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Match 19 (27th scheduled) 2019: September 8

Chiltern Crusaders CC vs Pimlico Strollers CC

Gaurav grabs a ton as spoils are shared with Crusaders
posted: September 9

Strollers vs Chiltern Crusaders, 8 September 2019

With those rascal Beamers crying off their planned match with us for the third successive occasion this season, it was panic stations last week as we scrambled to seek out an alternative fixture. Happily, after posting a lonely hearts ad on the Fixture List site, we came up trumps – finding newfound oppo in the shape of the kindly Chiltern Crusaders who offered us a game in the salubrious setting of Beaconsfield CC, a truly beautiful cricket ground boasting impeccably kept pitches and not one, but two, immaculate pavilions.

The only fly in the ointment on an otherwise wonderfully sunny late summer afternoon was the bad traffic that blighted our journey out of town. However even that played to our advantage as, having initially won the toss and naturally chosen to bat first, opposition skipper Alex generously offered to reverse his decision in order for us to start the game whilst allowing time for our latecomers to arrive.

Initially this looked to be a blessing in disguise for the Crusaders with Alex, opening the bowling himself, finding unexpected bounce in what looked like a flat track. Encouraged by this, in the fourth over Alex sent down what he later described as his best delivery of the season to castle Gav with a late swinging yorker to dismiss the big man for just a single.

However that was to be the Crusaders only breakthrough for some considerable time as Spencer set about flaying anything wide past the point boundary – much to the chagrin of the oppo’s Kiwi seamer Dion who chuntered away that Spence was edging everything …seemingly from the middle of his bat.

Gaurav, in at three, was in even more imperious form, making the most of the fast outfield with an array of well struck fours before opening his shoulders and launching a brace of massive sixes straight past the bowler. Systematically taking the Crusaders attack apart, our scoring more resembled a T20 run rate and we romped past the 100 mark in just the eleventh over.

Spencer survived a good shout for LBW – captured on video for DRS purposes by Tom, standing at umpire (and later unanimously judged by the Strollers WhatsApp group to have been ridiculously generous in his decision) – but, having played more of a supporting role in an impressive 150+ run stand with Gaurav, was finally dismissed when he unluckily chopped a wide-ish delivery from Wilson onto his stumps, and departed the stage for a valuable 44.

Abhik, skipper for the day, came in next and kicked off a firecracker cameo with a couple of huge sixes to square leg whilst Gaurav continued firing in fearsome form – increasingly going the aerial route having pulled his hamstring when turning for a run. However, it was with a simple push out to cover and with a scampered two runs that Gaurav finally made it to three figures, notching up a splendid maiden century to the hearty applause of everyone watching. After seeing out the remainder of the over, Gaurav retired and returned to the pavilion, raising his bat to much applause.

Ron came in at five and, in typical fashion, rode his luck somewhat – lobbing a few up to nobody in particular in the outfield. However this was matched with trademark energy running between the stumps, ensuring the great rate that Gaurav had established was maintained.

Abhik’s progress unfortunately came to an abrupt end when he misjudged a loopy slower ball from Slater and was bowled. And George, in at six, having struck a couple of well-timed fours to leg followed in similar fashion ­­– bowled by a beamer from Slater that he may have been understandably aggrieved not to have been called a no ball.

Nic put paid to any fear of a collapse though and, with a couple of powerful straight sixes, quickly re-established our grip on proceedings. Powering past the 200 mark and with the best part of forty minutes to go until tea, speculation was rife as to when the declaration might come but Abhik remained impassively unmoved so the onslaught continued.

Having struck a speedy 31 Nic eventually holed out to Slater, waiting on the long on boundary. Tom joined Ron to take us north of 250 before taking a wild swing at a straight one from Partridge and was bowled. Finally, Davie C came in and enjoyed a final couple of overs exasperating the oppo by taking full advantage of overthrows with an all-run four. Tea was called at 3.45pm and, with that, our innings came to an end on an impressive and very defendable 263-6.

Following tea Abhik opted to launch our attack with all out pace – Harry taking the first over and immediately getting the ball to talk, achieving impressive bounce off a full length. Likewise Tom at the other end cranked up to top speed although took a little more time to find his line.

However we didn’t need to wait long for the first breakthrough when Slater hit an uppish pull shot off Harry only to see it nonchalantly plucked one-handed low down by Davie C lurking at midwicket, rather than his usual place behind the stumps (the Kitten still resting his recovering wrist after a fracture). A truly excellent catch by any standard.

Saunders – having survived an edge past Gav at gully the previous delivery – was next to fall when Tom eventually ditched his apparent leg side theory and yorked the Crusaders’ number three with a full and fast scorcher. Similarly, after his old man had put down a sharp chance edged to backward point, Harry made it three down when Spencer expertly held onto a screaming cover drive from Blair hit on the up.

Our enthusiasm at getting the oppo three down relatively quickly was dampened however by Alex who joined the stoic opener Wilson to firm up the Crusaders innings. Seeing the ball well from the off, the batsmen began to counter-attack with almost everything beautifully timed out of the middle.

Unfortunately our one and only chance to snaffle Alex’s wicket came and went when, edging one from Spencer, Nic – deputising for Dave behind the stumps – couldn’t quite hang on to a tricky low catch behind. Sadly this time we were made to pay as Alex hit the gas and began to take on everything with expert timing.

The final 20 overs of the match were called at 5.15pm and, whilst any danger of losing felt remote, so our chances of taking the 7 remaining Crusaders wickets receded. Batesy, playing his final match of the season, didn’t quite find his length and was taken for a few over midwicket. Abhik shuffled the pack and tried a few tricks to elicit a breakthrough ­– changing keepers and bringing himself on.

A glimmer of hope came when, having safely negotiated his side past the 150 mark, Wilson for the first time got careless and scooped another one up off Spencer to Davie at midwicket. But Partridge, next in, continued to resist whilst allowing Alex to continue his assault.

With the overs ticking down Davie was brought on to try something different with some variable leg spin, but to no avail. With a final throw of the dice Ron was eventually brought on and managed to dislodge Partridge with a skimmer but by then it was too little, too late.

With the sun beginning to set the game inevitably ambled to a draw with the Crusaders closing on a valiant 214-5, neither side really gaining the upper hand. Handshakes were offered all round and, as we strolled back to the main pavilion to gatecrash on a Colts club barbecue, we reflected on what an enjoyable game it had been ­– Beaconsfield providing the perfect backdrop to what had been a fun afternoon in the sun.

With both teams mutually agreeing to renew their acquaintance next season, hopefully we will be back …provided Batesy’s hungry post-match demands of the pavilion volunteers that their additional stash of pork pies must be opened are forgiven and overlooked, that is.

Gavin Richardson

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