Bouncing back at the fortress:
Around this time last year I wrote a match report around the theme of‘Bouncebackability’ as HCC 4XI sought to get back to winning ways after a chastening reverse. That report focused on the man first coined the phrase, the gargoylian former Crystal Palace target man Iain Dowie.
One year on and the 4s were in a similar place, having won their first fixture before being roundly trounced away at Bessborough, a game in which 11 men got a lot of exercise but 0 points.
Incidentally that last sentence is as close to a match report as that game is ever going to get.
The pre-game featured some fielding drills to get over the numerous dropped catches of the previous week and some motivational chatter led by Oscar with references to ‘Fortress Botany Bay’ and our 100% home record (1/1).
The 4s skipper was happy enough to lose the toss and be inserted on a flattish looking track and instructed new opening pair Chintan and Sam to strap them on. Chintan immediately showed intent by going aerial against their opening bowler
and after losing Sam, he welcomed Angus for his 4 th team debut. Gus was probably facing bowling a good 30mph slower than what he has been used to and his attempt to go aerial got lots of height but little distance. At 27-2 a rebuilding job was
required and Oscar channelled his inner Nick Knowles to graft in support of Joshi. Chintan was unabashed by the loss of two early wickets and mixed stout defence with some classy drives.
When Chintan fell for 48 (52), Oscar was joined by Blackie who immediately took on the role of aggressor, plundering 3 boundaries in one over from the change bowler on his way to a very important 32 (35). When Blackie managed to deflect the ball on to his stumps via an unkempt trouser pocket (Tuck them in next time lad!), Oscar was already back on the plastic chairs, falling LBW as he started to accelerate.
When one anchor departed another arrived and with the good ship HCC listing at 144-6, it fell to Fred to calm the rest of the crew and guide us to a string total. Rob (14), Tej (8) and Hodgins (26) offered Fred some company on his way to a vital 23*
Meal deals were consumed with gusto and we wasted no time in deploying the wiles of Cooke to challenge their openers’ technique on his way to 1-31. Hodgins tested the opener’s ability to despatch long hops and having established that may not be
the best tactic moved quickly to spin.
The move was quickly rewarded as Rehan started off on one of those spells where the ball consistently challenges the batsmen and audibly fizzes through the air. A few overs later Rehan’s fantastic spell had bamboozled the Wembley top order, with both left and right handers clean bowled as he extracted wicked spin from the placid pitch. The richly deserved five-for arrived as Chintan plucked a great grab at first slip to seal a great game for both men.
Tej swung the ball round some corners and picked up two wickets on his 4s debut with more accomplished catching from Gus and Chintan before it was left to Oscar to deliver the final blows. First, their no.9 picked out Rehan (never in doubt) Naqvi on the rope and then Oscar snuck one through their no.11 's defence to complete an 82 run win.
Iain Dowie would have been proud, possibly Nick Knowles as well. The fortress welcomes Ealing next time round for a top of the table clash.