Monthly Archives: July 2023

Whalers win in high scoring thriller

Salix CC vs Whalers, Barn Elms Sports Trust, 16th July 2023

It was a (mostly) sunny if extremely windy day in Barnes as Suhaib and his merry men travelled to Barnes to meet regular opponents Salix. With 15 minutes to go until the toss, matters weren’t looking particularly promising. There were just the three of us in the changing room and the tactics board was looking suspiciously blank. The said toss did however take place shortly thereafter. After recently winning the toss and putting the opposition in (a not universally popular decision by all accounts), the decision was taken away from the skipper as Salix guessed correctly and decided to have a bat. On a more positive note, everyone else (bar Al) started to arrive and we were able to begin pretty much on time.

A fired up Nirmal was handed the new ball and he certainly gave the opening batsmen something to think about. The pace was rocking, the accuracy at times less so. It quickly became clear, as is normally the case, that bowling short is less than ideal, and there were some early boundaries due to some aggressive pulling and thunderous drives. A non-fired up Raman opened up from the other end, after getting caught in the rain on Friday he was feeling under the weather and his opening two overs also gave Salix the opportunity to create some scoreboard pressure. It should be said at this point that the scoreboard was also feeling pressure from another source- the wind. Getting it to stay up was a struggle in itself, let alone getting the numbers to stay in the correct place. After some early slightly loose bowling and accompanying misfields, the Whalers’ had to find a way of drying up the runs. Roland’s answer to this was putting his foot in the way of a well struck cover drive- saving four in the most heroic of ways. It was a mighty blow and he hobbled off to find use the deep heat that no one had any idea was contained within the team kit bag.

The first wicket fell shortly thereafter, Nirmal hit a good length and their opening bat miscued one slightly to a grateful Suhaib at mid-off. The second wicket followed a couple of overs later in very similar fashion, this time Suhaib was the bowler with Vishal taking a smart catch in the same position. Further wickets followed for Nirmal and Suhaib, both of them bowling the batsmen clean, again showing the value of bowling full and letting the ball do the work. It was after this that things began to get a bit loose. The Salix number 4 was looking settled and in expansive form and was beginning to put on a good partnership with his batting mate. Saurabh was brought on and despite hitting some reasonable lengths was being dispatched to the boundary fence on a less than ideal regularity. He also wasn’t getting any support at the other end, Josh (top wicket taker in 2018) was having real issues with getting the ball anywhere near where he wanted it and his rather pathetic 3 overs were dispatched for 32 runs. Thankfully for all concerned, Josh is now based some 200 miles away and these slow medium trackers will be offered up no more than one or two times a season.

Vishal, also a former top wicket taker, was brought into the attack and he fared much better, a tidy length and some good zip. He produced a lovely delivery to break the partnership that was threatening to put the game out of sight. The next wicket to come with in less orthodox fashion, a top edge went up towards Al at square leg, he wasn’t able to take the catch but caused enough confusion to get the ball back to wicket keeper Dean who was duly able to complete the run out. In fact, Dean had a busy couple of overs, with a stumping off Amit and then taking a catch off of a Raman wide delivery. By this point, Salix already had more than 200 on the board and their number 4 edging over closer to a century. Thankfully Vishal was able to stop this happening as he bowled him for 90 and then immediately follow it up by also bowling out their number 11, in the penultimate over of the innings. It was an up and down effort, some good bowling, some not so good bowling, some good catching, some not so good fielding. However, the bounce was relatively consistent and the outfield clearly fast. A chase of 240 was not going to be easy, but there was a healthy looking top and middle order in attendance.

One thing that was obvious, is that we had to make a good start. The Salix opening pair looked useful, that combination of reasonable pace and accuracy that we all dream of. Al seemed to be enjoying this extra pace and he got the ball rolling with a couple of lovely drives through the covers. Dean was looking slightly more circumspect, not being provided with anything short for the first few overs but then things loosed slightly and he was able to crash some balls to the fence. The run rate continued to increase and Dean seemed to go from 20 to 50 in a very short space of time, helped in part by a glorious six straight down the ground. Unfortunately, he departed not long after, bowled for a very useful 53. Al also crossed the 50 threshold, before he too was dismissed, caught for a very respectable 58. Fraser was in at 3 with a limping Roland in at 4. Josh had kindly offered to be his runner, but this arrangement wasn’t a successful one and he had to limp back after being cruelly run out for 2 runs. 

