Salix thriller: Part trois

Whalers CC Vs Salix CC, Harlington , 21st July 2013 (35 Overs)

 Whalers win by 10 Runs

The Whalers have enjoyed some superb matches against Salix over the years and in particular the last two had been thrillingly close encounters with the Whale finding a way to snatch an unlikely victory out of their hands. This latest instalment played under a fiercely hot sun was no different.

Winning the toss Rich elected to bat but raised some eyebrows with his choice to promote James Gould the full length of the lineup  from 11 to 1. James and Khalil started steadily for the Whalers (worth noting at this point that despite arriving very early for the game usual opener Pip had decided to go for a romantic pub lunch and arrived at the ground only as the match started). The salix bowling was accurate in the main and Gouldy went caught behind for 4, Khalil made some good progress, mainly dealing in 4’s thanks to aggressive fields and the lightning fast outfield.

Dan came in 3 and made a decent 15 but after him and Khalil (a stylish 23) had departed things were looking slightly perilous at 60/3. Enter Pip English and Matt Boucher, Pip (43) has been reliable all season and Matt seems to be in excellent form. The two of them increased the run rate and looked steady. Matt made a top scoring and highly useful 57 before being bowled and then JT was run out (strop, stropier & stroppiest) off his 4th ball for 8. There followed a fairly typical whalers collapse with Nick Howes contributing 13 from No.10 to get the Whalers up to 198, very nearly the 200 that was reckoned to be a par score. It was noted that the with most of the runs coming from the top order and single figures below, for once the scorecard looked like a “proper” one.

Every week Khalil says he won’t be able to play only to volunteer when we are short of players. Playing in this heat (well over 30 at nearby Heathrow) without any food during Ramadan is a great feat. Bowling 7 tight overs on the bounce at the top of the innings (7-1-17-1) is easily overlooked but once again he delivered for the Whale. With Nick bowling 4 fast and threatening overs at the other end Salix made a very slow start to chasing 199 to win. With Ben Blane contined to keep things tight they were going at less than 4 an over after the first 15.

Ominously however they had only lost 2 wickets and old adversaries CK1 and Salix captain Padders were still at the crease (despite a very confident appeal for a caught behind which the whole team went up for). These two hung around and were then able to take advantage of the change bowling, Rich and Kamal going for over a run a ball in their spells. They seemed to be well in control of the contest and trying for a breakthrough with English and Gould having a bowl only made matters worse. With the run rate very managable and 8 wickets still left Nick H came back into the attack to have one last go at breaking the partnership and with some more fast and accurate bowling (the beers seemed to have helped) he got rid of both of them for 74 and 75 finishing with figures of 7-3-12-3. The game was suddenly back up for grabs with them needing around 20 off the last 3 overs; crucially Nick had no overs left to bowl.

Thankfully for Whalers Ben Blane continued to bowl with accuracy, Rich came back for one over and picked up a wicket and the new batsmen just couldn’t get the ball away for boundaries. Perhaps it was the pressure of the previous two defeats but suddenly the Salix challenge fell away and the Whalers won by 10 runs with only 1 run coming from the final Blane over.
The Whalers celebrated wildly and asked themselves how they had won once again. Salix took the defeat in typical good grace and the cold drinks in the pub as the sun set were even more satisfying than usual.
WHALERS 198 (33.2) beat Salix 188/5 (35) by 10 Runs

MUPPET MOMENT                  
Pip going for a romantic pub lunch as the game started
Kamal Hook for 4
              Nick Howes (13 & 7-3-12-3)