Poor directions from the skipper, more than the overcast conditions, were the cause of the slightly delayed start against White Swan Public House CC. A range of Whalers made season debuts in Richmond Old Deer Park at the expense of several players who had already fallen foul of the new ruthless selection policy – Osbourn, Dickenson and Osgood all dropped.
Stuart Terrell stolled out to open the batting with Will Vanderpump. Paul Mildon had lost the toss and we had been put into bat on a pitch barely distinguishable from the rest of the park. Older Whalers than myself had told me this pitch was the scene of a couple of heavy defeats in days gone by – could the class of 2006 do any different?
Vanderpump fell early on in his return to Whalers action – an ill-advised cut at a rising ball saw him caught behind for 2. Terrell was joined at the wicket by Bayne – wicketkeeper batsman in the mould of Adam Gilchrist. After a couple of “streaky” early boundaries, he too fell victim to the vagaries of the wicket and was bowled. Phil Brown came in at number four – later than planned due to his late arrival. He was bowled – the backspin off a solid forward-defensive being his downfall. At 30 for 3, the situation was delicate.
Stuart had been building on his solid start while wickets fell at the other end. He was joined by Piers and the recovery began. Seeing off the consistent White Swan attack, Stuart mixed solid defence and punishment of the bad ball to construct an excellent 41. 8 boundaries in this knock including some crunching drives – a brave effort to get forward on the wicket. Piers set the tone for his 37 with a big early six over deep square. He perished caught in the deep soon after Stuart – together the pair had put on 60. The Whalers were done by Nelson as Rich Giles was bowled for 9 – 111 for 6. Geoff hit a thumping boundary but was bowled soon after. Fortunately dangerous lower-order player Ed Kirkness came up with the goods once again hitting some cracking fours in a much-needed 28. He was ably supported by the captain, batting his way to 10 (not out) and no doubt a fine end of season average. Clippy was saving himself for future exertions in the field by refusing all singles as he “chased” late runs with the skipper.
157 – a good total in the conditions thought the Whalers as we enjoyed an enormous tea. Even Ed allowed the opposition to share some sandwiches. Vigorous fielding drills followed.
Khalil opened the bowling down the 45 degree slope. Bowling accurately but without luck he gave the White Swan opener an uncomfortable opening over. Geoff took on the upslope and immediately did some damage in a double wicket maiden. He put the ball in the right place and let the pitch do the rest – both bowled. Khalil steamed in for another maiden and the pressure was on. Khalil reaped his rewards in his following over with 2 more Swans clean bowled. Middle stump was taking a battering. No doubt some of the oppowere paying their “head in clouds” fines later. Where was their Whalers-like discipline? By the way – while I am on the subject, I am sure fines were only 20p before I went away….25% inflation?!
Meanwhile, Geoff bowled another beauty to have their dangerous-looking opener neatly caught in the gully by Piers. The bowler was now so pumped up he even attempted to bowl while the keeper was at square leg. After another Khalil wicket, White Swan were 22 for 7. Disgusted by the poor showing of our opening pair, the skipper brought himself and Clipsham on. More pressure was immediately exerted when Clippy produced a nice delivery up the hill to have number 7 caught behind. The skipper laid in a few overs later with yet another clean-bowled. At 48 for 8, the Whalers minds turned to other things – either the potential for 2 hours of traffic on the way home or they were hypnotised by Al Dickenson’s laps of the boundary. Either way things slipped for a few overs.
The White Swan skipper, modestly in at number 10 started stroking the ball around well. He punished anything loose (and not-so-loose) and the once-distant 158 target was looking ever closer. Down the road, England were letting Sri Lanka off the hook – it couldn’t happen twice could it?! Heads started to dip a bit. A couple of tough caught and bowled chances went down and the ball was dispatched all over. A run out opportunity was missed as Olly knocked over the bails with his nuts. The openers came back on, but to no avail. With the Swans within 9 runs of our total, the skipper earned his money. Morgan was called into the attack and his first ball swerved, dipped, bounced and eventually cannoned into the wicket. Victory! Sri Lanka tourists partied to Yazz and the Plastic Population (The Only Way Is Up) in the dressing rooms – what goes on tour should certainly stay on tour if you ask me.
It was closer than it should have been, but we did face their best batsmen lower down their order. We certainly used the same conditions better. The fact that 8 of our wickets taken were bowled showed how well the bowlers had taken the pace off and put the ball in the right place. We had batted well – hitting the bad ball and Stuart and Piers were both patient and wisely respected this interesting pitch at all times. Good effort.
MOTM – Geoff (great bowling)
Champagne – Geoff (double wicket maiden)
Muppet – Geoff (bowling without keeper)
Whalers 157 all out (35 overs). Terrel 41; Morgan 37; Kirkness 28; Mildon 10 n.o.
White Swan – 148 all out (27.1 overs). Ahmed 7 overs, 2 maidens, 3 for 26; Judd 7 overs 2 maidens 4 for 25; Mildon 6 overs 1 for 34; Clipsham 5 overs 1 for 35.