This brought Amit to the crease with the game very much in the balance. Fraser has been in fine form all season and we know what Amit can provide- both with the bat and in terms of camping equipment. We needed runs and we needed them relatively quickly. Fraser became the third Whaler to 50, I don’t have an Andy Zaltzman esque knowledge of stats, but there can’t be many times the top 3 have all reached that figure. Fraser was not quite able to see it through and this brought back Josh to the crease once he was able to find a helmet that was big enough both literally and figuratively for his head. There has been much talk of his finishing abilities in the past, mostly it has to be said by himself. After failing miserably with the ball and copping a bit of flak for his generosity with wides whilst umpiring, it was time for him to give something back and see it home for the boys. With a deep field set, his approach was to get off strike and let the set batsman do the necessary. This worked- Josh and Amit were able to push the ones and two hard and then a 6 from Amit put us ahead of the run rate with barely two overs left. Amit was also the man to hit the winning runs, a miscued shot over the keeper which ran away to the fence, not the prettiest way to end proceedings, but a 4 is a 4 and a win and a win!

All in all, it was a really good effort from the Whalers to come back after conceding more than we would have wanted in the first innings. We did bowl impressively in patches, Suhaib and Vishal were impressive and Nirmal took a couple of lovely wickets. The top 3 all contributed with the bat and set a good foundation for Amit and Josh, unfortunately Roland missed out, but he was hampered by one of the most purple looking feet I have ever seen and having Josh as his runner. Next up is the Captains v Presidents on Friday!

Whalers 241/4 beat Salix 239 a/o by 6 wickets

Man of the match: Fraser- top scorer with 60 runs

Champagne moment: Fraser- straight six down the ground just missing the scorer’s table

Muppet: Dean- losing his hat to the wind and throwing his glove after it to try and stop it

Match Report finished by Josh Curtis

Limping Rohan carries Whalers over the line

Whalers vs Gentlemen of West London, King’s House Sports Ground, 9th July 2023

After their 4 game unbeaten streak was ended by Bricklayers last week, Whalers were back in home comforts of King’s House Sports Grounds for a friendly against Gentlemen of West London. Arpit, one of the mainstays of recent Whalers success, pulled out of the game the previous night. But, Suhaib, captain for the game, rescued the situation by recruiting a family member and Whalers were back to full 11, in numbers.

Game was scheduled for 1:00PM start and for a change, every Whaler was right on time. Nirmal sitting this game out perhaps helped that cause. Toss was delayed as captains decided to use a different pitch than the one that was setup and consequently, the square boundary on one of the sides needed to be moved in as well.

Regarding what he would choose to do if he wins the toss, the Whalers captain was tight-lipped even to his fellow Whalers until after the toss. Fearing a mole in the team perhaps? We will never know. He did indeed win the toss and everyone finally learned that Whalers would be fielding first. Suhaib decided to continue with his previously successful tactic of giving wily spinner Kamal the new ball who opened from the Pavillion end. Special-K did not disappoint as in his very first over, had 2 batters caught including one catch Suhaib, at mid-off made life difficult for himself by running forward before leaping back to take a good one handed catch. Sangamesh, who opened at the other end however, started off with a beamer and struggled to hit his line and lengths. He was soon replaced by Rohan who bowled 6 exact same good length deliveries for a beautiful maiden. It’s a shame pitch-map technology was not in place for this game to record that grouping. Kamal ended his spell with figures of 4-1-9-2 and Russel, who replaced him, continued where Special-K had left and dismissed their number-4 in his first over. Rohan continued to trouble batters with nagging line and lengths conceding just 4 in his first 3 overs. He was creating chances and was finally rewarded when the batter slashed at a delivery, which took the outside edge and bulleted towards Sangamesh stationed at wide-slip/gully who reverse-cupped it for a sharp reflex catch. While everyone came in to high-five Sangamesh for the catch, he just seemed relieved that he did not try to catch the ball off his nose this time.

