After much email debate during the week, the Whalers gathered for the first match of the 2007 season in sunny Chiswick. At first sight it looked that Duncs’ preparations for his full debut as captain had been as thorough as painting white arrows on the path to make sure that no team members got lost on the way from Barnes Bridge station. However, on arrival it turned out that this was because half the ground had been taken over by “It’s a Knockout”, which seemed to involve drunk people running around on bouncy castles to the accompaniment of very loud bad Europop. What with the music and the weather it felt a bit like playing at Galle, except that this time it wasn’t the Whalers who would lose by 200 runs…
Duncs maintained his 100% record as a tosser and the Whalers were batting. The start was steady, with most of our runs coming from Mr Extras, until Oz was fired LBW by Dan, and Pip (on Whalers debut) departed for 15. This brought together Ollie and Al, and after a bit of early wafting they decided that attack was the best form of defence and a century partnership took the score onto 170 before Al was bowled for 36. By now Ollie was middling the ball beautifully, and he accelerated on to reach his second Whalers ton (at better than a run a ball) before finally falling for 104. At this point we looked set for a huge total, but with the exception of Khalil (27 not out) things fell away slightly and we eventually finished on a still impressive 257 for 7 from our 40 overs.
Much of the pre-match email debate had focused on the bowlers’ (in)ability to bowl straight, with dire warnings of “one-over spells” if it all went wrong. Whether the Saracens openers were aware of this and had been lulled into a false sense of security we do not know, but Khalil’s first ball cannoned into off-stump, the second ball into middle, and the Saracens were 0 for 2 after 2 balls. With the Whalers on the attack, we even saw a catch at second slip with Gouldy producing an offspring-saving catch off Dan. The bowling continued to be very tight and more wickets followed including catches from Ollie and Pip, and after 10 overs the Saracens had reached 17 for 7 – with 3 wickets for Khalil and 4 for Dan.
With one jug for Ollie’s ton already waiting in the bar, Duncs decided that he’d seen enough from his opening bowlers, and so turned to Clippy and James to finish things off. However, the tail wagged a bit (aided by the usual contribution/contributor of overthrows) until Clippy roughed them up before bowling a couple of them. The only remaining question then was whether James could get in on the act and take the last wicket. Despite vocal encouragement from his housemates (for the batsmen), the answer was “no” – with the loudest celebration of the day coming from Rich after bowling the No11. With the Whalers winning by 197 runs, we retreated to the bar to dole out all the new kit fines and teach James not to bring the Gould family testicle-coloured box to matches in future.
Whalers CC 257 for 7 – Ollie 104, Mr Extras 47, Al 36, Khalil 27*
Saracen Riffs 60 all out – Dan 4 for 6, Khalil 3 for 5 (both from 5 overs); Clippy 2 for 17, James 0 for 16
Man of the match: Ollie
Champagne moment: Gouldy’s catch
Muppet moment: Phil having to wear someone else’s sweaty jockstrap