Spencer shines against Hiccs but rain spoils our parade
posted: May 14, 2017
A spectacular allround performance with bat and ball from Spencer this afternoon looked to set us up for a nailed-on first win of the season against the Highgate Irregulars at Old Cholmeleians, had it not been for the onset of heavy rain towards the end of play which led to a premature conclusion in proceedings, with both teams sharing the spoils.
In his first outing as Strollers skipper, Viral promptly lost the toss and we were sent in on a spongy pitch that offered variable bounce. However this did not deter Gav who set off like a train with an onslaught of punishing strokes through the offside. However, having raced to 23, the big man was cut off in his prime when he gloved one from Hayden that lifted sharply behind to Charles Trevor at slip. George too was unlucky to send a hard struck return catch to Tony Mitchell and when Harsh fell cheaply a couple of overs later, holing out in the deep to the predatory Alex Gray, our fortunes looked unpromising. The Kitten came in to steady the ship somewhat until he hoiked one to deep square leg where oppo skipper Yash took a fine low catch and, by the time we took drinks on just 59-4, the prospect of posting a challenging total looked a long way off.
However, after the break, the HICCs brought the slow stuff on and Spencer, along with Viral decided to hit the gas. An immense six over long on from Viral made his intentions clear, and this was followed by two more maxiums over midwicket, the skipper meting out punishment to Rob Kyriakides' lobbed deliveries. This clearly inspired Spencer who got into the act with a six of his own followed by a series of shovelled sweep shots that kept Giles chasing to the boundary as he made his way to a well earnt first fifty of the season.
Having sailed past the 150 our progress hit a roadbump when Viral, on 36, holed out to Tony on the long off boundary. This brought Dickie to the crease for his first innings of the year. Sadly it didn't last long as, having pinched a single, he marched down the wicket and missed one of Rob's particularly loopy ones and was bowled.
Davie G, next in, played with rather more circumspection and played some good shots, farming the strike to Spencer was by now in full flow. Having notched up the 200, Spencer was now set on nabbing whatever last few runs he could and promptly ran Dave out for 19 on the penultimate delivery to nab the strike. However that decision seemed justified when he sent the final ball of our innings for four to square leg, Gideon at the non-strikers end, the first to congratulate Spencer on a magnificent unbeaten 92. We closed on 212-7 ...a total far greater than we had any right to expect midway through.
Taking the field in a justifyably buoyant frame of mind, our enthusiasm was dampened somewhat by an attritional first ten overs in which the Hiccs openers batted sensibly and remained on the asking rate. The weather too decided to take a turn for the worse — what had been a fine sunny afternoon, suddenly became a very chilly, showery and dark evening. Openers Mitchell and Ramani offered us nothing and the Strollers' field seemed somewhat dispondant.
However, after a couple of good LBW shouts from Davie G, Spencer found our first breakthrough when, after an opening stand of 75, he found a way through Ramani's defences. At the other end, some sharp return fielding from Gideon had Osborne run out, failing to ground his bat. From here we found our second wind with Spencer firstly taking a stunning low return catch to dismiss dangerman Tony Mitchell before trapping the equally dangerous Yash LBW for a golden duck!
Spencer's hat-trick was sadly not to be but, after he had hit a couple of lusty blows to the boundary, the Strollers were cocker-hoop to see the back of the potentially destructive Alex Gray when Fowler (again) cleaned his stumps out. From here on chances of a Hiccs victory were remote to say the least — Giles and Charles struggling to get the ball off the square. In his final over Spencer was unlucky not to collect what would have been a thoroughly-deserved five-for when George shelled a difficult overhead catch at mid off.
Nevertheless Fowler, needing to depart early, left the pitch to the applause of all, leaving his team mates to finish off the job. Ronak was brought on and looked in good form and Davie G, in the last over of a fine spell, finally collected a well-earnt wicket, bowling Charles through the gate.
However, with débutant Stroller Dan Freeman on the verge of beginning his maiden over, a sharp downpour swept over the ground. Having already been off the field once earlier for a brief interlude due to rain, this time the foreboding conditions overhead gave us less optimism of a resumption of play. After ten minutes huddled inside the pavilion in which the lashing vertical rains seemed to get ever-stronger the decision was reluctantly taken that no further play would be possible.
And so we were sadly denied what looked to be a sure-fire winning start to Viral's captaincy. However, despite the short term disappointment, we can gladly reflect on what was certainly our best team performance of the year so far and congatulate Spencer who had undoubtedly stolen the show and turned on the style to very nearly match-winning effect.