Sun 16 Sept Headley Lost by 85 runs
They 242/10 in 35 overs (Barney Cowie 50, Steve Barton 47, Jeff Haywood 39, Gus Noble 33, Sunil Amar 3/35, Neeraj Nayar 2/27)
We 157/8 in 35 overs (Neeraj Nayar 54*, David Behar 39, Grant Waller 3/19, Bobby Barton 2/11)
The tail end of the summer brought KCC to Headley’s friendly home ground in Surrey. KCC High Command San was his usual quietly menacing pre-match self as skipper Saurav received a call the evening before the match informing him that as KCC had won 10 and lost 10 this season, “it would be important to finish well”.
To cope with this pressure, KCC fielded a team of 10 vets with an average age which was almost Bradman-esque, and no regular keeper. The eleventh was our secret weapon, Seethal, who was no doubt quaking in his boots at the prospect of facing his teammates at the following week’s all important Youths vs Vets game.
Headley elected to bat first and got off to a flying start, racing to 53/0 in six overs as the opening pair of Haywood and Cowie took advantage of the quick outfield and not-quite-so-quick fielding to flog any loose deliveries from new-ball bowlers Chetan Singh and Ian. The introduction of Seethal brought the scoring rate to a screeching halt, however, and it was small comfort to the batsmen that no one, not even, it seemed, Seethal (1/16), seemed to know exactly what he was doing, though one unplayable delivery followed another and all were legal. Seethal broke the 89-run opening partnership and with Saurav (1/35) supporting from the other end, the pair managed to claw KCC back to some form of respectability, though Headley were still dangerously poised at 105/2 when drinks were taken at 20 overs.
Chris Chunnilall (2/45) picked up after Seethal, but it was Sunil Amar’s (3/35) vintage swing and Neeraj Nayar’s (2/27) wily bowling at the death that allowed KCC to “restrict” Headley to 242 all out even though a 300+ target was a constant threat as the opposition batsmen went after the bowlers. David Behar had a baptism by fire with the wicketkeeping gloves – karma, perhaps, for all the times he has bowled? – but showed that he was a quick learner. We mostly held on to our catches, though the expressions of disbelief when Saurav caught his opposite number at midwicket betrayed our general expectations. For the opposition, Gus Noble chipped in with a quick-fire 33 and the dangerous-looking Stevie Barton clobbered 47 before his teammates conspired to run him out.
KCC’s reply got off to a textbook start. Textbook for the fielding side, that is, as we were soon reduced to 0-2 with both openers Amit Shanker and Chetan Malhotra finding themselves facing the better part of 35 overs in which to reflect on the weather, the drive out to the ground, the 35 overs they spent fielding, etc. Chris Ledger felt the pressure and perished relatively cheaply while trying to accelerate. It then fell to David Behar – who clearly showed that he had got his eye in while keeping wickets – and Neeraj (again!) to steady the innings, though the asking rate was already close to 12 an over. David fell for a well-made 39 and even though Saurav and Ian struck a few blows, the asking rate was too much for KCC’s tail as our objectives were swiftly revised – first, to ensure the margin of defeat was less than 100 (achieved!), then to ensure we were not bowled out (achieved!) and finally, make sure Neeraj did not run out of partners for his 54* (achieved!). For Headley, Grant Waller (3/19) and young Bobby Barton (2/11) were the pick of the bowlers, with Stevie Winslet also picking up a brace.
Post-match drinks were thoroughly enjoyable, as the father-and-son pair of Barton & Barton were awarded Headley’s MoM for their batting and bowling heroics respectively, while Sunil Amar was KCC’s, for reasons that need no further explanation on these pages.
Sun 17 Sept Headley Lost by 45 runs
They 279/4 in 35 overs (Steve Barton 87, Steve Winslet 86*, Jim Brooks 41, Barney Cowie 39, Wes Johnson 2/36)
We 234/3 in 35 overs (Sid Chhibbar 110, Rohan Ghosh 61*, Preetinder Singh 22, Steve Miles 1/14)
Headley cricket ground lies in one of the most tranquil settings on the outskirts of London; a picturesque ground hidden amongst the tall trees with horse riders occasionally passing by.
