Party on Pitch D

Whalers CC v Village CC – 15th August 2021, Kings House Sports Ground

The Whalers returned to Kings House after their rain affected sojourns away to a jamboree of Afro-Caribbean soul, gospel and Motown, as Kings House was transformed into a party atmosphere for someone’s birthday, although we are all still clueless as to who could be so important to have had such a turnout. Still, the music was a welcome accompaniment to the cricket, as, finally, was the dry weather.

Slightly less welcome however, was the massive trudge over to Pitch D, the news that Dan and kitbag were running late, that Viren was running seriously late and that skipper Matt had lost the toss on a warm afternoon and that Whalers would be fielding. Dan at least arrived before the start and nevertheless, Ross and Suhaib started brightly with the former unlucky not to get a wicket in the first over, with a strong LBW shout. The Whalers bowling was pretty tight and accurate, and a slow pitch, an even slower outfield and mammoth boundary distances all pointed towards a low-scoring game, which ultimately proved the case. Bar a couple of hefty lofted shots, the Village openers struggled to get the ball away but nevertheless proceeded comparatively untroubled to 45 without loss before two quick wickets from Dan opened the door for the Whalers. Good, straight bowling, combined with growing frustration for the batsmen at the slow pitch and outfield were the cause, one opener plum LBW and the second clean bowled taking a swing. Whalers went into the drinks break thus with renewed momentum and further wickets fell after the interval, with Josh taking a fine tumbling catch at mid-on to dismiss their no. 3, before himself coming on to bowl their no. 4. Whalers were in the ascendancy, and with Dean partnering Josh at the other end in a spin-twin combination, the pressure continued to build on Village CC. Runs were beginning to dry up and for a period, the batters were content on survival. Dean bowled Bilal and amid the sternest of fine-threats, Matt held his nerve to take a catch to dismiss Anna, Village’s female No. 7 bat who had done well holding up an end for several overs.

However, with overs running out, and only 70-odd on the board, the incoming Giles realised that his side needed to up the scoring rate, and he and Troja, who had hitherto dealt mostly in singles, proceeded to take on the 3rd change pair of Viren (who had finally made it) and Nick (off a shortened run), neither of whom bowled badly. The partnership began to push the field back and was able to take Village past the hundred mark to finish at 111/6. As they walked off, the Whalers had that nagging feeling that 111 was not as bad a score as it first looked.

By now, the Kings House party music was ratcheting up, perhaps in expectation of a momentous finish. Almost prophetic. After a short break for drinks and sandwiches, Dean and Pip walked out to start the Whalers reply. They began steadily, with Giles in particular bowling accurately, and the slow pitch producing the occasional low-bounce, but with the required run rate at 3 per over, the pair proceeded steadily, taking the ones, twos and extras on offer to stay slightly ahead of the rate, until the first change bowler offered Dean two waist-high full tosses in an over, which were both promptly dispatched over the long cow-corner boundary for 6. This took the Whalers to 52-0 and comfortably ahead of the required rate with all wickets in hand. However, the first slip up came when the other first change bowler slid a first-ball loosener down the leg-side only for Pip to glance a catch through to the keeper for 10. There was no cause for alarm at this stage however, as Fraser joined Dean at the crease to unleash a fine off-drive for four, while Dean at the other end was also finding the change bowlers easier to score off. He passed 50, although failed to hear / refused to acknowledge the applause from the boundary. He and Fraser took the score on to 79-1, before Kalper, after a slightly inconsistent first spell, returned from the other end to have Fraser LBW for 6. This then unfortunately sparked an old-school Whalers collapse that threatened to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Ross dragged on for a duck, before Dean was forced to trudge off, furious at himself, after pulling a long-hop from the rejuvenated Kalper into the grateful hands of square-leg. Geoff got turned around and caught a leading edge to point for 2, before the promoted Nick was adjudged LBW for 4. Nerves were jangling on the Whalers bench but the carnage was not complete. Matt fell into the same trap as Dean and turned the ball straight to square leg, to give Kalper his 5th wicket of the innings, while Viren sadly came and went without troubling the scorers, after offering up a catch off Abi. 79-1 had all too quickly crumbled to 97-8 and defeat now looked ominously close, with the remaining 15 runs required seeming like a much steeper hill than it otherwise would, with momentum firmly back with Village CC.

However, with pressure mounting, Josh and Suhaib started to pierce the field and pushed the score beyond 100 to apply some pressure back on the opposition. In the end, the pair made it look easy as Village CC, with Kalper bowled out, ran out of momentum, and the winning single was greeted with enthusiastic and relieved cheers from the Whalers bench. Ultimately, a tough, hard-fought victory that probably should have been more comfortable, but a win is still a win, as they say.

Village CC – 111/6 (35 overs)

Whalers CC – 112/8 (D Johnston 58)

Whalers win by 2 wickets

Champagne: Suhaib hitting the winning runs, much to Whalers’s relief

Muppet: Viren, for arriving more than an hour after the start of the match

MoM:  Josh: Tight bowling for 4-1-7-2, a fine tumbling catch at mid-on and a vital 9* to help Whalers over the finishing line