Strollers survive early hiccups to secure convincing win over HICCs
posted: May 14
Our winning start to the 2019 season continued on Sunday when we faced old foes the Highgate Irregulars in the sunny surroundings of the Old Cholmeleians sports ground. However, having lost the toss and being sent in to bat on a spongy pitch – owing to recent and relentless rain – things did not look rosy for us at all at the start.
An early collapse had us on the ropes from the outset with George, Abhik, Ron and Gaurav all falling cheaply and in quick succession, leaving us reeling at 20-4. Gav provided more stoic resistance with bowlers Owen and Hirani’s nagging in-swingers met with nothing but solid defence. In fact, the HICCs themselves seemed reluctant to see the big man go – having been triggered LBW for a delivery that had struck him outside leg, high on the back hip, skipper Yash graciously withdrew their appeal and Gav was offered a reprieve.
Unfortunately Gav’s stay of execution didn’t last long when, having toughed it out for an hour, he was once again trapped – this time plumb low down in front of middle stump – with the introduction of spinner Gallagher. However that was to be the last cause for celebration the HICCs were to enjoy for, well, the remainder of the game.
For, having limped to 80 odd for 5 at drinks, Matt and Viral set about the oppo’s attack with carnage and care in equal measure. Barely offering the sniff of a chance both Strollers batted superbly – the Cat in particular creaming anything short of a length through the midwicket boundary whilst Viral, playing with uncharacteristic reserve, seemed happier in a supporting role, albeit with regular boundaries thrown in for good measure (this is Viral we are talking about, after all).
The run rate sharply doubled as the HICCs attack took relentless punishment, Tony Mitchell – of all people – proving particularly expensive as Matt and Viral mounted a superb century sixth wicket stand. At one stage, reaching 150 would have seemed ambitious …now a total in excess of 200 looked inevitable.
Having hit a very fine 57, Viral was eventually and unluckily trapped LBW by Yash. Skipper Gorton gave himself a licence and came in swinging but was undone by Tony. Tony again was responsible for the eventual dismissal of Matt who, having hit a brilliant 83, eventually skied one from Giles which Mitchell safely caught at midwicket.
But by now we were in fifth gear and Ravi (making a welcome first appearance of the year) and Varun mounted a fine rearguard action, both making lusty cameos to take us well past 200 with some impressive hitting through the V. In the end we closed on 240… a wonderful recovery and a formidable target in any circumstances, and we repaired to the pavilion to enjoy our tea, rightly confident of victory.
That confidence was mildly dented when Ramani came out to open, striking the ball well and collecting frequent boundaries to ensure the HICCs got off to a far quicker start than we did. However our bowlers maintained a straight line ensuring that, if the batsmen missed, we’d hit. Which is exactly what we did as Ramani, Yash and Tony were all cleared out trying to heave the ball out of the ground.
Yogesh lasted a little longer but only until Ron Boundary’s first spell of the year, when Matt took a standout catch low down at slip – the Cat winding back the years and proving that when it’s your day, it’s your day…
Our skipper Davie G brought himself on and, with his first ball, had Giles trapped LBW (this captaincy malarkey is easy ain’t it? – Ed) and Gaurav took his second wicket to dismantle Gallagher Jnr’s stumps.
Charles Trevor defiantly offered more resistance – although even he seemed to have conceded defeat, when he was overheard saying to his partner “let’s just stick around and have some fun”. But his batting companions just couldn’t live with him – George, burying the previous week’s nightmares, successfully took a catch with his hands at mid on to see off Hirani (despite jocular shouts of “on the head, son!” from his colleagues) and Ron made it three-for with the dismissals of Owen and Gallagher Snr.
This brought Yash back to the crease for an encore innings – with HICCs having lost keeper Dave Osborn earlier in the field due to a torn muscle, Davie G had kindly agreed that the oppo could send their lowest scoring batsman back in. This served only to offer the HICCs some batting practice and a delay of the inevitable. Some good strokes from Yash took his side past the hundred mark to restore some respectability to their efforts until we got bored at which point Dave reintroduced our opening bowlers and Ravi clean bowled Charles. The HICCs were dismissed 126, a whopping 115 runs shy of their target.
A thumping win, then, by any measure – all the more satisfying given our bad bout of batting hiccups at the start of the day. And so on to Grantchester for the first time next weekend, confident in the wake of our most successful start to a season on record!