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Match 6 (13th scheduled), 2016: July 10

Sandon Strollers CC vs Pimlico Strollers CC

Honours even in sunny Sandon
posted: July 11, 2016

The duckanterSunday saw our annual jaunt to rural North Hertfordshire to take on our namesakes, the amiable Sandon Strollers. Though the match ended with honours even — with both sides sharing the right to wear the Strollers badge for another year — it was a nonetheless an excellent game, replete with highlights.

The drama began before the game even started, when Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones (making a welcome return to the side) almost prompted police intervention for what was perceived to be an attempted car-jacking! With George graciously offering chauffeur duty from East Barnet, on his arrival at the station Jones mistook another vehicle for the Brown-mobile and promptly began loading his kit into the astonished and furious driver’s boot. Lively discussion ensued but fortunately prosecution was avoided and we were thankfully able to return our attention to the cricket.

Having made the long trip out to Sandon, all were relieved to see the morning’s ominous rainclouds disperse with something approaching a fine (if blustery) summer’s day break out. Ex-Pimlico Stroller Bobby ‘The Fish’ Fisher now officiates for the Sandon side and kindly agreed with Gav that we should bat first, given that a few late stragglers from north London were still en route. It was also agreed that the match should follow the declaration format, with 20 overs available from 6pm — a sporting decision considering the mixed weather with the opportunity to keep the game alive until the end.

Gav and George strode to the middle and spent the first overs weathering some miserly bowling from old timer Green and the away swing of Cockburn. However the pitch, if not quite a pudding, was certainly slow allowing anything short to sit up for the taking. Our openers were quick to pounce on these opportunities and, having made it through the first few overs without incident, began bashing the ball around. Young leg spinner Inman was brought on and caused concern with some wildly turning deliveries. But he also sent down some loose stuff and, with Gav dispatching an enormous straight drive for six that cleared the road behind the ground, Sandon started to look worried.

George offered and survived the chance of a sharp catch when he belted one straight to mid off which was put down but that was the only significant scare as the pair piled the score up to over a hundred by drinks — Gav in particular doling out punishment to Hardie, clobbering an assortment of sixes and fours between the V. Having notched up his welcome first fifty of the season, Gav carried on to 62 (his part in a 116 opening stand) before, in the interests of sharing the bounty, he decided to retire having offered nary a chance to the oppo. George, upon also hitting his own well deserved half-century, did likewise and handed the reins over to Henry and Tim to carry on and cash in.

And cash in they did, upping the tempo of the running between the wickets and routinely finding fours and sixes easy to come by — despite the fact that, at one stage, Sandon seemed to be fielding twelve! Tim in particular batted in celebratory mode, determined as he was to demonstrate his reverse-scoop/ sweep shot at any given opportunity. Without breaking a sweat the 200 was reached without further ado and those on the sidelines began to debate what would be a good score to declare on.

The wait for Jones and Sturm to reach their respective fifties didn’t last long at which point they too graciously stepped aside allowing for Dickie and master blaster Viral to have a couple of overs to have some fun. Viral smashed three quick boundaries before, with the score an imposing 257-0, Gav decided to call them in — just in time for both teams to temporarily cast cricketing concerns to one side and repair to the TV in the pavilion to enjoy the sight of Andy Murray claiming his second Wimbledon crown.

Having taken a sneaky look through recent Sandon scorecards, we felt assured that the target we had set was ample and were confident we could take the ten wickets required to secure the win. And when Viral knocked Singh’s stumps over early on after tea, we felt well on our way to victory. Hardie however, despite conceding plenty off his bowling, proved a tougher customer with the bat and mounted spirited resistance combining solid defence with some good strokes to the boundary.

Harry Brown, playing his first match of the year, found pace and accuracy but was unable to penetrate in his first spell and though Viral wasn’t giving anything away, Gav felt changes were necessary to bring the breakthrough. Dave Gorton was brought on from the far end and began bowling a good line, taking advantage of a strong cross-wind that had built up. Ronak too was brought on at the pavilion end and after some looseners began to tempt the Sandon batsmen with drifting flight. It was one such delivery that brought the second wicket when Inman Snr fizzed one to short cover where Henry pounced.

With the clock striking 6pm, the countdown was on to claim the 8 remaining wickets in the 20 remaining overs. However Sandon dug in and, after surviving a couple of early LBW shouts, Bob offered us no quarter. The overs ticked by and gradually the win looked less and less likely until Hardie, having notched up a well-earned fifty took a rare swing and a miss at Ronak (now operating from the far end) allowing the kitten to swoop and stump him. Game back on.

George had been brought on to try and buy a wicket but paid nothing as he sent  Cockburn back to the pavilion without scoring, thanks to a spectacular forward diving catch from Dave G at point — a contender for catch of the season. Viral, taking over from Ronak, then claimed his second wicket by again clean bowling Green with a skidding yorker.

Having notched up their hundred, with five down and only a handful of overs remaining, Sandon looked to be limping towards safety until Gorton took the prize wicket of Fisher who, having batted with wall-like stoicism, edged thinly to Sturm who once again showed his credentials at first slip. The victory seemed very much back on when Harry, now resuming from the pavilion end, reprised his reputation as our finisher with the textbook dismissal of Bandy who edged behind to the waiting kitten Couldrey.

The equation was now simple — three wickets were required in three overs and, with runs of no concern whatsoever, we crowded the bat with an Anderson-esque umbrella field. Harry and Dave G sent down a string of tempting full deliveries but Sandon’s batsmen were not to be roused. With each ball slipping by so our hopes of the win diminished and unfortunately in the end it was not to be albeit that Sandon closed over a hundred short of their target.

It had however been an exemplary display in the field — undoubtedly our best of the season — with no spills at all and attacking formations yielding some fantastic catching. Plaudits must go to Sandon for how well they resisted our attack and, in combination with the fireworks of our own innings, we can rightly feel proud of a fine team effort and a day where all Strollers, wherever they came from, contributed to a great game.

On reflection, the only rather sad aspect of the day was that Dickie’s splendid newfound trinket that he brought along from some bric-a-brac stall or other, the newly dubbed ‘Duck-anter’ (pictured), was not to be presented to any of us. Damn us and our in-form batsmen…

Gavin Richardson


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