Strollers on fire as we make it five!
posted: August 1, 2021
The Strollers' mid-season winning streak was extended to five games on the bounce, with another well-fought victory (again with only nine men!) away to the Highgate Irregulars yesterday. With heavy rainfall the previous day and dark clouds looming overhead at Old Cholmeleians, having lost the toss we were sent into bat. But despite the early loss of George (caught at cover for 3) the inclement conditions proved no problem as Davie C and Abhik read the sticky wicket well and got us off to a flier, notching up our fifty in just eight overs thanks to some powerful hitting by both batsmen.
Having hit a stylish 29, the Kitten was eventually out scooping one up to Harani but Abhik ploughed on and with a trademark pull shot through midwicket he reached a well-earned fifty. However the skipper was undone a few deliveries later when he holed out to Gallagher, handing Derek Owen his much-celebrated hundredth wicket for the HICCs. Gav, in at four, had hit a couple of boundaries square of the wicket before misreading the pace of the pitch and top edged one to 12 year old Kenny Horsman, lurking at square leg, who took a fine catch. We had a short break in proceedings as the heavy clouds overhead finally burst for a 15 minute downpour (Tom finding shelter beneath the scorer's table) but thankfully it didn't last and we were back on before too long. After the resumption Ravi, next in, looked to join Harry in some heavy-hitting but after a series of lusty blows down the ground he played down the wrong line to Tony (HICCs' skipper for the day) and was bowled.
Having emerged from under the table Tom joined Harry in the middle in working the ball around well and took us past the 150 mark with seven overs still remaining. Harry's excellent form with the bat remained on full show as he crashed the ball to all parts but our progress was stilted when he called Tom back for a second that wasn't there and Harvey was run out for 23. Varun sadly didn't last long but that didn't deter Harry who recorded his sixth fifty of the season, taking us past 200 until he took one swing too many and was bowled by Steve Gray for an excellent 59. Rohit added a couple more and George, making a second appearance as returning last man, added a single before being bowled on the last ball of the innings, meaning we closed on a very respectable 207, no mean feat considering the wet and heavy outfield.
At the interval the sun finally emerged from behind the clouds meaning the HICCs would enjoy the best weather of the day to bat. However, after the resumption, the oppo found scoring opportunities almost non-existent as Varun and Ravi delivered a miserly line, offering no quarter. After the first ten overs the HICCs had made only 35 and Tom asked 'is this declaration cricket?' Varun offered up an enticing over of off spin and conceded even less but, having seen off our opening attack, the Irregulars finally had a go at getting the scoreboard moving. Dave Osborn had nurdled his way into the teens before he finally opened his shoulders and crashed three powerful boundaries off Abhik through midwicket.
With the Irregulars having finally made it to fifty and with the introduction of Tom we got our first breakthrough when Osborn edged one up to Gav at slip who happily held on. This was almost immediately followed when Tom skidded one through Giles Elwes' defences. However this ominously brought the heavy-hitting Alex Gray to the middle who, having hit a big hundred the previous week, got straight down to business with a powerful pull shot to the square leg boundary.
Whilst Alex made hay at one end we thankfully made progress at the other when, after drinks, Rohit caught Gallagher at mid on off a no ball from Tom but then smartly ran him out as Gray called him through for a quick single. However this brought skipper Tony to the wicket and, with the HICCs two best batsmen at the middle, we knew this was where the game really started. Alex, having survived a difficult catch sent Ravi's direction at cow corner, continued his onslaught as he reached 50 and with the HICCs' hundred coming up in the 21st over we knew that, despite the challenging run rate, whist Gary and Mitchell remained unbeaten victory was far from certain.
Thankfully our fears of an Irregulars comeback were abated when Alex skied an outside edge towards slip where Gav readied himself to take the crucial catch – but Davie was having none of it and hurtled back hollering 'MINE!'. Recalling the infamous clash between Tim and the Kitten resulting in an awful drop on the same ground some seasons previously, Gav sensibly took a step back and left Dave to safely cling on and, mercifully, Alex was gone - much to the delight of Tom who collected a well-earned three-fer.
Harry came on late in the day to see off Yogesh with an expertly delivered yorker, bringing young Kenny to the middle who lasted a few until the child catcher George skidded one under his bat. With the HICCs' last hope Tony scooping one up to Ravi at midwicket off Varun, returning for another over of off spin, it was all over bar the strains of the fat lady. Abhik risked his recovering thumb to catch Owen at cover from Rohit, who claimed a second with the final wicket of the match when Steve Gray gently edged one up to Varun at point... and the job was done. With the ten man HICCs all out for 127 our victory was sealed with a comfortable 80 run margin, and we repaired to the nearby Rising Sun pub to celebrate another good win and great momentum to bring with us as we stroll on to Chippers next weekend!