Match Report 3s v Harrow 14/05/22

Gorgeous sunny day at Botany Bay for our game against Harrow 3s. Ground looking wonderful in the sunshine and a pitch which looked full of runs. Debutant skipper Columbus took one look at the surface and that, combined with the energy sapping temperatures, gave him all the encouragement he needed to bat first having won the toss. These things seem unimportant at the time but with the benefit of hindsight, managing to bat virtually our full 45 overs and keeping Harrow out there in the sun may well have had a significant effect on the outcome.

We opened with Arthur and Henry N-S against a seam attack, one of whom could bowl and one who couldn’t (seems to be a recurring theme for Harrow – see my 4s report for last week). The less adept of the two struggled with his line and was gone after 2 overs bringing a wily old seamer© into the attack with whom Steve had played 30 years ago at Harrow. The change worked wonders with first Henry, who’d looked very solid until that point, missing a straight one and then Arthur nicking off at the other end trying to force a cut shot which was too close to him and also bounced a bit. When Salman departed not long after, bowled by wily old seamer, followed swiftly by Nikhit who clothed a full toss to mid off, we were in trouble and grateful for a period of consolidation by our skipper and Abdul. Drinks did for both of them though, bringing Kush and I to the wicket, wholly prematurely with the score at 68 for 6 and it was all looking a bit dark. We hung around for a bit trying our best not to lose another wicket, with the attack now comprising spin at both ends until I nicked off, rather unluckily to a very sharp one-handed catch by a wide first slip. This brought our other Henry (the good one)* to the crease and again the emphasis was on survival rather than accumulation. Once they’d played themselves in Kush, in particular, started to play some gorgeous wristy drives before Henry reached into his closet to pull out a selection of heretofore unseen shots including a highly audacious ramp over the keeper’s head and a beefy lofted on-drive for four in his brilliant 38. This was undoubtedly, in retrospect, the turning point in the game and a match-winning partnership. Kush eventually nicked off to their returning opener (the fabulously and highly appropriately named Rambo) and there were then a couple of run outs as we desperately tried to nudge the score towards 180. We finished on 169 off just short of our 45 overs and by then Harrow were definitely hot and bothered and had started to argue amongst themselves which is never a good sign.

Virtual tea was taken on the grass in the sunshine (Botany Bay have sadly yet to replace their tea operative) and HCC was marginally the happier of the sides although we knew that if Harrow got off to a flier, we would be in trouble given the relative paucity of our score. As it turned out the feared flier never materialized after a wonderful opening spell of sharp seam bowling from Alex Boardman who took 2 wickets in his first over, one clean bowled with the batter beaten for pace and the other caught. At the other end Stevie B was bowling his usual metronomic line and length with loads of movement through the air and his first spell of 8 overs went for 13 runs with 4 maidens and the wicket of the surviving opener to boot. Alex removed their number 4 in his 3rd over and they were 4 down for not many (22 in fact) by the 8th over.

A long partnership then ensued between batters 5 and 6 which progressed at a glacial pace, putting on 60 in 22 overs but frustrating us no end in the process. They could both bat these two but never got away in the face of excellent tight bowling from both our openers and then by Kush (whose first 7 overs went for 11) and Henry. The pressure was building inexorably though, and our second change at the top end brought us the breakthrough with Arthur coming on to clean bowl their number 6. Rambo came in at 7 and looked handy whacking a couple of meaty blows before he was superbly caught at cover by Henry N-S (the other good one) off Kush’s bowling, a highly deserved wicket after a superb spell. Arthur then bowled a delightful little away swinger at pace which their number 8 obligingly nicked to me behind the stumps and we were virtually done, given that the rate had been increasing exponentially and with 10 overs left they still needed nearly 70 with batters 9

and 10 at the crease. These two had a bit of fun once they got going but that merely had the effect of spoiling Steve’s figures slightly leaving him with 12-4-31-1 although obviously that doesn’t tell the full story. Eventually they ran out of overs finishing 30 odd runs short and never looked like getting close.

This was a superb team effort to defend a low score. Bowling stand-outs (actually all of them) were Steve, Alex 10-0-31-3, Kush 10-3-24-1, Henry 7-0-22-0 and Arthur 6-0-22-3. All highly economical backed up by sharp fielding and mostly excellent catching. There’s a really good buzz about this team with a mix of youth and experience and they should do well this season if they continue show this level of resilience and commitment.

Sam 16 May 2022