5s vs Hampstead 6s - 04/06/22

What's our philosophy, with regard to putting out teams in lower leagues? That's the question this week. That's been the question all season, really, for players at my end of the club's spectrum. When Freddie had to pull out of the ones on Saturday (Congratulations Freddie! Welcome to the world baby Craig), there was trouble in store for already depleted teams below. After a certain amount of shuffling, it came down to this: would the 5's and 6's each play with ten? Or would priority be given to the higher team? An Highgate ultra, such as my son, would have sent the sixes out with 9, one of whom, although he is an excellent spinner, cannot really bend. In the end, in the interests of team coherence, and bearing in mind the expressed preferences of certain players, the 5's went with 9, and the 6's went with 11 (but only because a chauffeur Dad ran on to field in his civvies). The question arises, do we, perhaps, have one team too many? As the official captain of the 6's, this may sound like a Turkey looking forward to Xmas; but, if we can't put out coherent teams, it becomes difficult really to enjoy games that are so one-sided in the oppo's favour.

And yet, as the French students once cried: "Be realistic! Demand the impossible!" Kaval led out the 5's on Saturday, with 9, two of whom were 13 year old adult cricket debutantes, and gave the Hampstead 6's a  good run for their money.

Kav began decisively by winning the toss and deciding to bat. His friend Pradip, a veteran who was to prove a valuable asset throughout, went out to open with Subhodeep Bose, in only his second game for the club. They took us to 32 after 7 overs, before Pradip fell. Then came out our young recruit Abdul. He defended well, ran quick singles, hit the boundary; always trying to get the harder hitting striker Subhodeep back on strike. They put on a magnificent 87. Subhodeep's strategy is to put away a bad ball, and defend a good one - or snatch a single. He fell on - there were several recounts, but I can confirm this, because I scored -  99. This failure means, of course, that he must prove himself again in the 5's before joining a higher team. To be fair, though, he had no idea that he was on 99.

Dan came and went all too briefly, but then the skipper and Amaan got stuck in. Amaan reached 43, mostly in 4's. He had bowling duties ahead and needed to conserve energy.

Ben and Jobhan, bowlers, got ducks. I got my customary 1.

We were all out for 235 in the 43rd over. Think where we might have got with two more bats?

After tea, where certain adults raided Jobhan's pringles more often than was seemly, we took to the field.

Perhaps inevitably, Hampstead chased us down in only 33.1 overs, for the loss of 3 wickets. Jobhan took his first wicket in adult cricket, and deserved it. But as a bowling unit, we were not threatening, nor yet could we stem the runs. It was my pleasure though, from behind the stumps, to watch Pradip bowl. The opener was becoming frustrated, and came down the wicket. Calm as you like, Pradip tossed a wider one, slightly quicker, perhaps, for me to gather and take a decent stumping. His other wicket was caught, with a good catch from Dad, who pronounced that Tuesday fielding practise was doing him good. Youthful Ben (questioned about his age by a concerned umpire, he squeeked "I'm 21 mate, not 14!) took our other catch. He's a useful addition to the 5's/6's squad, who we'd like to see more of.

I have to say, we fought hard, spurred on by Kav, and were a credit to the club, I believe. But even so, it wounds one's dignity when the oppo skipper offers fielders, to make it more of a game. Kav declined the offer politely. To some in teams above, it may seem that our efforts are somewhat quaint, even comical, but we're playing league cricket just the same as the ones are, and trying our best to win.

Man of the day: Bose. But is he really a 4's player in waiting? His fielding was good, but his bowling looked a bit rusty to me. Just saying.

As witnessed, and faithfully recorded, until Kav took over the scoring and it went a bit freestyle, by John. In another life, it seems, I captained the sixes. But even a captain is just a foot soldier. I play for Highgate. We all play for Highgate.