Whalers and Village defy rain in last ball thriller

Whalers CC vs Village CC; Sunday 15th May 2022; Kings’s House Sports Ground

The day dawned wet and broadly continued in the same vein as the optimistic forecast of earlier in the week continued to deteriorate. Still there was much to look forward to for the eager crowd (rising to 2 at some points) with an unbeaten season record to maintain, and Suhaib’s captaincy debut to look forward to.

With the threat of rain a 30 over game was agreed on. The toss was lost, but it wasn’t a bad one to lose as the Whalers found themselves getting first use of seemingly favourable bowling conditions. There was plenty of early movement for Ross and Suhaib who were very economical early on but it took the introduction of Barney to make the breakthrough with an excellent delivery to bowl one of the Village openers. Nick started well at the other end,  but the scoring rate was good in the conditions and without wickets it was starting to look like hard work for the Whalers.

Drinks were taken after 15 overs and after a long faff involving rain radar, bowler landing spot analysis, and a fruitless search for sawdust it was agreed to carry on with the rain easing slightly. Things started to go downhill fast thereafter for the Whalers as anything short was ruthlessly despatched by Village number 3 Tom and an increasing number of mis-fields and dropped catches (including 2 drops off 2 balls from Fraser) not helping the general mood. Whalers weren’t without success at this time with a wicket for Nick and Kamal and a direct hit run-out courtesy of Dean making up for his initial fumble.  Village number 3 Tom carried on regardless though including attempting to reverse sweep Nick’s medium pacers, and despite wearing a Fraser ripper on his face off the penultimate ball eventually finished on 98 not out as Village set an imposing 198-5 off their 30.

If the Whalers were to get close they needed a good start and with positive intent Dean despatched the first ball on the innings for a one bounce four over the longest boundary off Bilal. Thompson bowling from the other end bowled very well and Al offered an early chance behind, but thereafter a mixture of big boundaries (Dean) and scampered runs (Al) we were up with the rate early and asking questions of Village. The change bowlers took some punishment as Dean got going, but he missed a straight one and was bowled for a quickfire 58. Pip joined Al and the run a ball rate was maintained and Whalers reached drinks at a healthy 110-1 needing 89 off the last 15.

A solid start after drinks came to an end with Al bowled for 61 with the score on 145. Scoring slowed thereafter as the new batsmen struggled to settle with Fraser out for 1 and the returning Thompson despatching Pip for 33 and Amit for 5 in his final 2 overs (figures were pick on the day 6-0-10-2). Village sensed victory as Whalers needed 25 off the final 2. Ross had other ideas though as he hit 2 massive sixes off the penultimate over to leave 8 required off the last to win

First ball was a scrambled single by Barney bringing Ross back on strike, but his attempt at another big hit skied one calmly taken under pressure by the bowler and he was on his way back for 20. Whalers ‘finisher’ Josh made his way to the crease keen to further establish his credentials but initially from the non-strikers end as Barney negotiated a dot ball, but then a 3 to return Josh to strike. He managed a single to make it 3 off the last for Barney to win it. A short ball was hooked to the deep but to a fielder and while it was a comfortable two a third was never really on so the game ended in a tie in the best weather of the day.

The dry theme continued as we retired to the bar only to find it had closed sometime earlier. Instead Whalers were left to reflect on initially how fortunate we were to get a game in, let alone a topsy turvy tie with nearly 400 runs in 60 overs in mostly dubious conditions. Credit to Village for their part in a very competitive game. As we sat around sans drinks for fines and awards, with Nick reading chosen extracts from last week’s report the final analysis of the day was around a game that had no finishers at all and also no beer, a combination that was a certain Whalers first.

