Whalers v Wimbledon Corinthians; 9th September 2017; Raynes Park Sports Ground
Whalers 257-7 (40 ovs) – Dean 152*
Wimbledon Corinthians 125 a.o. (34.5 ovs)
Whalers win by 132 runs
The highest ever individual score by a Whaler drove us home to a thumping win on the club’s final fixture of the season against Wimbledon Corinthians at Raynes Park. A win never really looked in doubt after the ever-prolific Dean amassed a huge 152 not out in a Whalers total of 257-7 off their 40 overs, but nonetheless, a fine bowling performance in wet conditions, spearheaded by Dan (5-21), helped make the margin and nature of the victory all the more pleasing.
Bright sunshine greeted the teams when Geoff, from New Zealand, went out to meet……Geoff from New Zealand for the toss. But with showers forecast for later on, it was perhaps a surprise that when Geoff from New Zealand lost the toss, Geoff from New Zealand asked the Whalers to bat first. Content with the decision, with a long batting line-up, Geoff asked Dean and Pip to open up and we were off.
The opening pair quickly found that the pitch was generally slow and springy with balls losing much of their pace especially if pitched short. Gentle spin from one end and a few wayward deliveries helped the Whalers get off to a flying start. Dean punished anything short and hit several sixes over mid-wicket in a bid to breathe new life into the Captain’s much-vaunted but slightly mythical “6s competition”. At the other end, Pip chipped in by helping see off the slightly more threatening left-arm pace bowlers and grabbing the odd boundary here and there while Dean cut loose. 30-0 after 4 overs became 52-0 after 6 and a strong platform was built. It wasn’t long before Dean passed 50 himself, and indeed it wasn’t until just before drinks, with the score on 104-0, that a change of bowling brought the breakthrough, with Corinthians’ Steve getting one to pop off a length that just grazed Pip’s gloves on the way through. Pip’s dismissal for 28 brought Roland to the crease, who started with a couple of confident-looking shots before being bowled by a swift delivery from the second of Corinthians’ left-armers, Jack. Stu came in but never really got comfortable and was bowled off his pads for a 12-ball duck, putting the Whalers on 138-2. Luke however, found some staying power and held up an end to guide Dean to his hundred, despite being dropped in quick succession playing the same shot by the same fielder, who had previously been injured in the nether regions (painful!) by a slightly more powerful shot that still should have been caught.
Luke however, survived and began to pick off many of the poor balls and keep out the good ones and combined with Dean to put on nearly another hundred runs plundered from the Corinthians’ change bowlers.
Heading into the last few overs, Dean reached his 150 with another huge 6, and having already offered to retire at 100, now offered again and this time, next man in, Al accepted. Dean was clapped off by both sides after a fantastic knock.
By this time, with the over rate not being impressive and with black clouds approaching, there was a general intent by both sides to hurry the innings to a close in order to take cover. Having waited some 14 overs as next man in, Al tried to continue the momentum in order to plunder late runs in the final overs, but was unluckily bowled off his pad for 2, and unfortunately, the Whalers innings fell away, with Will also falling for 2 and then a comic run-out between Dan and Jack on the last ball of the innings, where the pair, in a suicidal moment of positive intent, decided to run a 3rd with the ball already in the wicketkeepers hands over the stumps!
Nevertheless, 257-7 was an extremely challenging scoreline, especially with the impending storm clouds looming overhead. The players hastily retreated to the pavilion as the hailstones began to lash down.
There was some debate as to whether or not the intense precipitation had left too much surface water to continue, but after a cursory inspection and an accumulation of rags and sawdust, it was decided to carry on as quickly as possible, given it was late in the day to be only half-way through. Jack and Dan opened up on a soggy but playable pitch. Both began well and Dan soon had the breakthrough with the No. 2 batsman turning a straight delivery to square leg where it was brilliantly held low down by Luke. At the other end, the other opener looked to start playing some shots and was able to dispatch a couple of length balls to the fence with some meaty hitting. Dan however, made a second breakthrough, via another stunning catch, this time from Roland to dismiss the No. 3 for 5. There followed some sawdust faff, involving a nest being constructed on the popping crease at one end and then Luke taking the sawdust to the wrong end of the pitch, which all added to the unusual nature of the game.
The number 4 was soon bowled, to give Dan his 3rd wicket, while Geoff replaced Jack at the other end, and was fined on the spot by Stu and Pip behind the stumps for each delivery that he bowled in his cap, although I fear it could have been worse had the fines session correctly identified it as a non-Whalers cap.
Corinthians’ Number 1, Moore, was beginning to look like he might be at least a thorn in the Whalers side and continued to hit some lusty blows before taking on Dan once too often and skied a catch to Dean who took a well-held catch. The Corinthians’ keeper, in yellow pads, managed to help bring the sunshine out after the rain showers but could not breathe renewed life into their innings and slashed at one outside the off from Dan and was taken comfortably by Stu. Dan finished with 8 overs straight, 2 maidens, 5-21 in what on another day would have been a man-of-the-match performance.
With the score at 46-5, Dan was replaced by Kamal, while Will replaced Geoff. Both seemed to struggle to find their length at times, not helped by the slippery run up conditions, with Will bowling a little short and Kamal unusually bowling several full tosses. The Corinthians’ batsmen began to milk the bowling somewhat without ever really cutting loose, but their No. 6 Manish, was at least giving the chase a decent go and the pair put on 48 for the 6th wicket. This was also not helped by a series of dropped catches from the Whalers, as concentration levels seemed to waiver. However, growing Corinthians’ confidence turned to over-confidence and No. 7 tried to dance down the pitch to Kamal and was bowled.
Manish moved to 50, but after that 6th wicket stand was broken, the end seemed close. Geoff bowled the No.8 before Kamal induced Manish into one big shot too many, in a last vain attempt to regain some initiative, and was safely held by Pip at mid-on. Geoff finished matters off, taking the last two wickets in successive overs, including appropriately, his namesake, Geoff from New Zealand, LBW to finish with strong figures of 5.5 overs 1 maiden, 3-14. Corinthians all out for 125 and Whalers with a victory margin of 132 runs retired to the bar to celebrate with some of the many jugs earned on the day.
Overall, an excellent win, capped by an outstanding innings by Dean to achieve a new highest-ever Whalers individual score, and another successful, winning season. Bring on 2018!
Man of the Match: Dean – 152 not out (Whalers record), Honourable mention to Dan for 5-21
Champagne Moment: Luke’s low catch for the first wicket
Muppet Moment: Jack and Dan for Kamikaze run-out at the end of the innings