Strollers skittle Croxley to claim first win at the Guild
posted: September 6, 2021
At the third time of asking we happily notched up our first victory yesterday over the good gentlemen of the Croxley Guild with a thumping win in excess of a 200 run margin. It should be noted from the outset that the oppo had confessed on our arrival that they were still licking their wounds after a heavy night on the tiles, celebrating the 40th birthday of one of their number... some Croxley cricketers not making it home until around 4am. That, however, should take nothing away from what was a fine performance on our part with contributions all round.
With hot summer weather finally arriving, in the first week of September no less, Abhik – back from India – called correctly at the toss and opted to bat first on the artificial track. The Brown Snr/ Brown Jnr opening partnership looked to get us off with a good start although, having hit a couple of well-struck boundaries, George was done for pace and departed for 14.
Viral joined Harry in the middle and, with two of our most powerful hitters at the crease, our run rate rocketed with some explosive boundaries. Viral took the lead, smashing the ball around the ground, whilst Harry unusually played a more supporting role. We sailed past the hundred mark in just the ninth over with Viral reaching 50 shortly thereafter. Unleashing three further sixes and having made it to a spectacular 70, Viral was eventually undone when he swung and missed to Rose, allowing the ball to clatter into the stumps. Gav, in at four, by contrast only managed to survive three deliveries before Harry called him through for a single off a misfield at cover which was sharply returned to the keeper and the big man was cruelly run out.
After the drinks break Harry, determined to make amends, kicked into full throttle and carried on where Viral had left off with some powerful aerial hitting. Gaurav, in at five, got into the act too with some good strokeplay matched by quick running between the wickets. Harry made it to yet another 50 before he tried one slog too many and holed out to long on, waking up the oppo who celebrated wildly.
However this brought Abhik to the middle and, with memories of his fine hundred on the same ground last year still fresh in their minds, Croxley sent everyone back to the boundary. This didn't deter the skipper who still found a way through square of the wicket and kept our momentum up. All was going well until Abhik, having smashed a quick-fire 31 to take us up to the 200 mark, was caught in the deep. Then Gaurav became our second victim of a run out to a misfield and he departed for 28. Avnish unfortunately didn't last long before he was trapped plum LBW by Connor.
However a fine rearguard partnership between Varun and Ravi saw us continue to make inroads and whilst the 300 total we targeted (mindful of our high scoring clashes with Croxley last year) slipped from view, we were certainly on track to post a total in excess of 250, which would give us something competitive to defend. Varun was unfortunately castled by Morrison for 31 and Dickie was caught at gully off the same bowler a few deliveries later, but, with Ali solidly defending, Ravi was able to continue our onslaught and we closed on a very respectable 280-9.
With post-pandemic teas still something of a rarity we hungrily tucked in to the generous spread on offer in the pavilion (sandwiches, quiche, cupcakes and cookies all making a welcome appearance) and pondered our chances, knowing all too well the firepower at Croxley's disposal. However, overhearing that the oppo had never yet chased down a target in excess of 280, we took the field with some confidence.
Our confidence received a massive boost when Croxley opener Doug (who had smashed unbeaten back-to-back centuries against us last year) chopped onto his stumps from Ravi in the first over. We nabbed another in the second over with Viral (wearing the gloves in the Kitten's absence) expertly held on when Graham sharply snicked behind off Gaurav. A great start.
However Croxley's other dangerman, Danny Dallas was now in the middle – a destructive batsman more than capable of taking the game away from us. We looked on grimly as he carted a massive six straight back over Ravi's head but, having made it to 13, he miscued and scooped one up from Gaurav to cover where the ball thudded into Abhik's chest as the skipper gladly clung on and we whooped with glee as the prize wicket was taken.
Gaurav narrowly missed out on a three-fer as he couldn't quite grasp a powerful return catch from Dave, but the Croxley number four was soon on his way when Harry, now on in place of Ravi skittled his stumps. A procession of wickets followed with Harry mercilessly collecting his own three-fer as he bowled Adam and Edd in the same fashion.
With the oppo six down with only 38 on the board at drinks, victory seemed assured. After the break Varun came on and mixed up seam with spin whilst at the other end, Abhik tossed the ball to Ali who joyfully claimed his first Strollers wicket, beautifully bowling Gordon through the gate. He promptly took his second when Ben edged one up between slip and gully which Gav decisively called his own and held onto a well-taken catch.
Only Croxley's number eight Connor put up any kind of resistance, belligerently belting a couple through cover point on his way to 23 but the end was nigh. Avnish came on for a final push and, in successive deliveries, saw off Matt (well held at midwicket by Gaurav) and Joe who simply played, missed and was clean bowled. With only 75 on the board, the whopping 200+ run victory was ours and we returned to the pavilion for a well-earned pint to celebrate our return to winning ways. We expect a non-hungover Croxley may once again provide more of a challenge next time but in the meantime we'll thank them once again for their lovely hospitality and savour the moment.