Whalers slump to Octo-defeat

Whalers CC vs Octopus CC; King’s House Sports Ground; Sunday 7th August 2002

It was another “win the toss and bat first” kind of day at a sun-baked Kings House ground, as the Whalers took on fellow aquatic mammals Octopus CC on Pitch B in the first of a season double-header. Sure enough, Josh won the toss and Aman and Amit Kushwaha headed out to the middle with the captain’s words still ringing in their ears: “carry on the good form from last week” for Aman, and “I’ll give you one more chance” for Amit.

Aman got things off to a flyer with 20 off the second over, but then got one which jumped off the pitch from the other opener and was out caught. Will got a good one first ball and was LBW, but Amit and Ross kept the scoreboard moving despite the occasional catching practice. At drinks we had already scored over 100 and it was clear that 200+ would be a par score on a true pitch and with a very fast outfield. Amit was caught off one of the Octopus legspinners for 60 and Viren departed LBW soon afterwards, but Ross and Geoff then put on another excellent partnership with plenty of boundaries. As the Whalers looked to accelerate in the last few overs, they were both out stumped: Geoff for 51 and Ross top-scoring with 73 and his maiden Whalers half-century. Bilal and Amit Kumar then kept the run-rate at 10 an over with some excellent scampering between the wickets, and the Whalers eventually closed on 251-6.

At tea the mood was fairly confident. Possibly a little complacent. And by now the Octopi were down to only 9 fit players, having started with 10 then had one injury. What followed next was a slightly chastening couple of hours. Dan started things off with a wide and there were a few misfields and a drop in the first few overs. Bilal came on first change and got both openers in his first over: one a looping slip catch taken by Will, and the second was a slow-motion inside edge onto the stumps.

But that was as good as it got, as Octopus then put on an unbroken 210-run partnership, with Livingstone finishing on 135* and Thorougood on 69*. None of the Whalers bowlers could exercise any control, with everyone going for pretty much buffet (or worse), and even when there were a few dots there was generally a bad ball not that far away or the batsmen were able to create another boundary opportunity. The fielding was ok in parts but wilted a bit in the heat, and there were another couple of missed opportunities and half-chances as the game drifted away from us. The game was over within 30 overs as the Octopus comfortably chased it down. Well batted, but hopefully the Whalers can do better in the re-match!

Ross bowled well to go with his 73, and got man of the match. Muppet Moment was Bilal and Will’s slow-motion running into each other in the field, with an honourable mention for Amit K having to finish Amit K’s over after Amit K declared he was injured. The Bilal/Will combination also got the Coke Zero Moment (downgraded from champagne) for Will’s looping slip catch off Bilal.

Whalers lose by 8 wickets to 8-legged sea creature

Whalers 251-6 off 35 overs (Ross 73, Amit Kushwaha 60, Geoff 51)

Octopus 253-2 off 30 overs (Bilal 2-46)

The Aman Singh Show

Winchmore Hill Tigers vs Whalers CC; Winchmore Hill Cricket Club; Sunday 31st July 2022

The day starts with Josh losing the toss and Bilal failing to spot the team on the main pitch. Unfortunately we were not deemed worthy enough to play on the main pitch, as last year.

The bowling starts with Bilal making the sacrifice of allowing Suhaib to bowl from the far end, giving him the assist of the slope and the wind. This proved fortuitous for him as the middle stump went cartwheeling on the first ball. Suhaib followed by tight bowling, however Bilal failed to find some ryhthm, with some terrible leg side wides. Soon order was retained as Bilal also joined Suhaib with some good bowling. Suhaib was rewarded again by getting the opposition skipper, caught by Raman. The game was leaning towards Whalers’s side, however, Kevin on the other hand was continuing his good form against his old team, Booooo!

A change of bowling was brought at the 10 over mark, with the dynamic Singh brothers, Aman and Raman, bringing their ripping leg spinners and googlies in the game. Both brothers struggled to find good rhythm as few good full length balls were followed by poor short balls. Kevin gladly despatching them with his regular unforgiving attitude. Magic soon followed as Raman got Hodges for 1, brilliant grab by Geoff from the faint edge. This was followed by a far outside off ball by Aman. Kevin’s eyes lit up. However, he failed to connect, only to edge the ball to Will at Gully. Aman had the big fish!

