Saturday 20th May, 2006
Venue – Plush taxpayer funded sports centre for part time civil servants
A miracle heralded the Dan Osgood 30th birthday celebration match this weekend, when all 10 Whalers dodged the rain storms to arrive at the ground by the appointed 1pm deadline. More of the fact that only ten Whalers were present later, but the enthusiasm of the team was palpable during a quick change and some unusually lengthy fielding drills as the next low pressure front rapidly approached the ground.
At this point it became clear that we had several problems, with the weather and our missing eleventh surpassed in importance by the absence of our opposition. Hindsight might have suggested that the cause may have been the fact that we were at the wrong pitch, albeit at the right venue, but alas this was not the case.
The skies greyed, the winds picked up, the fielding drills stopped abruptly and the Whalers’ ten contemplated an afternoon drinking Dan into the ground for his 30th, but the opposition began to drift in two by two, and having reached a quorum of 6 meandered to the middle with the Big Man to toss up. A record breaking chat and toss later, and the skipper returned with the rain and the news that he’d refused a request by the oppo to bat and determined that batting in the rain and the wind would afford us the opportunity to show our skills by using the worst of the conditions.
At least the lengthy toss had enabled a further couple of Philistines to find us, and at 2-20pm Oz and Vdp left the comfort of the mud hut for the middle. A first ball beamer indicated the difficulties faced by the Phillies in controlling a wet ball, but it was to be the batsmen who proved unequal to the rain in the face and a tight line by the P’s opening bowler, and three quick caught behinds later (Vdp, Phil who was unhappy with Khalil’s decision, and Oz almost immediately following a change of bat), the Whalers looked sunk at 12-3.
A steady period of rebuilding followed with Big Al and Ed stopping the immediate rot and saw off the end of the days rain, before Ed mistimed his shot and provided a straightforward catch at Square leg.
Al was joined by Rich Giles though and the Whalers came back into the game, with both batsmen looking increasingly assured and laying to rest notions of demons in the pitch. Al reached his 50 in good style and, as he looked to push on as the overs dwindled, perished to a skier for a watchful then classy 60. Gilo continued the onslaught bringing up his own first ever 50 before he too went for one hoik too many and was stumped with a couple of overs to go. Quick cameos from Khalil and Osgood got the Whalers to 171-8, which was respectable given our start and the excruciatingly slow outfield, but perhaps looked 20 short of a good total despite the tail wagging the Whale.
The tea interval had Ed concerned when our erroneous pitch selection was revealed to have resulted in a no show verdict and a no tea result, but the ladies rallied round, and following a short delay, hot dogs and cake were russled up in short order.
Nevertheless, the game was now well behind schedule and it looked likely that the end of the match would be conducted in near darkness if a close finish were to occur.
The Whalers took to the field knowing that a tight display was going to be needed if the total was to be defended, but with plenty of bowling there was a belief that the dwindling light could offset the quickening outfield to keep us in with a shout.
The Phillies openers looked technically sound, but Khalil was in excellent form and gave them nothing, whilst James offered good support at the other end to get us off to a solid start, with the fielders supporting the bowlers as only they could, (i.e. vocally rather than with talent.)
Wickets were needed though if defeat was to be staved off, and a wicket we got with Khalil trapping the opener LBW after having the other opener dropped at slip in the first over and having nonchalantly dropped a caught and bowled chance. After an excellent startKamal and birthday boy were brought into the attack to turn the screw with turn and pace. Kamal produced the usual array of the sublime (a delightful clean bowled demonstrating the beauty of the spinners art) and the ridiculous (two consecutive beamers and the surprise long hop delivery to keep everyone awake), whilst Dan powered in and once again demonstrated that at this level bowling 6 inches outside off stump at 70mph just means a succession of plays and misses and a bruised keeper, and not even hitting the pads in front of the stumps was going to get him a birthday present today, much to his chagrin.
It should be said that although the run rate was creeping up, the batsmen were keeping the scoreboard ticking over and with plenty of wickets in hand, looked just about on top, with the odd bad ball put away smartly and the wide count once again proving the Whalers undoing as 35 overs rapidly approached 40 overs worth of deliveries.
As Dan tired and started firing down the leg side, Gilo and Ed K were brought into the attack for tidy spells incorporating a couple of tough chances and our muppet moment, when Vdp turned to chase a lofted on drive and whilst looking over his shoulder at the ball contrived to trip over his own feet and in one smooth movement pull his trousers down to half mast, before recovering his poise, then his dignity, but alas not the ball as the batsmen controlled their amusement to run three.
As the gloom crept in and the required rate stayed around 6 an over, only wickets were going to save the Whale and Khalil (7 overs, 3 for 17) and Dan (7 overs, 1 for 19) were brought back for their final two overs each, and the breakthrough was immediate, with Khalilbowling over one victim and having another caught, post juggle, by Ed.
Dan also got his reward, with the number 5 caught at mid on as the batsmen looked to wrap up victory, but the flurry of wickets gave us hope, and with three overs left and 21 required, a few nerves were sensed amongst the Philistines on the boundary.
With the Whalers front liners exhausted, it fell to Gilo and Gouldy to bowl at the death, and the presence of the Phillies opener still at the crease enabled victory to be snatched from our grasp with just two balls to spare as he collected 59 not out to guide his team home.
All in all a good game played in less than ideal conditions all round, and a tight finish leaving the Whalers to rue any number of small things that ultimately cost us the game. We look forward to a return with the Phillies next year…
Whalers 171-8 (35 overs) Dickenson 60, Giles 50
Philistines 172-5 (34.4 overs) Ahmed 3-17
MOM – Gilo for first 50 and solid bowling effort.
Champagne moment – Gilo if memory serves…
Muppet moment – Vdp and his elasticated waistband