Acme survive early scare to overcome Strollers at sunny Brentham
posted: July 1
A year on from Ron’s famous fuel-injected (???) run chase to win our first encounter with the comically-named Acme CC, we found ourselves back for a rematch in the salubrious and sunny settings of the delightful Brentham Club, replete with lawn tennis and bowls courts alongside it’s expansive cricket pitch.
Our ranks were boosted by the long-awaited return of our Kiwi contingent, Tim ‘Sturminator’ Sturm (keeping wicket) and ‘Master’ Andrew Bates (keeping talking) and, with a strong lineup at his disposal, skipper Davie G had no hesitation in opting to bat first on what looked like a flat track.
What he hadn’t reckoned on was the sheer pace and accuracy of Acme’s opening bowler Kidron, who didn’t feature last year. Bowling wicket-to-wicket and at lightning speeds higher than anything we have yet faced this year, the paceman was paired at the other end by sometime Stroller Haris Mashkoor (himself no slouch with the ball) and between them wrought havoc on our top order.
Abhik, again promoted to open the innings, was unfortunate to notch up his first ever golden duck when he played on. George snicked one behind and Gav, having scrambled to double figures, was quite simply done for pace as Kidron struck again. Matters were made worse when Tim, having held out for a bowling change, was trapped LBW when Kidron gave way to Lambell, meaning with only twenty-odd on the board we found ourselves four down and looking down the barrel.
Our spirits rose slightly when Harsh was thankfully dropped behind and we took heart that at least with he and Spencer now in the middle there remained hope that we could mount something of a counter-attack. But scoring opportunities remained scarce and, in attempting to get the scoreboard moving with a misjudged swing, Spencer was clean bowled for 12 by Reed. 47-5 then. Not good.
Thankfully Tom, next in, was brandishing a brand new bat purchased just the day before from the Newbery shop at the County Ground, Hove and was keen to give it a good début. With Acme mercifully bringing on some slower stuff he was able to do so as he and Harsh began working the ball around to re-ignite our innings.
The sheer scale of the Brentham ground meant boundaries remained hard to come by, but with the slower bowling posing less of a threat, our batsmen were able to pick up relatively easy runs. Before long the hundred was finally notched up and, after drinks, Harsh – who had been uncharacteristically short of runs in the early part of the season – rediscovered his mojo and began to find the boundary and notched up a first fifty of the year.
Tom continued to enjoy his new blade, batting with style and finesse but, just as he and Harsh had clocked up an invaluable 100 partnership for the sixth wicket, he loosely swung at one from Scott and was well caught by Haris for 44. Dave was unable to repeat last Sunday's batting heroics and departed for just a couple but, with Varun in next, the 150 was comfortably reached and even though Kidrun was reintroduced to mop up the tail, he showed no fear and hit three powerful boundaries allowing us to close on a respectable (if slightly below par) 169-7, Harsh remaining unbeaten on 66.
After a leisurely tea – with players on both sides rapt by the goings on from Edgbaston where England were clinging on to their World Cup dreams against India – we found ourselves in the unlikely position of getting our noses ahead. This thanks to two early wickets – Haji dismissed for a duck when Tim took an excellent catch behind from Varun, and then Abhik trapping Deacon LBW for just a single to reduce the oppo to 12-2.
With probing bowling at both ends Acme seemed to find batting almost as tricky as we had and, with the introduction of Spencer – dealing in off spin this week due to an injury picked up the previous week – the third wicket was claimed when he bowled Whiting through the gate for 28.
However this brought Haris to the middle – who had scored a century against us in last year’s encounter – who looked in as good touch as ever. Alongside Mayuran, Mashkoor read the bowling expertly and relentlessly found the middle of his bat, keeping the score ticking over. Whilst Acme’s progress was never destructive, they remained quietly ahead of the run rate and the need for another wicket became evermore urgent.
We were certain we had made the breakthrough when Mayuran misjudged one from Spencer, missed and was sharply stumped by Tim – only for the apparently myopic square leg umpire to insist that his back foot was grounded when all around (including the other umpire) protested in no doubt it had been airborne.
So, much to our chagrin, Mayuran batted on (Tim loudly muttering “bonus runs!” every time he got off strike). Justice was partially restored when Bates, brought on to replace Spencer, nabbed an unlikely LBW with his first ball to dismiss the Acme keeper, possibly a sympathy wicket given out, one might speculate.
However any potential hopes that this may trigger a late order collapse were dashed by Lambell who came in swinging and matched Haris’ clean striking with a series of powerful boundaries. Haris notched up his fifty and, shortly after dispatching a huge six over long on and out of the ground – no mean feat at the Brentham – Acme achieved their target with four overs to spare.
Nevertheless it had been a good contest – far closer than we might have hoped at the start of the day – and with honours now even between the Strollers and Acme, it will be all to play for next year.