Whalers CC vs London Rams – 15th July 2007

Whalers CC won by 157 runs

The weather forecast had been changing by the day leading up to the match, ranging from blue sky and sunshine to rain, rain, rain – so we were pleased to arrive at the pitch on a warm dry day…but there were clouds on the horizon (that’s not a metaphor for how the match was going to go, there really were clouds on the horizon).

35 overs each way was agreed with the oppo and Ollie won the toss so we prepared to bat. The Rams were struggling to get 11 on the field so two of our guys joined them until their late-comers arrived to take them to 10.

Dario and Pip started us off against an opening bowling attack that, to be fair, had as much teeth as my grandmother. The pitch was very slow and surprisingly true (to start with) and some may say that the run rate could have been higher if the batsmen had swung the bat more freely, but the openers did their job to conserve wickets and keep the scoreboard ticking over nicely. The change in bowling brought on the Rams’ captain who was a little sharper, and a handy off spinner at the other end. The combination turned out to be fruitful for the Rams. Pip was going well and looking comfortable until on 20 runs he was unlucky to be caught and bowled by a Dwayne-Leverock-style dive by the bowler to take an outstanding one-handed catch. Ollie strode up to the crease with his usual self-assurance but succumbed quickly to an LBW decision after the first bad bounce of the match. The ball kept low and the umpire’s finger went high.

It was only a couple of overs later that Dario was also fired LBW for 30 runs, giving the Rams’ captain his second wicket. This brought Ed into play who, true to form, whacked two boundaries and was out. This was starting to look all too familiar to the Whalers as we’d lost 4 wickets in 5 overs after a good start…and it was drizzling. But a major collapse it wasn’t to be.

Our debutant Simon had a nervous start but was playing well, and with Toby as his partner slapping the boundaries at the other end our concerns were dispelled. A cross-batted straight six was Toby’s shot of the day but he should have played straight to the one that bowled him, out for a quick-fire 22.

The pitch was mis-behaving now after some play and continuous drizzle with balls skimming through and flying up, but our batsmen held firm. Si went on to get a great 65 and our “tail” wagged well. Today we could bat all the way down, which slightly confused the oppo as one of them asked Jim “when does your tail start?”…”this is it!” he replied. Jiff took a few balls to get his mind out of Kazakhstan and on the cricket but him, Khalil and Jim all had little problem in seeing out the final overs in fine fashion. Jim’s delightful off drive and Jiff’s massive cow-corner six were the pick of the shots during that session and Khalil managed to upset the bowler by backing up too hard, twice.

In an effort to squeeze as many runs out of the final over Khalil skied one to be caught with only one ball to go. Paul came out to calls of “run him out Jim and you’ll get man of the match!”, but it was a dot ball and that was that. A total of 239, including 7 sixes (Whalers record?).

Teas were interrupted by some guy on a motor-cross bike pulling wheelies across the park while standing on his seat at about 40mph (no exaggeration). At first we were concerned about his first pass cutting up the square, but concern turned to glee as on his second pass he wiped-out! We probably should have been more concerned for his well-being, but I think he’ll have nothing more than a sore back-side and it was incredibly funny to watch him sheepishly try and re-start his bike again.

Our focus turned to cricket once again and as we started fielding practice the sky started to clear and the sun came out.

Dan and Paul opened the bowling and started where the batting had left off. Dan was really putting his back into it at one end and Paul was probing away at the other. The bowling was backed up with some sharp fielding (apart from Paul’s comedy diving at the boundary) and the batsmen never really looked comfortable. Dan soon got the break through with an LBW decision and Ed’s bravery to stand at short square leg paid off as another sharp ball into the body from Dan had the batsman in all sorts of trouble and he scooped one up off his gloves. Dan took three wickets in all and his final one was by far the sweetest. Their no4 batsman strode out to the crease with confidence, threw down one of his gloves and grabbed one of the bails. He then spent what seemed an eternity marking out his guard, putting his kit back on and surveying the field. Bowled second ball.

Jim and Khalil also bowled and kept up the standard that the openers had set. Jim took a wicket with his first ball and matched Dan’s three in all. Jiff also had a bowl – with his mind still in China he managed two beamers and two wickets in one over. It’s fair to say that the Rams didn’t really put up much of a fight. Their number one batsman stayed around for a bit, and was dropped twice, but he was their highest scorer on 28. Only one other batsman got into double figures and four of them had ducks. Jim and Dan each took three wickets, Jiff 2 and Paul 1.

The scoreline would suggest that the Rams had fielded a much weaker side today. Maybe their bowling could have been sharper, but I don’t think their batting line-up was as bad as the figures suggest, and that was due to our relentless bowling attack. It was a truly professional performance from the Whalers that will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season.

Match stats:

Whalers CC 239 – Si 65, ?

London Rams 82 all out

Man of the match:                 Dan – pick of the bowlers who won us the match, quick and aggressive (Si gets honourable mention for half century on debut)

Champagne moment:           biker

Muppet moment:                   Dan – taking out their No4 batsman’s off stump on the second ball

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