Whalers thought they had the game. However, Ali from the opposition had other ideas. Delivering a careful 70 batting number 7 as he manoeuvred the spell our very own Shoaib Akhtar aka Saurabh running from the boundary line. Ali failed to deliver a higher score as bowling change at the death brought Suhaib back. He duly delivered by grabbing two in two and finishing the home team’s innings at 222. Suhaib finishing on a brilliant 5.5-1-25-4

Whaler’s batting started with Josh making pivotal decision of sending Aman to open with Amit. The boys carried the innings with some sublime hitting. However, their partnership was cut short of a 100 as Amit missed a full toss from Ali, smashing the stumps – bowled for 21. Aman continued his hitting, with some good support from Will from the other end. Both of them put together a partnership of 83, which included Aman smashing two giant sixes at long off, losing both balls. The opposition feared as they were running out of any leftovers balls. This followed by a remark from the opposition keeper that “IPL players are not allowed to play at this level”

Will caught and bowled for 14 brought Pete on the crease. Then followed the most contentious decision of the game. Loopy yorker from the bowler caught Pete’s back foot toe at leg stump. Bilal raised the finger thinking of it as a plumb decision. However, Pete complete disagreed with a remark of “its was two feet outside leg stump”. No further talk on this.

The dismissal brought the dynamic Singh duo back to the wicket. Raman came out with a flurry of shots as he utilised the charm of his lucky bat. Not to forget the switching of bats after almost every ball as both brothers worked the bat’s lucky charm. Raman’s quickfire 23 was brought to a close as he hit the ball straight to the opposition skipper at long off. Good revenge eh!

With 17 runs left to chase, Aman was joined at the crease by our very own Mr Dependable – Geoff. The duo eased past the remaining runs in no time, allowing Whalers to chase the formidable target of 223 in less than 30 overs. 

Aman carried out his bat with an impeccable 143. An innings to be remembered for the ages. 

Whalers (223) beat Winchmore Hill Tigers (222) by 6 wickets

Champagne moment – Suhaib’s first ball middle stump cartwheel

Muppet moment – Sohaib’s and Josh’s 4 balls over

Match of the match – no doubt,  Aman’s 146*

Whalers See Off Salix

Whalers CC vs Salix CC; Sunday 24th July 2022; King’s House Sports Ground

Another sultry summer’s day beckoned for the renewal of one of the oldest rivalries in Whalers cricket against Salix. The 12:30pm meet was again a challenge for some especially the 6 Whalers who arrived on the same train to Barnes yet who all arrived at varying times over a 30 minute period.

With Salix only having half a team at the scheduled start time we able to consolidate as Russell won the toss and elected to bat first. Whilst the team discussed pitch concerns, par scores, Dan stretched and Saurabh started his bowling warm up, Russell proceeded on a lengthy and secretive production of the batting line up which surprised Roland even more to hear he was opening on his season debut.

Salix opening bowlers Afsar and Raj were finding swing and bowling good lengths combined with some variable bounce from the outset. Roland’s return lasted 3 overs when he fell LBW for 2, sufficient chuntering about the decision to be fined later on whilst Ross fell a few overs later in the same way. Paul’s promotion to number 4 was also swift being bowled by Sasha for 2 with one that he insists “kept low”. 30-3 became 40-4 when Dean was bowled by Raj just failing to see off the spell. Talk came in of scores of anywhere between 120 and 160 being “par on this pitch”

Its not normally you want your “finisher” in so early but fortunately Josh took on his new role of “stabilizer”. The change of bowlers helped and with Suhaib slowly accumulating runs Josh’s stance was more “stand and deliver”. Stand being pretty key as there was not much running but clean hitting off bowler Sai kept the scoreboard ticking over. With talk of high scores and 50s the fun ended as Josh was caught trying another big shot. Bilal joined Suhaib and after a slow start found his rhythm and the boundary with some strong hitting on both sides of the wicket. Suhaib continued to accumulate runs and even survived a contentious LBW. Given out by Ross it took Dan at square leg, the wicket keeper and a couple of fielders to advise that it had clearly come off the bat and had not even hit his leg. This piece of luck meant he could soon make his second 50 of the season making it to 53 before being bowled by the returning Afsar ending a partnership of 78 with Bilal.  Saurabh hit out and was caught, Raman hit out, starting with a couple of great boundaries off CK, before holing out to mid-on which allowed Dan to come in for the last ball at the non-strikers end and run 2. Bilal ended on a fine 44 not out, Dan on 0, Whalers on 193-8. Above par probably.

