet time to settle in letting Rohan bowl 3 back to back maidens in his first 3. 6 overs in and not having lost a wicket the Octopus openers began showing intent and picked up the pace. Nirmal and Amit came in to bowl and they were in for some sweetly timed boundaries until Amit gave Whalers their first breakthrough with Sangamesh making a big deal out of a dolly with a single handed catch. The second batsman quickly followed with an inside edge and it looked like Amit’s spell was giving Whalers a fighting chance. This misconception went for a toss when one of their well settled openers started punishing anything and everything that came to him. Whalers tried to play their trump card by bringing in Special K into the attack but to no effect and what looked like a blink of an eye and countless boundaries(not to mention some well practiced scoops) they quickly chased 111 in 17 overs with their star opening batsman top scoring with 91 runs. This match was a total opposite of the Quokkas game and there was an unusual popular consensus over skipping fines and going back home. I hope the Whalers come out stronger from this devastating loss as they face the Cricketers(pun intended in retrospective).            

Match Report by Rohan Bhandari   

Whalers go down in South London

Bricklayers CC v Whalers CC 2nd July 2023, South Wimbledon

A sunny day in south London as the Whalers made their way to the Nursery Playing Fields near South Wimbledon underground station. Due to a slight miscommunication issue, the Whalers were aiming for the usual 1pm start time, while the Bricklayers were aiming for 1.30 start. The up-side being that Whalers were at full complement in advance of game start time, even if a couple of players did their best to turn up late. It also meant there was a bit more time to listen in on the radio as Ben Stokes launched into his retaliatory innings after the Bairstow stumping debacle on the final day of Ashes at Lords. As the afternoon progressed, calls from the field on updates on his efforts punctuated play. At least until his ultimate demise and everyone else around him forgetting how to bat.

The game was 10 v 10, perhaps with the lure of a 5th day at Lords eating into availability. For those that did make it, this was a chance to reminisce about previous games on this ground, with Kush’s previous fiver and Dean’s 6 onto the tram tracks among. Memories aided by the fact that once again there was a group of folk dancers trotting nearby most of the day. Whalers won the toss and opted to bat.

As if prompted by that memorable 6, Dean decided to recreate it with the very first ball faced from the redoubtable oppo captain, Mike. Same result, pulled 6 onto the tram tracks, ball lost. Not the first lost ball of the day, although later several would be found as well, evening out the debit/credit somewhat. The two opening bowlers kept things fairly tight, with Dean and Al making steady progress until Al was bowled by Mike for 17. With Amit Kush joining Dean, the pair settled in for the 2nd wicket stand that shaped the Whaler winnings. The partnership eventually fell having put on 149, with Kush making 76. Arpit went to the middle and got stuck in, adding 30 himself before taking some inspiration from the reported Bairstow stumping, wandering down the ground leaving the stumps exposed. Dean retired when on 109 in order to make sure others got a go. Roly and Saurabh were left standing at innings close on 1 each, while in between Sangamesh had managed to get himself run out on 1 as well. 257 scored with 4 wickets down from the 35 overs. Reason to feel confident at the break.

Sangamesh and Dan opened the bowling for the Whalers. Sangamesh bowling with some feisty pace to pick up a couple of wickets (2 for 37 from 5.5), each caught by Dean who was keeping wicket. However even in these early exchanges it became apparent that the runs were coming quite easily for the Bricklayers. Dan went for 30 off his 5 overs, which ended up being the most economical figures of the innings, giving some indication of what was to come. Batters 3 and 4 got comfortable, picking off boundaries with ease and exposing one of the leakier Whalers fielding efforts of recent times. Russell bowled 7 overs through, managing in the end to get no3 out for 52 kissing the top of off stump, however figures of 1 for 49 again hinted at the unstoppable churn of the runs. With bowlers going somewhere between 8s and 10s (maybe even 13s) the target got ever closer in reach for the oppo. With Amit Kushwaha and Arpit each picking up a wicket in the back end of the innings, chances did come, with a run out that appeared to happen in slow motion also contributing. Capping off the fielding efforts, skipper Russell managed to ground a skied shot at long off, just inside the boundary and then repeated the trick the very next ball, only this time managing to fall in a heap and nudge the ball over the boundary for good measure. The Bricklayers managed to chase down the total on the last ball of the 34th over, winning by 4 wickets. Their no4 batter managing to be 98 not out at the last. 

Champagne moment: Dean first ball for 6, ball lost

Muppet moment: Arpit’s ‘Jonny Bairstow moment’, getting run out wandering up the pitch (honourable mention to Russell’s dropping 2 catches in 2 balls)

Man Of the Match: Dean

Match Report by Russell Bramley

Whalers win in high scoring thriller

Salix CC vs Whalers, Barn Elms Sports Trust, 16th July 2023

It was a (mostly) sunny if extremely windy day in Barnes as Suhaib and his merry men travelled to Barnes to meet regular opponents Salix. With 15 minutes to go until the toss, matters weren’t looking particularly promising. There were just the three of us in the changing room and the tactics board was looking suspiciously blank. The said toss did however take place shortly thereafter. After recently winning the toss and putting the opposition in (a not universally popular decision by all accounts), the decision was taken away from the skipper as Salix guessed correctly and decided to have a bat. On a more positive note, everyone else (bar Al) started to arrive and we were able to begin pretty much on time.

