4s Swashbuckle past Stokey
‘Imagine needing 1 to win and f***king it up’
These were the words delivered by a member of the Stoke Newington cordon as new batsman Ali Kazmi prepared to face his first delivery for HCC 4s with just a single required to secure victory.
30 seconds later and Ali had ripped off his helmet, which took with it his headscarf, which was connected to his hairband. Ali was halfway back to his team-mates with hair flowing behind him like a scene from a Pantene advert when the ball landed some 50 metres beyond the boundary rope at long on.
This moment of great bravado was a suitable end to a pulsating game played in good spirits between two well-matched teams sitting 4th and 5th in the table. Some 7 hours earlier, SN 3s had won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch which looked pretty flat if a touch green.
Aside from 6 uneventful overs from me and some impressive pace from Salman at the end, we attacked with spin in a variety of forms. Kashif bowled a great opening spell of left arm spin, challenging both edges and picking up two wickets in his 14 overs. Kash bowled in tandem with Ali who mixed his leg spin with googlies, sliders, flippers and other variants that may not have been named yet. The pick of these was a fizzed googly, bristling with overspin, which removed the off bail of the well-set SN number 5.
Ali’s 14 overs brought an impressive haul of 4 wickets either side of drinks – a very impressive debut outing. When Kash was eventually given a rest, YouTube’s very own Oscar Livesey came on to deliver some off spin. Oscar gave a lovely demonstration of ‘F&G’ collecting a caught and bowled and luring a batsmen down the track to present Sam with a nice stumping to go with a smart catch standing up to Ali.
Around the 30 over mark Stokey were starting to accelerate and suggesting that a score of 250+ may be on the cards. The spirit in the field from HCC at this time was very impressive with Rob Harries leading the way with some spritely diving stops and two great grabs in the deep. Rob’s contribution was even more impressive given his exertions in single-handedly preparing the ground while the rest of us were struggling through some gnarly North London traffic.
Rob’s exploits at deep midwicket helped Oscar to a great return of 4-33 and prevented Stokey from batting their full allocation, closing on 226 in the 48th over.
Rahul (60) and Salman (50) went out to spearhead our reply and both scored quickly, Rahul pulling anything short and playing some very pleasing high-elbowed cover drives. Salman played beautifully at the other end mixing lofted drives with elegant strokes along the Botany Bay carpet.
Unfortunately both openers departed shortly after the 20 over mark, but at drinks HCC were well up with rate with a well-stacked line up waiting in the wings. Stokey changed the bowling and, as happens surprisingly often, it was their fourth choice bowler who posed the most problems for us, extracting good bounce and seam movement at decent pace. One such ball did for Abdul for 8 (double cameo?) and with Oscar bedding in we welcomed Blackett back for his first knock since his 150 three weeks ago.
Stokey were starting to find their voices with some interesting chat starting to ripple through the ring. One fielder in particular found peculiar fascination in Oscar’s whites, enquiring about his choice of detergent in a bizarre homage to Shane Ritchie’s Daz adverts of the mid 90s.
With the rate creeping above a run a ball, Blackett unfurled a range of brutal strokes including a muscled pull over long on and a vast launch of the front foot into the road off Stokey’s most threatening bowler. Two further sixes broke the back of what was looking to be a very tense chase and when Oscar departed for 23, Price nudged the ball around cleverly to get Andy back on strike.
With 1 needed Blackett nicked off for a match defining 65 off 46 and set the stage for Ali to deliver the shashbuckling coup de grace.
4th place HCC travel to third place Harrow next weekend looking to do the double and move within striking distance of the promotion places.