Seven off the last ball just too much for valiant Whalers

Whalers v Clapham Inn CC; 15 May 2016; Barn Elms Sports Club

The Whalers convened on a bright sunny day with a cool breeze at the Barn Elms Sports Club, just down the road from our home pitch. It was a good day for cricket.

Without too much messing around Channa tossed up, but lost, and Clapham Inn CC decided to bat.

Khalil and Dan opened the bowling. The batsmen were watchful and not giving much away, but also the run rate was slow and they weren’t dealing in boundaries. Although Khalil and Dan bowled tight, they couldn’t make the break through and the first bowling change brought on Jiff and Pete.

The Whalers were sharp in the field today and although Clapham Inn hadn’t lost a wicket, the pressure to score more runs seemed to build on the batsmen. Finally Jiff made a difference as their No1 tried to hit through cover but didn’t quite get hold of it and Paul took a fine catch. It was a relief to get the first wicket.

Not long after their No2 reached his 50, and seemed to be playing well, until Pete banged in a short one which he top-edged to Khalil at fly-slip. Now we had two new batsmen at the crease and the score was probably still a little low for Clapham Inn’s liking, so they needed to push on if they were to get a good enough score to defend.

Roland joined the attack and bowled some “interesting” lines at the start, but as it turned out it was all part of the plan. It was actually a cunning strategy to put the batsmen into a false sense of ease, only to fire in a straight ball right onto the stumps to clean bowl their number three – his first Whalers wicket after over a decade at the club (he does keep wicket a lot!).

We were heading into the later stages of the innings when they really started to push things along, but they pushed it too far when they went for a second run and Jiff fired it to Stu behind the stumps who scooped it up and flicked off the bails. Khalil and Dan returned to bowl the final overs when things became frantic with some desperate fielding to keep the runs down. The runs kept leaking despite Kahlil taking another wicket. Into the final over and the final two balls, Khalil took two wickets to earn himself a hat-trick ball at the start of his next match.

Clapham Inn finished on 179 for 7.

The Whalers thought that this was a gettable target on this pitch, as it was behaving and the weather was good. The caterers were running late and the teas were not ready so we agreed to switch around straight away and play the first eight overs.

We started things off against their opening pair who were an interesting mix of fast and sharp and very (very) slow.  Dario and Paul were careful to not lose their wicket and both seemed a little rusty with a bit of playing and missing, but the run-rate kept moving in the right direction, if not quite up to the right level. The first bowling change brought on “Wildman” who was not wild at all, but steady and bowled a consistent line. Nevertheless we got to eight overs without losing a wicket, only to find that there was still a wait for the tea. Eventually it was ready and we tucked in.

After tea Clapham Inn introduced “Whaley”, their leg spinner, who changed the tone of the attack. He was turning it hard and Paul survived well until he fell to a superb leg-break, this brought Stu to the crease. At the other end Dario played and missed to Wildman and couldn’t get back to his crease in time before being stumped, so that brought Luke up to bat with the score at 55 after 15 overs. The whalers were behind the run rate and needed a good partnership to get going. Luke and Stu duly delivered with some hard running between the wickets and some boundaries for a stand of 58 before Luke was caught. Pete injected some more urgency into proceedings with some positive hitting until his old shrapnel injury to his shoulder re-visited and he almost retired, but convinced himself to stay on. As it happens he was he was run out a little later but Stu was in his stride now and ably trying to keep the scoreboard ticking along. Unfortunately he took one chance too many as he was clean bowled on 46.

Now it was the Whaler’s turn to feel the pressure as we needed 29 more runs to win off 24 balls. Clapham stepped up to the mark by bowling well at the death as Channa tried valiantly to hit out but to no avail as he was caught, which brought Dan to the crease. Dan understood the urgency of the situation and decided to sacrifice his wicket in an attempt take two runs when really there was only one…trying to put pressure on the fielders. Meanwhile Roland was doing his best at the other end to get the ball away. Dan’s departure brought Khalil in with 9 runs to get from 4 balls. But he and Roland could only manage two more singles so that it was 7 runs off the final ball…all Clapham needed to do is bowl it down the middle and they had won…but they couldn’t manage that at as their bowler wobbled and gave the Whalers a life line by bowling a wide.

So it was down to Khalil to hit a six off the last ball and he tried his best to get it skyward to the boundary but it went too high and not far enough and he was caught. The Whalers lost by 5 runs.

It was a well-earned victory for Clapham Inn. They batted and bowled well in the final overs, which was probably the difference. The Whalers were left to wander “what if”…where were those 5 runs lost? But the truth is we never really managed to get a good partnership going to get on top of the run rate, despite Clapham Inn giving away 32 extras.

Clapham Inn 176-7 (35)

Whalers 171-8 (35)

Clapham Inn win by 5 runs

Muppet Moment – Dario for unnecessary stumping

Champagne – Roland’s debut Whaler’s wicket

Man of the match – Stu for 46 runs and one catch