Sun 27 May Nomads Lost by 94 runs
They 215/6 in 47 overs (Kie Farrell 62, Tom Brockton 48, Suresh Vitlani 24*, Tabrez Khan 2/20, Saurav Sen 2/57)
We 121/10 in 39.4 overs (Jai Singh 51, Saikat Barua 27, Amit Shanker 21, Chris Page 5/38, Chris Royals 3/29, Sajjad Shawl 2/25)
The forecast for the day of our much-awaited fixture vs Nomads, who kindly host us in the bucolic environs of Ascott House, a National Trust property in Buckinghamshire, was thunderstorms, rain and more thunderstorms. As it turned out, the game was played under blazing sunshine and Eden Gardens humidity, and the weather was not the only thing that turned out to be a mystery for us.
KCC skipper Saurav Sen won the toss and elected to field, in a decision universally panned by almost all of a team that was bristling with batsmen. Eddy and Saikat bowled a tidy opening spell, though there were few wicket-balls and the runs kept leaking as the Nomads openers picked off any scoring opportunity. A change of bowling brought a change of fortune, as Nomads skipper Tom Brockton edged Sid Chhibbar’s first ball to be well caught by new keeper Harsha for a well-made 48. With Sen picking up Vic Kadampully caught & bowled in the next over, our hopes rose only to be dashed as Nomads played around a solid innings from Kie Farrell (62) to put up another useful partnership. Farrell finally holed out to mid-on and, with Saikat/Harsha executing a brilliant run-out from point off the very next ball, we dared to dream but were again frustrated by the Nomads middle order until that man Tabrez Khan bowled the perfect delivery to clean up Harry Kadampully and followed it up with a tidy spell featuring another wicket and a dropped catch. Is there anything Tabby cannot do?
Nomads made slow progress even though they lost only a few wickets, and eventually crawled to a declaration of 215/6 in 47 overs, in an innings that required two drinks breaks due to the heat and humidity.
Tea – always good at Ascott House – was considerably more effective than our bowling and duly appreciated.
KCC made a sedate start to the chase, in the expectation that 216 was a gettable score in the time remaining and with the batting resources we had. After crawling along at 2 an over for the first 10 overs in the face of some tight bowling from Shawl and Vitlani, KCC openers Jai Singh and Amit Shanker seemed to be finally getting the measure of things when Amit fell, caught at mid-on. Jai motored onto a well-made 51 but fell in the very next ball to Chris Page. Thus began another familiar episode of the Great KCC Procession, as a procession of KCC’s greats succumbed to lethally slow flight to gift Page another 5-wicket haul. 65-1 became 106-9 as Saikat watched helplessly from the other end while the rest of KCC seemed to be playing a bizarre version of “duck, duck, go”. Last man Saurav (leading from behind?) strode out to try and help Saikat through the last 8 overs and the pair stonewalled for 44 balls as the score raced from 106 to 109 in that period. Increasingly and audibly frustrated, Nomads threw everything they had at the batsmen, including having all 9 fielders within 15 yards of the bat, but to no avail until, with only two balls remaining till close of play, and the rest of the Nomads shoulders dropping, Shawl bowled a beautiful inswinging yorker to clean bowl Saikat and end KCC’s resistance.
A nail-biting finish to a game we should have won, but due credit to the Nomads and their joint players of the match, Chris Page for his 5-fer and Sajjad Shawl for both his batting and for delivering under pressure in the last over of the day.
Sun 28 May Nomads Won by 7 wkts
They 256/6 in 47 overs (Rupert Styles 81, Tom Brockton 57, Kie Farrell 54, Ryan Konson 4/63)
We 257/3 in 39.4 overs (Matt Syddall 105, Jai Singh 64, Amit Shanker 51*, Wajid Tahir 27*, Sajjad Shawl 1/68)
Nomads and Kensington, two wandering clubs, pitted against each other on a perfect afternoon at the wonderful venue that is Ascott House for this keenly awaited fixture. With the benefit of last year’s experience (see match report in our excellent yearbook or website), both captains agreed not to even contemplate a limited overs game and, with the benefit of last year’s “experience” vs Harrow St Mary’s (see match report in our excellent yearbook or website), skipper Sen opted to field first upon winning the toss, to muted expressions of dissent from the KCC batsmen.
The Nomads batsmen took advantage of a flat track and a fast outfield to keep the score ticking at a brisk rate of 5 an over. Even though none of the KCC bowlers bowled especially badly, Nomads were comfortably placed at 203/2 after 38 overs, building around solid contributions from Kie Farrell (54) and Rupert Styles (81). Ryan Konson (4-63), who had clearly intuited that there was no value in trying to bowl a decent line and length, then sent down the worst 3 balls of the innings to kick off the 39th over, which yielded handsome dividends as he picked up 2 wickets in the next 2 balls and then engaged in a spot of hat-trick jug avoidance to keep things KCC. Nomads eventually declared at 256/6 off 47 overs, with skipper Tom Brockton contributing a well-made 57.