The last two batsmen opened the bowling and a well stretched Dan and Bilal finding line and length from the off and actually using the pitch. Meanwhile fielding was tight, Roland “the cat” was dominating the slips and Ross having a bit of a torrid time behind the stumps with the bounce and a few painful blows. Dan got the opener Jacob LBW first ball in his first over (it was at this point we realised Salix only had 10 men and asked if their lowest scorer could bat again – so we would see Jacob again !) then bowled number 3 Kratik in his second over and number 4 Ed in his third over. The other opener Raj though was hanging around and the Salix middle order were starting to find a few more runs. The run rate was accelerating and boundaries starting to come too regularly. Whilst Russell’s first over was expensive he kept going and made the breakthrough with the wicket of Raj caught very well by Bilal at mid-wicket. Suhaib meanwhile taking care of Amar, caught by Dean, whilst the introduction of Dean’s spin accounted for Sasha who had been hitting well but this time Josh took a good catch from a skier at mid-on whilst CK edged to an excellent diving catch by Dan at gully. However the runs kept flowing and Salix moved into the 150s. Fortunately Raman bowled Sam which brought opener Jacob back to the crease. After a couple more boundaries and the target reducing quickly Russell decided to bring back Dan (who we assumed had been stretching somewhere beforehand). One ball later the Salix innings was over, Dan had his 4th wicket and Whalers had won by 21 runs.  After lots of chuntering about it probably being closer that it should have we even managed to have a drink 30 minutes after the bar had closed….thanks Anna.

Whalers (193-9) beat Salix (172 all out) by 21 runs

Champagne Moment – Raman’s first two balls going for four.

Muppet Moment – Ross giving Suhaib LBW when clearly coming off the toe of the bat.

Man of the Match – Dan for bowling 4-13 / batting 0* and not facing a ball / great catch in the gully.

Summer Evening T20 Victory

Clapham Inn CC vs Whalers CC; Regent’s Park; Friday 22nd July 2022

The Whalers returned to Regent’s Park for the second Friday in a row, this time for a T20 against regular opponents Clapham Inn. The setting was approaching picturesque; London Zoo in the background, cricket games happening all around us and cans of BrewDog being started and then finished. It’s always a bit of a rush trying to get everyone there and ready for a 6pm start and coupled with this, Clapham Inn were struggling to get to 11. They were duly leant Viren and Vidhi and with enough players to get going, we did. Suhaib won the toss, chose to bat, but then ended up fielding anyway as that made the most logistical sense.

Nick, sporting the beginnings of a beard and the high spirits of someone who had worked their last day for 6 weeks, was handed the new(ish) pink ball. One head hight beamer aside, he generally kept things tight, and his two overs went for 8 runs. Fellow teacher Pat was even more economical, just the 3 runs coming from his allocation. The outfield was slow and with the wicket being unpredictable, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be easy to score on. Ross and Vishal were next into the attack and it was the former who made the first breakthrough- a slower ball deceiving the batsmen and the stumps were sent tumbling. It was slightly more varied from the other end, 2021’s leading wicket taker was getting a few on the money whilst also giving Geoff a bit of work to do behind the stumps.

The Aman/Raman spin brothers were then brought on and a wicket soon followed- Viren in at 3 for the oppo, managed to sky one in the direction of Nick who managed to make hard work of an easy grab, earning himself a nomination for muppet moment. With a maximum of two overs per bowler, it was now time for Josh to lumber up. I’m not sure what’s been higher in the last few months, UK inflation or Josh’s economy rate, but it must be close. He was relieved to go for ‘just’ 13 and then there was even a wicket in there too- surprising the batsmen with a straight one that he was generous enough to miss.