Upon our early arrival we noticed a slight problem. Overnight rain had soaked the ground and without any covers to protect the pitch the game looked in jeopardy. As cricket lovers we do not let a bit of sludge and dampness get in our way. With a slight delay and with plenty of sawdust spread on the run-ups we were ready to play a reduced 35 overs game.
Headley were put into bat first and it seemed as if they were in the mood to play a bit of cricket, or perhaps just knew something about the weather forecast. Their opening pair started very aggressively pumping up their run rate and taking advantage of our strike bowlers slipping and sliding all over the show when running up to bowl. Skipper Saikat bowled exceptionally well considering the conditions to put both openers under some pressure at one end.
After three wickets fell we thought their big hitters were gone and we would have them stuttering. Unfortunately, we thought wrong as Steve Barton and Steve Winslet served up a lesson in brutal hitting – 16 sixes between them and losing 7 balls in the process! They amassed over 170 runs in just 83 balls. Although Gabriel managed a break-through, Headley finished on a solid 279 runs off their 35 overs. Astonishingly, 54 of them came in the last 3 overs, the hapless Ryan Konson bearing the brunt of the onslaught. The worst moment, however, was the sight of Saikat being felled by a hard return drive in the second last over, the ball crunching into his ankle on his follow-through. A badly bruised Saikat took no further part in the game.
We knew we had to start aggressively and take full advantage of the short boundaries that were on offer. Sid and Preet laid a solid platform of 81 in 16 overs before Preet got run out. At this stage we were on par with wickets in hand. Sid continued to play a blinder with an outstanding innings of 110 off just 84 balls to show that we too could hit a few into the trees. When Sid departed (156/2 in the 27th over) Rohan who had been giving excellent support took on the lead role. However, it began to drizzle steadily and the wet conditions continued to worsen making it difficult to pierce the field or to go aerial. Rohan and Stef tried valiantly but could not maintain the required momentum. The target proved beyond our reach on this day.
But who would have thought that on such a soggy pitch on such a soggy day over 500 runs would have been scored in such entertaining fashion. Long live village cricket. Well done to Headley and many thanks for being superb hosts.
Sun 11 Sept Headley Won by 5 wkts
They 179/6 in 35 overs (A.Hughes 55*, Mottershed 37, James Midmer 25, Ryan Konson 3/23)
We 182/5 in 28.3 overs (Sid Chhibbar 68, Hammad Rishad 30, Wajid Tahir 25*, James Midmer 2/17)
KCC were forced to start in the field with only 8 players due to KCC’s resident Uber driver struggling to navigate that perennially difficult route to the ground.
It was no surprise that the Headley openers took full advantage of the situation in a game reduced to 35 overs, and got off to a flyer, their skipper James Midmer being particularly severe. However, Hammad bowled him with a beauty. The arrival of our 3 tardy players immediately changed the game as the run rate slowed thanks to the extra fielders and some excellent bowling from Ian Elliott who picked up a wicket off his first ball.
That allowed Ryan (one of the latecomers) to repay his teammates by bowling a devastating spell of in-swinging yorkers that had the Headley batsmen flummoxed, collecting 3/23 and leaving KCC a gettable 180 for victory off 35 overs. Hughes was Headley’s best batsman finishing on 55*.
Sid and San got KCC off to the perfect start putting on 100 for the 1st wicket before San was run out for 21. Sid was the main scorer of the innings and finished with a match-winning 68. Stefanos (18*) played the anchor role to some big hitting from Hammad (30 in 16 balls)) and Wajid (25* in 11 balls) as they took KCC to a comfortable victory with 6 overs to spare.
