Believers CC vs Whalers CC; Wimbledon; Sunday 1st September 2019
After being informed by the Believers that the match would be an old-fashioned timed game, the Whalers were inserted to bat first after losing the toss. With the conditions stipulating a minimum of 20 overs to be bowled after 6 p.m. there was much to ponder. Many a whaler mused over declaration related timing scenarios reflecting a sense of cautious optimism in the camp. Optimism gave way to nerves as Fraser and Roland were dismissed lbw and bowled respectively to some good deliveries, reducing the score to 28-2 after 7 overs.
Channa then played a perfect foil for Dean as they put on a terrific 102 run partnership, putting any fears of a collapse to bed. Making use of the lightning fast outfield and a couple of dropped chances, Dean dispatched any bad deliveries collecting 70 of his 84 runs in boundaries. He was even courteous enough to place his sixes over square leg just wide of the cars in the car park, as Whalers strategically stationed beyond the boundary failed to intercept the lusty blows. Dean was then out to a contentious lbw by Jack in what seems to be the preferred mode of dismissal this season for the Whalers. Debutant Suhaib was then out bowled for a well compiled 2, while Aseem and Russell were both out for ducks, bowled and lbw off 3 and 2 balls respectively. However Russell’s stay was lengthy enough to prompt Channa to remark that he went about his innings with poise.
With the Whale teetering at 154-7, Geoff came out and made a rollicking 28, bludgeoning the ball to all parts before holing out. Amit and Channa then finished the innings with a 34 run partnership leaving the Whalers on 221-7 which Dean decided was enough to make a declaration. Channa finished on 77 not out, with the bulk of his runs coming from languid aerial drives, provoking sighs of admiration and jangling nerves in equal measure as he was dropped on at least 5 occasions. His huge six into the adjacent motorcycling training school stood out as a highlight.
In keeping with the old-fashioned theme, Believers’ openers made a passing impersonation of Hobbs and Sutcliffe at their zenith with a majestic 141 run opening partnership. It became quickly apparent that the Whalers’ total might have been inadequate, with several vociferous lbw appeals being turned down and a few chances going begging. Jack bowled a particularly good opening spell testing both edges of the bat with no luck. As many as 6 different bowlers were rotated before Russell finally made the breakthrough in a strong second spell, with Fraser holding onto a good catch.
The Believers continued unfazed until 180-1, Russell finishing with 1-42 off his 7 overs. At this point Dean brought himself on. When the second wicket fell caught off Dean’s bowling with less than 25 runs needed, the Whalers suddenly ratcheted up the intensity several notches, fielding with great intent. This was no doubt in part inspired by Kamal’s elegant pirouette while celebrating his catch, for which he duly earned the Champagne moment of the match. A neutral observer wouldn’t have known which team was on top from body language alone, as a combination of Dean’s tight right arm round the wicket off spin and Jack breathing fire at the other end sparked a dramatic collapse from 200-1 to 215-5. Dean finished with 21-3 off his 6 overs, and Jack 44-1 off his 11. It was eventually to no avail as Believers’ opener Tom, capped off the win and his own century as he finished the match off in style.
Dean and Channa won a joint man of the match award in a first for this correspondent for their sparkling batting performances. Roland won the Muppet moment for his enthusiastic stumping attempts throughout the innings to pace bowler and spinner alike, much to the bemusement of the batsmen who rarely departed their crease.
Believers win by 5 wickets