Matt, making the long journey from Brighton, was brought on at the other end. The first over was slightly mixed, including a rare sighting of the ball hitting a rogue helmet and conceding 5 runs. You couldn’t have asked much for from the second though- 3 wickets, a caught behind and then two bowled. The hattrick was on, but unfortunately a wide scuppered the moment. Geoff then handed the gloves over to Ross and was steaming in alongside skipper Suhaib. No wickets but they kept things tight, restricting them to 113 and their opener still there at the end on 21.

With the fading light always being an issue, it was a quick turnaround. Pat and Aman were sent out but the latter didn’t last long, being one of the 8 players to be bowled. Pat was having more luck with protecting his stumps and not just this, he was scoring freely too. In fact, the only times he couldn’t really get it away was off the free hits. Josh came in at the pivotal if unfamiliar position of number 3. With much batting to come and the total looking achievable, he was looking for quick runs rather than attempting to bolster his average. He got to 10 and then like many before (and after) him, he went for a big swing, missed it, and was bowled. It was a similar story for Matt in at 4 who departed for 7.

Vishal was the next man in, and he and Pat continued to make a good dent into the Clapham Inn score. Vishal in particular was looking very comfortable, with an array of pull and cut shots. Vidhi was then handed the ball and that’s where Vishal’s cameo ended- the first ball was dispatched to the fence but the follow up was fuller, straighter and the bails were once again on the floor. Pat also headed off having gone past the 25 mark and achieving a great all round performance. This meant that Anna and Raman were at the crease, however Anna wasn’t there for long. Called through for a single that always looked risky, she was run out for 0 only having faced one ball. Raman was going to have much to answer to later! With the bat in hand, he looked solid though and guided the Whalers home with Geoff, after Ross had come in and then skied one behind.

The match finished on a leg side wide which felt almost appropriate- we always looked comfortable if not spectacular and the opposition weren’t at their strongest. A win is a win though and most importantly the game was played in good spirts, we had fun and the pub we went to after was nice.

Whalers 115/6 beat Clapham Inn 113/6 by 4 wickets

Awards

Champagne moment: Matt’s 3 wickets in 4 balls.

Muppet: Raman, for running out Anna. Honourable mentions to Vishal for hitting Vidhi for 4 and then being bowled next ball and Nick for making hard work of a simple catch.

MOM: Pat- 28* and 2 overs for 3 runs.

Bilal super-over fails to stop Globetrotters rising to the occasion

Whalers v Rising Globetrotters – Kings House, 17/07/22

After a late change in opposition – and with thanks to Rising Globetrotters for stepping in – , the Whalers assembled at Kings House at the start of the summer heatwave to the slightly disappointing news that the bar was closed and they had a long trek to pitch D for this game. After some bench faff from Geoff and Dean that ensured seating arrangements were precisely angled in the correct area of shade, and in sync with the earth’s coreolis effect, skipper Josh did exactly the right thing and won the toss, sending Dean and Pip out to open the batting.

In what was surely an unprecedented start to any Whalers match, the Whalers raced to 12 without loss before a legitimate ball was bowled, with Dean carting the first two no-balls for 6 and 4 respectively. The Globetrotters opening bowlers struggled to settle into a good length and more boundaries followed from Dean’s bat, but once the bowlers started to hit the pitch more regularly, it soon became clear that the strip was perhaps not the dry “road” some might have thought. A number of deliveries kept low, on what was looking to be quite a dead wicket. Definitely a “play forward at all costs” sort of wicket, which unfortunately not all Whalers adhered to. Pip was first to go, bowled off stump when only half-forward. Amit helped Dean get the score to 50 but was then also bowled playing back trying to pull a ball that kept a touch low and after that, wickets fell all too regularly. Vishal hit a nice boundary before being bowled top of off stump from a good delivery, and at the first of 2 drinks breaks after 12 overs, Whalers were 67-3, but with Dean still profiting from playing forward and batting a way outside his crease.