Sun 13 Sept Headley Lost by 7 wkts
We 217/6 in 39 overs (Nitin Chaturvedi 64*, Preetinder Singh 56, Chris Ledger 44, Oscar Jefferson 30, S.Winslett 2/51)
They 221/3 in 37.3 overs (H.Storey 106, A.Hughes 64*, S.Barton 22*, Neeraj Nayar 2/56)
When Sunil promises he will be on time and decides to offer a ride to two others, it usually means the KCC skipper has to choose to bat as the Sunny Amar car is delayed due to large, ostentatious and unbelievable variety of reasons. This day was no different – as KCC went to bat after winning the toss. John Behar, fresh from his 80+ escapade from last weekend was tasked to go hit a few. Hit one he did, second ball of the first over, straight to Headley skipper’s waiting hands. KCC’s leading run scorer Chris Ledger took it upon himself to put some runs on the board. Unfortunately, he got out at 44 to one that he shouldn’t have played. Young Oscar showed the promise, better than his dad at this sprightly age, by scoring a brisk and lusty 30. At the other end, Khan and David Behar got themselves out and then the Nitin and Preetinder show began. Starting cautiously, they each scored half centuries with the pedal to the metal in the final overs. Skipper Khan declared at 217/6 off 39 overs, supported by the wisdom of more senior KCC folks. A decision that should have been referred upstairs…
Headley started steadily and when Preetinder got Dickinson caught with the team score on 49, a ray of hope emerged through the clouds – but left pretty soon. Storey and Hughes put up a 118 run partnership. A lot should be said about young Storey’s batting. He played each ball on its merit, despatching regular boundaries at will, watchfully placing shots in vacant areas, even eyeing field movements during overs and then using the new gaps. He didn’t give any chances and KCC’s bowlers had no answers to his 106 until Nayar got him with Gore taking a superbly judged catch in the deep. Those eyes aren’t so weak after all, eh! Hughes gave a dolly of a chance to Bernard who somehow, perhaps reminiscing of the house party the night before, dropped it!! Neeraj was kind enough not to say too much. In the end, Barton got his side home comfortably with 2 overs to spare. KCC were 30 odd short on the day, or maybe not. Credit to Neeraj for his tight bowling and 2 wickets which could have been 5, if the catches had been taken.
Drinks and pizza at the bar and friendly chats, KCC left the ground disappointed, but with a resolve to do better next year.
Sun 25 May Headley Drawn
We 189/8 in 40 overs (Akhi Shailendra 49*, Sher Babi 28, Regan 25, Oscar Jefferson 22, Elburn 5/49)
They 102/7 in 35 overs (Josh Pickering 31, A.Hughes 20, Eddy Barreto 3/17, Wajid Tahir 2/22)
We played an old-fashioned low scoring game, full of grit and fight at Headley. Calling tails, Rohan lost the toss and, reluctantly, Kensington batted first on a damp pitch. Almost immediately we lost a wicket when, in the second over, Bharat was bowled by the young quickie Elburn with the score on 1. At the other end, Sherbuland Babi shrugged off this early setback and launched his innings with flair befitting his wonderful Moghul name – hitting a straight six over the bowler’s head. And so we settled down, huddling together by the boundary’s edge in the relative warmth of the early May sun. But our peace was short lived when first San and then Sher were dismissed with the score on 52. This triggered a middle order collapse as numbers 4, 5 and 6 all fell cheaply, struggling to come to terms with the slow pitch. 58/6 in the 15th over. Akhi then marshalled a vintage rear guard action with a mixture of solid defence and calculated aggression in a series of partnerships with Regan, Oscar and Eddy, taking our total to a fighting 189. Unfortunately for Akhi, he missed out on a deserving fifty when he fell in the last over going for a slog. The standout performer for Headley was Elburn, who picked up 5/49 in 15 overs.
Headley started strong with their young openers playing some fine strokes to notch up 50 odd runs between the two of them. Hughes in particular looked dangerous, on the back of a hundred in a league game the previous day. But when he was dismissed with the score on 39/1, to a fine catch by Rohan in the covers, the Headley middle order collapsed to 84/6, much in the same manner as ours had earlier in the day. But as the Kensington fielders edged ever closer to the bat with each passing over, the Headley tail decided to batten down the hatches, surviving many a close shout along the way. Even San’s pie chucks failed to entice any lustful response and, when stumps were drawn after the 35th over, we were 3 wickets short of securing a win.
