Sat 14 July Old Westminsters Won by 53 runs
We 243/4 in 44.3 overs (Tim Keleher 135, Harsha Gandadi 56, Rohan Ghosh 20*, Joe Ireland 2/81)
They 190/8 in 43.2 overs (Alex Fiskin 53, Dan Brodie 49, Tim Kittoe 27, Bernard van Vuuren 2/32)
Old Westminsters won the toss and, as usual at Vincent Square where batting tends to get easier later in the day, asked KCC to bat first. They soon regretted it however. Once opener Tim Keleher survived a challenging first hour, when the Old Wets opening bowlers found a good length as well as swing with the new ball, he was unstoppable, scoring 135 typically elegant runs, ably supported in particular by an aggressive knock from Harsha Gandadi, who put on an excellent century partnership with Tim for the 3rd wicket.
A generous declaration from skipper Chris Ledger, when we could have carried on batting for at least another 3 or 4 overs to the halfway point, allowed Old Wets a realistic possibility of chasing down KCC’s total of 243, but equally gave KCC a better chance of bowling out Old Westminsters. Happily, KCC’s bowlers were all on fine form, with off-spinner Saurav Sen especially difficult to play on a helpful, turning pitch. A needless run out of Old Wets’ opener and half-centurion Alex Fiskin, and an excellent catch by Adam Sumner to dismiss Old Wets’ skipper Dan Brodie, were also big turning points. At 190 for 8 the game was up for Old Wets as two of their players, who were replacements for last minute dropouts, had had to leave early. With more than 50 runs to get, and with only tail-enders remaining, Old Wets would most likely have fallen short anyway. There were still 8 overs to go at the finish for KCC to take the remaining 2 wickets, and victory was undoubtedly well-deserved.
Sat 16 July Old Westminsters Won by 3 wkts
They 157/9 in 44.3 overs (Alex Asher 73, Ross Wheeler 31, Eddy Barreto 5/52, Matt Marshall 3/22)
We 158/7 in 33 overs (Tim Keleher 86*, Sid Chhibbar 24, Amit Shanker 20, Will Buckland 2/19, Joe Ireland 2/26)
After winning the toss, KCC’s skipper Chris Ledger asked the Old Wets to bat first, given that the Vincent Square wicket often seems to improve during the day. The Old Wets’ rapid collapse to just 49 for 5, however, had little or nothing to do with the quality of the pitch, and everything to do with the excellence of both KCC’s opening bowlers, Eddy Barreto and Matthew Marshall, and also some flash-Harry shots by the batsmen when caution would have been the wiser option. That the Old Wets recovered to at least a respectable total of 157 was down to the thou-shalt-not-pass doggedness of number 7 Ross Wheeler, allied to the fine shot-making and also remarkably good fortune of opener Alex Asher, who was dropped at least 5 times by KCC’s butter-finger fielders. All credit to Eddy in particular, who thoroughly deserved his 5-wicket haul.
In reply, KCC got off to an extremely shaky start, losing two wickets for just 1 run. More wickets soon followed and at 38 for 4 our prospects weren’t looking promising. But star batsman Tim Keleher, ably supported by Sid Chhibbar, then put on a solid 65 run partnership to get our total beyond 100 with no further wickets lost. Not wanting to coast towards a boringly easy win and just to make things interesting KCC wobbled towards the end, losing 3 more wickets. Victory, however, was never in any doubt with opener Tim still at the crease; he carried his bat and took us to a good win.
Sat 16 July Old Westminsters Drawn (but exciting)
They 181/5 in 51 overs (Steve Dolben 88, Jeremy Lascelles 33, David Behar 1/22, Sid Chhibbar 1/23, Eddy Barreto 1/30, Neeraj Nayar 1/44)
We 179/9 in 43 overs (Jai Singh 50, Saurav Sen 40, Tim Keleher 30, Shahzeb 16, Leo Nelson-Jones 5/46, Joe Ireland 2/49)
KCC triumphed in the first battle of the day – we won the toss, and despite warm, sunny weather, bowled first on a pitch that according to past experience generally improves during the day. What proved to be an excellent KCC bowling and fielding performance began in style as Jai Singh dived full length to take a great one handed slip catch low to the ground, which will surely be a shoo-in for catch of the season. On a decent pitch, tight KCC bowling then severely restricted the Old Wets batsmen so that after all of 51 overs they had only managed to eke out 181 hard-fought runs by the time the Old Wets skipper felt he couldn’t delay the declaration any longer.
