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Match 12 2023 (17th scheduled): July 23

Highgate Irregulars v Pimlico Strollers CC

Strollers hang on to seal win over HICCs
posted: July 24, 2023

Strollers vs Highgate Irregulars, 23 July 2023

It was with much relief that after a few fruitless weeks, we finally got back to winning ways with a well-earned 4 wicket win away to the Highgate Irregulars at Old Cholmeleians yesterday.

With a heavy downpour drenching the pitch all day on Saturday we were grateful to get the game on at all and, aside from a sharp shower enforcing an early drinks break, we were considerably more fortunate than the England team up in Manchester who suffered the frustration of watching the wet weather wash away any hope of regaining the Ashes.

Given the damp conditions, having won the toss, George opted to send the oppo in believing batting would become easier as the pitch dried out later in the day. His theory looked to be spot on – Spencer and Abhik seeing off the HICCs openers early on, the oppo could barely get the ball off the square with both bowlers finding a miserly line. After ten overs of attrition, Viral came on first change and nabbed our third wicket when Vivek scooped one up to mid off where Abhik called loudly to pouch the catch.

The HICCs were clearly relieved at the arrival of the rain and we came off after 15 overs for drinks with the oppo having limped only to 35-3. Thankfully the delay was short lived and Avnish, operating from the far end, managed to make the spongy surface talk with some variable bounce keeping our newfound keeper Stan Kearney on his toes as he wildly leapt about collecting the ball at all heights (and widths).

However, despite the dodgy surface, the HICCs finally managed to find a little momentum with some cleaner strokeplay from skipper Diyen and Waleed, both of whom began to find the midwicket boundary. The fifty was reached without further loss but, just a few balls later, Avnish managed to get one to spit low and Diyen was bowled for 30. With Viral completing a fine spell, George brought himself on and bamboozled Yogesh – Stan’s efforts behind rewarded with a textbook stumping.

With five down already we began to wonder if the HICCs would even reach three figures but such thoughts were soon cast aside as Aiman, in at seven, finally lit the touch paper to their innings with a brace of handsome drives through extra cover. Similarly Waleed began to open his shoulders and, with some powerful hitting through the onside, the hundred came up in the twenty eighth over.

Sanj joined George in the attack to turn his arm over but the oppo marched on with Aiman and Waleed mounting a much-needed counterattack and, despite having the luxury of eleven players at our disposal for once, the HICCs batsmen somehow seemed to still find the gaps in our field with some lusty blows. Ali’s pal Harrison (playing his first ever cricket match despite apparently having no trousers of his own) flung himself around in the deep to try to lock down the midwicket boundary with some success. Eventually Waleed tried one slog too many and Abhik collected another good catch at long on, much to the delight of Ali ‘the finisher' Rookes who had been handed the ball for one solitary over.

Mike Hayden joined Aiman in the middle and, despite the return of Abhik and Spencer, managed to survive through to the close - the pair mounting a frustrating seventh wicket stand of 47 allowing the HICCs to post 170-6 – respectable in the damp circumstances and possibly 40 runs more than they might have hoped for earlier on.

With teas sadly not on offer we munched on our home made sandwiches and the Victoria sponge cake Dickie had kindly brought along. George chewed over his options and, with a blend of newcomers and experience at his disposal, decided to mix up the batting order and sent in Avnish and Sanj to get our response underway.

Avnish wasted no time in getting stuck in, clubbing 10 from Steve Gray’s opening over. Sanj got in on the act with a quartet of expansive fours before marching down the pitch to Yogesh only to swing, miss and get stumped. Abhik, in at three, kept up the momentum by taking advantage of some wayward stuff from Waleed and, before we knew it, we had already reached 50 in the sixth over …batting later in the day clearly paying off.

Avnish had made it to 20 before Yogesh fooled him with flight to bowl him through the gate. Gav, in at four, marched to the middle to join Abhik but struggled to find his timing with the pitch still sticky. Nevertheless the pair hung in and added a few more before Abhik went for a lofted drive only to hole out to Aiman at long on, handing Yogesh a three for.

With still a hundred needed, Viral brought some good sense to proceedings as, knowing that time was on our side, he put away some of his big shots and settled into a good rhythm, nudging the ball around for singles and twos. Gav eventually managed to put away a couple of boundaries and with Viral, took us safely past the hundred mark without further loss.

Things progressed encouragingly until Aiman was brought into the attack to send down some fizzing off spinners that jagged almost as much as his somewhat suspect bowling arm. With his fourth delivery he had Gav absolutely stitched up with one that sharply changed direction off the pitch to spin onto his stumps. The next ball he did for Spencer with flight – the ball plopping onto his pad triggering umpire Ali to raise his finger, much to the batsman’s dismay and clear annoyance. Oh dear – were the wheels falling off?

Happily Stan appeared to know what he was doing and joined Viral who decided now was the time to cut loose with those trademark booming straight drives of his now crashing into full view. The pair added 30 more vital runs before Stan gloved one behind to Yogesh, who had now taken the gloves and Dickie strode out with another 25 still needed.

Thankfully any fears of a late order collapse were laid to rest with Betts beautifully creaming the ball through extra cover for successive boundaries. Viral continued the charge at the other end and in the twenty seventh over laid matters to rest with a huge six over long off to bring up his 50 and seal the match, much to our relief and delight.

We had done it! Finally we found that elusive fourth win of the season and with it, we have achieved parity with our good friends the HICCs for 2023, having played four matches and won two apiece. Now, let’s keep that winning feeling going while we have it!

Gavin Richardson

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