[Nomads also did not disappoint on the cricket tutorials front, though these have now become part of a well-loved tradition. Saurav was told off at the toss for catching the coin in mid-air (no mean feat for KCC, catching anything mid-air) instead of letting it fall to the ground. A second ticking off was administered for the trespass of adjusting the field and thus wasting time, when we had been going at the agonisingly slow rate of a mere 15 overs per hour. Ryan Konson also joined the likes of Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar, as he was given an unofficial warning for bowling a beamer that struck the batsman’s gloves at nearly 40mph.]
The blazing hot sunshine gave way to cool overcast conditions just as we went in for tea, which was of its usual high standards, and duly appreciated with the usual gusto.
KCC’s openers Jai Singh and Matt Syddall were clinical in their approach to the chase, as they set things up beautifully with a 136-run opening wicket partnership in 20.4 overs before Chris Page took a sharp return catch to dismiss Jai. Last year’s hero Kamrul strode out and back again in the space of 6 balls as Nomads struck again in the very next over, bringing back never-too-distant memories of the famous KCC wobble. However, Matt motored on beautifully to get to his 100, supported ably by Amit Shanker (51*), who then combined with the belligerent Wajid Tahir (27* in 17 balls) to see us home in the 40th over of the chase, with 4.2 overs of play left. Tabrez, Regan, Wesley and Adam were all padded up ready to go in and finish things off, demonstrating once again the immense confidence we have in our batting stability.
All in all a good game with the eventually comfortable margin of victory not doing full justice to the good work done by the Nomads batsmen. Cobras were shared and Styles and Syddall picked up the Man of the Match awards. We look forward to next year’s fixture which, we are sure, will be equally awaited and more evenly contested.
Sun 22 May Nomads Drawn
They 226/2 in 36 overs (Andy Stokes 122*, Tom Brockton 63*, Saikat Barua 2/24)
We 210/7 in 44 overs (Jai Singh 82, Kamrul Hasan 55*, Kunal Nathwani 22, Chris Page 5/75)
KCC vs Nomads is turning into a fixture to rival the one it has replaced. And so it was that we turned up for a 1pm start at the fantastic grounds at Ascott House – with Jai causing a sensation by being the first to arrive and that too nearly an hour before the game was scheduled to start.
We lost the toss and were put in to field in what both captains agreed was to be a 40-over game. The glorious uncertainties of cricket were almost immediately evident 5 minutes later, however, as the KCC high command announced that an agreement had been reached with the opposition to play a timed game instead. Unexpected, this was – as a well known Jedi master may have remarked, but as we know, trying to work these things out is akin to trying to read a doctor’s handwriting (which is how we generally read a match situation).
Saikat opened for us and provided an exhibition of immaculate fast bowling, picking up 2 wickets for not very many as the batsmen struggled to come to terms with his line, length and movement. He was ably supported by Akhi, returning to KCC after a year back in Bangalore. He was less ably supported by the fielders, though, with Andy Stokes getting an early reprieve when the KCC skipper, who shall remain unnamed (Saurav, actually), put down a regulation chance at 3rd slip off Saikat’s bowling. From there on, with opposition skipper Tom Brockton also settling in, Nomads saw off the early pressure and then punished the bowling that followed, whose generally lacklustre nature was matched only by our casual (even by KCC standards) work in the field. Andy Stokes helped himself to a hard-hitting 122* and Tom motored along to a well compiled 63* as Nomads declared at 226 at the stroke of tea. Our over rate was remarked upon by the opposition, though it was pointed out that this was at least in part due to the amount of time we spent chasing leather, and the – er… dignified – speeds at which we were able to chase.
It was good to see that time had not taken any such toll on any of KCC’s traditional skills when it came to doing justice to what was an excellent tea.
Faced with the possibility of having 40-45 overs to chase down the target, Jai and Kunal went in with a clear brief to blunt the attack and not lose early wickets, which they did outstandingly well in an opening stand of 70. Jai settled down with his customary clearing of the throat while calling for the occasional single, while Kunal provided able support by keeping his head down and absorbing the pressure of a probing opening spell from Shawl and Robbins. However, the introduction of loopy bowler, Chris Page, together with on-field advice about our slow run rate clearly had the effect of causing blood to rush to the head for at least 5 of KCC’s finest, as wickets began to fall at a steady rate with only Jai (82) providing a measure of resistance. With the asking rate at nearly 9 an over and just 3 wickets left, out strode young Kamrul – having had to drop himself a couple of places down the order so he could borrow some kit! He proceeded to score a breezy 55* off 36 balls on debut, to help us finish with a respectable draw just 10 runs short of our target, which was closer than we may have dared to imagine at one stage.
