Strollers hold nerve to win sensational 600 run-fest over the HICCs
posted: August 5, 2018
Records tumbled on both sides this afternoon when we hung on and, with huge relief, won a 600 run thriller over the Highgate Irregulars. With Ferme Park presenting itself for the first time to this writer's recollection as a batting paradise – the pitch beautifully flat and even – George had no hestitation in opting to bat first on yet another scorching hot day with the temperature touching 30ºC.
Mind you, things didn't start well when the skipper was dislodged second ball by a yorker from Owen. However that was the only wicket to fall for the subsequent thirty overs (!) as Harsh, joined by Spencer, piled on the runs with a chance-less display of supreme batting prowess that was simply a joy to behold.
Of the two, Spencer played perhaps the more measured innings whilst Harsh simply took the HICCs attack apart. We sailed past the hundred in just the twelfth over and we sensed we could be on for a big 'un! With the outfield lightning-fast and the oppo's fielders clearly tiring in the oppressive heat, the accumulation of runs was just emphatic. With fifties apiece the 200 was reached without further loss and still Joshi and Fowler ploughed on. Harsh notched up a thoroughly-deserved ton and Spence was well on the way to doing likewise until he offered up the first chance in almost thirty overs, but was put down at deep long off by Owen.
However just a couple of balls later Spencer was finally undone – unluckily falling just five short of his own century – when he was trapped LBW by Yash, who had given up the keeper's gloves to have a go with the ball. However, with Harsh, he had put on 269 – an all-time Strollers record partnership for any wicket! Joshi powered on unflustered by the late losses of both Nick and Tim and eventually reached an immense 157... that too an all-time highest score by any Stroller, like, ever!
Gav, who had arrived late to the party, ended proceedings with a couple of lusty blows to take the score past 300 but the star of the show was undoubtedly Harsh, who heroically carried his bat and left the field to a cordon of sporting applause from the thoroughly beleagured HICCs, having contributed the lion's share of our huge total of 306-4. Stats aside it was as immense a knock by a Stroller as one will ever likely see.
It had been noted by several onlookers that the makeup of the Irregulars' side had the look of a 'classic' HICCs XI with few (if any) players sub-35 years of age and it was strongly suspected that a target of 307 at an asking rate from the off in excess of 8 per over was surely beyond them. Surely. What's more, our opening overs after tea from Spencer and Kashif were impressively tight. At the first of two drinks breaks after 12 overs the HICCs score had only just crept past fifty without loss. Surely they couldn't accelerate sufficiently to seriously challenge us? Surely not.
But... just as he had done in our T20 clash earlier this summer (chasing an improbible target above 200 runs) Tony Mitchell expertly cranked up through the gears. More fearsome though was the strokeplay now on display from Yash who took full advantage of some wayward stuff from Nick and (initially) Mickey. The Irregulars passed 100 without loss in the fifteenth over and whilst their target clearly was still a long way off, if they kept this up, we might just have something to worry about.
Our cause wasn't aided by Harsh unfortunately having to leave early due to work commitments and the HICCs' batsmen made the most of the wider gaps in the field. The 150 was up when Harry Brown – happily returning to the side for the first time this season – failed to hang on to a lobbed drive from Tony. This couldn't really be on for the HICCs ...could it?!?
Mitchell capitalised on his reprieve with more attacking strokes, his boundaries more than matched by Yash who notched up his superb hundred. The HICCs passed 250 without loss with still 8 overs to go and, although Mickey had managed to re-assert some control, whilst the oppo's two openers were still there, a chance – no matter how unlikely – remained that they would somehow achieve the impossible.
However, in the 33rd over, up stepped Spencer who returned with what can only be described as one of the greatest overs in Strollers history. After conceding four byes first up, with his second ball he produced an absolute jaffer... finally seeing off Yash for a magnificent 133 with a stunning yorker. This was replicated in identical fashion next ball to dislodge the potentially big-hitting Gallagher Jnr. Unfortunately he couldn't quite nab the hat-trick but with his fourth ball he took another, this time bamboozling the dangerous Dyen who looked to march down the wicket and slog, only to miss and allow the ball onto the stumps.
This left the HICCs needing 23 off the final two overs – unlikely although still uncomfortably feasible. Squeaky-bum time this certainly was. However Kash, like Spencer, made amends for conceding a boundary first ball with a beauty to bowl Yogesh. This brought Giles – batting surprisingly low down the HICCs order – to the middle. But without any time to play himself in the run rate thankfully choked up and we began to breathe more easily.
Leaving themselves a bit too much to do in the final over the HICCs gamely attempted to cart the ball only to find our field set back and successfully guarding the boundaries. However, with the final ball of the innings, Tony managed to squirt one through to the cover point boundary, insoding notching up his own thoroughly-deserved ton.
But, joyously, the spoils were ours! Both sets of players left the field more than slightly astonished at what had just happened. Over 600 runs had been scored in a 35 over match and the HICCs had come to within spitting distance of staging possibly one of the greatest comebacks Sunday cricket has ever seen. Tony and Yash's opening partnership – passing Harsh and Spencer's at 277 – had likewise been an Irregulars record and whilst the match-winning plaudits quite clearly must go to messrs Joshi and Fowler, the sheer determination and audacity of the HICCs' attempts to chase down an absolutely huge target has to be applauded. A truly great game – one for the ages – and one none of us there will forget in a hurry. Congratulations everyone!