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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

Cricketers hold their nerve in low-scoring thriller

Cricketers CC vs Whalers CC: Richmond Green; Sunday 25th September 2022

It was the last game of the season at Richmond Green against cricketers and everyone wanted to finish with a high. It turned out to be a very low scoring thriller. Al and Channa started the innings for the Whalers. Channa was slightly out of practice and gave away his wicket on the third ball by edging one to the wicket without troubling the scorers. Will joined Al at number 3, but unfortunately he couldn’t hold the fort either and went away with a duck. Pip came in and got a decent start with a couple of fours. He almost started to look good when he got caught at 9. Amit joined at number 5. Al and Amit started rotating strike pretty well and had a very good partnership of 69 runs for the 4 wicket, the highest partnership of the game.

Things were looking well in control and then Amit edged one to the keeper, a bouncing delivery on the leg side and went back to the pavilion at 37. It was the start of the great Whalers collapse. Suhaib came in next and started with a single and a boundary and then got caught at 5, continuing the collapse. None of the following batters troubled the scorers except Saurabh with a magnificent boundary on the off side. Whalers managed to put a score of 99 in 30.2 overs.

Whalers started the bowling with Bilal and Nirmal. The cricketers started smashing Bilal all over the ground. The score was ticking very quickly when Nirmal got the first breakthrough, thanks to Pip’s excellent catch. Bilal got smashed again in his following overs but managed to get the opener lbw and Nirmal bowled the number 3 at 17. Mohammed Azam was bought in as first change and got into the right areas very quickly. He was very economical. He bowled the highest scorer Gents at 23. Suhaib came in as second change and was right on the money and created a chance but was dropped by Amit at Mid-wicket and he dropped a half chance on his delivery and injured his fingers and palm quite badly, but kept going irrespective and got even better and took their number 5 and 6 at 13 and 0.

Mohammad continued his great run with the ball and got their number 7 for a duck. It started to look like there was light at the end of the tunnel and then their number 8 batsman scored 18. Al bowled the last over to get the last wickets but managed to concede 9 runs without a wicket and Cricketers managed to hold their nerve and win the match.

Whalers 99ao (30.2)

Cricketers 102/8 (15.5)

Cricketers win by 2 wickets

Tigers dominate Whales

Whalers Vs Winchmore Hill Tigers – September 11, 2022; Winchmore Hill Cricket Club

While the saying ‘Winning is a Habit’ is true, losing can be infectious too as has been the case with Whalers this season.

On a bright Sunday afternoon of September 11th, Whalers for the second time this season travelled to Winchmore Hill, a place brimming with cricketing legacy. Having lost four of their previous fixtures on the trot, playing Winchmore boys on their home turf was a welcome change. The place after all witnessed Whalers pulling off one of their more dominating wins this season against a quality opposition on back of some individual brilliance by Aman. 

The day started on a good note for Whalers as they had lady luck pouring some much-needed love on Devon boy Josh who resumed his captaincy duties after a brief hiatus and won the toss deciding to bat first on a damp wicket with an awfully wet outfield, a decision giving him a few glares from the opening bats.

Brushing their grin aside to a sheepish smile from Josh, the Whalers openers, Aman and Nishant walked out to bat facing a relatively young attack from Winchmore. Nishant with an awkward looking stance fended off a fiery first over from young Thuran who delivered bouncers at will, uncharacteristic of a Sunday fixture. Aman on the other end started the proceedings from where he left in the previous fixture with Winchmore as he played a few aggressive shots before getting castled at 18 to a genuine inswinger from 16-year-old Amir who unsurprisingly was over the moon seeing the back of their team’s nemesis. An inspired change from Josh saw him promote himself up the order to    

no vain as he got bowled for a duck. Josh’s smile while on his way back to pavilion no way indicative of his ‘heroic’ feat on the field.

Nishant continued to fend some hostile bowling with an odd boundary as he was joined by Raman who looked in fine touch right from the start hitting 4 sublime fours in quick succession. As president Ale looked on, mightily impressed and somewhat surprised by his leggie’s batting prowess, Raman missed a slower one from Chalendra bringing end to yet another knock that showed promise but fell short. Chalendra by now had smelled blood as he unleashed his looping slower ones to get rid of next two Whalers with Nick being the ‘big wicket’ having promoted up the order falling just 88 short of a much -anticipated century. The Kiwi in Geoff missing no chance to give it back to the pavilion returning Aussie. Nishant and Ale went in quick succession and by now even the pigeons in the ground knew that the famous ‘Whalers collapse’ was well on its way. From 102/5, the Whalers batting succumbed to a paltry 130 all out with star batsmen Geoff stranded on one end, playing for averages which only he knows how to calculate.

Set a modest total to chase, Winchmore boys got off to a sluggish start with Sangamesh taking two wickets in one over before Winchmore veteran and half Whaler Kevin took over the proceedings, dispatching Whalers attack to all parts of the ground. As the bullying from Kevin continued, Whalers fielding played fetch to the ball waiting for the onslaught to get over with beer on the menu waiting to be brewed. It was payback time for Nick as Geoff in his unfamiliar fielding position on the boundary dropped a catch and in proceed lobbying the ball over for a six much to the joy of Nick who till date doesn’t fail to remind the Kiwi of his antics. Josh with yet another inspired change brought himself to the attack and in process surprising himself by getting rid of Kevin who finally departed for 71. It was too late for any further surprises as Winchmore boys completed the target in 18 overs handing Whalers yet another defeat, making it 5 in a row.  

