Lions Roar Up North


Whalers CC vs Lions; Sunday 12th September 2021; Winchmore Hill

The penultimate match of the season sees The Whalers travel north to Winchmore Hill once again, this time to take on a relatively young-looking Lions team. With a number of train delays and cancellations causing early havoc, majority of the whales finally gathered outside the Winchmore pavilion on what looked like a beautifully pristine outfield and a great sunny day for cricket. Still waiting for Raman to arrive, and being put in to bowl, Whalers finally took to the field with 10 men and the new ball being thrown to Ross and Matt to try and find some early wickets. Both openers kept things very tight on either side in the opening couple with the ball nipping and ducking finding some loose strokes by the batsmen and finding a few edges which were put down. Finally, in the distance and making his way to the pavilion, Raman had arrived, and whalers were up to full strength. Good opening spell by the openers, but unfortunately no breakthrough so time for a bowling change. On came Bilal from the pavilion side, with back up from the opposite side by Nick who again were finding some great line and lengths. The first wicket finally came with a sharp low catch by Ross in the slip cordon off the bowling of Bilal.

In came the Lions captain Emile who had hurt the Whalers earlier on in the season with an unbeaten 81 and looked in fine form yet again. The bowlers continued to toil hard but unfortunately the back up from the fielding started to show signs of scratchiness and boundaries were starting to flow. Bilal eventually had an opportunity at LBW which looked plum for all money, only to be refused by the umpire. Another one followed by Nick in the overs to follow and this time there was no question, the umpire raised his finger and the young opener had to go after making 29. The big moment had arrived, Kev trundled up to the crease for the Lions (in full Whalers kit) and looking to make a big mark on the match.

It was at this stage that the game becomes a little hazy for the Whalers and some pretty poor fielding and drop catches allowed Emile and Kev to score freely and really stamp their authority on the game. Some of the key points which stick in the memory was Will’s dislocated finger fielding a fast-paced ball at point, the many spinning balls on the boundary with fielders over running and the ball bouncing the opposite way and the headliner being Vishal’s football scoring ability into the boundary which could have been an easily pick up by Bilal who was sweeping round. A breakthrough finally came when Kamal bowled a well-placed length to pick up the edge of Emile and taken sharply by Geoff. At this stage, the score was looking ominous, and the Whalers were looking down the barrel of chasing just over 6 and over. Kev eventually finished on 109 not out and we made our way in for tea.

The second innings kicked off with Geoff and Kamal opening the batting. Geoff took charge of the situation immediately and decided hell for leather was the best way forward, driving anything slightly over pitched straight back over the bowlers head for 4. Things were looking steady at about 50 for none after 5 overs until Kamal edged the first change off spinner to slip. Ross soon joined Geoff in the middle and runs continued flowing until the quick reactions of the Lions keeper stumped Ross who was short of his crease. This perhaps started the slight collapse in the Whalers order as Josh soon followed leaving a ball he was expecting to spin the other way and Geoff scooping one to the covers.

Raman came to the wicket and looked in good nick as he heaved one over cow corner for a six. Matt had also joined him at this stage and both looked to make the most of the quick outfield, timing anything short with a paddle around the legs which went for boundaries and turning 1’s into 2’s. The score was ticking away nicely at this stage until Raman pushed one to the fielder which was well caught. Vishal continued some of the good work and kept the runs ticking over (even with a pulled hamstring). Drinks were soon upon us, and the score was looking pretty good by all accounts. Still a bit of a push, but much better than we had first thought things would go. Soon after drinks, Vishal was caught going big with a well held catch in the deep and Saurabh joined Matt in the middle but was soon bowled by a slow right arm delivery. Matt was running out of partners at this stage but managed to get a very well-played 50. The overall run rate was increasing considerably, however Bilal showed some good attacking prowess and was keen on putting as much pressure on the fielders as possible. Some well struck boundaries left us needing about 40 off the last 4 so any 1’s needed to be turned into 2’s and 2’s into 3’s. This eventually led to the guys taking some pretty risky runs and Matt found himself short with a good throw from the boundary. Matt out for 72 and his Whalers top score! Nick came in to join Bilal and made it clear, running between wickets will be tough!! Needing the extras again, another risky run put Nick short, and we were down to the final wicket. With Will heading off at tea to get his finger sorted out at A&E, we were a man short. The opposition had agreed at tea to allow us to bat someone a second time and on came Kamal for round two.

