24 June 2006
After 2 heavy defeats, the Whalers bandwagon rolled into the leafy surroundings of Richmond Green. As usual there, the sun was shining, the pitch looked lively, the opposition were tucking into the beers, and the outfield was carpeted with a capacity crowd of half-naked sunbathers. Ads won the toss and, for what felt like the first time in several years, the Whalers chose to field first.
The Cricketers got off to a slow start but were looking relatively comfortable until James bowled one of the openers. Accurate bowling from Mike Dennis and Piers kept the pressure on, with Piers picking up two more wickets by the drinks break. Things then slipped away a bit, with the batters starting to get their eye in, the fast and bumpy outfield meaning that anything past the fielders (or, in some cases, directly to the fielders) went for 4, and a few catches going down. Piers eventually got the breakthrough on his return, with the age-old tactic of hitting the batsman in the face with one that looped up off a length, and then bowling him next ball. Rich got the rewards for his spell with another wicket, but this only brought the Cricketers no7 to the crease. With a display of ferocious hitting which had the picnickers on the boundary scrambling for cover, he hit 36 in about 10 balls before finally missing a straight one. Dan and James picked up another wicket each and the Cricketers closed on 196 for 8 from 35 overs – which looked a tough ask given our record at the ground.
In reply, aggressive batting from Al (sporting a very fetching John McEnroe-esque towelling headband) and steady stuff from Dario at the other end (insert your own Tavare/Boycott/VDP joke here) got the Whalers off to a good start. The cause was helped by two of the Cricketers having to go home for their tea, which meant there were plenty of gaps in the field. When Al was out for 54, Mike continued the scoring with a quick 30, followed by Ads with an unbeaten 26. Despite regular appeals our progress was quite untroubled – and in case any future opposition are reading this, we showed that we’d gained from the Sri Lanka experience and that we can in fact play spin bowling quite well.
As the Whalers approached their target, the only remaining questions were whether Dario could reach his maiden Whalers 50 (off 30 overs) and whether Clippy would wake up in time to see it. The answer to both questions was yes, as the winning shot disappeared for 4 (or so the scorebook says). Job done, Oz disappeared with Ed’s kitbag and the Whalers retreated to the upstairs bar, where we demolished the largest tea of the season and tried to stop Rich from falling out of the window, before joining the lovely ladies from Ascot on the train home.
Cricketers – 196 for 8 from 35 overs (Piers 3-42, James 2-33, Dan 2-37)
Whalers – 200 for 2 from 30ish overs (Al 54, Dario 50*, Mike 30, Ads 26*)
Man of the match: Al
Champagne: Dario reaching his 50
Muppet: Mike dropping a sitter