Whalers Unbeaten Run Continues into August (still counts, right?!)

Whalers v Cricketers – Sunday 2nd August 2020, Kings House.

Result: Whalers win by 5 wickets: Cricketers 158/9 (35 overs; Abhay 4-28); Whalers 162/5 (31.3 overs; Dean 91*)

A tight bowling performance, in spite of some dropped catches, and a batting chase once again led by Captain Dean ensured that the Whalers earned a prized victory over The Cricketers at Kings House, and began August unbeaten for the first time, albeit in this unfortunately truncated season.

Dean lost the toss and The Cricketers opted to bat first, which seemed like a sound choice. However, opening pair Dan and Russell had other ideas. Russell in particular bowled a couple of highly accurate overs and soon had Elwer trapped for a front-foot LBW. The batsman did not seem to like the decision but he had to depart. At the other end, Dan too was finding some rhythm and pinned the No. 3 batsman plumb in front for 8. The Cricketers were still keen to pounce on anything loose and were able to put away a few boundaries before Russell took a fine reflex return catch to dismiss Wriggles for 8. At around 30/3 after the first 8 overs or so, the run rate did not seem to be an issue for Cricketers, more the wickets column, and so it would prove ultimately. However, Downer and Taker began to fight back and the change bowling combo of Amit 1 and Amit 2(!) found that anything leg-side or short was often dealt with severely. This was not helped by 3 dropped catches from the Whalers and one particularly comical moment where Channa and Amit 2 chased a slowing ball to the boundary, only to seemingly dance around it, leaving it to each other, while the ball trickled piteously over the rope! Cricketers had passed 60 with still only 3 wickets down by drinks and for a short period, it seemed as though it could be a long afternoon in the field for the Whale, with the knowledge that the opposition tended to have a long batting line-up.

However, the drinks break brought a result soon after, as Dean and Abhay began to tighten the screw and apply some pressure back on the batsmen. Abhay induced Downer to drag on to his stumps for a pugnacious 31. No.6 Mahesh was also in no mood to hang around, but after some strong shots, he too was deceived in the air by Abhay and edged a drive to short third man where Pip took a neat, low catch, tumbling to his right. The trickle of wickets had returned and continued, ensuring that the Cricketers would not regain the fluency of the Downer-Taker partnership again. Dean, ably supporting from the other end, bowled No. 7 Paul for 12 and No. 8 Johnny soon followed by skying a good-length ball from Abhay straight up for Pip to jog in and take a comfortable catch. Unfortunately, another comedy fiasco then entailed, as Pip pulled his thigh muscle tidying up a …. erm…slightly below-par throw from Channa, and was confined to slip-fielding for the remaining few overs. At the other end, Taker had been accumulating steadily since Downer’s departure and had taken Cricketers beyond 100, but he too, succumbed to spin, trying to take the attack to the persistently accurate Abhay. He lifted his back foot and at the second attempt, Geoff removed the bails to end a fine innings of 42. Dean picked up a second wicket when the experienced and dangerous Sohail edged to wicket-keeper Geoff, but there was still time for a nasty sting in the Cricketers tail, as No. 10 Louis carved 16 from Dan’s and the Whalers’ final over, leaving the Cricketers on 158/9.

After a swift self-provided tea break, Dean re-jigged the order to bump the injured Pip out of the way and a slightly surprised Channa went out to accompany Dean at the crease. As expected, the opening bowling pair of Wriggles and Taker kept things tight, with few scoring opportunities meaning that the score was only 6/0 from the first 4 overs. However 4 wides and a boundary from Channa eased the pressure, before the latter missed a straight ball from Taker and was given out LBW with the score on 22. Roland then joined Dean, who remained watchful at the other end, but when the change bowlers came on, runs began to flow more freely, with both batsmen playing some fine shots. That was, until the lack of pace on the ball from Boydey induced Roland to lunge forward, lose his balance and fall over, to be stumped for 12. Amit 2 soon followed, looping a return catch to the same bowler and after 11 overs, Whalers were 50-3 and in a similar position to where the Cricketers had been, with the run-rate very healthy, but the wickets column becoming a concern. Geoff came in at No. 5 and promptly hit Boydey for 3 fours in an over, as both he and Dean looked to accelerate, scoring 22 off 2 overs. Nevertheless, over-confidence perhaps once again pegged the Whalers back with Geoff being bowled by Boydey with a “head-in-clouds” moment, for 13, and Whalers were 74-4, and looking more nervous.

One felt that if someone could get in and occupy the crease to keep Dean company, the Whale would emerge triumphant. Thankfully, Suhaib seemed to know what to do, and although he only scored 11, batted for 11 overs with Dean, during which time, Dean was able to push the score along without concern for the wickets column, increasing the boundary count whenever the change bowlers erred in line and length. The pair accumulated nicely and took the score to 118/4 after 25 overs, with Dean passing 50, before the crucial 26th over, which effectively killed the game off as a contest. Ward began his 4th over of seamers, but Dean had decided he had seen enough and promptly launched him down the ground, with the ball travelling up and over, with unerring certainty, to the scorer’s table. Whalers scattered in all directions except for the injured scorer, Pip, who just sat and prayed for a near miss, which thankfully happened, by half-a yard. This six, the first and only one of the innings, was followed by several other crunching shots and some wides, to ensure 19 came from the over. Suddenly, Whalers were 137/4 from 26 overs and the win was firmly in sight. There was still work to do though, and when Suhaib dragged on to the returning Wriggles, to end a vital partnership of 53, Abhay came in and batted calmly and sensibly to ensure no further wickets fell. Dean then clattered the winning runs with 2 boundaries from the first 3 balls of the 31st over, to finish with a fine Captain’s knock of 91 not out.

As always, a competitive and well-spirited fixture against our friends, the Cricketers, and we look forward to another round next season.

MoM: Abhay Ganga-Nair (4-28)

Champagne Moment: Russell’s entire over culminating in dismissal of opener LBW

Muppet Moment: Channa & Amit 2 for boundary dance / miss fiasco