In reply KCC got off to a fine start, before opener Tim Keleher, averaging over 100 for the season, surprised everyone by getting caught out for just 30. Our other opener, Jai Singh, carried on purposefully however, and after 22 overs, at 96 for 2, a KCC victory looked assured, with only just over 80 required with 8 wickets in hand and plenty of overs still to bat. But one of KCC’s all too frequent middle-order collapses then followed, with 6 wickets tumbling for just 25 runs, most of them to leg-spinner Nelson-Jones who would end the game with a well-deserved 5 wicket haul. With 61 required for victory with just 2 tail-end wickets in hand, KCC now looked set to lose, but last year’s batting star in this fixture, Saurav Sen, rose to the occasion once again, scoring an excellent 40 at number 10, ably supported by thou-shalt-not-pass Neeraj Nayar at the other end. With one over to go, and leg-spinner Nelson-Jones bowling, KCC needed 14 with two wickets still in hand. 9 runs were scored off the first 4 balls, but then Saurav was bowled just as he seemed sure to lead us to victory. Last ball, and with number 11 Eddy Barreto on strike, 4 was needed to tie, 6 to win. A wicket of course would hand the win at the last gasp to the Old Wets, but as it turned out Eddy scored 2 runs in attempting a boundary, and the match ended in a draw – but what an exciting see-saw drawn match, one to be long remembered.
Sat 11 July Old Westminsters Lost by 3 wkts
We 130/10 in 35.2 overs (Saurav Sen 40*, Deepak Ramachandra 26, Extras 33, Ross Wheeler 3/14, Tim Kittoe 3/25, Franklyn Barrett 2/36)
They 134/7 in 32.3 overs (George Bustin 51, Tim Kittoe 21*, Deepak Ramachandra 4/34, Sunil Amar 2/11)
Old Westminsters won the toss and despite warm, sunny weather and a decent-looking pitch, put KCC into bat. Why on earth? Well last year when we also batted first, we collapsed to a dismal 73 for 8, so no doubt the Old Wets skipper hoped that lightning would strike twice. Surely not with our team for the day boasting one of our strongest batting line-ups of the season…
Kensington, of course, are capable of anything. Just like last year, only one out of KCC’s top eight batsmen made it to double figures! And who should that be? None other than Deepak Ramachandra, who last year saved our blushes by scoring a superlative 83 not out coming in at number 10. This year, after our top 6 had been skittled for just 47 runs through a combination of fine Old Westminster bowling and overly carefree, careless Kensington batting, Deepak scored a valuable 26, but couldn’t perform miracles twice. Saurav Sen did his best to dig us out of a hole by scoring an excellent 40 not out at number 9, but with just two batsmen making it into double figures, we only made it to a grim 130 all out.
Despite a valiant bowling effort from Deepak in particular, who took 4 wickets, aided by a typically canny, accurate 2 wicket spell from the old master swinger Sunil Amar, KCC never really had a prayer of restricting the Old Westminsters to less than 130. Even so, when 2 quick wickets fell to reduce the Old Wets from 118 for 5 to 118 for 7, we had a sniff. We didn’t take the last 3 wickets we needed, but even so it was a lot closer than it could have been and at least it felt like we’d made some kind of game of it… Next year we know what to do – win the toss and bowl.
Sat 12 July Old Westminsters Lost by 1 wkt
We 169/10 in 48.3 overs (Deepak Ramachandra 83*, Shahzeb Mohammed 49, McDonald 7/26, Wheeler 2/27)
They 170/9 in 42.2 overs (Patel 62, Holt 29, Deepak Ramachandra 3/28, Neeraj Nayar 3/31)
This was an extraordinary, topsy-turvy game, with some sensational individual performances and a nail-biting finish, so right up there for ‘match of the season’.
After winning the toss Chris decided to batted first, but despite an apparently strong batting line-up we were soon regretting it. The departure of our talisman opener Tim Keleher for a duck in the first over set the tone. Wickets tumbled rapidly thereafter, as the Old Westminsters’ strike bowler MacDonald ripped through the KCC batting. Apart from Shahzeb Mohammed, who stuck around grimly for a gritty 49, no other batsman in the top nine could even reach double figures. Thus, after 33 overs, KCC had been reduced to a dismal 73 for 8. Embarrassment loomed in this cherished all day game, as we headed for what looked certain to be a humiliatingly quick defeat.
Enter Deepak Ramachandra at number ten to save our blushes. A terrific bowler, but also much too good a batsman to be batting at ten (and after this performance he obviously won’t be again!), Deepak flayed the astonished Old Wet bowlers to all parts of the ground, smiting boundary after boundary, including six mighty sixes. At the other end, we mustn’t forget, Deepak was valiantly supported by obdurate ‘they-shall-not-pass’ defiance from club President Sunil Amar at number 11 – appearing at the crease at 85 for 9, Deepak’s dashing brilliance would have been for nought if it hadn’t been for Sunil doggedly blocking at the other end. Virtually doubling our score, the magnificent duo put on 84 for the 10th wicket partnership, an all-time club record, before Sunil was finally out for 2, leaving Deepak heroically undefeated on 83. Remarkably, at exactly the same time over at Trent Bridge, in another cricket match almost as significant as ours, Joe Root and Jimmy Anderson were breaking the all-time 10th wicket partnership in Test matches – inspired I’m sure by word-of-mouth reports of the stirring deeds of their fellow tail-enders at Vincent Square!