Gentlemen were under pressure with 4 wickets down but their number 5 was showing fight, that is, until Suhaib scored a direct hit from mid-on to send him back to pavilion. Amit replaced Rohan and continued to pile on the pressure by bowling two consecutive maidens before foxing opponent’s number 7 with his trade-mark slower ball that Dean at slip held on well. He went on to finish his spell of 5 overs by picking up one more wicket and conceding just 10 in the process, excellent stuff. Raman replaced Russel at the other end, and he too picked up a wicket as Roland joined the list of good catchers on the day when he took a tumbling catch and proceeded to rest on the ground for a few seconds before getting up to celebrate. Gentlemen were already reeling at 85/8 by this time. After some slogging, another run-out by Amit and Dean clean-bowling their number 11, Gentlemen finished their innings with a score of 126.

If Whalers had a script of how the innings was supposed to go, it went almost exactly to that script. Only blows to whalers were injuries to Rohan, who pulled his hamstring and new recruit Rukshal. It has to be mentioned that Gentlemen, true to their name, provided Whalers with substitute fielders and allowed them to field 11 players for most of the innings.

With the target being so low, Whalers would get the job done without having to force their injured players onto the pitch, right? Spoiler alert, wrong! After teas and watching England close in on winning the 3rd Ashes test, players were back on the field and the chase began. Dean opened the batting as usual for Whalers and Suhaib, not finding anyone else to open, took it upon himself to open with Dean. Courage to open alone wasn’t enough, as he was dismissed in the 3rd over. Roland and Sangamesh followed Suhaib and left without troubling the scorers too much. Geoff walked in at 5, played his shots freely and raced to 21 before holing out in the deep against the run of play. Whalers were then down 60/5 when Dean, who looked solid so far was dismissed softly. Amit and Raman, next batters in, were building a steady partnership but Whalers were again halted as Raman and then Russel were both dismissed in one over to leave Whalers 77-7, target still 50 runs away.

Gentlemen surely thought they had this game in their grasps, especially with 2 of the remaining batters injured. Rohan had other ideas. He limped in despite a pulled hamstring, with Sangamesh as his runner. With Amit looking settled at the other end, the plan was to give as much strike to Amit. But Rohan’s adrenaline took over and unleashed one shot after another taking Whalers to within touching distance of the target. It appeared as though Whalers would now win the game comfortably but Amit holed out to long-on. It looked as though there might be another twist in the tale but Rohan was having none of it, hogged most of the strike, kept his calm and took Whalers over the line with a beautiful shot through the covers, one of his many on the day.

Whalers now play four games over the next two weeks including two T20s. If the game against Gentlemen was anything to go by, Whalers are well up for the busy schedule ahead!

Final Scores:

Gentlemen – 126 all out off 29.5 overs (Kamal 2-9, Amit 2-10)

Whalers – 127/8 off 29.3 overs (Rohan 39*, Dean 25)

Whalers win by 2 wickets.

Man of the Match – Rohan for all match winning knock of 39* and 5-2-21-1 with the ball

Champagne Moment – Sangamesh’s sharp catch at gully

Muppet Moment – Suhaib’s captaincy in general. Moving the boundary, not informing the wicket keeper Geoff that we would start with a spinner, keeping the toss decision secret etc.

Match Report by Sangamesh Kalagond

Whalers in Zagreb

Whalers CC vs Sokol Cricket Club, 3rd & 4th June, 2023

For the first time in 5 years the Whalers assembled for a new foreign tour, in the destination of Zagreb, Croatia. The relevant faffs of getting the kit there without a Whaler with a BA gold card touring were all done, Frasers kit had arrived, Pip had scouted out a suitable bar and Geoff & Matt had arrived on a communist era train from Ljubljana. 

With a changing of the guard, the amount of jägerbombs had definitely decreased on the first nights integration with the local night life, with some Whalers heading off to find gelato. Pip still found some 10% beer though and with our host for the weekend Dave’s encouragement a good preparatory night was had.

Our hosts Sokol Cricket Club’s ground was located about 30 mins from the centre of Zagreb so after an impromptu tour cap presentation we made our way to the ground in a mixture of taxis and their players cars for game 1. On arrival Amit, Vishal & Raman forgetting to take their kit out of their car which subsequently drove off was an early muppet moment which delayed the start by half an hour while the driver could be located. 

The facilities were circa Grasse in the South of France tour (exchanging the sheep for tractors) and it became apparent that we would only be bowling from one end. The thick ‘European’ grass in the outfield indicated that it would be easier to hit a six than a four and this was definitely the case over the course of the weekend. 

