The Post-Brexit Apocalypse: Whalers Tour of the Midlands 2016

June 24th 2016 was always going to be a pivotal day in the UK calendar, marking the start of the first Whalers domestic tour in 5 years.

Challenging for space in the news headlines was the unexpected Leave referendum result. Key questions arose – What would Whalers tours look like in a Farage / Johnson ruled Britain, would we need a visa to get to Derby, and perhaps most importantly which Lucas brother was better at cricket?

Al, Rich and Geoff drove up on Friday night to begin acclimatisation, they were relieved that pre-match preparation could include a visit to a sea creature named drinking establishment, and a curry. Gilo injured himself going to the toilet at the curry house but recovered sufficiently for a few late night bar visits.

On Saturday morning the rest of the team arrived by train with the exception of Luckett, who having moved to Birmingham just the week before to make it easier to attend the tour, and was obviously the last to arrive.

Match Day 1: Wall CC vs Whalers CC; The Friary School, Lichfield

Whalers had hosted Wall CC twice on their tours of London, both times very close games with one win apiece. It was a relief as the rain clouds stayed away – Nick lost the toss and we were bowling with a half hour delay to let the pitch dry further, and Luckett to go to the supermarket to buy beer.

Wall started solidly putting on 25 for the first wicket and hitting Seth for several boundaries, but the introduction of Matt made the difference as he picked up 2 – 7 in his 5 over spell – both of them caught and bowled. Thereafter the Wall progress was slow as the Whalers chipped away and Nick shuffled the bowlers. There was a wicket each for Kamal, Al, Nick and Gilo (with his first ball).

Whalers looked well placed to bowl Wall out cheaply, but some stubborn, if slow-scoring resistance saw Wall reach three figures. A last-over run-out saw Wall finish their 35 overs on 103-7.

In reply Whalers started with some flashy strokeplay which saw the demise of Gilo for a duck and Channa for 9 leaving them at a potentially tricky 12-2 in the fourth over. Al and Dan nursed the score to 49 before Al missed a straight one. Seth joined Dan and with accurate bowling the runs dried up – just 4 off 4 overs.

With Seth out and Luckett at the crease the rate was upped slightly with Al no-balling an 8 year old for overstepping (it’s the laws innit) and Luckett clattering him for 4 over midwicket.

Overall with Dan anchoring the innings with a fine 37 and contributions from Seth (7) and Luckett (10) there was no Whalers collapse and although Dan perished with 9 still required, Matt and Geoff finished the job with 5 overs to spare winning by 4 wickets.

Whalers retired to a local pub with Wall to plan return fixtures in London and then returned to the bright lights of Derby.

At the first drink of the evening session (lager with sambuca chaser) the awards for the match were as follows:

Man of match – Matt Lucas, 2 wickets (Honourable mention Dan 37 and 1 bye)

Champagne – Matt’s caught and bowled (Honourable mentions Al’s cover drive and Gilo’s first ball wicket)

Muppet : Al no balling an 8 year old (Honourable mentions: Lucky and Matt catch confusion, and Nick’s slow ball beamer to an 8 year old)

After the awards there was some concern as to how Dan hadn’t got man of the match with the highest score of the game by some distance. Did people understand what they were voting for? Could there be a second vote? Had democracy once again failed the people?

The Whalers went for an excellent dinner and afterwards diverged to various after hours activities including some poor standard pool and competitive arcade shooting games. With the club scene not to all tastes Luckett and Al toured late bars keeping the Whalers flag flying until the early hours with their superior chat and drinking abilities.

Match Day 2: Allestree CC vs Whalers CC; Allestree Cricket Club

With Matt’s old club kindly hosting us for the Battle of the Brothers, the Whalers relocated their hangovers across town. This time a prompt start to try and avoid the later forecast heavy rain, the Whalers named an unchanged side and we were once again bowling.

Whaler’s Sunday matches on previous tours tended to be characterised by wayward bowling and punishing hours in the field – this one was to prove a surprising exception. Nick and Dan both bowled tidy lines with Dan only conceding through the third man cordon (despite various slips and third men). It was Nick who solved the edges conundrum removing both opening batsmen (including Lucas) clean bowled.

Excellent support bowling from the change bowlers Geoff and Matt, and some excellent dilligent fielding continued to restrict Alestree despite a short boundary on one side. A third wicket for Nick who finished with 3-24 and one wicket from Gilo kept Allestree in check. While further wickets didn’t materialise Allestree couldn’t pick up the rate even in the death overs and finished on 147-4 off their allotted 35 overs.

