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Match 6 2023: June 04

Highgate Irregulars CC vs Pimlico Strollers CC

Destructive batting dominates as Strollers slip to defeat at Old Cholms
posted: June 05, 2023

Strollers vs Highgate Irregulars, 4 June 2023

With our plans to host the Wealdstone Corinthians scuppered by a girls cup tie at Ferme Park we were grateful to our old friends the Highgate Irregulars for their kind offer to play them instead at Old Cholmeleians… and a great game it was. Sadly though, having been strangely sent in on a beautiful sunny day on a belter of a track, we once again failed to post a total that put the game out of sight for the oppo who cruised to their 229 target with two overs to spare.

In many ways, our innings felt like a carbon copy of last Sunday’s efforts against the Bohos – Abhik getting us off to a blistering start with a trio of powerful fours before getting bowled against the run of play by Yogesh. Varun looked in good touch and continued the charge with shots all round the park on his way to a stylish 32 before holing out to Tony Mitchell at mid on.

Once again it was Matt, in at three, who steadied our ship and nurdled the ball around with Gav, still nursing a troublesome knee injury, to settle in for a partnership that took us to the hundred mark at drinks after which both batters opened their shoulders with some more expansive shots. Their progress came to an abrupt halt when Gav was spectacularly caught behind off Tony by a diving Dave Osborne and this set the stage for Spencer to join Matt in the middle.

Thankfully Spencer’s baron spell with the bat in the early part of the season seemed to have been nothing more than a glitch in the Matrix as he found fluency and form, upping the run rate with Matt who carded his second fifty on the bounce to the warm applause of those watching from the boundary. However, as our total passed 150, there was some anxiety that we still needed the best part of another hundred to truly assert ourselves so Matt chanced his arm, adding nine more until he scooped a return catch out to Yogesh.

Ron, back from a bad shoulder injury, scampered on and in trademark fashion immediately pressed for runs that weren’t there to be taken, much to Spencer’s chagrin – notably when on one occasion he found Ron standing beside him having sneakily pinched an extra single from overthrows at the danger end. However this spurred Spencer on to take more chances himself. But, having made it to 30, in the effort to push up the score he offered one up from Hayden to Yogesh who took a good catch at point.

With our score still dwindling somewhat it the 170s with only three overs remaining Harry marched to the middle, clearly with captain’s orders from his old man ringing in his ears. What followed was a brutal assault of big hitting that took almost everyone by surprise as Harry carted the ball to all parts, taking us past the 200 mark and beyond. Unbelievably, with a flurry of five sixes, in just 14 deliveries (!) Brown Jnr smashed his way to an unbeaten 44 and so we closed on a much healthier looking 228-5 …a far more respectable score than we anticipated a few overs earlier.

Had Harry’s innings changed the fate of the game? Over tea we reflected that teams generally struggle to surpass 200 at Old Cholms. But with a good pitch, a fast outfield and the likes of Tony Mitchell and the fearsome Alex Gray at the HICCs disposal we knew we would have to bowl and field well to hold out.

We traded blows in the initial overs of the Irregulars’ response. After a handful of boundaries dispatched from Rohit’s opening salvo, skipper Diyen Ramani snicked one behind from Abhik where Davie C – making a very welcome return with the gloves after his exile to the Isle of Wight – expertly took the catch. However, a handy second wicket stand between Walter and Osborne helped the HICCs to the fifty mark at which point the latter fell as he unluckily clattered one from Varun onto his leg stump.

With a decent platform already established we warily looked on as Alex strode out to the middle, just ten days on from smashing 68 against us in our last T20. Gray Jnr didn’t hang around getting stuck in to our attack once again, dismissively slapping his first delivery from Varun back over the long on boundary… yikes.

The Kitten lifted our spirits somewhat as he held onto another one behind from Varun to see off Walter but this brought Tony to the wicket and amongst ourselves we knew that this was the moment when the game truly started. If we could break this partnership early, victory would surely be ours. If not, well… it could get ugly.

Alas, neither batsman showed any intention of offering us a chance and with Alex cranking into top gear from the get go, we found ourselves rocked on our heels and back on the boundary. Not that it mattered to Alex whose ferocious blows either side of the wicket scorched past whichever fielder was unlucky enough to be nearest as he helped himself to the short stuff Harry was serving up and powered past 50.

In an attempt to stem the flow George brought himself on just before drinks sadly to no avail and, with 13 spanked from his solitary over, the oppo were alarmingly already at 142-3 by the interval. The onslaught continued after the resumption but with Abhik taking over behind the stumps a glimmer of hope shone as out of nowhere he sharply stumped Alex off Spencer, Gray falling just two shy of a blistering hundred.

However, we knew that as long as Tony remained in the middle the oppo remained on top and, with next man Yogesh defiantly getting in on the act with a brace of boundaries square of the wicket, the Irregulars’ score menacingly marched on towards 200. Hopes of a late revival in our fortunes were dashed further when Matt was unable to cling on to a sharp chance to catch Tony out at midwicket in what proved to be our last opportunity to wrest back control.

The 200 came up and with less than a run a ball needed for victory, the HICCs allowed themselves to score at an easy pace, our bowlers unable to make further inroads. Yogesh swiped the last ball of the 33rd over through the covers for four and, with that, victory was theirs …Tony unbeaten on a typically resilient 47.

We trudged off again kicking ourselves for failing to impose ourselves in our innings but, in reality, it had been a superbly competitive game which – but for two fearsome batting displays from Harry and Alex – might otherwise have been quite pedestrian. The Irregulars on the other hand were understandably jubilant as they celebrated one of the highest successful run chases in their history. We’ll let the HICCs have this one and we look forward to meeting them again for more later in the season!

Gavin Richardson

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