30 was needed off the final over and it would need heroics to get us anywhere near. Bilal tried his hardest to heave an off-spinning ball outside off over the covers, but it went straight to the fielder at deep point. The next few balls were futile, and Whalers ended the day 27 runs short.

Lions 261 for 3 beat The Whalers 234 for 9 by 27 runs

Awards

Champagne moment: Matt’s best score of 72

Muppet: Vishal’s sliding kicking the ball into the boundary rope.

MOM: Matt’s best score of 72 after 14 years!

Suhaib Shines In Exiles Victory

Energy Exiles CC vs Whalers CC; Sunday 22nd August 2021

After losing the toss against Exiles, Vishal and Dan opened bowling. Fairly soon both of them found their line and Dan got their number 2 caught on the short leg by Will, after setting an off side field. Vishal got the first batsman out thanks to an excellent catch by Fraser. The number 3 was lbw by Vishal soon after. Amit was bought as first change and found his line very quickly except for 6 balls in a row on the leg side in one of his overs. He produced an unplayable in swinger to clip the top of leg stump to get the number 4 batsman out. Viren from the other end bowled their number 6 on an unfortunate no ball. Despite his great efforts he didn’t managed to take any wickets even after hit on head by ball by Josh. Amit got their number 5 caught on covers by Dan. The scoring was slow and the opposition went into defensive mode. Suhaib soon came as third change and only took a couple of balls to get produce an unplayable ball to get their number 6 and soon after in his subsequent overs he got their number 7 and 8 by producing two absolutely beauties. Saurabh, who was playing his first match for Whalers and kept things tight as well and got their number 9 and 10.

Dean and Kushwaha opened the batting for Whalers. Dean started his innings with a first ball six over mid wicket. Kushwaha also kept going by keeping the strike rotating and some beautiful boundaries. They batted very sensibly to accumulate an opening partnership of 53. Kushwaha got out by simple catch on mid on. Will came at number 3 and did a great job in rotating the strike by ones and twos. Dean got bowled soon on 37 by an excellent delivery by Mushakhel. Fraser joined party and finished things of by a quick 25 which includes 3 sixes off a leg spinner.

Energy Exiles: 103 all out. The Whalers 104/2, win by 8 wickets.

Awards

Champagne Moment: Suhaib bowling both top scorers.

Muppet: Viren getting hit on head by ball (by Josh) and then bowling better.

MOM: Suhaib 4-3-2-3

5 for Nick fails to hold back time vs Believers

Believers CC vs Whalers CC; Sunday 5th September 2021; Dulwich Sports Ground

The Whalers travelled to the idyllic and sunny surroundings of Dulwich Village looking for victory against traditional September opponents The Believers. Skipper for the day Josh lost the toss and so a Whalers XI containing a slightly depleted and injured bowling attack took to the field and waited for Geoff to collect his box. Suhaib and Vishal were selected to open the bowling, Suhaib in form after a lovely 3-for in the previous game and Vishal donning the literal and figurative purple cap as the top wicket taker. Unfortunately, neither were able to add to their tally, a combination of two decent opening batsmen, conditions slightly unhelpful to fast bowling and some/lots of balls drifting down the leg side meant that the oppo were able to get to the 10 over mark with a healthy amount of runs on the board and no wickets down.

Dean was summoned from slip to take a bit of pace off the ball and give the batsmen something new to think about. Will also came into the attack but after a promising start he also started to leak runs at what was starting to become an alarming rate. Thankfully Dean was having more luck at the other end and managed to send back both opening bats back to the shed (LBW), albeit not before one of them managed to cross the 50 threshold. Josh then came on, bowling into the sun and kept things tight for two overs. Unfortunately, the other two were about as loose as it’s possible to be and he trudged back to gully, trying to figure out who could bowl the remaining overs, which thanks to it being a timed game was not straightforward to calculate. Nick, who previously said he was injured and unable to bowl anything but slow then came on looking as fit as he had at any point this season. What followed was what we had been looking for all afternoon- straight, full bowling which gave the slightly dubious pitch the chance to work its ‘magic’. He went on to claim he first 5-for in Whalers colours which led to the innings finishing slightly earlier and later a £76 splurge in the bar. There was also time and opportunity for debutant Ramen to get in the act with 3 wickets; the first was slightly fortuitous but what followed was some Shane Warne esque leg spin that showed great potential for the future.

