The 4th XI in 2018

The story so far...

Five games into the 2018 season and time to put pen to paper and summarise the 4th XI journey so far.

In week 1 Batters led the team to an emphatic win against newly promoted Acton, Will Spencer leading the way with the bat with a typically cavalier 60 before the 4 man bowling attack, with a combined age of over 200, skittled the oppo for 77.

Bessborough conceded in the following week, which meant that the next outing was at home to Harrow in what turned out to be a high scoring thriller. After winning the toss I elected to bat first having heard that the groundsman at Old Cams had actually rolled the pitch for once. A good team batting performance (and 69 extras) saw us post 275 and things were looking comfortable until their skipper came in low down the order and swung his side back into contention. Needing 20 off the last over the batsman offered a chance of a catch on the mid-wicket boundary but Sarfo managed to head the ball over the boundary for 6 after missing it with his hands and went off injured. 2 more sixes followed but we managed to limit the pair to just a single off the remaining balls as the scores finished level.

Another concession from Finchley meant we went into week 5 top of the league with 35 points and welcomed Indian Gymkhana to Old Cams. We usually arrive to find two pitches prepared and have to choose the lesser of two evils, but this week only one pitch was marked out – the one with the ridge in the middle, the dip halfway down, a hole behind the popping crease, and the stumps off centre. A joy...

Winning the toss this time meant bowling first on a pitch that was damp and liberally scattered with the marks of football studs on a length. By this time Shelley and Blackett had removed the goal post from the outfield and we were ready to go and 4th XI debutants Vishnu and Hassan shared the new ball. IG’s opener came out swinging and took a liking to Hassan’s full length, while Vishnu was able to keep the other batsman quiet at the his end. 43 runs were amassed off the first 6 overs and the new ball deposited into the farmyard and lost, before Hassan drew a false stroke from the big hitter and had him well caught by Jacko at point.

After that the scoreboard ticked along at a much more acceptable rate before Vishnu finished his spell with a double wicket over to leave IG at 73-3. A steady rebuild followed as Hodgins and Jacko kept things tight before Matt worked his way though the middle order picking up 4 wickets thanks to a great catch by Blackett and a stunner from Fletch, who plucked the ball out of the air one handed while fielding at short cover. The introduction of spin brought the full irregularities of the pitch to the fore as Jay managed to turn the ball square and bowled with two slips and a gully. His reward was a pair of wickets before the innings was bought to an end when Hassan returned and took just one ball to remove the final batsman, IG finishing on 170 having batted just 37 of their allotted 45 overs.

Tea was taken alfresco as the Old Cams pavilion had been taken over by a private party and so we enjoyed the delights of pasta salad, cream doughnuts and sausage rolls in the shadow of a pair of bouncy castles.

The second innings was characterised by repeated bowling changes as the IG skipper shuffled his bowlers around – 9 used in all with 18 changes of bowling over the course of the innings – to keep the scorer on his toes. The opening bowler was removed from the attack after one fairly tidy over, not to be seen again, but the bowling change worked as Jay guided a full toss to the keeper. This should have brought Batters to the crease but he walked out to find that Vishnu had beaten him to it – turns out I hadn’t told Vish about my plans to shuffle the order around from my original plan…

Fletch and Vishnu kept the scoreboard moving along nicely, albeit in very different fashions, and the erratic running was not punished by IG in the field. The pitch was becoming more mischievous by this point and Vishnu chopped a ball that kept low back onto his stumps to break the promising partnership. Batters made his way to the crease as IG turned to their spinner – a move which reaped immediate reward as he got one to turn back into Batters who was looking to leave but instead saw the ball clatter into off stump.

The spinner should have been key to IG’s control of the game but Blackett hit him for a 4 and a 6 and he was pulled from the attack, which meant the batsmen were able to bat in relative comfort against the seamers. By now, the pitch was the major threat as it moved through its mischievous phase and went fully rogue. Blackett was felled by a ball that shot along the floor while Fletch succumbed to a similar fate after reaching his 50. Fortunately we only needed a handful of runs to win by this point so Shelley and I rode our luck to grind out the victory with 5 overs remaining.

The win keeps us top of the table ahead of our away trip to Ealing this week.

4th Team results & league table

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