Whalers win by 16 runs
So, to the final game of a pretty successful season. Well, successful in terms of wins/losses, rather than matches called off, or the nature of some of those losses (less said about Wessex Eagles and Charing Cross Medics, the better).
And to the gorgeous surroundings of Barnes Common, a ground familiar to us this season, which could be absolutely fantastic with a bit of TLC, but struggling for a consistent pitch and a lack of any kind of boards around the outfield, meaning balls getting lost on a regular basis.
Following the most inventive “you couldn’t make this kind of thing up” kit faff (Stu had taken both bags thinking he was going to be playing the match, had to pull out, was then driving them from Cheltenham to Kamal’s house when he was involved in a thankfully minor car crash. His car was taken to the garage where they assured him that he would be able to retrieve them the next morning. However, the garage was shut, so the bags were locked up, inaccessible, halfway between Cheltenham and London).
We managed to find some kit in the changing rooms, and between that and personal gear, we managed to equip ourselves. However, one of the things missing was the scorebook, so this is being written-up referring to Dario’s hastily scribbled, though immaculate notes in his little black book (in the pub later, the Whalers mused on the number of girls’ names and phone numbers that were in the notebook, and also why Dario was really keen to get the book back, after leaving it in the pub with us!).
The Whalers have made a real effort with their pitches this year of finding facilities near public transport, but again the engineers were getting the better of us (South West Trains this time). We were finally all set for a 35 over match with FCO one man down.
Al (48) and Duncs (36) got off to a great start, playing the ball around, though Duncs especially had his fair share of good fortune, finally getting out LBW after giving them ample opportunity to catch him out. Kev went out to bat promising a 100, but had the openers left him enough time? He tried to accelerate, with only 4 singles out of his 34, but was caught on the boundary, perfectly picking out a fielder who had already dropped two. Channa was in next, scored a six, and was then bowled, so we were now 141 for 3. Al followed 17 runs later, just 2 runs short of his 50. This brought Toby (30) to the crease with Dario (21) with 5 overs left. Some big hitting and erratic running later, including Dario’s first ever six in any competitive match of cricket saw Whalers to 210. As had been through before the match, the pitch was ill-prepared with unpredictable bounce (there had been 23 wides, most of these through height), so we really fancied our chances (as long as we could keep the extras down, and take our chances).
Khalil and Blane opened up the bowling, Ben’s new girlfriend turning up to watch him bowl his first over. It’s a shame she didn’t stay longer, as he took a wicket with the first ball of his second over, and again in his third over. Khalil was keeping things tight the other end, with two of his first three overs being maidens. However, Rich made a change, and John took a wicket in his first over. Their scoring rate was slow, and they had reached 55 for 3 at the end of the 12th over. However, the fall of the fourth wicket to John (7/1/46/2) then brought Spychal out to bat to join Croher. They consolidated, and whilst occasionally riding their luck (more on that later), accelerated as Whalers had done earlier, and reached the end of the 30th over at 179 for no further loss, needing just 6 more an over to win.
However, the 31st over was a turning point. Dario, who was already causing problems, got one to turn and take the top of off stump to account for Croher (59) – cue primeval roar! Khalil kept the next over tight and then Dario had Spychal (52) LBW. The total was still gettable, but inexplicably, the FCO number 8, Guest, wandered down the track to his first ball, missed it by miles and was stumped by Toby in his own inimitable style (ie stumps and bails absolutely everywhere). Ben (7/0/24/3) returned to take another wicket and Khalil fittingly took the final wicket to finish with 6.5/4/13/1. FCO finished on 194, meaning that the Whalers had won a pulsating match by 16 runs. A great end to the playing season.
We retired to the Coach and Horses for fines and to ruminate on the season and also Rich’s intentions for Toby. Champagne moment was Dario’s first wicket (especially the roar) – he also was awarded Man of the Match for his valuable contribution with both bat and ball (4/0/23/3) particularly the two key wickets that swung the match back our way. There was a team award for muppet moment, with eight catches being dropped and ‘catchgate’ – a top edge when they were still only four down, for which we thought there were only two players on the pitch who couldn’t have got there (yet it fell harmlessly between us all!). There was an honourable mention for the Whalers’ captain who following the late call-up of Emmerson in place of the aforementioned Terrell, sent him the following text the night before the match:-
“Love you very much peas. Can’t wait to go to south America with you and then make you my wife xxxxxxx”
Now he says it was accidental, but we all saw the way he was wearing that pink cowboy hat on tour.
As the night got longer, we continued drinking at the Coach and Horses, where sharp talking from Duncs may have even secured us sponsorship for next season. Or maybe just free rounds of sambucca. The season finally finished in fitting style with six of the seven remaining Whalers falling asleep in their curries at the Clapham Tandoori, with Kev trying to pester us all into joining him in Be@1 next door.
Whalers: 210 for 6 (35 overs)
FCO: 194 a.o. (33 overs)
Man of the match: Dario Forte
Champagne moment: Dario First wicket
Muppet moment: “Catchgate”