A close game, but Pushkev beat us in the end. Pushkev? Not the famous chess manoeuvre (Fischer vs Spassky game 31, Reykjavik 1972). Nor yet a Pushkev penalty. I refer, of course, to the Nomads' deadly bowler, Pushkev.
The first team sheet for this game included two keepers, one skipper, and several alternate skippers. But eventually I found myself as keeper and skipper of a solid looking Sunday side, including three loanees from our mates, the Railway Taverners.
It was a drizzly, coldish day, which never really improved, although the rain was to hold off. The oppo seemed a friendly bunch. I won the toss, and we batted. It might have rained later, after all. Rob Gillham, and Tom Newell (in his traditional Sunday role),went out to open the batting. The Nomads' opening bowlers went about their business with steely concentration, in a hushed atmosphere. This was the eight game in the history of their club, and it was treated with due importance. They had us 2 for 21 after 7 overs. Oscar Livesey and Matty Winter (The best German leg-spinning all-rounder ever to take the field for Highgate), put on 59, until first Matty (for 22), and then Oscar (for 49) fell.
I was scoring. Yesterday I scored Mr Bose all the way to 99 runs.
Sadly our middle order, of George Katakos, James Mann, and Vivek Menon, fell cheaply; I padded up quickly (Oscar took up the scorebook, of which more in due course); fearing a rout; wondering if we'd even get to a hundred. Fortunately, we had Alex Reid at 8. With a few runs from Isa Hafesi, 10 from Guy Gibbs, and even 6 from me, we managed to reach 152 before Alex holed out for 30.
We retreated from the drizzle to have our tea.
Vivek and Guy opened well when we retook the field. I brought on Isa and Matty first change. "Winter is coming!" I announced: Matty duly got a wicket in his first over. We bowled well, but, of course, 152 is a small total to defend at the Field of Dreams. Isa took a wicket, as did Alex. Oscar ended on 8 overs 2 for 18. Oscar took a catch, and James an excellent high one.; but it all proved in vain. A couple of catches went down; and the Nomads knuckled down to get over the line.
A tall young man came to the crease, lovely bloke, name of Joe. He'd taken good catches earlier. He wore black trainers, didn't ask for a guard, and held his bat as if to hit a ball in rounders. It was his second cricket match. He seemed certain to be out at any moment, if only he would stop smacking the ball toward the boundary. He got 22. They overtook us, 6 down, in the 39th over.
Good team performances from both sides, but it was Pushkev who sunk Highgate. He took 5 wickets, you see, in his 5 overs, for 21 runs. I scored, so I can vouch for it; but Oscar took over my scoring. In the bar he was going on about the mighty East European bowler. He had read my P Usher as - all one word - Pushkev. This was duly laughed about by Mr Paul Usher.
And so... the Sunday Friendly team lost again. Fletch can't blame himself on this occasion. I was the skipper, last man to leave the sunk ship at the end, as the Nomads were still celebrating, except for Matty. Just a word of thanks here for Matty's pitch preparation. Having learned to bowl and bat he is now working on his groundsman's knowledge.
At some point higher authorities may notice that teams I captain always seem to lose. Action may be taken. I could have bowled Tom, of course, but that didn't seem quite the thing. At some point I may actually set a field, you know, instead of leaving it to my bowlers. Yesterday, Rob pointed at a stray fielder, and noted that he was doing nothing; and I thought, gosh, that's right. The off-spinner doesn't need him there. A small step, I know, but we must all strive to improve.
As reported, faithfully, by John Eccleston, Captain of the sixes (who never plays in them, because of one wicket keeper shortage crisis after another), and occasional captain on a Sunday, in the absence of Fletch.