A longer than has been normal break then took place as we were treated to our first teas since 2019. Once we were finished with our cheese or ham rolls, fruit and arctic bars it was time to get back out there. Dean and Al were opening the batting and as Amit was quick to chirp up with later, Al wasn’t out there for long as he was bowled for 1. If only Amit was as that fast with last week’s match report. Specialist batsmen Matt was the next man out to the middle, he was also the next man back from the middle as he too departed for 1. Dean was beginning to find his range and was able to get the scoreboard ticking with some nice drives and pulls. Fraser was in at 4 but he also wasn’t able to trouble the scoreboard/scorebook to a great degree and a big stride down the pitch was unable to save him as he was dismissed leg before. As is often the case, our hopes very much rested on Dean being able to bat for a long period. However, his time was soon to be over too as he mistimed a pull and was gone for 34. Will also came and went, adjudged to have been caught behind but could well have been just thigh pad.

At this stage, things were looking pretty bleak, even in the unrelenting sun. We were into the final 20 overs and it appeared that not being dismissed was our best/only way of getting out of this without a defeat. This didn’t quite transpire in the end- there was some resolute defence at times, but the opening bowlers kept bowling a good line and length and wickets fell at regular intervals. Nick, fresh from his 5-wicket haul was the last man in and needed to stick around for 10 overs to really set himself in Whalers’ folklore, it wasn’t to be though as he was bowled first ball and we trudged back to the bar and consoled ourselves with two jugs that contained a whopping 8 pints each.

All in all, it is what it is. We should have probably restricted them to less than what they got and we should have scored more than we did. You can’t win them all, even though we did actually get pretty close to that in 2020. Just the two games left now before we disembark for a well deserved winter break.

The Believers 183 a/o beat The Whalers 91 a/o 154 by 92 runs

Awards

Champagne moment: Fraser’s slip catch off Nick’s bowling

Muppet: Geoff delaying the start of the game by forgetting his box

MOM: Nick for his 5-28

Party on Pitch D

Whalers CC v Village CC – 15th August 2021, Kings House Sports Ground

The Whalers returned to Kings House after their rain affected sojourns away to a jamboree of Afro-Caribbean soul, gospel and Motown, as Kings House was transformed into a party atmosphere for someone’s birthday, although we are all still clueless as to who could be so important to have had such a turnout. Still, the music was a welcome accompaniment to the cricket, as, finally, was the dry weather.

Slightly less welcome however, was the massive trudge over to Pitch D, the news that Dan and kitbag were running late, that Viren was running seriously late and that skipper Matt had lost the toss on a warm afternoon and that Whalers would be fielding. Dan at least arrived before the start and nevertheless, Ross and Suhaib started brightly with the former unlucky not to get a wicket in the first over, with a strong LBW shout. The Whalers bowling was pretty tight and accurate, and a slow pitch, an even slower outfield and mammoth boundary distances all pointed towards a low-scoring game, which ultimately proved the case. Bar a couple of hefty lofted shots, the Village openers struggled to get the ball away but nevertheless proceeded comparatively untroubled to 45 without loss before two quick wickets from Dan opened the door for the Whalers. Good, straight bowling, combined with growing frustration for the batsmen at the slow pitch and outfield were the cause, one opener plum LBW and the second clean bowled taking a swing. Whalers went into the drinks break thus with renewed momentum and further wickets fell after the interval, with Josh taking a fine tumbling catch at mid-on to dismiss their no. 3, before himself coming on to bowl their no. 4. Whalers were in the ascendancy, and with Dean partnering Josh at the other end in a spin-twin combination, the pressure continued to build on Village CC. Runs were beginning to dry up and for a period, the batters were content on survival. Dean bowled Bilal and amid the sternest of fine-threats, Matt held his nerve to take a catch to dismiss Anna, Village’s female No. 7 bat who had done well holding up an end for several overs.

However, with overs running out, and only 70-odd on the board, the incoming Giles realised that his side needed to up the scoring rate, and he and Troja, who had hitherto dealt mostly in singles, proceeded to take on the 3rd change pair of Viren (who had finally made it) and Nick (off a shortened run), neither of whom bowled badly. The partnership began to push the field back and was able to take Village past the hundred mark to finish at 111/6. As they walked off, the Whalers had that nagging feeling that 111 was not as bad a score as it first looked.