Geoff was in at 5 and helped rotate the strike with some neatly dabbed singles, facing some change bowling which was probably stronger than the opening pair, although the extras contribution continued to assist the Whalers overall score considerably. Geoff lofted a catch to short midwicket for 11 and then in the same over, Raman shuffled across his stumps to be LBW for a duck, to leave the Whale on 87-5 and still with a lot of work to do. With their tails up, the Globetrotters bowlers excitedly appealed for everything, but in reality, they did not have to wait too long to get their reward. Romesh joined Dean and kept him company for a good few overs, helping the score past 100 and Dean to (perhaps apart from the first 2 deliveries) quite a hard-earned 50. However, in seeking to up the ante and hit the Globetrotters bowlers off a length and over the top, Dean, having been dropped a couple of times, was caught at long-on for 56 with the score on the dreaded 111. The Nelson curse seemed to work as Dean’s confidence in the Whalers lower-order was not matched by events on the pitch sadly. Ronish was bowled for 3, Bilal for 1, before 2 wickets in 2 balls ended the Whalers effort with Josh getting a leading edge and Kamal going LBW first ball. Whalers were 121 all out in 28 overs. Despite a tricky pitch, with some uneven bounce, this was still a below-par score and the team knew they would need to bowl and field very well.

Unfortunately, things did not get off to an ideal start as Bilal’s first ball full-toss was slapped by No.1 Pankaj straight to a slightly startled Raman at cover, who unfortunately could not quite hold on. Not the easiest of chances but the outcome of the game could have been quite different had that catch stuck. Openers Bilal and Vishal struggled to find consistent lines and lengths similarly to the Globetrotters opening bowlers but were not punished as heavily. Nevertheless, having been given a life, the Globetrotters No. 1 Pankaj, was starting to play some nice shots to pierce the infield. Bilal soon had the other opener plumb LBW though and Whalers were on their way. At the other end, Vishal was bowling economically, but without getting the line quite right to regularly cause problems.

However, a bowling change after 8 overs brought some reward with Suhaib picking up the wickets of Rajendra (caught neatly by Raman running forward) and Peter (safely held by Josh at mid-on) to leave the Globetrotters on around 35-3. Unfortunately, some questionable umpiring decisions caused some controversy on the field around this point, with one seemingly clear edge to the keeper off Amit’s bowling not given and Raman being extremely unlucky not to get their Number 5 out LBW hit on the back leg to one that looked very adjacent, before the same batsman was dropped by Amit from a sky-er that caused some confusion between Amit and Ronish. With the Number 5 riding his luck, but providing some strong support to the resolute Pankaj, Whalers tempers were starting to fray a little and there was a risk of the game drifting away from them. However, Raman bowled a fine spell of leg-spin and was rewarded by bowling their number 5 after he had taken one swipe too many. Raman then had the Number 6 caught well by Vishal and at about 80-5, the game was back on. At the other end, Kamal was also starting to cause problems for both batsmen, regularly beating the bat, as taking the pace off the ball seemed to prove a useful strategy. Pankaj however, began farming the strike very judiciously and with the run rate never an issue, the Globetrotters ticked over to drinks without further wickets down.

At drinks, Suhaib decided he would take over keeping from Geoff, which, given the uneven bounce, Geoff was not altogether unhappy about. However, the move clearly did not inspire confidence in some of the Whalers’ bowling attack, with Amit’s response being “so have we given up already, then?”

The Whalers however, had not given up. Certainly, no one had told Bilal, as he returned to bowl one of the most dramatic overs of the Whalers’ season so far, removing 3 batsmen, sadly not as a hat-trick, but on another day, this could easily have been the case. Number 7 Niel was plumb LBW, before Kapil nicked through to Suhaib and Inda was bowled. The same over also included another chance, this time dropped by Suhaib behind the stumps, as well as another LBW shout turned down. A brilliant and dramatic over had left Globetrotters 8 down, still needing about another 15 runs to win.

Unfortunately, with Bilal bowled out (belatedly realised by Josh), Dean, who also bowled tidily and Amit, replacing Bilal, were not quite able to find the last 2 wickets needed and the ever-calm Pankaj steered his side to a 2-wicket win with a fine innings of 64 not out.

In the end, with not enough runs on the board, Whalers fell short, but the team could nevertheless be proud of their efforts with the ball, and if one or two more catches had been held and decisions gone their way, Whalers could have pulled off a remarkable win. Unfortunately, it was not to be on this occasion.

Man of the Match: Bilal  – 7 overs, 4-16

Champagne moment: Bilal’s triple-wicket over that could have had more

Muppet: Suhaib for promoting himself to keeper only to drop a relatively straightforward chance and then trying to nominate other “drops” for muppet moment.