After an excellent tea Seth and Gilo opened for the Whalers pursuit. Seth was especially aggressive and scored a quickfire 33 before being stumped. Dan was batting at first drop again and kept the pace going with some enthusiastic running before Gilo was out lbw for 17. As Paul Luckett strode to the crease there was some scrambling amongst the middle order to get padded up, which remarkably turned out to be un-necessary. Suddenly the short boundary seemed very short as both Paul and Dan despatched maximums over the fence. Paul continued to a career best 36 before holing out to a fine catch. That left Dan time to get to to 59 not out and Al time to have a few overs in the middle without facing a ball as the Whalers cruised home with 6 overs to spare.

Overall a dominant performance in all disciplines and Whalers are now unbeaten on tour since 2014. Thanks very much to both Wall and Allestree for hosting. Looking forward to Porto in 2017 – can Nick Howes keep his 100% touring record. Will Luckett’s rich vein of form continue? Will Dan win a man of the match on tour? All this and more as the Whalers brave the post Brexit European landscape.

Man of the match – Paul Luckett career best 36 (Honourable mention for Dan for bowling and 59 and Nick for 3-24)

Champagne – Nick cleaning bowling opening batsman

Muppet – Nick’s dropped catch

Tour summary:

Wall CC 103-7 (35), Whalers 104 – 6 (30), Whalers win by 4 wickets

Allestree CC 147-4 (35), Whalers 148 –3 (29), Whalers win by 7 wickets

Photos courtesy of Kamal (mostly) and Al

   

 

Time To Believe

The Whalers convened in deepest darkest Surrey/South West London for their now traditional last match of the season, a timed game against the Believers. Nearly everyone struggled to make the early meet time but we still managed to get underway at 12.20 which gave plenty of time for a full match with the condition of a minimum of 20 overs to be bowled after 5pm.

Matt won the toss and chose to bat. The pitch looked a little uneven but we wanted to try and take control of the match. The decision didn’t look great when Geoff went first ball for a diamond duck as he tried to pull out of a pull as the ball got very big on him only to top edge through to the keeper. Pete then joined Stu at the crease and the unpredictable bounce continued with some rising very sharply from a length and some grubbing through along the ground. Pete had the mind set to try and punish anything loose but after one boundary skied one to the mid on fielder who took a good catch. Al was the next cab off the rank and him and Stu started to play very well and find the boundary on multiple occasions. The Believers first change bowler was very lively however and manged to get one through Al’s defences for 17. Pip also got a good delivery rising off a length to take the outside edge. Ross didn’t trouble the scorers and when Stu was out for 27 we were 64-6. The pitch was still playing unevenly so we thought if we could get to 120-130 that would be a competitive score.

Seth joined Roland at the crease and this pair steadied the ship with Seth scoring particularly well of their slow left armer. They took the score to 98 before Roland

Victory photo

Victory photo

was bowled. Khalil soon followed without scoring and Matt came out at number 10 with the Whalers still shy of 100. After a couple of close scares Matt found his timing and along with Seth kept the scoreboard ticking along nicely. At the second drinks break at 40 overs it was decided we almost had enough and wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to bowl out the opposition so we had a two over thrash which added another 20 runs and we declared on 164-8 (Seth with 56 not out and Matt 21 not out). This would leave us around 38-40 overs to bowl but also give a good chance to the opposition if they batted well.

Nick and Ross opened the bowling and the unpredictable bounce that had been present for all of our batting innings seemed to have vanished. Nick was getting the ball through at a very good pace though and soon had one of the openers backing away regularly. Once Nick got one a bit fuller it took out his off stump and the Whalers were off and running. The other opener had played some lovely cover drives but was also playing and missing against Ross’s out swingers. He eventually fell to a beautiful delivery that left him and took the off stump. After a very close lbw appeal their number 4 also had his off stump knocked back to another fantastic away swinger from Ross. Their number 3 was looking very dangerous however dispatching anything slightly loose to the boundary. After one drive through the covers for 4 off Nick he tried the same again the next ball only to pick out Al who held onto an excellent catch as it was really travelling.

That left the Believers 28-4 after 14 very good overs from the opening bowlers. Batsmen 5 and 6 seemed determined not to hang around and took the attack to Matt and Geoff. There were quite a few chances created with the ball just falling short or over fielders but there were also quite a few boundaries struck. After a big 6 Geoff got his man with a lovely Yorker and a few overs later removed the dangerous number 6 who went for one big shot too many and hit one straight up in the air which wicketkeeper Stu ran to catch. Geoff also bowled their number 7 with another good delivery.

