I returned home from a week of uninterrupted glorious sunshine in the Yorkshire Dales to see that despite specific instructions to the contrary I’d been picked to skipper the 5s for this match. It wasn’t that long ago that HCC was struggling consistently to put out 5 teams in the MCCL – we now regularly field 7 teams making us undoubtedly the biggest club in the Middlesex league and the increase in playing members has led to a corresponding improvement in the quality of the sides. As I looked down the teamsheet I was astonished to see 11 wholly competent cricketers with some players like Jacko, Batters, Taker and Nesbot who would not have looked out of place lining up alongside GP in the 3s. Such are the current playing riches of the HCC and long may it remain so…
Anyway to the match itself. Ealing Trailfinders turned out not to be so adept at finding trails and mostly arrived after the start time of 12pm thereby forfeiting the toss. I’d fancied a bowl anyway after a lot of rain on Thursday and the pitch was still a bit damp but the sun was shining and things promised to get easier for the batters so I ruthlessly enforced the forfeit. It’s a League match and they don’t call me TP or nothing!
Opened up with the ever reliable Taker and the delightful left arm spin of Will Nesbit. Both bowled beautifully giving hardly anything anyway and making regular breakthroughs. I kept them both on for their agreed allocation of 9 overs and they rewarded me with 3 wickets each including a sharp caught and bowled by Taker, breaking the back of the Ealing top order. Special mention to Rehan for 2 excellent slip catches – I didn’t think this was permitted in 5s games.
Ealing then rallied in the middle with a couple of handy contributions from their 5 and 6 but they were always struggling after the start they’d had and when Batters took an excellent running catch at long off to dismiss their number 6 off Jacko’s bowling, it was pretty much curtains, especially after their skipper, the excellently named Ron Jazz, was given out LBW by one of his juniors off a devastating moon ball from Kaval.
Ealing finished on 127 from only 32 of their 45 overs and tea was taken. Well, we all sat on the boundary eating our own hastily prepared manky sandwiches if that counts as tea nowadays.
We opened with Nikhit and Alex who both started well against nagging slow bowling putting on about 30 for the first wicket before Nikhit departed in slightly controversial circumstances caught at gulley after chasing a wide one. The fielder in question rolled about on the floor and Nikhit swore blind that he’d dropped it and picked it up again but the umpires were unsighted and the fielder claimed it so Nikhit had to go. The fielder in question later displayed almost comical incompetence dropping the sitterest of sitters thereby confirming Nikhit’s belief that he’d been robbed.
Alex followed soon afterwards losing patience at the relatively slow progress and having a thrash and Rehan lasted only 2 balls before nicking one to the keeper. This brought Abbas and me to the crease and a period of consolidation was called for after the clatter of 3 wickets with barely 50 on the board. Those of you who know Abbas will know that his temperament is not entirely suited to careful consolidation but to be fair to him after a couple of early swishes he knuckled down and the pair of us watchfully built a partnership in the face of naggingly accurate bowling. We put on about 50 taking us to within hailing distance of the win but I chipped one to Ron Jazz’s hands (see what I did there?) at midwicket and then Batters followed not long afterwards after a classy 11. Jacko unfurled the shot of the day, a glorious cover drive but departed shortly afterwards and it was left to Will and Kaval to get us over the line 7 down although it felt like an easier win than that.
Special word for player of the day Abz for a sensible knock and an unobtrusively competent performance behind the stumps including a sharp stumping. He tells me he’s working for the NHS nowadays and it is just possible that he’s calming down a bit although when dismissed he did chuck his bat and helmet into the next field. Small steps eh Abz?!