Tour organiser Matt was captain for game 1 and subsequently lost the toss, we would be bowling first. Some tight opening bowling from Suhaib & Sangamesh led their welsh opener Mark to try a risky single and he was run out by Matt with a direct hit. Mark trying to run his bat in through the thick ‘European’ grass definitely contributed to his downfall. A couple of other early wickets fell, one each to Suhaib & Sangamesh and all looked good for the Whale. The other opener Jai was joined by Sohail and after some play and misses and close chances they started to hit out against the Whalers change bowlers. Jai took a particular liking to Matt’s bowling with a few big sixes. Sohail also played some big shots as the runs started to flow. Jai’s innings was cut short on 58 though by a fantastic slower ball by Amit inducing a mistimed shot which was caught by Sangamesh. 

Sohail continued on though with some powerful hitting mixed with some dropped catches or shots narrowly avoided fielders. It was also becoming clearer that due to Sokol generally playing 10 & 20 over games their style was pretty much for all their batsmen to hit out. So their was no respite for the bowlers, fielders or captain. Guri & Suresh continued the quick scoring with Sohail and when they were out former Pakistani power lifter Osama meant that the big hitting continued. It was only when the opening bowlers returned that the scoring rate was bought back under control. Sangamesh had Sohail caught and Suhaib bowled Osama and Sokol ended on 260 for 9 from their 35 overs. 

The weather had really warmed up by now & the Whalers were definitely ready for some tea and a break at this point. However tea hadn’t arrived so we were back out there with Pip and Amit opening. Opening bowler Guri obviously wasn’t tired though as he marked out a 40 yard run up….maybe this distracted Pip as Guri snuck one off Pip’s edge and pad onto his stumps. This brought Fraser to the crease and despite a slow start both batsmen started to hit some great shots and build a good partnership. Unfortunately it couldn’t last with Amit falling for 48 and Fraser for 39. By now the rate needed was above 10 an over and Saurabh and Geoff both fell trying to up the scoring rate. Matt provided a short but sweet cameo of 18 off 10 to try and get things moving before falling to a good catch on the boundary. There wasn’t a huge amount else to trouble the scorers though and the Whalers ended up being bowled out for 165 from 32 overs. 

We were clearly outplayed but there were also definitely a lot of learnings to take from the game in terms of the tactics of playing on a plastic pitch with a very slow outfield, the oppositions playing style and the need to take our catches on the boundary. All of this was noted by game 2 captain Amit who bought an additional element to Whalers captaincy in the form of a spreadsheet circulated to the team pre game with individual & team instructions. 

With the late start (certain players with no kit), and a lot of ball finding in the long grass which started 1m past the boundary the finish was fairly late. Enough time for Whalers ties (not Geoff) (and blazers for some) to be put on and visit a local Brewery/Taproom to digest the game. Saurabh then headed off to a local festival and Pip was denied any interest in going ‘dancing’. A lot of good content was sourced for social channels however and Pip performed a technically correct forward defence whilst taking a photo for a neighbouring table. 

So to game 2 (which would go down as a Whalers classic), the Whalers now in possession of their instructions however not all had listened to the earlier meet time. Saurabh who had continued his night out after the brewery won the prize for the latest Whaler. A positive from the previous day though was that Amit, Raman and Vishal remembered to take their kit out of the car on arrival so we were in good shape to start reasonably on time. 

Following yesterdays mixed bag of catching it was decided we needed some practise catching high balls which during the practice was fairly hit and miss but would it improve the catching in the game?

Today we were batting first and the new skipper Amit had promoted Matt up the order as a new opening partner with the instructions see it, hit it, admire it. This didn’t exactly pay off however as the opening bowlers didn’t give much to hit and Matt edged a swinging ball from Guri behind for 1. Amit had hit a couple of big sixes by this point though. Fraser was the new batsmen and started slowly but solidly against the best of the oppositions bowlers. Amit was out shortly after for 14 and Geoff also moved up the order to provide some hitting was out for 4. That left us on around 35-3 and the captains instructions seemingly disintegrating around him. However not all was lost. Raman took his time to get himself in whilst Fraser was starting to up his strike rate with some lovely lofted drives over the offside. 

