Strollers struggle on Millfields' minefield
posted: August 17, 2020
Braving a rare incursion over the river to South London to face newfound oppo Millfields CC, the Strollers stumbled to a 7 wicket defeat yesterday at Hilly Fields Park near Brockley.
Upon our arrival, eyebrows were raised at the state of the park pitch – its rough bumps and craters resembling something like the lunar surface or, more pertinently, the notorious Sabina Park pitch in Jamaica that in 1998 famously caused the swift abandonment of a test match after the wicket had caused serious harm to several forlorn England batsmen. Naturally therefore, upon winning the toss, Dave didn't hesitate in choosing to bat first.
Having clearly never seen a roller in it's life the minefield of a pitch served up allsorts from, one minute, fully pitched deliveries that spat nastily off a length to daisy-cutters that skidded treacherously low the next. Add in some bristling chin music for laughs and it was all Gav and Abhik could do to remain in the middle. Buckling down with some solid defending this they did but, apart from Bob's one glorious heave to midwicket, scoring within the first ten overs was virtually nullified by Millfield's pacey attack. Amid muggy conditions and with thunderous clouds booming away in the distance, the Strollers batsmen must have thought they had descended into some sort of hellish nightmare.
Eventually it was Shaz, the oppo's demon leg spinner, who made the inevitable breakthrough. Taking full advantage of the very rough rough, he firstly bowled Abhik with one that skidded under the bat, and then had Gav caught behind off one that jumped, nicking Richardson's gloves on the way to first slip, who took an excellent diving catch. Tom, in at four, departed swiftly having scooped up a beamer from Parker to cover. However Matt and Gaurav steadied our ship somewhat, managing to work the ball around with greater success.
Unfortunately Gaurav's efforts were cut short when he skied one off a leading edge and was caught at cover. Matters were made worse when George, next in, was controversially triggered out LBW despite a very woody sound being heard from some distance away. With bursts of rain making conditions even less clement, Matt stoically soldiered on until, having hit a patient 20, he unluckily played on to an a slow yet acidic bouncer from Lemon.
With only 55 on the board, and poised to post an embarrassingly low total, we thankfully found third gear with the arrival of the skipper at the crease, helmeted and ready to take the attack to the oppo. This he did with a glorious straight drive before Varun, now also in the middle, cranked things up another notch with a huge six over extra cover. Our woes seemed to be shedding away and, all of a sudden, batting looked easy.
With some fine strokeplay on show from both Strollers, we mercifully hit the hundred mark and kicked on nicely until Dave took one swing too many and was bowled for a vital 24 by Cooper. Rohit – unable to repeat his wall-like resistance against the HICCs a fortnight earlier – sadly didn't last more than a single delivery but Avnish, next in, matched Varun with some powerful hitting and the oppo scratched their heads at how our late order were making batting look so simple all of a sudden.
Having made his way to an excellent 33, Varun chanced a cheeky single off our last ball but was swiftly run out. However, we closed with a modicum of respect on 139 – a total which, on this track, we thought may just be enough to pose the oppo problems.
After the turnaround, for a moment, fortunes looked to finally favour us when Rohit had the left handed Street trapped as plumb-as-plumb-can-be low down in front of all three stumps... bafflingly not given. Thankfully the opener didn't last much longer when he flicked one off Varun and was superbly caught by George at square leg who took a fine forward-diving catch.
Sadly, this was to be our last breakthrough for some considerable time as - clearly knowing their pitch and enjoying the best conditions of the day – Hughes and Clark scored without difficulty and strode on to hit a hundred second wicket stand, their only scare being a big shout for a nick behind from the latter ...again not given.
Our remaining two wickets sadly came too late in the day. Having notched up his half century, Clark finally chipped one from Gaurav to Abhik at short cover and then Hughes, also having made fifty, was bowled through the gate by Avnish... regrettably too little too late. With powerful hitters Barker and Cooper at the middle Millfields romped over the winning line with eight overs to spare and our ordeal was finally over.
To end the day, we joined the affable oppo for a post-match beer at their local, The Talbot, where we licked our wounds and reflected on the advice of all self-respecting cabbies... don't go south of the river.