Cricket in a Covid world is an odd place in the sense that it generally creates more problems than it solves. The list of considerations of a club captain is long enough as it is, with drop outs, lift co-ordination, batting orders etc, before you get to questions that perhaps no other generation of cricketers before or future will ever have to grapple:
- What exactly is the postcode if you want to deliveroo order your tea?
- How long do Dettol wipes retain their chemical sogginess in the captain’s trouser pockets before they are too dry to be effective? Is it exactly 6 overs?
- How many bowlers’ hats can you wear simultaneously?
- Are we sure on the data protection of these phone numbers we’re handing over? Is this what Huawei wanted all along?
It is whilst considering these nonsensical, often theoretical questions that Highgate’s 3rd XI trekked to Southgate to play Brondesbury, the 18th July marking a return to league cricket and a return to Division 2 for the first time in four years.
The first league game of the season does not generally take place on white, hard surfaces on a bone-dry field, but at least in losing the toss some things do stay the same. Brondesbury’s captain inevitably invited us to field.
In perhaps an ominous portent of games to come, it was quickly realised that pace and shine on the ball are not ideal, given you can’t use sweat or saliva to aid your cause. This, coupled with a very harsh definition of a wide, meant Luca and Steve struggled to make inroads early on, Brondesbury’s opening pair reaching 50 in the 11th over.
Once the ball went softer, scoring became much harder on a less than bouncy pitch and long grassed outfield. Mir and left arm spin twins Max and Kashif dragged the scoring back, Max picking up the first wicket, well stumped by debutant Cummings (insert your own ill-advised wander from home joke here).
In fact, Max and Kashif bowled with control all day, their combined 24 overs going for just 64. Although they only got one wicket each, they made sure Brondesbury did not get away from us at all. Mir bowled without luck all day, and Luca bowled excellently at the death and effected a run out to restrict our opposition to 172-4 off their 45 overs.
After a bizarre ‘tea’ break trying to locate an outside tap, Potter and Srinivasan embarked on the run chase. It is fair to say the two represent an odd batting couple with contrasting styles. To borrow another’s phrase, Srini empties bars, Potter fills them, with patrons generally seeking a strong drink.
In an almost exact mirror of the first innings, an early flurry of boundaries were scored as the two tried to make the most of the ball coming onto the bat. However, pace off the ball brought things to more of a grind, with both trying the aerial route to keep things moving (it comes more naturally to one).
After passing his 50 and then the 100 partnership, Srini holed out going for one more six, before Hammond and Potter departed quickly thereafter. A required run rate of less than 6 with wickets in hand is usually manageable, but with scoring proving tricky, Kashif was sent up the order with a license.
Together with Graeme, the two got things moving again, targeting Brondesbury’s ‘5th’ bowler, scoring 12 off the crucial 42nd over. The required run rate hovered around 6/7, with 12 required off the last two overs, with the two impressive openers each with one over remaining. Kashif chose the right time to channel his inner MS Dhoni, lined up the first ball of the penultimate over, and sent it over the trees at the far end of the ground, an extraordinary shot in the circumstances. A scrambled two and a four from Graeme off the last ball of said over brought Highgate victory by 7 wickets, more comfortable sounding than it felt.
The sun shone, 10 points in the bag and a brief North circular sojourn on the way home. It’s good to be back (ish).
Your Correspondent: George Potter