Village CC 198-5 (30)

Whalers CC 198-6 (30) – Al 61, Dean 58, Pip 33

Match Tied

MOM – Ross for his all-round contribution (4-0-12-0 and 20)

Champagne – Ross for his second 6 in the penultimate over

Muppet – plenty of candidates amongst the fielding but in the end Dean’s drop

Hard Fought Exiles Victory

Whalers CC vs Energy Exiles CC; King’s House Sports Ground; Sunday 8th May 2022

Regular opponents Energy Exiles made the trip to a recently developed King’s House as the Whalers’ looked to build upon their opening day victory at Highgate. There was a new hockey pitch, car park and even an impressive spread at tea. Some things never change; however, a combination of train problems and other factors meant the 1pm start time came and went without the toss being conducted. Eventually it was agreed by virtue us having more players on show, that we would field first and try and get the game underway.

After an impressive start to the season, Bilal was handed the new ball with Suhaib steaming in from the other end. We kept things tight, Suhaib taking a little while to find the right lines but he got the first wicket, getting the opener prodding and the edge of the bat was found (according to the umpire at least) and it was duly smartly caught behind by wicket keeper Kishan. A second wicket quickly followed, this time it was Bilal’s turn to receive the plaudits as he trapped the number 3 for what I think most of us considered to be a fairly generous LBW. We weren’t complaining though, or at least everyone but Nick- brought on to replace Bilal and try and dismiss their number 4 who was beginning to look dangerous with a couple of big hits down the ground. He was confident that he would soon mistime one and he did- however Josh couldn’t hold on to the relatively simple chance and Nick’s search for his first wicket of the season continued.

Thankfully it didn’t prove too costly- skipper Russell brough himself on at the other end and had him bowled. The next two batsmen in tried to play in a similar vein, attempting to whack every ball. Fortunately for us the next skied chance did not fall to Josh and Bilal took a good catch. The other opener was on a slightly different vibe- happy to stay in and try and protect his wicket as chaos developed all around him.  He wasn’t able to hang around too much longer though as Russell had him bowled for his third wicket of the match. The pressure was on but the Exiles were able to spark a bit of a comeback- helped by the bowling of Kamal and Josh (although they were able to combine for the champagne moment – please see below) and some good lower order batting. Nick and Suhaib were brought back on and were able to get the final four wickets in fairly quick succession to leave the oppo on 142 a/o.

The sun continued to beat down and we were all happy to have a break and sample the new food, generally considered to be an upgrade on previous offerings. Sandwiches were eaten, fluid was taken on board and we were treated to Suhaib’s review of Amit’s wedding. Again, no one seemed in a particular rush to get going but with the bar shutting at 7 we had to get on with it. Al and Ricky were once again the opening partnership, Ricky continued where he finished last week with some crunching drives through the off side, in fact one was so powerful that the bat broke and a new one had to be brought on. The fun didn’t last too long though, their opening bowler from the pavilion end was finding some nice areas and was able to get Ricky caught behind. Geoff was the next man in, fresh from his unbeaten 50 in the first game. He looked in good nick from the off, putting the bad balls away and even some of the good ones. Al was also looking solid and with the run rate being healthy, it was all beginning to look a bit too easy. We are the Whalers though, and a batting collapse is never too far away. Geoff skied one to mid-on for a well-played 31, Kishan and Suhaib then came and went without impacting the scoreboard dramatically. Al was continuing to tick along nicely and got his 50, despite the best efforts of debutant Ronish who almost had him run out on 49!

Al couldn’t quite see it through to the end and Josh strode out to the middle with 10 needed to win. When we talk about the best finishers in modern cricket it’s often the same names who get mentioned- Dhoni, Pollard, Morgan etc. men who are able to go out and immediately get going with a strike rate of 150. Maybe it’s time to add Curtis to that list- a couple of well placed fours before taking a single to allow Ronish to get on strike at hit the winning run.

Overall a good win- we bowled well, took some catches and looked comfortable enough in the chase despite us definitely having more of a bowling focused XI. That made it two wins from two and we were also able to get a couple of jugs in from the bar before it closed- what more could you ask for?