Sun 26 May Headley Tied Draw
We 164/10 in 43 overs (Chris Ledger 45, Al Naser Regan 30, San Gore 20, Waller 3/30)
They 164/7 in 34 overs (W.Midmer 71, J.Pickering 21, Murrell 21*, Saikat Barua 3/38, Neeraj Nayar 2/25)
This was village cricket at its finest, played in great spirit, in blazing sunshine and in front of several spectators atop Box Hill in Surrey – and what drama unfolded.
San won the toss but KCC started cautiously against a disciplined Headley attack. Neeraj and Furquan departed early leaving opener Chris and San to consolidate with a fifty run stand. Then, a mini collapse with both out plus debutant Saikat Barua inside two overs (89/5). Regan for once played responsibly (indulging in only one six) and first with new sponsor Pradeep Menon, then with Tridib Das helped the score get respectable. Pradeep showed that he was no mug with the bat hitting a six and 2 fours in his 17. Regan was seventh out for a well-made 30 but the last 3 wickets were blown away with only 2 runs added. In hindsight, this would prove crucial.
Headley also had a poor start with Saikat Barua taking his first wicket for the Club in his first over, his opening spell being 7-3-8-2. When the last 20 overs began Headley required 6.5 runs per over. Enter Will Midmer at no.5. With exquisite cover drives and late cuts he effortlessly found the boundaries through tight-set fields. The bowling was being shredded until Neeraj Nayar was brought on to bring a semblance of control, which he did superbly. Runs were squeezed and Neeraj eventually got his man, a frustrated Milmer out stumped for a graceful 71.
So, to the last dramatic over. Headley need 15 to win. Field is set and the ball is in the hand of the impressive Barua (inset). First ball, six over cover. Second ball, four through cover. Hmm…not so impressive, as roars of approval burst from the pavilion. Third ball, middle stump cartwheeled. The pavilion is hushed! Saikat then bowls a leg-side wide to which San at full stretch prevents a certain 5 and the loss of the match. Scrambled runs later, the last ball to bowl with 2 runs required. The batsman only manages one to level the score. A tie, everyone says, but a draw say the traditionalists pointing out that there were 3 more wickets to fall. But the game was anything but boring, as draws tend to be associated with. So it was agreed to call the result a TIED DRAW and a wonderful celebration began.
Sun 27 May Headley Lost by 21 runs
They 247/5 in 32.4 overs (Midmer 105*, MacDonald 79, Navneet Bali 3/40)
We 226/10 in 34.3 overs (Regan 67, Rohan Ghosh 35, Bharat Gorasiya 34, Simmonds 7/56)
Our inaugural fixture at Headley’s charmingly bucolic ground was blessed by glorious hot sunshine, a very rare event in this year’s dismal summer. Unsurprisingly, given the scorching conditions, Headley chose to bat first after winning the toss. Manas Roy bowled a fine opening spell, dismissing one of the openers cheaply, but after the early wicket their 2nd wicket partnership plundered our bowling, putting on a rapid century partnership. The ground’s extremely short boundaries allowed fast scoring, and having reached 247 after just 32 overs, Headley made a generous, and as it subsequently turned out, perfectly timed declaration.
In reply, after the early dismissal of classy opener Ramsagar, skipper Chris Ledger and Rohan Ghosh compiled a steady 50 run partnership, before a rapid clatter of wickets reduced KCC to a highly perilous 105/5. Cometh the hour, cometh Al Naser Regan, who proceeded to launch an all out assault on the Headley bowling, smashing his way to a rapid fire 67 during an excellent and seemingly match-winning century partnership with Bharat Gorasiya. At 211/5, with 6 overs to go to score just 37 for victory, Kensington were now clearly favourites, but after Regan and Gorasiya both fell in quick succession, the remaining KCC line-up collapsed like a house of cards, the last 5 wickets falling for the addition of just 15 more runs. Headley’s Simmonds, who took 7 wickets for 56 runs, proved the main difference between the sides, and deservedly won the Man of the Match award on a day favourable to batsmen. This was an exciting game, played in lovely surroundings, and in excellent spirit against friendly opponents, and we already much look forward to our return next year.