Cricketers Club CC vs Whalers CC, Richmond, 12th August 2023
After a drubbing from Octopus CC the previous week, Whalers made a trip to Richmond on a Saturday to face The Cricketers. With decent weather and the nearby bars buzzing with activity from a Lionesses world cup victory and a following England Wales encounter in nearby Twickenham, there was a more than decent crowd to watch Whalers overcome their batting woes from previous encounters at this venue. Was this going to be the case?
For a change, every Whaler was on time, as rewards in the form of batting higher up the order were promised to Nirmal in exchange of his timely appearance. Captain Russell lost the toss and Whalers were put into the field. Losing the toss was not a bad outcome as Whalers didn’t know what to expect from a council park pitch. Sangamesh and Rohan opened the bowling and it was apparent quiet early that the pitch will have a major say in the outcome of this game. With balls keeping low, the Cricketers’ openers resorted to stepping out and playing on front foot to negate the pitch. Sangamesh provided the first break through by trapping the opener in front of the wickets. Meanwhile Rohan continued bowling consistent lines and keeping it tight at the other end. The Cricketers no. 2 and 3 started taking a liking for Sangamesh’s bowling, taking him apart for boundaries. Rohan finally got a reward for his consistent bowling as he bowled the opener for 28. Nirmal was brought into the attack and started bowling accurate lines with fierce pace and bodyline bowling at times, even injuring Whalers keeper Geoff in the process. Nirmal was rewarded for his toil as he removed the dangerous looking number 4.
Saurabh started with an expensive over but soon found his rhythm and struck twice to remove Cricketers number 3 and 5 batsman. At drinks, Whalers were looking in control and confident of winding up the Cricketers under 130. Russell brought himself into the attack and struck immediately with a controversial LBW decision. The Cricketers batsman was not amused with the decision and this was to be the first of many controversial umpiring decisions on the day. Soon Russell was denied a LBW opportunity, which seemed closer than the previous LBW given out.
Similar to the umpiring, Whalers fielding was also not up to par. A series of misfields on the boundary and overthrows gave the Cricketers lower order the opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking. Dan nursing an injury, bowled an accurate line with a shortened run-up to keep the scoring low. Will and Raman were handed the ball to finish off the proceedings. Both dismissed a batsman each in their first over to bring the last Cricketers pair on the crease with the score around 120. Cricketers looked unlikely to play out the full quota of 35 overs, but the last pair of Abhi and Rash had some other ideas. Abhi started accumulating boundaries and Rash holding one end dented any chances of Whalers advantage. They added 40 runs for the last wicket, taking the score to 159. It was clear that this was more than a defendable score given the variable bounce in the pitch.
It was decided to have tea after the game (more on that later), which meant a quick turn around for Whalers openers to start the chase. With Whalers batsman used to playing on the consistent pitches of King’s House and Barn Elms this season, chasing 159 on this pitch was going to be a challenge. Amit Kushy and his latest recruit Mathew went out to open the innings.
Amit started the innings strong, punishing any bad balls for boundaries. Meanwhile young Mathew was watchful, but soon got out for a duck on his Whalers debut. Raman went in at 3, and started ticking the scoreboard with his enthusiastic running. Meanwhile Amit continued his boundary hitting spree, not missing out on any scoring opportunities. The Whale was floating comfortably at this point with both batsmen looking in good touch. But this was about to change.
Amit got unlucky, with a ball keeping surprisingly low and hitting him on the pads ending his innings on 26. Raman soon edged one to the keeper, departing the crease in disbelief over being given out by Russell. He later found out that it was indeed a correct decision. Nirmal and Dan, both promoted up the order, tried to salvage the innings. But Dan was given out LBW by Sangamesh, with the ball missing the wickets by a big margin. Nirmal, playing his natural game, got bowled, playing one shot too many. What followed was another classic Whalers collapse. Geoff, Will, Saurabh and Rohan all failed to trouble the scorers. The bowling duo of Rash and Taker made full use of pitch bowling consistent lines. From 37-1, Whalers found themselves 54-9. Russell hit a boundary and extras(14) chipped in as well to take the score to 64 before Taker got his 5th wicket of the day and ending the misery for Whalers.
Some newer Whalers were worried that this might be the lowest ever total for Whalers. But our in-house statistician Geoff reassured them that it was comfortably above the record lowest score of 26. Finally, it was time for tea. An unusual tea session ensued with delicacies like spicy chicken, egg cutlets, fried potatoes and other finger food was served. The whole set-up reminded some of the Whalers of an Indian wedding buffet. Following the trend from the previous week, Nirmal suggested skipping the fines session and giving each Whalers fine of 5£. A fun fine session followed, but Nirmal did get his wish for an almost 5£ fine.
Overall, a game of cricket played in good spirit with The Cricketers using the home advantage well to turn out the clear winners. Whalers will look to turn things around in their familiar setting of King’s House for their last home game of the season.
Man of the match: Extras for scoring 14
Champagne Diet coke moment: Raman getting a batsman stumped by Geoff
Muppet moment: Nirmal for his ‘airplane’ misfielding on the boundary.
Match Report by Raman Preet Singh