The Believers were still playing shots and although a few made the boundary again there were chances in the field. Pip had replaced Matt and bowled well eventually tempting their number 9 into lofting a drive which Matt took running in from deep mid-off. Pip also removed the next batsmen as he whipped one off his legs firmly but straight to Geoff at square leg. Geoff seemed very surprised but still clung on and also hurt his thumb in the process.

That left the Believers on 105-9 and the Whalers had one wicket to take to finish the match. Eager to have one of Rowlands beers Matt bought Ross and Nick back into the attack and it was Nick who took the final wicket, finding the edge and Stu taking an excellent one handed catch.

All in all it was an excellent all round team performance, posting a very competitive total on a difficult pitch, bowling well and taking all of our catches (that certainly doesn’t happen very often). Stu also cemented his position as leading run scorer for the season and Nick did the same in the bowling department.

Whalers 164-8 declared (42 overs)
Believers 105 all out

M-O-M – Seth, excellent 56 not out
Champagne – Al’s catch in the covers off a fierce drive from their best batsman
Muppet – Geoff, Diamond Duck (special mention for him injuring himself taking a catch)

Nightmare on the Green

Cricketers CC vs Whalers CC; Sunday 4th September 2016; Richmond Green

A dark and gloomy Richmond Green played host in the away leg against old rivals The Cricketers. Captain Nick lost the toss (he is prone to do) and the oppo decided to bat.

Right from the outset the Cricketers attacked the ball. The runs flowed as they romped to 40 odd without loss. Skipper Nick and Khalil bowled through but were unable to make a breakthrough with the ball going far too often to the boundary. We were playing a 35 over game on a pitch that looked like it had been until recently a home for moles. As such the wicket was a temperamental devil. The ball rising of the gentlest delivery to graze the batsman’s helmet and in the next sitting up to be smacked around.

The Whalers let the nerves show with a variety of dropped catches and It wasn’t until Roland, standing at first slip, managed to palm a blinder of Nick that the Whalers bagged their first wicket. The replacement batsman didn’t fair well with Khalil bowling with rising fury and eventually rewarded with a thin nick which wicket keeper Stu took comfortably.

The Whalers then turned on the pressure with a much tighter performance in the field. Andrew Sheridan bowled a fantastic over taking the voracious openers middle stump with a beauty that cut in from outside off stump to hit middle.

At the other end Aussie standard bearer Geoff Judd made the most of the variable pitch

keeping the batsmen guessing.

Then followed a flurry of wickets. Andy taking a further two wickets to match Geoffs two. There was a magnificent left handed diving catch by Roland standing at short mid off which eventually was made Champagne moment.

The Cricketers had collapsed to 81 for 7 but their number 8 and 9 made a flurry of runs and it wasn’t until Seth came on that the wickets started falling again. Seth ended up with 2 wickets and Andrew Sheridan took one more to finish his spell with 4 for 31 of 7 overs.

It was an excellent performance overall with some tight fielding and the Whalers felt good, going into the change, having bowled out the oppo in 31 overs for 133 runs. Wickets all around with Andrew getting 4, Geoff and Seth getting 2 each and Nick and Khalil with 1 each.

Now all we had to do was bat sensibly and make 134 runs. Simple right? Wrong.

It would be easy to blame the wicket. Well it certainly played a huge part, sometimes staying low, sometimes sitting up and sometimes flying into decapitation mode. Seth was the first to fall, having been rattled by a blow to the chin he nicked one to start the collapse. Stu in next got some quick runs and the whalers were 18 for 1 when the ball rose up on Channa who was honestly trying to drive the ball. Result, a simple caught and bowled. Stu didn’t stay much longer after that and neither did replacement Andrew B. That left Luke and Andrew Sheridan at the crease. They stayed around for a bit, but the Cricketers sensing a lot of blood in the water quickly wrapped it up with Luke first to go, after being frustrated by some borderline no ball full tosses. Andrew S fell next caught behind after some very sharp bowling. He was followed by Khalil and Roland who did not trouble the scorers leaving poor old Nick and Geoff to pick up the pieces. It wasn’t meant to be as the Whalers playing with just ten men collapsed in a bloody puddle for 49 runs in 18 overs.

Still it was a winning season wasn’t it!!!

