Five wicket Riff for Captain Lucas

Saracens Riffs XI vs Whalers CC XI – Saturday 4th May 2013 – Quinton Hogg Memorial Ground, Chiswick

Whalers 45-1 beat Saracens Riffs 44 a/o by 9 wickets

The world’s media had gathered for this classic match….

“They streamed through the turnstiles in the morning with the intention of watching Sachin TendulkarAl Dickenson and Virat KohliAnthony Pratt, the past and the future of Indian Whalers batsmanship. By day’s end, the thousands two or three at Chepauk Quinton Hogg Memorial were on their feet to applaud MS DhoniMatt Lucas, the present captain, whose stunning unbeaten 206 5 for 5 gave India the Whalers a stranglehold on this game. With two days 25 overs left to batleft to play, India Saracens Riffs were 515 44 for 8all out, a lead of 135likely not nearly enough.”

Gambhir Giles played the match-winning knock, but his job was made easier by the way Delhi’s Whalers’s bowlers had performed in the first half. Among Bengal’s Riff’s batsmen, Tiwary alone no-one showed the class and application necessary after Rajat BhatiaLucas, the Delhi Whalers captain, had chosen to make first use of a pitch that was expected to aid seamers initially.”

Plagiarising reports by inserting names is harder than I thought, so here goes.

Whalers turned up in dribs and drabs on an overcast morning in West London. Setting a presidential example, Al was there early to get the early thoughts of the groundsman (“Stay off that wicket else you’ll ruin it for the season”) his likely input given the amount of rain that morning once the covers had come off.

Eventually we were all there, even Luckett, making his weekly pilgrimage into London and the heady smell of feverish anticipation was in the air. Either that, or perhaps it was more likely a hungover Pete too close to the rest of the Whalers. With a bit of luck, Saracens Riffs were inserted on a pitch that could be described as a Double Decker – fluffy on the top, with the consistency of a rocky road for underneath.

The pitch showed it was up for a scrap, Khalil’s first ball skittling past the off stump before spitting nicely onto my forearm behind the stumps. Whalers kept up a good line, but remained wicketless until Dan bowled his magic ball – a slow, wide long hop down the leg side which was cheerfully gloved and pouched behind. This began somewhat of a procession, as all 4 bowlers used (sparingly) picked up wickets. Khalil and Dan bowled quickly but with little luck, both ending with solid figures. Kamal also bowled well at first change, bamboozling a few of their batsmen with flight and drift, snaffling too wickets, one edged behind and one caught in front of the wicket. They were all upstaged however by skipper Lucas, nostrils flaring, eyes reminiscent of Ben Johnson ca. 1988 as he charged in with the scent of blood in the air. Bowling dead straight sometimes works, and at one stage Matt had the frankly ridiculous figures of 5 wickets for 1 run off 4 overs, with the Riffs wilting in front of him. Figures finally ruined, he ended up with 5 for 5 – a decent 10 minutes’ work as Riffs were all out for under 50 in less than half their overs.

With a score of 44 to defend the Riffs looked crestfallen as Pete and Anthony strode out to bat. It looked for a minute (literally) that Pete would finish the game in a couple of overs, beginning with 444. However, having cleared his hangover with lusty blows, he then went to sleep on his bat, failing to score from the next 10 deliveries before holing out. The game was up and with Gilo knocking off the winning runs we won by 8 wickets.

The early finish left us with more than enough time for a 10 over slogathon, and after a quick trip by the Riffs to the off licence (thanks guys), we each had a beer and batting first carried on with the batting order. Contributions came all through the order, with Kev retiring on 25 (forced) and Dan retiring on 19 (sheer laziness) to bring up almost a hundred. Riffs were never really in it as we turned the screw in the obligatory one over spells, eventually finishing about 20 runs short. The match was notable as the only time in the history of cricket that a man called Paul Luckett was entrusted to open both the bowling and batting. Swish Swish Swish Wicket (batting) was followed, remarkably, with the most economical figures in the innings. Mark my words, it will never happen again!!