It later turned out that Kamrul was really a batsman – good work again by the KCC think tank, and in particular the still unnamed skipper (still hiding behind anonymity, Saurav?) who had him down as a left handed seamer prior to the match.
Sun 24 May Nomads Lost by 6 wkts
We 223/9 in 42 overs (Matt Syddall 59, Matt Marshall 53, Rohan Ghosh 36, Warren Williams 26, David Steele 3/66, Andy Smith 2/52, Chris Page 2/55)
They 226/4 in 41.3 overs (Dom Ramjag 75*, Tom Brockton 38*, Andy Smith 27, Ryan Konson 1/38)
Nice place, Ascott House. Oak panelled changing rooms, consistent pitch, outfield cambered like the SCG and racehorses patrolling the boundary. If a cricketer was having a wee dream about heaven it might look a lot like this. The coin would land tails and the weather would always be sunny. But Ascott House isn’t heaven. It’s Bedfordshire (heaven being generally considered less of a drive from London). If you are still confused, the coin landed heads in mild drizzle and we were put into bat.
It probably comes on a bit better in heaven as well. Kensington’s top order did their best to negotiate the new ball and keep things ticking but after seamer Robbins’ gave way to ex-KCC player David Steele joining Andy Smith’s nagging spin, runs were hard to get. Matty Syddall dealt with it best but fell to skipper Tom Brockton’s first over just as his 50 looked like it would grow quickly to 100. Warren pinged a few about before a scampered stand of 62 between Rohan and Marshall encouraged the latter to declare perhaps an over or so prematurely.
A fair chase of 224 to win then. Saikat and Ryan shared the Nomadic opening scalps, which brought Dom Ramjag to the crease and saw the welcome return of Andy Stokes from Adelaide, where the flies had finally triumphed. Stokes was understandably scratchy but Dom waited patiently for the bad ball before mending it to an appropriate part of the boundary. Andy Smith also kept Dom company for a while until, with it now getting a bit tight, ‘keeper Warren and Nomad Captain Brockton had to have a wee chat because Warren kept trying to throw down the stumps while standing back and on one occasion the ball had whizzed past Tom’s head while he regained his ground. It transpired that this would be an unlikely way to get him out because he had been paying for batting lessons at Lords. There is no substitute for professional coaching! The Nomads pushed on confidently towards the target until the overdue introduction of Eddy Barreto into the attack. A great 40th from him took it to the very last over but with ample wickets in hand Tom and Dom got home with 3 balls to spare.
After customary Cobras by the pavilion we all repaired to the nearby Queen’s Head in Wing for a good giggle under a heavenly metallic pink sunset. It’s still a good drive from there though.
Sun 18 Sept Nomads Drawn (yawn)
We 210/9 in 49.4 overs (Shanker 60*, Chaggar 38, James Pickles 32,
Croom-Johnson 4/32, Gordon 2/59)
They 110/9 in 48 overs (Lamb 22, Gordon 18, Blumberg 17*, Shailendra 4/25,
Syddall 2/5, Shanker 2/33)
The battle of the Nomadic sides usually sees Blumberg’s Nomads arrive with a strong team. No fears again. Their two opening bowlers hurtled down endless overs on a green top at Barnes. KCC lost Matt Syddall in the second over but Pammi and Preetinder took on the opening bowlers with a few lusty blows and James Pickles, all timing and elegance, smote 8 fours in his cameo knock of 32.
But we kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Amit Shanker starred with the bat with a fine unbeaten 60 with Tabrez and skipper Nayar chipping in with 19 apiece to get us to a defendable total, though we thought at the time 210 was a bit light on this small batsman-friendly ground.
Nomads were confident of cruising to victory with Jono Gordon belting four 4s in the first 3 overs. But he was undone next over by his own recklessness trying to steal a third run, Tabby’s bullet throw from the boundary leaving him stranded. Akhi, the axeman, then tore the heart out of Nomads innings together with Amit and Matt Syddall to leave them reeling at 57/8 after just 18 overs. Game all but over. Only for Charlton Lamb and Michael Blumberg to play heroic match-saving innings through stoic resistance, blocking every ball for an hour or so, though we did have 6 overs to bowl at no.11.
A very creditable get-out-of-jail draw for Nomads, but frustrating for KCC who appeared bored by the whole process. Not a great advertisement for modern day cricket watchers. Nevertheless, the beer time was good.