Whalers CC lost by 6 wickets
Whalers Match Report v Lemmings 12th July 2009.
It was a brave and committed Whalers XI that made the early start and journey up the M40 in time for an 11:30 start to the match against the Lemmings at the Queens College Sports Ground, in Oxford. As was the opposition’s wont, the match was a timed affair, ensuring that any Whalers who were not exhausted beforehand, were sure to be by the end of a gruelling day’s cricket.
In reality, the Whalers’ chances were further hampered by a series of chronic injuries to players prior to the match: some were age-related wear and tear, others were due to reckless driving (Whalers ex-pat and Number 11, James Gould had flown in especially, but had damaged some ribs while ramming another Go-Cart in an escapade likely to yield a severe reprimand from the Whalers management).
In the event, morning rain and faff from both sides meant the start was pushed back to 12pm. Dan lost the toss, but much to everyone’s initial relief, the Whalers were inserted, thereby giving hope of avoiding a lengthy few sessions in the field. However, such relief proved short-lived as the Lemmings bowlers showed their local knowledge well, by extracting considerable bounce off a good length, despite the underlying moisture and brittleness of the surface.
The result was that the Whalers’ scorecard began to unerringly resemble that of England’s own scorecard in Cardiff, as they fought to save the First Ashes Test. The openers were unable to build a platform, as Khalil was bowled for 2 and Al popped up a catch for 15. James M played some unorthodox but effective shots but managed to provoke the opposition into some unwanted sledging when he refused to walk after being “caught” behind off his forearm. He stayed in to make a valiant 18, before falling to a leg-side trap, to be caught. Unfortunately, the trickle of wickets continued as a chaotic mix-up between Pip and Roland resulted in the former being run-out for 9. Roland himself departed soon after, but Paul M and Si began to repair the damage, with some well- timed shots against the Lemmings spinners who were less able to extract the same venom from the pitch as the quicker bowlers.
A hearty lunch (particularly memorable for some quality sausages) was taken with the Whalers’ score at an unappetising 60-odd for 5 and much more work to be done.
Paul and Si recommenced their reparations, but a “head-in-clouds” moment and some sharp work behind the stumps accounted for Si. When Matt joined Paul however, the runs finally began to flow for the Whalers, dragging the score beyond three figures and towards the realms of respectability. Paul eventually holed-out to mid-on for a fine, counter-attacking 36, and with Clippy and Gouldybattling through the pain of their injuries to help Matt continue the recovery, the Whalers achieved a vaguely respectable 160 all out. Matt extended his fine run with the bat, finishing on 33 not out. However, this could not hide the fact that it was another below-par batting performance from the Whalers top-order, leaving the Lemmings plenty of time to get the runs.
During the lunch interval, it had become clear that one of the Lemmings’ tidy opening bowlers was none other than London Irish Fullback and former Brisbane 1st Grade cricketer, Peter Hewat. In true Aussie all-round-sporting-supremo style, he now came out to open the batting as well, albeit only for a limited time, as he had another engagement to attend with his wife. In any case, he made it clear that he wished to make the most of his limited time out in the middle by launching the first delivery he faced – a good length ball from Paul – a long, long way over the long cow-corner boundary for 6. What followed was a self-styled cameo of powerful, technically brilliant cricket shots, including one fine front-foot push for 6, back over Matt’s head, off a ball that was a good yard short of being a half-volley. His double-quick 29no was only ended by the clock, as a bemused and respectful Whalers team hid their relief well at seeing the back of such a quality player.
After this opening tirade, the Lemmings managed to tick along quite comfortably, despite some fine, tight bowling from Matt and Paul. Matt made two valuable breakthroughs by inducing two false shots off the back-foot that were both well-caught by Pip at gulley. However, there were few other alarms, and despite some energetic work in the field from the Whalers, Lemmings passed the 100 mark still with 8 wickets in hand.
Something had to be changed and so stand-in wicketkeeper/captain, Dan, managed to coax the ever-reliable Khalil out of bowling retirement for a spell from the far end. Almost inevitably, the runs began to dry up for the Lemmings as Khalil produced another fine accurate and quick spell of bowling. He produced a real jaffa to dismiss the Lemmings number 4, getting the ball to seam back in off the pitch and hit off stump.
Dan further gambled by bringing on leg-spin from the other end and (after a substantial helmet-faff behind the stumps), the captain was swiftly rewarded when Pip bowled the Lemmings number 5 around his legs in his first over. At 120-4, there was just about a chance of an unlikely victory for the Whalers. However, despite Dan bringing himself on, with Si competently taking over the wicket-keeping duties, no further breakthroughs were achieved, and the Lemmings comfortably rolled over the finishing line with 6 wickets to spare.
All in all, the timed format of the match served to highlight the deficiencies in the Whalers’ ability to build solid foundations and partnerships with the bat. It was the failure to place a high enough price on their wickets that let the side down, for despite a battling, whole-hearted display in the field, 160 all out well before tea was a below-par performance.
With the formalities of their own match over, the Whalers swiftly migrated to within earshot of various car-radios to listen to the thrilling climax to the First Test in Cardiff, where the dogged resilience of Paul Collingwood, Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar saved the match. The Whalers however, could only reflect that it was this kind of grit that they themselves would require if they were to return to winning ways.
Whalers: 160 a.o.
Lemmings: 161 for 4
Man of the match: Paul Mildon
Champagne moment: Khalil’s bowled
Muppet moment: Si’s cod piece for bowling marker aberration