Raman continued to find runs hard to come by until angered by one too many short balls he suddenly unleashed a hook shot for 6 and he was off and running. Cue a spell of extraordinary hitting from Fraser and Raman with the boundary being cleared on a regular basis and both batsmen passing 50. This led Sokol to bring back their opening bowlers however the extra pace just led to the ball being hit further. One particular six from Fraser was considered the biggest they had seen and ended up in a car park near the ground. 

Attempting another big shot Raman was bowled for 64, his second highest Whalers score. It also ended a partnership of 152 which upon checking was a Whalers record 4th wicket partnership. Pip who had been padded up for around 25 overs then joined Fraser for the last few overs. Fraser was still hitting some big shots and came into the last over on 92 not out. Some excellent bowling however stemmed the runs and Fraser finished on a fantastic 94 not out and the Whalers 204-4. A big improvement on yesterday and a defendable score. 

As with yesterday tea was late so we turned straight round albeit now with the threat of some rain. Vishal was given the new ball this time along with Sangamesh and all bowlers had instructions to keep the ball back of a length to try to limit the Sokol batters scoring. The opening bowlers were tidy however it was the change bowlers Suhaib and Matt who provided the breakthroughs. Suhaib trapping Dinesh for a debatable lbw and then the catching practice started to pay off. First Raman took a juggling catch from a skied pull shot by Arpit and then Pip took two boundary catches. Having been placed at deep square leg by Matt, Jai obliged and hit a short ball to him. He then took a good catch to remove the dangerous Sohail off Amit’s bowling. 

As with yesterday the batsmen kept playing their shots which with some better bowling continued to create chances. Suhaib had Wasul by Amit for 1 and Matt had Guri caught by Vishal. This left Sokol on 73-6 and the Whalers definitely in the driving seat. The rain looked imminent so the Whalers were keen to continue however the teas had now arrived so it was deemed that we should take tea. 

The break didn’t do Matt’s bowling any favours and new batsmen Osama took a liking to the short of a length bowling in the first over back to dispatch some big sixes over the leg side. Amit bowled Luca which bought Mamun to the crease. Osama had a hamstring injury so was purely interested in hitting boundaries and new bowlers Kamal and Raman also taking some punishment. Mamun also started dispatching anything loose and the Sokol score started to rise alarmingly. 

Suddenly Sokol needed 3-4 an over and looked favourites. Sangamesh was bought back into the attack and soon produced the champagne moment of the game clean bowling Osama for 55. A much needed breakthrough. The Whalers knew if they could just get Mamun then they would be back in the box seat with Sokol’s 10 & 11 not as powerful hitters. Captain Amit bought himself back and duly bowled Mamun for 42 and suddenly it was all to play for. Sokol needing around 15 off 6 overs and the Whalers 1 wicket.

Cue some obdurate batting from Sokol until Mark smashed Vishal back over his head for a 4. A big beamer followed for 3 no balls and suddenly Sokol needed only 5 to win. Vishal tightened up his bowling though for the rest of the over and on the last ball Veljko popped one up to short mid-wicket and a waiting Matt took the catch between his legs (literally). The Whalers had won by 4 runs and ended their losing streak both at home and abroad. A real roller coaster of a game that ebbed and flowed throughout. As well as better bowling & batting the key was taking our catches (the extra practise had paid off!). 

With the Whalers in high spirits some decided to challenge their masculinity with competitions for longest throw (won by Geoff), fastest runner (Sangamesh) and tug of war (not sure the winners…). 

A really enjoyable tour against an up and coming club who make the most of their situation and provided excellent hospitality. The Whalers then either headed to the airport or for one last night in Zagreb when the hot topic was ‘commingling’ and the museum of broken relationships…..

Game 1 Summary
Sokol 260-9
Suhaib 2-27 and Sangamesh 2-34

Whalers 165 all out
Fraser 48
Amit 39

Champagne – Vishal, clean bowled, stumps everywhere
Muppet – Amit, Vishal, Raman, leaving their kit in a car that left the ground
M-O-M – Amit

Full scoreboard

Game 2 Summary
Whalers 204-4
Fraser 94 no
Raman 64

Sokol 200 all out
Amit 3-33
Matt 3-41

Champagne – Sangamesh clean bowling Osama
Muppet- Raman being hit in the box
M-O-M – Fraser

Full Scoreboard

Tour Report by Matt Lucas.