20 August: Whalers win by 44 runs
The Whalers bandwagon rolled back into an overcast Chiswick looking to build on our winning run against the Strollers. To be on the safe side, absent captain Ads had picked 8 all-rounders (9 if you count Big Al – he does) and had arranged for us to meet an hour before the oppo arrived. To be on the even safer side, Ed decided to arrive 30 minutes before then, just in case there was excessive Sunday traffic in the Barnes Bridge area…
Anyway, stand-in skipper Paul M won the toss and we were batting, against a slightly unfamiliar-looking Strollers line-up. However, in tricky conditions we failed to cope with their accurate opening bowlers and were soon struggling at 21 for 3, with all our “specialist batsmen” back for some quality time with their team-mates – Oz still grumbling about his caught-behind decision, Phil still nursing his hangover, and Al still dreaming fondly of Sarah (or possibly Sally, or possibly both of them) from the previous night. Dario, Piers and Geoff led a mini-recovery, but the Strollers change bowlers were also pretty handy – and once Dario had gone for 20 and Geoff for 19 (mainly through cow corner) we were in real trouble at 81 for 7 from 23 overs.
However, as we’ve shown in previous years, the Whalers bat all the way down, and some determined hitting from Khalil and tedious fence-building from Dan meant that slowly but steadily we began to build a total. After a stand of 56 and with only a few overs to go, Khalil got caught on the charge for an excellent 42. A mixture of swishing and late cuts from the skipper (as well as a glorious 1-bounce cover drive for 4) added another 17, and Gouldy’s tip and run from the last ball meant that we’d seen out the overs and doubled our score to a grand total of 162 – the teatime consensus was that this was definitely defendable.
Once all the chocolate mini-rolls had been eaten, the skipper’s inspirational team-talk consisted mainly of pointing out that we had loads of bowlers and that anyone who bowled pies would get taken off. This supportive man-management style clearly worked, as steady stuff from James (12 runs from 7 overs) and Dan (21 runs from 7 overs), backed by excellent ground fielding, got us off to a good start. However, the skipper had unfortunately failed to issue a similar threat about our catching, as several (generally quite difficult) chances went down throughout the day. But with the run-rate creeping up, Khalil and Paul M continued to keep the pressure on and both picked up a deserved wicket each (Khalil 1 for 21 from 7, Paul 1 for slightly more than that).
With the Strollers needing about 50-odd from the last 7 overs (but still with 8 wickets in hand), the skipper brought on Ed to bowl yorkers and Geoff to bowl bouncers. Both tactics worked immediately, with Ed bowling 2 batsmen in his first over (including with an alleged off-break which apparently spun about a foot) and Khalil taking a good catch on the boundary off Geoff. As the Strollers were forced to hit out, more wickets inevitably fell, with Piers picking up 3 catches, Ed getting 4 wickets (and only denied a 5-for by dropping a catch off his own bowling) and Geoff 2. Ultimately the Whalers ran out winners by 44 runs (or possibly 34, depending on how you add the scorebook up): a deserved result from an excellent team performance, with our strength in depth and accurate bowling (backed by excellent field-placings, and without the usual 30 free runs in wides/no-balls) probably the key factors.
Whalers: 162 for 9 from 35 overs – Khalil 42, Dario 20
Strollers: 118 for 8 from 35 overs – Ed 4 for 16, Geoff 2 for 11
Man of the match: Khalil for vital runs and good bowling (honourable mention for Ed)
Champagne moment: Ed’s fiercely-spinning off-break
Muppet moment: Gouldy’s 5 wides down the leg-side