Whalers v Cairns Fudge, Wandsworth Common, Sat 1st June
Result: Whalers won by 50 runs
Whalers extended their winning streak to 6 matches by what was ultimately a comfortable winning margin of 50 runs against Cairns Fudge, on an unpredictable wicket on Wandsworth Common. The result had not always looked assured, as a strong bowling performance from Cairns Fudge, combined with a spongy surface and some poor strokeplay from Whalers batsmen, left an achievable total of 154-7 for Fudge to chase down. However, another fine performance in the field, where catches were held and aggressive ground-fielding produced 2 run-outs, meant that Whalers were always in the box seat during the run-chase: a position which they refused to relinquish.
Captain Kirk(ness) lost the toss and Whalers were duly inserted on a green wicket that seemed to offer plenty for the bowlers; and so it would prove. In just the second over, Al made the mistake of driving on a spongy wicket and spooned a low catch to cover. The pitch would clearly take some getting used to, but with long grass slowing up the outfield, the Whalers knew they would also have to work especially hard for their runs. The Cairns Fudge opening bowlers kept a tight line and allowed the unpredictable bounce to do the rest, while Pip and Kev tried to build a platform. Going was slow, but having seen off the openers, Pip tried to take his frustration out on the tamer bowling of Davis but succeeded only in cutting tamely to point. Pete followed soon after, bowled through the gate for a single, and the Whalers were 29-3 with more than 10 overs bowled.
For a while the new Terrell – Albery partnership looked to release the shackles, with Kev playing more circumspectly than perhaps he was used to, while Stu looked to wrest back some of the initiative and score quickly. Solid progress was again let down by a loose shot, this time with Stu picking out mid-on with a pull-shot for 17. Channa survived a good early LBW shout to help take the score to 79-4, also bizarrely prodding both buttocks at a leg-side delivery that deflected through to the keeper, thereby once again securing the Muppet Moment award and giving a new meaning to the term “caught behind”. Meanwhile the cricket progressed and having incurred some disgruntled looks and words from the Cairns Fudge team over Channa’s LBW shout, so Umpire English would then incur some unjustified dissent from his own a few overs later.
Having been a team of only ten players just before the toss, Cairns Fudge managed to enlist the help of JJ, a passer-by on Wandsworth Common, keen cricket enthusiast and who could have been, for all the Whalers knew, a former West-Indian speed demon. It was at this juncture in the match that Fudge decided to take a punt on their random, to try and dislodge the battling Kev. JJ’s first delivery, left-arm over the wicket, was full and swinging in the right-hander, hitting Kev on the front pad in front of middle, a ball that would have gone on to ht middle-and-leg. Umpire English looked hard for reasons not to give it but found none and reluctantly raised the finger. Kev had to go, for a gritty hard-fought 31, despite repeated head-shaking, disbelief and whingeing that would last long into the night.
Channa lasted only a few overs more before holing out to mid-on for 12, and the Whalers found themselves in some trouble at 87-6 with 10 overs to go. However, once Rich and Ed came to the crease, the Whalers recovery began in earnest. The scoring rate increased and for once, the Cairns Fudge attack looked under pressure as a few heavy blows were meted out to the change bowlers. It prompted the Fudge captain to reintroduce the opener Lam, a move that met with almost instant success as he pegged back Rich’s leg stump with the batsman looking to whip the ball through mid-wicket. Within the space of 5 overs though, the partnership had eased the Whalers to 119-7 and edging more towards the realms of a respectable total. That this respectability was achieved for the loss of no more wickets in the final 6 overs, is testimony to the depth of Whalers batting that has on many occasions rescued similar perilous situations. Matt joined Ed and pushed and nurdled the ball into the gaps, while Ed continued to land some heavy blows that with a different outfield would have boosted the Whalers score further. The eighth wicket pair did however put on 35 more runs unbeaten, taking the Whalers to 154-7 and a defendable score on a pitch that still had some demons to reveal.
Ed finished on a fine captain’s knock of 27* with Matt also not out on 17. The players retired to the boundary for a self-made tea of ham and mustard sandwiches, sausage rolls and tea, kindly provided by Kev and the ubiquitous Channa.
The Cairns Fudge reply began with what would prove to be the Champagne Moment for the Whalers, as the opening pair chanced a tight run to “Terrier Terrell” at mid-off. Stu steamed in, picked up and hurled near-perfectly to the ‘keeper’s end, leaving Kev a comparatively simple formality of removing the bails before the despairing batsman’s dive. This was a warning-sign if ever there was one that the Whalers would be taking no prisoners in the field in defence of their score. Nick and Matt more than matched the Fudge opening bowlers by keeping tight lines and extracting variable bounce that even troubled ‘keeper Kev, let alone the batsmen.
Soon after, Matt produced what must have felt like a nerve-shredding delivery for the batsmen still to come, by bowling Kenny with a back-of-a-length delivery that skidded straight through and hit the base of off, having never left the ground. A big wicket that left Fudge on 8-2 after 6 overs.
At one end, Nick plugged away a nagging line and bowled his seven overs straight through to unluckily finish wicketless but having given only 11 runs away. At the other end, the equally miserly Matt was replaced by Rich and although a few wides were slung down, delaying the drinks interval for everyone, he was able to trap Dean LBW for 4, reducing Cairns Fudge to 26-3 off 14 overs. With a painfully slow start, Fudge could not afford to lose wickets as well, and something had to give. Thus, following the drinks break, the batsmen came out with more intent and looked to take on both Rich and Kamal. However, Kamal was once again proving to be almost unplayable at times and was rewarded with two stump clatters in an over, prompting a new, strutting celebration, palms to heaven, that can only happen when a bowler simply knows that he’s the nuts.
At 64-5, the work was not yet complete for the Whalers, but the real killer for Fudge now was the run-rate, as with 23 overs played they were not even half-way to their 155 target. Ed replaced Rich at one end and was able to remove their Number 3, Rob, courtesy of a steepling catch by Rich. Despite being up against it, the Fudge lower order continued to chase the total but by now needed 2-a ball. Kamal was miserly to the last, taking 2-18 from his 7 overs in another fine spell, and although the lower order were able to take some runs off Pip’s two overs, and Ed’s 5th over, they were pegged back with wickets before any partnership could threaten the mammoth run-rate needed. Two wickets fell in Ed’s fifth over, thanks to another, albeit nonchalant, catch from Rich and another from Al, while Al and Pip then combined to run out their number 10.
It was however left to Matt to finish the innings with who else but Channa there to take the final catch and leave the Whalers victorious by 50 runs.
Another dominant display in the field had won the day after more fragile batting, but barring some tough missed stumpings and edges for Kev, the bowling and fielding was something the team could be proud of.
Both sides retreated to the pub for beers, fines and post-mortems, with a select few taking full advantage of the Saturday fixture by trekking on to Kev’s flat for Table Football, pizza and some eighties dance-classics.
Kev continued to whinge about his LBW and there were even rumours of him boycotting the forthcoming tour of Majorca in protest, with Channa being drafted in as a replacement, but ultimately common sense prevailed and Kev just admitted he was wrong.
Congratulations to us all for 6 wins out of 7. Now on to the sunny climes of Majorca!
Man of the Match: Ed Kirkness – 27* and 3-22
(Honourable mention to Matt for 17* and 5.3 – 1 – 6 – 2)
Champagne Moment: Stu’s run-out of the opposition opener in the first over
Muppet Moment: Channa for presenting both buttocks to a delivery instead of just leaving it, or even hitting it with the bat