A fired up Nirmal was handed the new ball and he certainly gave the opening batsmen something to think about. The pace was rocking, the accuracy at times less so. It quickly became clear, as is normally the case, that bowling short is less than ideal, and there were some early boundaries due to some aggressive pulling and thunderous drives. A non-fired up Raman opened up from the other end, after getting caught in the rain on Friday he was feeling under the weather and his opening two overs also gave Salix the opportunity to create some scoreboard pressure. It should be said at this point that the scoreboard was also feeling pressure from another source- the wind. Getting it to stay up was a struggle in itself, let alone getting the numbers to stay in the correct place. After some early slightly loose bowling and accompanying misfields, the Whalers’ had to find a way of drying up the runs. Roland’s answer to this was putting his foot in the way of a well struck cover drive- saving four in the most heroic of ways. It was a mighty blow and he hobbled off to find use the deep heat that no one had any idea was contained within the team kit bag.

The first wicket fell shortly thereafter, Nirmal hit a good length and their opening bat miscued one slightly to a grateful Suhaib at mid-off. The second wicket followed a couple of overs later in very similar fashion, this time Suhaib was the bowler with Vishal taking a smart catch in the same position. Further wickets followed for Nirmal and Suhaib, both of them bowling the batsmen clean, again showing the value of bowling full and letting the ball do the work. It was after this that things began to get a bit loose. The Salix number 4 was looking settled and in expansive form and was beginning to put on a good partnership with his batting mate. Saurabh was brought on and despite hitting some reasonable lengths was being dispatched to the boundary fence on a less than ideal regularity. He also wasn’t getting any support at the other end, Josh (top wicket taker in 2018) was having real issues with getting the ball anywhere near where he wanted it and his rather pathetic 3 overs were dispatched for 32 runs. Thankfully for all concerned, Josh is now based some 200 miles away and these slow medium trackers will be offered up no more than one or two times a season.

Vishal, also a former top wicket taker, was brought into the attack and he fared much better, a tidy length and some good zip. He produced a lovely delivery to break the partnership that was threatening to put the game out of sight. The next wicket to come with in less orthodox fashion, a top edge went up towards Al at square leg, he wasn’t able to take the catch but caused enough confusion to get the ball back to wicket keeper Dean who was duly able to complete the run out. In fact, Dean had a busy couple of overs, with a stumping off Amit and then taking a catch off of a Raman wide delivery. By this point, Salix already had more than 200 on the board and their number 4 edging over closer to a century. Thankfully Vishal was able to stop this happening as he bowled him for 90 and then immediately follow it up by also bowling out their number 11, in the penultimate over of the innings. It was an up and down effort, some good bowling, some not so good bowling, some good catching, some not so good fielding. However, the bounce was relatively consistent and the outfield clearly fast. A chase of 240 was not going to be easy, but there was a healthy looking top and middle order in attendance.

One thing that was obvious, is that we had to make a good start. The Salix opening pair looked useful, that combination of reasonable pace and accuracy that we all dream of. Al seemed to be enjoying this extra pace and he got the ball rolling with a couple of lovely drives through the covers. Dean was looking slightly more circumspect, not being provided with anything short for the first few overs but then things loosed slightly and he was able to crash some balls to the fence. The run rate continued to increase and Dean seemed to go from 20 to 50 in a very short space of time, helped in part by a glorious six straight down the ground. Unfortunately, he departed not long after, bowled for a very useful 53. Al also crossed the 50 threshold, before he too was dismissed, caught for a very respectable 58. Fraser was in at 3 with a limping Roland in at 4. Josh had kindly offered to be his runner, but this arrangement wasn’t a successful one and he had to limp back after being cruelly run out for 2 runs. 

This brought Amit to the crease with the game very much in the balance. Fraser has been in fine form all season and we know what Amit can provide- both with the bat and in terms of camping equipment. We needed runs and we needed them relatively quickly. Fraser became the third Whaler to 50, I don’t have an Andy Zaltzman esque knowledge of stats, but there can’t be many times the top 3 have all reached that figure. Fraser was not quite able to see it through and this brought back Josh to the crease once he was able to find a helmet that was big enough both literally and figuratively for his head. There has been much talk of his finishing abilities in the past, mostly it has to be said by himself. After failing miserably with the ball and copping a bit of flak for his generosity with wides whilst umpiring, it was time for him to give something back and see it home for the boys. With a deep field set, his approach was to get off strike and let the set batsman do the necessary. This worked- Josh and Amit were able to push the ones and two hard and then a 6 from Amit put us ahead of the run rate with barely two overs left. Amit was also the man to hit the winning runs, a miscued shot over the keeper which ran away to the fence, not the prettiest way to end proceedings, but a 4 is a 4 and a win and a win!

All in all, it was a really good effort from the Whalers to come back after conceding more than we would have wanted in the first innings. We did bowl impressively in patches, Suhaib and Vishal were impressive and Nirmal took a couple of lovely wickets. The top 3 all contributed with the bat and set a good foundation for Amit and Josh, unfortunately Roland missed out, but he was hampered by one of the most purple looking feet I have ever seen and having Josh as his runner. Next up is the Captains v Presidents on Friday!

Whalers 241/4 beat Salix 239 a/o by 6 wickets

Man of the match: Fraser- top scorer with 60 runs

Champagne moment: Fraser- straight six down the ground just missing the scorer’s table

Muppet: Dean- losing his hat to the wind and throwing his glove after it to try and stop it

Match Report finished by Josh Curtis