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Matches 20 & 21 (24th scheduled) 2017: September 16

Broken Wicket tournament

Broken Wicket breaks Strollers hopes of tournament glory
posted: September 17, 2017

Harsh in action at Broken Wicket

Yesterday saw our first foray as participants in the Broken Wicket one day tournament, an annual end-of-season shindig hosted by our friends the Archway Ladder at North Middlesex CC. With five teams already confirmed (including our longstanding chums the Beamers) we were recently approached to complete the lineup and gladly accepted the invitation.

The six teams were divided into two groups of three, each playing a round robin against one another. Ambitiously aiming to complete all group games, a semi final and final all in the same day, the format was alarmingly short – just 10 overs per side and everyone (bar the wicket keeper) was required to bowl one each. What’s more, batting orders had to be confirmed ahead of the tournament with the lineup rolling on from one match to the next – which required a bit of careful thought on the part of the skippers …in our case, Gav who had been given a field promotion in Viral and George’s absence.

Upon our arrival we were reliably informed that we had been drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ – our opponents being the big hitting (and menacingly named) George Orwell XI and the Archway Ladder themselves, who already had won one over on us earlier this season. With the Ladder having already beaten the Orwellians in the first group match, the GO XI were clearly on a mission to make amends and, upon winning the toss for our first game, promptly decided to get stuck in and bat first.

Much as the tone of the infamous 2006/07 Ashes series had been set from the first ball (when Steve Harmison’s dreadful wide squirted out directly to second slip) so was the theme of our day as Tom’s first delivery was clubbed over backward square leg for six, and promptly lost (money well spent on a shiny new Dukes ball, then – Ed). This doubtless was the sign of things to come and with the George Orwell XI comprised in the main of muscular sub-continental types the batting was predictably ferocious.

That the format required everyone to bowl (except for wicket keeper Dave Osborn, kindly guesting for us from the HICCs) didn’t exactly help matters and extra punishment was meted out to the likes of Gav, Dickie and Matt – none of whom had bowled an over in anger for a number of seasons. However even our more regular bowlers were given fearsome treatment as George Orwell’s batsmen absolutely carted us with their top three successively retiring upon reaching 25 not out (another requirement of tournament rules).

As has too often been the case of late, dropped catches also cost us dear (no fewer than four were shelled by my recollection) and the only wicket to fall was that late on of young George, thanks to an impressively executed run out when Dave raced round to collect the ball from short square leg and took a shy with one stump to aim at. But by then it was too little, too late and the oppo closed on an almighty 136-1.

Still, we had some hitters of our own at our disposal and, having front-loaded the batting order, our big guns Harsh and Tony Mitchell (also guesting from the HICCs) were sent out to the middle to take on the attack. With no option but to take a heave at just about anything going, Tony was dismissed early when he took a wild swing and a miss to a straight one from George which got through.

Tim, next in, played with typical confidence and managed to work the ball around well, albeit more along the ground than in the air. Harsh played with rather more bravado and had just struck a fine expansive six over long off before, on 15, he too succumbed to a mistimed stoke which he chipped up to Ali who took the return catch.

Yash Singh, the third of our guesting HICCs, came in at four and combined expertly with Tim to keep the scoreboard ticking over with an array of powerful strokes. Under normal circumstances – even in a T20 – the run rate we were comfortably hitting (around 8 per over) would have been excellent. But, in the face of the mammoth total we were chasing, it felt rather paltry. Nonetheless as run rate may have been a deciding factor if results had transpired differently, we admirably kept at it with Tim successfully making it up to the 25 mark before being forced to retire.

Matt came into support Yash in the final overs until the latter eventually holed out in the deep and left the stage for a fine 22. With Matt and Gav unbeaten at the end we closed on a respectable 81-3 which, whilst over 50 runs shy of our target, felt like a decent effort and gave us some hope for the next game.

Our next opposition was to be in the more familiar shape of the Archway Ladder XI themselves. With proceedings running a little behind schedule, the turnaround was immediate so, without even having time to remove his pads, Gav was summoned to toss for the next match. This time he called correctly and (possibly for the sake of convenience) elected to carry on batting. As the rules dictated, our batting order had to simply roll on for the last match with only one change – Sam coming in for Dickie who had injured himself when fielding, chasing one through the covers with cavalier abandon.

It’s fair to say we didn’t make the best of starts… in the first over (and not for the first time this season), Gav took a loose swing and edged to gully. This was followed up by two successive run outs – firstly Matt, then Kash giving themselves too much to do to make it to the other end. It was all too apparent that the urge to put quickfire runs on the board was getting into our heads.

Tom, in his first knock since his match-winning 81 not out at Chippenham, looked to play positively alongside Dave O. But with the Ladder’s fielders well set boundaries were hard to come by so our progress mainly came in the form of singles and twos. Eventually the pressure to accelerate got too much for Tom who took a lunge at a slower one from Goodman that got through the gate.

Sam and Ronak came and went without troubling the scorers – both holing out straight away – meaning Harsh could return to the middle, which gave us some hope that our innings could be reignited (or even just ignited for that matter). But unlike ourselves, the Archway side seemed not to have any weaker links in their bowling attack and thus scoring opportunities were scarce.

At the end of a miserly final over, with the score having only just crept over 50, Dave took a heave for the hell of it, connected but was unluckily caught at mid on, and thus we closed on a meagre 54-7 …which, frankly, never felt like enough.

It wasn’t. Our first two overs went for a searing 31 and whilst Kash, Tony and Tom followed this up with some tighter stuff, the Archway batsmen made it look all too easy – not that they had much to chase. Lang retired on 25 and when Dave O sent down a wide with his first ball of the sixth over the Ladder’s target was reached, and so we trudged off after another chastening defeat and out of the tournament.

Despite our failure to register a win, it had been a few hours of fun nonetheless and in the end we had to concede that we have a bit to learn in order to compete in this shortest form of the game. We repaired to the pavilion patio to enjoy a barbeque, a beer or two and ruefully look on at the game on the other pitch where the Beamers were making their way to a win and ultimately overall victory to claim the 2017 Broken Wicket trophy. Thankfully we were spared the ignominy of the wooden spoon as fifth place in the tournament standings was shared.

But we can’t let it end like that… we have one final match of the year to look forward to next Sunday in the delightful surroundings of Hawridge & Cholesbury …perhaps there we will find a more fitting end to what has, after all, been a wonderful season.

Gavin Richardson

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