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!