Whalers 143/6 beat Energy Exiles 142 by 4 wickets

Awards

Champagne moment: Josh’s athletic catch off Kamal’s bowling

Muppet: Josh’s not so athletic drop off Nick’s bowling

MOM: Al (54 runs, anchored the innings)

Whalers Aim High at Highgate

Highgate CC vs Whalers CC; Sunday 24th April 2022; Highgate Cricket Club

Last year, the Whalers’ first game was at Highgate and saw us drop their opener multiple times on his way to a century as they racked up 200+, then our run-chase was built on a key partnership involving Fraser before a traditional Whalers collapse lost us the game. Keen followers of the Whalers will already be guessing what happened this time around, but do please read on…

This year started with a traditional faff. A mere four Whalers had gathered at the (right) ground by the official meet time, with other players scattered across north London’s many cricket grounds. At least two Whalers (and the kitbag) were at North Middlesex CC, one was at Hornsey Green CC, but eventually all 10 Whalers were ready to roll. After introductions for Whalers debutants Joe and Barney, a hungover Josh lost the toss and so we were bowling. So far so last year.

Nick bagged the downhill-with-the-wind end, and bowled very well but without much luck. Their opener was already looking aggressive but was dropped off Nick at least 2 times (the post-match fines committee said 3 times) before he had really got going. Dan and Barney kept things reasonably tight at the other end, but Highgate were still scoring at 5 an over and it wasn’t until Bilal came on that we got the first wicket just before drinks. At drinks we managed to persuade Joe’s brother Ricky, who had come down to watch this no-doubt proud moment for the Goulding family, to join us for the rest of the game – although this did mean that they had to take it in turns to wear the one pair of whites between them.

Bilal continued to bowl with real pace after drinks, and deservedly got another couple of wickets both clean bowled. But the opener was still there and scoring most of the runs, before for the second year in a row he got to his century and then retired. Joe, Kamal and Josh all had a go without success, although Kamal was unlucky to see another chance go down. At least the Whalers ground fielding was pretty good throughout, and we kept a good level of energy in the field. Finally in the very last over we took a catch, with Dan then getting another wicket bowled. Highgate closed on 220-5, which felt more gettable than last year but would still be a challenge.

After tea (and it was very nice just to have a cricket tea again, thanks Covid) and some more faffing, we eventually found two Whalers who were willing to open the batting. Al and Ricky started quickly, with Ricky playing some really nice back-foot drives, and we were rattling along at a run a ball. But then Al nicked behind, Ricky skied one for 31, Josh and Joe quickly followed, and we were 70 for 4. Fraser had been playing himself in at one end with the occasional leisurely single, and Geoff’s arrival at least brought an acceleration in the running. At drinks we were about 90ish for 4 and things were still in the balance.

After drinks Fraser and Geoff kept going, with some nice textbook drives from Fraser and a more unorthodox range of shots from Geoff some of which may even have involved the middle of the bat. Then Fraser hit a couple of huge sixes, Geoff picked up a few more boundaries, there were loads of singles to be taken everywhere, and we were suddenly rattling along. Both Fraser and Geoff passed 50 and the Whalers were clearly on top, but always knowing that it would only take one wicket for things to get nervous again. However, this time the collapse didn’t happen, with an even bigger six from Fraser over the trees onto the tennis court before Geoff won the game with another six into the nextdoor ground (Crouch End CC I think – someone will have to go there this time next year). The Whalers had successfully chased down 220 with 8 overs and 6 wickets to spare.

Man of the match was Fraser (with honourable mentions for Geoff and Bilal). Champagne moment was one of Fraser’s sixes into the trees, and Muppet moment went to Barney for bowling one which lobbed over the batsman into Geoff’s gloves.

Highgate 220-5: Bilal 3-38, Dan 2-44

Whalers 224-4: Fraser 72*, Geoff 65*, Ricky 31. Also turns out that Fraser and Geoff’s partnership was a Whalers record for the 5th wicket, at 154 runs – well done both!

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