Paras had already arrived. Often he’s early, but never late. As we inspected the pitch, a park attendant stopped to chat. A football man himself, he confessed to liking the sound of leather on willow.
We were at Springfield Park, a charming spot by the River Lea, with a decent track, and not too bobbly a park outfield. The Parkie does his best to keep footballers off the square. Later on, we had spectators: a mixture of hipsterish youngsters and orthodox Jewish families.
I love London.
I lost the toss again. They decided to bat.
Phil, my field-setting lieutenant, arranged our ten men. We set off.
North London Muslims 3’s were much too good for us. They had reached 122 before Bob took a catch off Nutin’s second ball. The batter’s Dad, or possibly his granddad, should have warned him to have a look before trying to launch our Mr Shah. NLM (they sound rather like a menacing rap band), went on. At a certain point, watching the ball speed towards the boundary again, it began to seem as if our fielders were just specks of white in a vast green desert; but then I remembered that there was no one behind me, and pelted after the ball again.
All my bowlers - Bruce, Carew (2-fer! Very nice), Bobby, Nutin, Phil, and Charles - gave it their all, and either took wickets, or would have done, if I’d held on to catches behind.
I missed a run-out too, and was having a wretched time behind the stumps. I was in a snarling bad mood by the time I took a stumping for Phil. But then, noticing how easy and enjoyable that had been, decided to take another two. We were playing without bails (forgotten by their skip!), or a scoreboard. Every so often someone shouted a large number from the distant boundary. The final large number was 392. We had them 7 down. We had been playing leg-side wides, a first for me in a sixes match. I had agreed because I thought it would help our bowlers focus! We conceded 48 extras, of which 41 were wides.
I tell you what though, our catching was good (apart from the joker with the big gloves). Bob, Charles and Sean took excellent ones. Sean, as befitting a man wearing a very stylish bucket hat, took his with supreme nonchalance.
I opened the batting. I neither confirm nor deny the rumour that I aim to bat at every number this season. I gave the wickie and his slip cordon a wave when I got to the crease (they were quite some distance from me). I took guard, and waited for the bowler to complete his long run-up. Shortly thereafter the ball reached me.
Their bowling was all right. I clipped a four leg side, and then ran one down to third man for a single. I was beginning to feel that Stevie B’s batting advice was really working. Then I chipped one to mid wicket. First out, 5 runs.
We were all out for 68 after 28.2 overs. We’d laughed at their slip cordon, but they took good catches actually. Phil top-scored with 16. Freddie Wright, debutant was 2 not out, and showed true sixers grit. We look forward to seeing him again.
In conclusion, we lost badly, horribly in fact; and yet somehow, kept up our spirits. No one was scolded in our team like poor useless Zayd in theirs. He went at - gulp - 5’s when he bowled, and took only 2 wickets. He’d be dropped I’m sure, we’re it not for the slightly mitigating detail of having scored 146 when batting.
The oppo were, I should say, a lovely bunch. Unless London is hit by a meteorite this summer, I expect them to be promoted.
Next week, we play our old mates, those friendly Friends. When umpiring, I shall deploy ear plugs to cancel out the incessant appeals.
It’s a great effort for Highgate to put out 6 teams. We make this happen! So-called big clubs like Bron and Winchmore Hill have been struggling to fulfill their fixtures, but Highgate has put out 6 teams, because we are committed to doing so.
3-fer Philip Apthorpe was G6 man of the day, but I could have picked any of them.