Whalers 130ao

Winchmore Hill Tigers 131-4

Winchmore Hill Tigers won by 6 wickets

Player of The Match: Suhaib, 5-0-11-1

Champagne Moment: Sangamesh for sending the stumps packing

Muppet Moment: Geoff dropping a catch lobbing the ball over for a six
           

Merton Rhinos Roar as Whalers take defeat Lion down

The Whalers losing streak continued as an all-too-typical batting collapse ultimately cost us.

Playing Merton Lions / Rhinos / Roars (no one was quite sure, least of all Al who was captain for the day), things started well. There were sightscreens, an electronic scoreboard, quality teas, and the outfield looked lush and green. As did the pitch (more on that later). The Whalers had a big-money overseas signing, with JT flying in and sporting a nice Australian rabbit-trapper’s hat. And Dean and Will got us off to a great start – once the Whalers IT crowd had managed to work out how to operate the scoreboard, which at one point had Dean on 998. Even when Dean was yorked for 30, Raman joined Will and was playing some great shots. After 15 overs we were 96-1 and flying along. However…

Over the years, the Whalers biggest kryptonite has probably been slow loopy bowling. Slow loopy bowling on a pitch which keeps low is especially powerful kryptonite, like if Belgian monks brewed batting collapses rather than beer. Enter Merton’s bowler Barber and exit the Whalers middle order – virtually all bowled, with quite a bit of playing across the line, as the Whalers lost 6 wickets for 17 runs. This included Will for a top-scoring and man-of-the-match 37 (out to one which turned and clipped the top of off), and two ducks, one a 21000-mile round-trip for JT, and the second for Al despite his attempts to delay the game by forgetting to wear a box.

Nirmal and Sangamesh got the scoreboard ticking over again until Nirmal became Barber’s 6th victim. Then the last pair of Dan and Nick put on another 25 runs until Dan ran himself out. The Whalers closed on 155, still with another 7 overs left to bowl, and with Barber finishing with figures of 6-26.

Would it be enough, on what was still a low and tricky pitch?

No.

Again, things started reasonably well for the Whalers. Dan and Nick kept things tight early on, backed by good fielding. Some good field positioning saw their number 1 bat (who had scored most of the runs so far) chip a full toss from Nick to Sangamesh who took a good running catch. Their number 3 batsman was then dropped off a hard chance from another Nick full toss. Which was unfortunate as he then proceeded to dispatch the Whalers bowlers all round and out of the ground, using his feet well to take the pitch out of the equation.

The introduction of spin from Dean and Raman slowed things a little and there were another couple of chances off Dean which weren’t taken. This included the day’s muppet moment when the ball was top-edged towards Raman and Sangamesh, no one called for it, they ran into each other, and the ball hit the ground.

But their number 3 bat continued to take the game away from the Whalers, scoring a ridiculous proportion of the runs. By the time he reached 100 and retired, the other opener was still on 12 and we hadn’t even reached drinks. There was still time for Raman to get one more wicket, but the game was lost in time to enjoy a post-game beer in the September sunshine. Well done also to Aman who kept wicket very tidily on a difficult pitch.

Whalers: 155 all out (Will 37, Dean 30, Raman 21)

Merton Lions I mean Rhinos no apparently Roars: 156 for 2

Whalers Debutants can’t quite Believe

Believers CC vs Whalers CC; Morden Rec; Sunday 4th September 2022

It was a not too hot day at Morden with a top full of unknowns. The skipper Suhaib, with some heroic effort, was finally able to assemble a team of 10, four of whom played for Whalers for the first time.

The Whalers won the toss and went for bat first. Dean and Saurabh Grover opened. Saurabh Grover was bowled in the third over and was quickly followed by the one down Roland, who was caught in the fifth over.

Then Amit Kushwaha went in and had a very good parternship with Dean, both looking in great touch. They went on till 114 before Amit Kushy was caught for 27.

After Amit was out, the wickets started falling in regular intervals, save for a couple good parternships between Azzam and Sangamesh and then between Azzam and Bilal. Whalers thought that 200 would be par for course when the last man Saurabh Jha went in. Saurabh lofted the first ball he faced to mid on, after he was specifically told to keep the ball grounded and to rotate the strike. In the end, Whalers had to settle for 190.

Whalers started bowling with the opening bowler Bilal finding his line and length very quickly and keeping things tight. It was another story from the other end with Saurabh Jha starting with three leg wides. From one end Bilal kept things tight but sadly had very less support from the other end, who were getting hammered for boundaries. Though Azzam also had a very promising spell and had a very tidy final figures of 18 off 5, in the end Whalers were beaten very comfortably by the Believers.

Whalers 190-9 (all out) off 34.3 overs (Dean 88)

Believers 191-3 off 30.1 overs (Bilal 2-24)

Champagne moment: Bilal bowling opposition captain with  a jaffa hitting top of off

Muppet: Dean and Bilal running into each other and dropping the catch

Man of the match: Dean for a brilliant 88