Man of the match – Andrew for 4 for 31 of 7.
Champagne moment – Roland’s amazing stretching diving left handed eyes closed catch at short mid wicket.
Muppet – Stu for running 30 yards screaming like a banshee so close to the ground that he resembled a greyhound after a rabbit, to catch a sky ball that was under Channa. Channa sensibly got out of the way least he be killed. Stu dropped the catch.

 

The Whale Triumphs as Exiles Short-Circuit

Sunday 21st August – Whalers vs. Energy Exiles – KHS

RESULT – Energy Exiles 105 all out, Whalers 106 for 1 – WHALERS WIN BY 9 WICKETS

On a warm, blustery day at Kings House, with Barnes Bridge Station once again shut and the Whalers match the only game of cricket occurring, 10 Whalers took to the field against the 8 Energy Exiles that had made it on time (both teams eventually made it up to 11).  Dan, having won the toss, charitably allowed the opposition to bat on what looked a good pitch but as it turned out it was an inspired decision.

The Exiles started slowly and, to be honest, carried on slowly. Towards the end, their rate was, well, also pretty slow. That is not to say they didn’t frustrate. The opening partnership saw off the tight bowling of Pete and Jack, who were then replaced by the equally miserly Khalil (who had spent a good 10 minutes, after arriving 15 minutes after the game had started, warming up on the boundary) and the chuntering Matt who seemed a little frustrated by the strong headwind that had suddenly appeared.

After 10 overs Khalil finally had the breakthrough, with Luke taking a sharp catch to dismiss the dangerous opener Akhtar who was starting to hit some boundaries. The Exiles continued to grind out runs and by drinks had reached 46. The Whalers bowling and fielding was excellent and on a slow, stopping pitch it was difficult to get the ball away.

After drinks things began to change. Kamal fed a few leg side long hops to keep the batsmen interested whilst at the other end Dan began to make inroads into the top order. He bowled the other opener Kent for 13 and then played a part in the run out of their number 3 before clean bowling the number 4. By this stage it was ‘death or glory’ for the Exiles as the run rate, at below 3 an over, was forcing them to play some extravagant and ultimately doomed shots. Khalil and Jack both came back into the attack and took 2 and 3 wickets apiece, with Pete taking the final wicket in the last over of the innings, with the Exiles finishing on 105. Khalil (7-1-12-3), Jack (6-2-12-3) and Dan (6-2-10-2) all bowled exceptionally well in the conditions.

After a tea nominated as the Champagne Moment of the game (ultimately turned down, as it was par for the course and it was felt it would be a sad inditement of the game), Pip and Will went out to quickly knock off the 106 required for victory. However, it was clear that either the pitch was still very difficult, the bowlers were particularly tight or the openers were determined to get their £10 match fees worth of cricket!  Pip in particular scored slowly, at one point it being noted he had scored 3 off 30 balls out of a team total of 37! However, he ended up with a gritty, determined and pretty much faultless 48 not out, meaning he was fined heavily for Boycott batting, batting for average and jug avoidance, despite being told that with 4 runs to win he need a six to get to his fifty!

Will’s was the only wicket to fall in the 27 overs it took to score the runs which is a shame as he batted well for his 26. Luke assisted Pip with 24 not out and the scorecard had a surprising level of pseudo-professionalism about it. The expected collapse did not occur and so the Whalers were victors by 9 wickets.

Due to the somewhat turgid nature of the game it seemed hard to find Muppet and Champagne moments during the fines session. Eventually Will was nominated as Muppet for being the only wicket to fall, and after a long, awkward silence Champagne Moment went to the fact that we managed to finish the game before it rained – something of a sad end really. Khalil was awarded Man of the Match for his superb bowling but Dan, Jack and Pip were all given honourable mentions. Overall a good win but not the nerve-crunching feast of runs and wickets that the Whalers have become used to.

Captain’s XI vs President’s XI 2016

King’s House Sports Ground; Saturday 23 July 2016

With the Whalers convening early and the gazebos given their annual dusting off it could only mean one thing, the annual Captains v Presidents fixture. With some last minute scrambling we managed to get 21 players for the premier fixture of the season and Channa was the nominated choice to lead the Captains XI. With Kev and Munish as the nominated keepers and Kev needing to be in the team that fielded first it was a surprise when Channa won the toss and decided to bat.

