Whalers win by 2 wickets
Elthorne: 124 for 9 (35 overs)
Whalers: 125 for 8 (34.3 overs)
With the Indian summer extending to early September we arrived at Chiswick for the annual tryst with old rivals Elthorne. After a somewhat lethargic attempt at fielding practice and with more time being taken over the discussions of Duncs recent nuptials than a pitch inspection we were coerced by Rich to take the field and start bowling.
Coming into the game Dan still had desires on the leading wicket takers trophy but was up against his main rival Matt. In addition this was Dan’s last game of the season so we were fully expecting to see a day of line, length, swing, seam and bounce. A variety of quality bowling to knock up 10 wickets and take the challenge to the wire. We certainly got variety from long hops to wides and very occasionally wide long hops. However with some lenient umpiring and good fielding Matt and Dan were able to keep Elthorne in check in their early wicketless spell.
Rich, looking for inspiration turned to the old head of Mildon who finally got the breakthrough bowling their opener “through the gate”, Dan then had the other opener launching the ball skywards for Al to call the catch (to be honest though no one else seemed to fancy it)
Whalers continued to keep things tight and the scoring from Elthorne never really had the chance to accelerate although wickets were proving hard to get. Rich was getting restless and turned to Rob and himself. Rob’s deceptive swing and sledging and Rich’s deceptive spin had the desired effect. Rob picking up three clean bowleds and Rich also getting a wicket. This just left Matt enough time to return and pick up 2 late wickets to Dans delight. In the end Elthorne were restricted to 124 all out and tea was taken with confidence.
All Whalers needed was a solid start, no silly wickets and score steadily and we would be fine. Al and Duncs led the line (with Duncs happily recalling the last time they had opened when Al had got a duck). Fortunately the same was not to be repeated here. Some confident batting against good bowling saw Whalers progressing at 4 an over for the opening 8 overs and the lower order believing their work was done for the day. Unfortunately Whalers don’t like to make things easy. Al was out LBW and Elthorne brought on their “change” bowlers.
Faster than an Australian batting collapse we saw maidens, wicket maidens and double wicket maidens as Elthorne bowled very straight, tight and Whalers struggled with the concept. From 61-1 it was suddenly 68-4 with Pip and Stu bagging ducks and Duncs getting bowled for 31. Ben was out soon after sending the skipper to the wicket at 81-5. All we needed was a sensible head to see off the last 40 runs. First shot was a slash for 2 and then Rich was back to tell us what had gone wrong. Fortunately by this stage Elthorne’s bowlers (Paul 1-11 and Chris -11 of 7 overs) had to be changed. This also resulted in the first loose ball for 14 overs a wide long hop which Mildon could surely either leave for a wide or start ticking the scoreboard OR could direct straight to gully. Unfortunately the 3rd option was chosen and it was a suitably awarded muppet moment to bring it to 94-8 with 5 overs remaining
Fortunately Rob and Jon were able to restore some sense of calm and a mixture of aggression and…..no with aggression the score slowly rose with Jon hitting the winning runs with 3 balls to spare.
A hard earned victory somewhat marred by a middle order batting collapse could probably be written as the tagline to most Whalers displays and yet again seems to sum up the day.
Man of the match: Rob Eberstein, 3 wickets at the end of their innings and a cool head with the bat
Champagne moment: Jon Grove, on drive for 4 to relieve pressure in penultimate over
Muppet moment: Paul Mildon out to worst ball of the day (double bouncer)