A relatively strong Highgate Sunday XI took on pub team Chesham Arms at the FOD on Sunday. No-one could have predicted that drama which was about to unfold...
Certain sources (JDS) had suggested Chesham were probably "weak" and "just a pub team" so it was with these preconceptions swirling in my head that I went out for the toss on a sunny afternoon. I was relieved to win and immediately elected to bat with Newell and Antoniazzi sent out first. The aim was to reach 250 and the bowl them out cheaply. Never underestimate your opponent.
The first few overs did nothing to dispel the image of a pub team as the opening bowlers served up a succession of wides and short-pitched bowling on a terrific Highgate wicket. Would I even get a bat at number 3? But Antoniazzi went hard too early and skied one into the covers, quickly followed by Newell, comprehensively bowled by the first straight ball - a surprise element. Fletch and Kaval then steadied the ship against some wayward bowling, putting on 100 in 13 overs. Kaval batted beautifully for his 35, patting back the good balls and crunching the dross to the fence. More runs would have been scored if it wasn't for some excellent ground fielding from Chesham, completely at odds with their bowling.
With Fletch chopping on for 38, the run rate increased further with Latchmore (after a frantic start) and Billy Blyghton at the crease. Billy in particular hit some classy shots before he was caught on the boundary for an excellent 48. Latchmore contributed with a solid 34. Fred Eccleston also showed what he can do with the bat, striking a quick-fire 19 with some excellent boundaries, ably supported by Henry Bareham. This pair took us to the promised land of 258 - 8 after 40 overs.
With runs in the bank I decided to open the bowling with Henry and Fred, but the Chesham openers looked ominously good and soon started finding the boundary with regularity. I turned to "secret weapon" Tom Newell in a slightly desperate attempt to break the partnership, and Latchmore to slow the scoring rate (by now they were 80 - 0 off 8 overs). Newell's first 2 balls were clattered to the boundary, but he found some good rhythm and eventually bowled their opener for 49. Latchmore also bowled well, trapping the other opener LBW. But the runs continued to flow - at drinks Chesham were 140 - 2.
Billy came into the attack and provided some control, but nothing seemed to work at the other end. As we found out later we were up against a Dulwich 1s player (Ashman) and a former Surrey U18 (Lipley). Chesham had brought along their own crowd and they cheered wildly as these two guns completely dominated. Enormous sixes started raining down, including one by Lipley off Henry which was without doubt the biggest six I've ever seen at Highgate, landing on the North London square where a match was in progress! This sent the crowd into raptures.
We tried everything we could, and fought to the end, with John taking a good catch behind off Tom Newell - but it was too little too late. Chesham reached their target with seven overs to spare and then, in true pub style, proceeded to order numerous jugs of lager until sunset.
Author: Chris Fletcher