Hoping to lead from the front Channa strode out to open the innings but was on his way 5 balls later as he fended at a ball from Matt that bounced more than expected and gloved it through to Kev. Channa’s namesake CK1 (on a loan deal from Salix for the day) followed shortly after when he tried a risky second run after a James Gould misfield and was well short of his ground. Matt Boucher became the third early wicket for the Presidents XI when he gave a straight forward catch to Al at mid-off off the bowling of Paul Clappison. This left the Captains XI on 14-3 and some re-building was needed. This came thanks to a 73 run partnership between Luke and Geoff, with Geoff particularly dismissive of any loose balls on his way to a quickfire 50 (thus retiring).
Dario was introduced to the bowling attack and shocked everyone by bowling seam up (something not seen for at least 10 years……..). He quickly accounted for Luke, bowling him for 23 and when Kamal had JT caught in the gully going for a trademark heave the Presidents XI started to get back in the game. It was a fantastic catch from Tony (also a loanee from Salix) as he backpedalled and just managed to hold on. Munish and Nick failed to trouble the scorers (in Nick’s case this was due to the 4 pints he had consumed since the start of the game) and the Presidents thought they may be able skittle the Captains for 150ish but they had failed to account for Nick’s mate (ringer) Pat who due to turning up late was batting at number 11. He clearly was used to batting much higher up the order and was soon despatching anything over-pitched to the boundary. Ably supported by Dan they scored very quickly and when Pat was well stumped by Kev off the bowling of Paul Clappison for an excellent 45 they were at 203. This just left the returning Geoff to try and try and get a few more late runs however he could only add a further 6 and was caught by Paul off Dario for 59. Dan was left not out on 31 and the Captains XI had scored 210, a good score but on an excellent pitch with a fast outfield probably par.
A very decent BBQ plus quite a bit more beer meant lunch/tea was enjoyed by all and Number 11 James Gould was given a surprise 9 place promotion in the order to open the President’s XI innings alongside Kev. Again leading from the front Channa chose to open the bowling alongside Nick for the Captains XI. An uneventful first over from Nick was then followed by an array of head high beamers and wides from Channa who in the end was lucky to only concede 12 from the over. Dan then took over however Kev and Gouldy were accumulating steadily. Actually Kev was, Gouldy was mainly watching from the other end. Until a bowling change bought CK1 into the attack this was. After a few sighters Gouldy decided he liked the look of the bowling and launched CK1 5 boundaries in the next 2 overs including a big six over Long On. Geoff was bought on to try and stem the flow of runs, promising to bowl off an even shorter run up (if that is even possible) due to a side strain and only committing to one over. Channa ignored these instructions and in his second over Geoff had Gouldy caught by Sam for 35. Gilo was next in and although hitting some nice shots kept finding the fielders in the deep and in the end was bowled by Geoff for 17 trying to hit out.
Kev had now retired for a well made 52 and the Presidents XI needed the ship to be steadied. Unfortunately the wickets kept falling as Dario was run out for 8, Toby bowled for 5 by JT and Al was caught by CK1 off Munish for 5. Paul Clappison was batting well but when Tony was out for 9 the Presidents XI were on 177 with only Matt and Kamal left to bat and 34 needed off 5 overs. Matt was very keen to get the runs flowing again and after chuntering at Paul for turning down a tight single into the covers was caught on his heels for the next ball which was hit to the same place. Paul called the run (to avoid more chuntering) and Matt was just short of his ground to be run out without facing. Cue more chuntering as he departed the field. It now looked to be a very tall order for the Captains XI, even more so as Paul pulled his hamstring pushing for second run to maintain the strike. Al padded up to act as a runner but it some became obvious the injury would prevent Paul batting at all. As Kev had retired earlier but unable to bat again sue to him being on the M25 and that the President’s XI only had 10 players, the Captains XI made the very sporting decision to allow Matt to take Kev’s place to allow the game to continue. Matt then promptly took a couple of 4’s from Nick and Geoff’s next overs which coupled with some frantic running and good shots from Kamal left them needing 3 from the last over for victory. Nick bowled it very well but thanks to a wide and a couple of leg byes the Presidents XI scraped home with 1 ball left.
A really enjoyable game for all played in excellent spirit as always (despite some drunk heckling from the sidelines). After a brief discussion in the pub and a hasty trip to the offlicense Dario was awarded best bowler of the match with figures of 3-20 (he should bowl seam up more often!) and Geoff was awarded best batsmen for an excellent 59 (despite a side strain). Matt was awarded Muppet of the Day for his chuntering, disastrous run out and more chuntering.