Whalers CC lost by 3 wickets
A desperate panic to find a pitch, followed by another to find enough players ensured the Whalers would have an opportunity to play one final match of the season and to maintain our 100% record versus West XI (albeit based on one close match the previous season). We headed up toBerkhampstead on a rare fine summers day keen to end the season on a high. Duncs won the toss, chose to bat, and with no regular openers available, chose to take on the duty along with Rich (modelling the latest in Whaler’s kit).
After instructing his batsmen to take their time and build innings, Duncs showed just what he meant, granting immediate respect to the opening bowler with a classic defensive shot to start. That was it though. End of the over and Whalers had reached 11, and with Rich back to form after a quiet season with the bat, the Whalers had probably our best opening partnership of the season. A mixture of expansive drives, pull shots, heaves, and elegant cut shots, Rich and Duncs motored the score along at 6 runs an over. The partnership eventually broke in the 11th over with the score on 60;Duncs playing the ball onto himself and then watching the ball trickle onto the stumps and dislodge a bail. Still, 34 off 33 balls had given the Whalers just the start they needed.
Ollie came in next, and after a patient start, played a couple of cracking drives while Rich moved steadily on towards his second Whalers 50. It wasn’t to be though, as the head came up and he was caught for 39. Still, we had 85 on board after just 15 overs, and had another 20 to build a commanding total. Khalil was promoted to fourth in the order and kept up the momentum, but it was the dismissal of Ollie (bowled with a swish and miss) that brought about the turn in the innings and the scoring slowed. Some comedy horror running saw both Phil and Khalil at the same end but dubious fielding gave the batsmen a reprieve. Khalil then lofted a catch (for 25) and Ben joined Phil in the middle. A series of dropped catches allowed both batsmen extra lives, but when Phil was caught for 15, wickets began to fall. Debutant Channa hammered his first ball for four but was bowled trying to repeat it 2nd ball while Ads fired some quick runs before being caught for 12. This brought in James, who promptly ran out Ben for 16 and Dan for 1. The innings ended with the score on 175, disappointing after the start from the openers.
After a high quality savoury tea, Dan and James sought to take early wickets, with the latter taking a sharp caught & bowled to his left to dismiss one of the openers. However catches began to drop, edges streaked through gaps, runs started flowing off the bat and the bane of the Whalers season (wides) continued in full flow. Dan then cast his biking holiday in doubt with an arm/back injury forcing him to come off mid-over and worryingly handing the ball to skipper Duncs (who responded admirably with two dot balls). Rich and Khalil came on to bowl first change, and while the runs continued to flow, Khalil produced a beauty to raise Whalers’ spirits. Kamal, on at 2nd change, then bowled an awesome wicket maiden in his first over to leave West XI on 69 for 3.
That was about as good as it got though and before we knew it, West XI had built a good partnership and begun to close in on our total. Kamal eventually grabbed another wicket ending a 48 run partnership and finishing with four overs, two wickets for 24. Ads tried his luck and was unlucky as a couple of catches fell just out of reach, while Channa was denied a wicket first ball as another catch fell. Another partnership got going and Dan (now partially recovered) and James were brought back on to try and wrestle the game back. Dan took one wicket courtesy of a good catch from Kamal, but at the other end, the West XI skipper began to smack the ball and carry the game away. By the time James bowled him, West XI needed just 20 to win. Rich managed one final wicket, but the remaining batsmen held on and their 14 year-old all rounder scored the winning runs.
A great game played in the right spirits but sadly for the Whalers, not the result we wanted to end another great fun season.
Whalers CC 175 – Rich 39, Duncs 34
West XI CC 176-7 – Kamal 2-24, James 2-43
Man of the match: Khalil 25 runs 1-8 off 4.5 overs (despite fasting)
Champagne moment: James’ caught & bowled
Muppet moment: Phil and Khalil’s “to me to you” comedy running