Spilt catches at Croxley cost Strollers dear
posted: July 27, 2020
Having made an unbeaten start to the much-delayed 2020 season, the Strollers finally fell at our third match – a hastily arranged fixture against newfound opposition the Croxley Guild, a freshly minted club in only their third season. Happily we found both teams to be of a similar standard and with the aimiable oppo requesting an early start in order to afterwards watch the final throes of the Premier League season on the big screen outside their socially-distant clubhouse, and with a BBQ thrown in, a very enjoyable afternoon was had by all.
Croxley won the toss and opted to bat first on the all-weather pitch. Good thing too as we certainly had all weathers to contend with - the bright sunshine frequently interspersed with heavy showers all afternoon. Having made a sprightly start, clubbing 24 off their first three overs, we pegged Croxley back, firstly when Rohit took a superb running catch on the deep square leg boundary to see off Cox and then with the textbook dismissal of Ayrton, neatly caught behind off Varun by Abhik.
Unfortunately Rohit's fine take was to be the exception of the afternoon as, after the first interruption for rain, we made a thorough hash of a series of catch opportunities - at one point two chances on the boundary were shelled off successive balls from Rohit himself. In the meantime, the Croxley batsmen were taking full advantage of our hapless fielding by cashing in on the bouncing wicket with a flurry of powerful boundaries. Thankfully just when oppo keeper Dallas looked to be set for a certain half century he top edged one which looped up to Tom, now standing behind, who at least managed to pouch one back.
However, opener Doug remained in the zone and absolutely carted us. The second half of Croxley's innings saw them accelerate towards the 200 mark and beyond it before he, having hit a sublime ton, called it a day and retired, walking off to the hearty applause of his team mates. From there Woodford and Hobden rode their luck as further catches were spilled. Eventually Harry worked out that the only way to take wickets was to smash down the stumps, and this he did to see off Woodford with a searing yorker. But by then, the damage was done and by the the time Croxley closed on a massive 250 from their 30 overs, your writer had counted at least 8 shelled chances... damn.
After the turnaround, our openers marched out with the daunting task of meeting a run rate from the off in excess of 8 per over. Kash looked in great touch though but, having hit a number of superb straight drives, had to retire hurt briefly having twisted his ankle. Gav was well caught behind having swashed at a high bouncer from Jackson Jnr but George settled the ship somewhat whilst Abhik came in clearly with the intent of taking the attack to the opposition.
This he did with an array of massive shots, mainly through midwicket and Croxley suddenly found themselves having to defend. Unfortunately we somewhat gifted them with their next breakthrough when George was run out. Kash returned but despite his early promise was unable to add much and was bowled by Croxley skipper Chris for 23. Harry was promoted up the order to help Abhik push the run rate up and this they did with an excellent 60+ fourth wicket partnership.
Abhik, clearly seeing the ball like a melon, blasted young Jackson's final over for an astonishing 32 - smashing three successive sixes, three fours plus extras. The oppo weren't helping themselves either by demonstrating the same ineptitude in their catching abilities as we had shown earlier. However, eventually Harry was trapped LBW by Jackson Snr and Tom followed soon afterwards, bowled through the gate by Chris.
Nonetheless Varun demonstrated similar intent to Abhik and, for a time, even requiring 10 an over it looked like we still had a chance to snatch an unlikely win. However, having notched un an exceptional ton – his first for the Strollers – Bob was finally sent packing as he let one from Jackson through.
Varun gamely tried to keep up the momentum but had increasing difficulty finding the boundary as Croxley pushed back their field. Unfortunately the rest of our tail failed to wag, with Dave and Rohit and falling cheaply. Débutant Tarun gamely tried to push the score along in a supporting role until Chris caught Varun out and, when the last ball of our innings came, Dickie too was caught by the Croxley skipper and we closed tantilisingly just 18 short of our target.
Still, it had been an excellent contest, one far closer than we might have hoped for at half time ...thanks mainly to Abhik's magnificent efforts on his way to his maiden Strollers century. Thanks must also go to our gracious hosts, the Croxley Guild who kindly offered us a rematch on 6 September which we will look forward to with relish... we'll be back!