KCC’s total score of 169 was still well below par, of course, but with the Old Wets now rattled and Kensington’s bowlers fired up by Deepak and Sunil’s last-ditch heroics, anything was possible… A couple of early wickets fell to swell our hopes, but the Old Wets weathered the early storm and soon looked home and dry, with 110 on the board and just 3 wickets down. Suddenly, two quick wickets, and with the Old Wets spooked, and Kensington’s bowlers in full cry, a calamitous collapse ensued. In no time at all, they were 153 for 9, on the verge of a defeat that earlier in the day had seemed an impossibility. But alas for KCC, the final wicket that would have brought victory proved frustratingly elusive, as the Old Wets’ last pair, cheered on by their teammates, managed to eke out the final 17 runs required. A great game, and despite defeat for KCC, the old cliché was on all our lips – cricket was the winner.
Sat 13 July Old Westminsters Won by 123 runs
We 290/5 in 49.5 overs (Tim Keleher 152*, Kabir Bali 73, Saurav Sen 22*, Cavanagh 2/50, Low 2/68)
They 167/9 in 32.5 overs (Low 83, Wood 24, Deepak Ramachandra 4/13, Saurav Sen 4/57)
Under cloudless skies in the middle of a heat wave skipper Chris Ledger did the one important thing required of him all day – win the toss, and bat first. Initially things didn’t go at all to plan, however, and by the end of the third over KCC’s innings was looking extremely precarious with both Rohan Ghosh and Jai Singh back in the shed with just 3 runs on the board. Chris and opener Tim Keleher then steadied the ship, putting on a battling 50 together, before new-boy Kabir Bali joined Tim to help hammer home the advantage. Kabir played an excellent knock, scoring a stylish 73 in partnership with Tim, before he was finally dismissed when he and Tim were just 10 runs short of the all-time KCC 4th wicket record partnership. Tim then put the boot in, flaying the Old Wets attack to all parts, before the innings was finally declared after Tim had reached a superb 150.
In reply, the Old Wets innings suffered an early blow when helmetless opener Asher was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the forehead by a fearsome delivery from Ryan Konson which out of nowhere reared unplayably off a length – luckily the batsman was no more than bruised and dazed, when it could have been much worse. With the wind knocked out of their sails, the Old Wets innings was then rapidly dismantled by Saurav’s spin and new recruit Deepak Ramachandra’s highly accurate and threatening medium pace moving both ways. By the 27th over, the Old Wets had been reduced to 94 for 8, effectively for 9 with Asher unfit to return to the crease. The coup de grace could then have been easily delivered by KCC’s strike bowlers, with the Old Wets nearly 200 runs short of KCC’s total, but skipper Chris helped their score along to a modicum of respectability by changing the bowling and setting a very attacking field. Number 9 Low chanced his arm very effectively, slogging 83 in a handful of overs, almost all to an unguarded cow corner, before finally perishing with the Old Wets still 123 runs short.
Despite the overwhelming victory, this was once again a thoroughly enjoyable game, played in good spirit. The Old Wets are no doubt already inking in their big guns for the return game next year, a couple of Oxford Blues amongst them, in order to wreak revenge. So here’s an early memo reminding us to field our strongest team in 2014!
Sun 15 July Old Westminsters Cancelled – rain
Sun 10 July Old Westminsters Lost by 2 wkts
We 130/10 in 50.2 overs (Saurav Sen 38, James Pickles 29, Gabriel Thomas 21, McDonald 4/17, Cavanagh 2/19)
They 131/8 in 44.5 overs (Robson 42*, Asher 36, Campbell 33, Saurav Sen 5/42, Amit Shanker 2/56)
A tough day for the official at Westminster’s wonderful Vincent Square ground, David Behar’s arrival at the crease having been delayed by the discovery of a rare Gusset Moth amongst his kit, he had to be jemmied along by the umpire who, invoking Law 237 (ii) b) concerning ‘Lepidoptera, official intervention to the distraction or obstruction of the due execution of a match, how to, of.’, removed the Gusset Moth by the deft application of a twig of sycamore, leaving both moth and David free to continue upon their way. The umpire’s forbearance was further tested while Kensington were in the field when our wicketkeeper, the unnamed Rohan Ghosh, was rather vocally concerned with an lbw decision and its progress through the judicial system. Thankfully the situation was calmed without further recourse to the sycamore twig. Or the Gusset Moth.
The match itself was a good battle, Kensington’s austerity-era total of 130 in 50 overs made possible byJames Pickles’ prudent 29,Saurav Sen’s rather more Monte Carlo 38 and Gabriel’s belt tightening 21, all in the face of superb bowling by everyone in the varied Old Wets’ attack, McDonald returning the best figures of 4 for 17.
In reply, Westminster got off to a shocker, Holt bowled by Khush Khan for a duck, then rallied while Campbell and Asher put together a healthy stand. Once skipper Matty settled on Sen’s ripping off-spin from the Vauxhall Bridge Road End with Shanker’s accurate medium pace from the Pavilion, however, wickets tumbled and it became either team’s game to win. There were chances. We shall not mention Chetan Singh’s missed catch at mid-on, or Tabby’s brave sprawling effort on the long-on boundary, but Wets’ No.7 Robson clearly wanted it the most. He picked his deliveries coolly, chanced his wicket bravely and saw the home side to victory with 2 wickets to spare, easily claiming the MotM Black Label in the process.