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?
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