By now, the Kings House party music was ratcheting up, perhaps in expectation of a momentous finish. Almost prophetic. After a short break for drinks and sandwiches, Dean and Pip walked out to start the Whalers reply. They began steadily, with Giles in particular bowling accurately, and the slow pitch producing the occasional low-bounce, but with the required run rate at 3 per over, the pair proceeded steadily, taking the ones, twos and extras on offer to stay slightly ahead of the rate, until the first change bowler offered Dean two waist-high full tosses in an over, which were both promptly dispatched over the long cow-corner boundary for 6. This took the Whalers to 52-0 and comfortably ahead of the required rate with all wickets in hand. However, the first slip up came when the other first change bowler slid a first-ball loosener down the leg-side only for Pip to glance a catch through to the keeper for 10. There was no cause for alarm at this stage however, as Fraser joined Dean at the crease to unleash a fine off-drive for four, while Dean at the other end was also finding the change bowlers easier to score off. He passed 50, although failed to hear / refused to acknowledge the applause from the boundary. He and Fraser took the score on to 79-1, before Kalper, after a slightly inconsistent first spell, returned from the other end to have Fraser LBW for 6. This then unfortunately sparked an old-school Whalers collapse that threatened to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Ross dragged on for a duck, before Dean was forced to trudge off, furious at himself, after pulling a long-hop from the rejuvenated Kalper into the grateful hands of square-leg. Geoff got turned around and caught a leading edge to point for 2, before the promoted Nick was adjudged LBW for 4. Nerves were jangling on the Whalers bench but the carnage was not complete. Matt fell into the same trap as Dean and turned the ball straight to square leg, to give Kalper his 5th wicket of the innings, while Viren sadly came and went without troubling the scorers, after offering up a catch off Abi. 79-1 had all too quickly crumbled to 97-8 and defeat now looked ominously close, with the remaining 15 runs required seeming like a much steeper hill than it otherwise would, with momentum firmly back with Village CC.

However, with pressure mounting, Josh and Suhaib started to pierce the field and pushed the score beyond 100 to apply some pressure back on the opposition. In the end, the pair made it look easy as Village CC, with Kalper bowled out, ran out of momentum, and the winning single was greeted with enthusiastic and relieved cheers from the Whalers bench. Ultimately, a tough, hard-fought victory that probably should have been more comfortable, but a win is still a win, as they say.

Village CC – 111/6 (35 overs)

Whalers CC – 112/8 (D Johnston 58)

Whalers win by 2 wickets

Champagne: Suhaib hitting the winning runs, much to Whalers’s relief

Muppet: Viren, for arriving more than an hour after the start of the match

MoM:  Josh: Tight bowling for 4-1-7-2, a fine tumbling catch at mid-on and a vital 9* to help Whalers over the finishing line

Rain the winner again

Whalers v Putney 4ths, Saturday 31 July

Rain continued to be the main story of the 2021 season so far, with the Whalers bowlers on top when the heavens opened after ~20 overs.

After quite a lot of faff during the week, we managed to get an almost full team out at short notice – many thanks to Kieron, Eshan, and Bilal for stepping in. However, on arrival at Battersea Park there was already a game going on what we had been told was our pitch (which looked very nicely prepared). So off we wandered to the other pitch which had a few footballers on the outfield and looked, shall we say, a little under-prepared? After a bit of debate over which of the strips was slightly less soggy, the Whalers won the toss and we were… bowling.

Once the skipper’s decision had been debated and Viren arrived (credit also to Fraser’s partner for bringing the team kitbag), Suhaib and Dan got things under way. Dan got an early wicket caught behind by Dean, and Suhaib got the other opener thanks to a good catch from Kieron. In fact our catching all game was distinctly un-Whaler-like, with every chance taken. This might have had something to do with the soothing yoga music coming from the next door festival, which definitely kept everyone’s heart rate down – except for Nick, who found the spectacle more arousing.

The next pair consolidated things a bit and the occasional wide ball tended to be dispatched to the boundary. But generally the bowling was pretty solid throughout. Eshan took his first Whalers wicket, an achievement which your writer is sure will be a lifelong memory, thanks to another good catch from Viren. Bilal also bowled well on debut, and by drinks Putney were only on 66-3. The sun even made a brief appearance, prompting Fraser to scramble for the factor 50. However, there was also a filthy grey cloud getting closer, and post-drinks there was only time for a couple more overs including a wicket for Vishal with one which didn’t really bounce. Then the heavens opened, and everyone ran for the nearest tree in the hope it might provide some shelter (it didn’t).

With the rain still pelting down and a large lake forming in the middle of the wicket, the game was quickly called off before Putney scarpered to try to find something which provided a bit more protection from the weather. The yoga dancing people, on the other hand, were still going quite happily.

We’re still trying to track down the scorecard, but best guess at this stage would be:

Putney ~70-4 off ~19 overs

Whalers DNB

Match abandoned