Whalers CC vs Lions; Sunday 12th September 2021; Winchmore Hill
The penultimate match of the season sees The Whalers travel north to Winchmore Hill once again, this time to take on a relatively young-looking Lions team. With a number of train delays and cancellations causing early havoc, majority of the whales finally gathered outside the Winchmore pavilion on what looked like a beautifully pristine outfield and a great sunny day for cricket. Still waiting for Raman to arrive, and being put in to bowl, Whalers finally took to the field with 10 men and the new ball being thrown to Ross and Matt to try and find some early wickets. Both openers kept things very tight on either side in the opening couple with the ball nipping and ducking finding some loose strokes by the batsmen and finding a few edges which were put down. Finally, in the distance and making his way to the pavilion, Raman had arrived, and whalers were up to full strength. Good opening spell by the openers, but unfortunately no breakthrough so time for a bowling change. On came Bilal from the pavilion side, with back up from the opposite side by Nick who again were finding some great line and lengths. The first wicket finally came with a sharp low catch by Ross in the slip cordon off the bowling of Bilal.
In came the Lions captain Emile who had hurt the Whalers earlier on in the season with an unbeaten 81 and looked in fine form yet again. The bowlers continued to toil hard but unfortunately the back up from the fielding started to show signs of scratchiness and boundaries were starting to flow. Bilal eventually had an opportunity at LBW which looked plum for all money, only to be refused by the umpire. Another one followed by Nick in the overs to follow and this time there was no question, the umpire raised his finger and the young opener had to go after making 29. The big moment had arrived, Kev trundled up to the crease for the Lions (in full Whalers kit) and looking to make a big mark on the match.
It was at this stage that the game becomes a little hazy for the Whalers and some pretty poor fielding and drop catches allowed Emile and Kev to score freely and really stamp their authority on the game. Some of the key points which stick in the memory was Will’s dislocated finger fielding a fast-paced ball at point, the many spinning balls on the boundary with fielders over running and the ball bouncing the opposite way and the headliner being Vishal’s football scoring ability into the boundary which could have been an easily pick up by Bilal who was sweeping round. A breakthrough finally came when Kamal bowled a well-placed length to pick up the edge of Emile and taken sharply by Geoff. At this stage, the score was looking ominous, and the Whalers were looking down the barrel of chasing just over 6 and over. Kev eventually finished on 109 not out and we made our way in for tea.
The second innings kicked off with Geoff and Kamal opening the batting. Geoff took charge of the situation immediately and decided hell for leather was the best way forward, driving anything slightly over pitched straight back over the bowlers head for 4. Things were looking steady at about 50 for none after 5 overs until Kamal edged the first change off spinner to slip. Ross soon joined Geoff in the middle and runs continued flowing until the quick reactions of the Lions keeper stumped Ross who was short of his crease. This perhaps started the slight collapse in the Whalers order as Josh soon followed leaving a ball he was expecting to spin the other way and Geoff scooping one to the covers.
Raman came to the wicket and looked in good nick as he heaved one over cow corner for a six. Matt had also joined him at this stage and both looked to make the most of the quick outfield, timing anything short with a paddle around the legs which went for boundaries and turning 1’s into 2’s. The score was ticking away nicely at this stage until Raman pushed one to the fielder which was well caught. Vishal continued some of the good work and kept the runs ticking over (even with a pulled hamstring). Drinks were soon upon us, and the score was looking pretty good by all accounts. Still a bit of a push, but much better than we had first thought things would go. Soon after drinks, Vishal was caught going big with a well held catch in the deep and Saurabh joined Matt in the middle but was soon bowled by a slow right arm delivery. Matt was running out of partners at this stage but managed to get a very well-played 50. The overall run rate was increasing considerably, however Bilal showed some good attacking prowess and was keen on putting as much pressure on the fielders as possible. Some well struck boundaries left us needing about 40 off the last 4 so any 1’s needed to be turned into 2’s and 2’s into 3’s. This eventually led to the guys taking some pretty risky runs and Matt found himself short with a good throw from the boundary. Matt out for 72 and his Whalers top score! Nick came in to join Bilal and made it clear, running between wickets will be tough!! Needing the extras again, another risky run put Nick short, and we were down to the final wicket. With Will heading off at tea to get his finger sorted out at A&E, we were a man short. The opposition had agreed at tea to allow us to bat someone a second time and on came Kamal for round two.
30 was needed off the final over and it would need heroics to get us anywhere near. Bilal tried his hardest to heave an off-spinning ball outside off over the covers, but it went straight to the fielder at deep point. The next few balls were futile, and Whalers ended the day 27 runs short.
Lions 261 for 3 beat The Whalers 234 for 9 by 27 runs
Champagne moment: Matt’s best score of 72
Muppet: Vishal’s sliding kicking the ball into the boundary rope.
MOM: Matt’s best score of 72 after 14 years!