Sun 13 May Reigate Pilgrims Won by 38 runs
We: 112/9 in 32.2 overs (Harsha Gandadi 33, Eddy Barreto 30*, Joel Hoy 3/20, Michael Wood 2/3, Guy Mitchell 2/30)
They: 74/10 in 31.2 overs (Rajesh Janardanan 22, Eddy Barreto 3/7, Tabrez Khan 2/10, Seethal Tharakan 2/11)
On a tricky, damp pitch KCC were put in to bat first. Amit and Nitin, opening the innings, played cautiously with the goal of seeing through the first 10 overs. Alas, that was not to be, as Amit fell to a good catch in the third over and then Stef in the seventh over. When Nitin nicked one to first slip in the 10th over with the score at 29, the classic KCC top order stutter was well and truly in place.
Harsha Gandadi, playing only his second game for KCC, couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about and arrived with refreshingly bold intent, flashing his blade at anything wide or full. With the steadying influence of skipper Tabrez at the other end, the two began rebuilding steadily. But not for long; the partnership was nipped in the bud when Tabrez was unfortunately bowled off a shooter. Another steadying influence arrived in the shape of veteran ‘been-there-done-everything’ Neeraj Nayar. He was very watchful in his 7-ball duck but it was not sufficient to pull us out of the woods, as Michael Wood struck his second decisive blow in an impressive spell. With caution not working and Harsha flashing merrily at the other end, we were encouraged by the 2 batsmen to follow – Wajid and Eddy, who personify the death-or-glory school of batting. Wajid fell but Eddy prospered. Harsha was out eventually to the law of averages for 33 but somehow it felt like a Tim Keleher daddy hundred. Angered at the loss of his partner, Eddy unleashed an array of edges masterfully mixed with lofted straight drives that made field placement impossible. As if that was not enough, at the other end was Seethal, whose unpredictability (starting with his arrival for the match on time) is legendary. They put on a remarkable rear guard action that got us to what the scorebook recorded as a ‘grand’ total of 112 (for 9 as KCC were one short).
Reigate bowlers were all impressive as can be gauged by our paltry total, with Guy Mitchell, Michael Wood and John Hoy carving up KCC regularly.
So, 113 runs to defend. After the ‘cornered tigers’ speech that is always best served by a Khan, we were all set. Eddy, Seethal and Tabrez were on fire bundling Reigate Pilgrims out for 74. Wajid, as often, set doubt and fear in batsmen’s mind with his inswinging grenades, the importance of which the bean counting score book cannot capture. Reigate will no doubt regret that the middle order could not carry on the foundational work done by the top order but, on that day, the KCC bowling was at its best, piling on relentless pressure. Fielding was for once top notch with no catches dropped and the end result was a 38 run win.
The stand out feature was the great camaraderie on the field and despite the low score we were defending, KCC Cobras never let their hood down. With good banter to keep us all entertained. Well done all!
Sun 14 May Reigate Pilgrims Won by 8 wkts
They: 168/8 in 44 overs (Guy Mitchell 36, James Flood 32, Rajesh Janardanan 28, Vipen Vijayan 27*, Wajid Tahir 5/50, Saikat Barua 2/20)
We: 174/2 in 31.4 overs (Kamrul Hasan 70*, Sid Chhibbar 62*, Jai Singh 37, Guy Mitchell 2/24)
KCC notched up a comprehensive victory in this fixture reversing a run of 3 consecutive losses against the Pilgrims. Superior in all departments, KCC out-bowled, out-batted, out-fielded, out-dropped and out-byed the opposition!
David Behar lost the toss, but Jai Singh soon set the tone taking a one-handed stunner at second slip off the ever-reliable Saikat to get things going. Seethal Tharakan was accurate and probing with his bamboozling action and was unfortunate not to take a wicket on a surface with uneven bounce. Waj Tahir came back well after a wayward opening spell to cut a swathe through the Pilgrims middle order with his reverse swing and finished with a hard earned five-for. Neeraj was nagging and also bowled a tight line. Thankfully, the universally disciplined bowling performance meant that, despite 6 dropped chances, we created enough wicket-taking opportunities to have Pilgrims 8 down when they declared at a competitive 168. Their skipper Guy Mitchell top-scored with 36. To be fair to the KCC fielders, some of the missed catches came sharply, or were at least quite high!
The KCC batsmen, however, overcame the devils in the pitch and made light of a potentially testing target against, one must say, somewhat friendly bowling. Sid Chhibbar and Jai Singh put on 65 at 5 an over, dealing in boundaries initially, pulling anything short and driving full balls back past the bowler. Sid, though, is an unreliable judge of a quick single and a run out seemed on the cards, but thankfully Jai is not shy of the bellowed ‘No’. Guy Mitchell finally trapped Jai lbw and two balls later yorked the hapless Stef. That was the last Pilgrim success. Sid was joined by the in-form Kamrul Hasan who backed up his fine hundred a fortnight earlier with a wristy, destructive knock. An unbroken 3rd wicket partnership of 109 saw us home with Kamrul delivering the coup de grace with a 6 over long on to take us past our target and 6 overs to spare. Both batsmen had their fifties in the bag by then.
An early finish. Guy and Waj won the Man of the Match awards and some stayed back for a jolly at the pub.
Sun 8 May Reigate Pilgrims Lost by 3 wkts
We: 196/7 in 41 overs (Neeraj Nayar 55, Hammad Rishad 50, Varun Sarna 19, San Gore 18*, Saikat Barua 17*, Vipin Vijayan 2/20, Michael Wood 2/51)
They: 197/7 in 37.1 overs (Rob Burnside 51, Dil Kanagarajah 33*, Kishore Dhanasekaran 22, Vipin Vijayan 22*, Extras 33, Deepak Ramachandra 3/44, Nitin Chaturvedi 2/14, Kamrul Hasan 1/25)
For once the weather Gods were kind for this early May fixture which is usually blighted by blustery winds, constant drizzle and a chill in the air. Not so this year as we were confronted with warm sunshine and a balmy breeze. San won the toss and promptly chose to bat in what seemed like ideal conditions. However, it was all not quite as it appeared; the rain the previous day had softened the uncovered pitch and the ball misbehaved from the start. Nitin Chaturvedi, our prolific run-getter last season, was well caught at slip for a duck in the second over. Neeraj at the other end and Varun struggled manfully moving the score at just 3 an over until Varun and, an over later, Stefanos were both caught behind. At 52/3 Neeraj dropped anchor while Hammad Rishad in his first game in two years attacked as only Hammad can. He clobbered a brisk fifty in a 72 run partnership before getting out. As we strived to reach a defendable total we lost several wickets, including the steady Neeraj for an invaluable 55. A late flurry by San (18*) and Saikat (17*) produced 31 for the 8th wicket enabling San to declare on 196. A comfortable score on this pitch, we thought.
We began well. Deepak clean bowled the openers and Eddy, then Saikat, kept the pressure on. Slowly, and with growing confidence, Rob Burnside and Kishore Dhanasekaran got on top of the bowling, helped by several lapses in the field, the inevitable dropped catches and some very wide wides. Eventually, Saikat and new boy Kamrul Hasan struck back, and when Nitin’s off-spin finally did for Burnside and Pinak Saikia we had a sniff of victory at 141/6. Deepak started his second spell with another wicket and we were cock-a-hoop – 42 required in 5 overs with the tail exposed. But, our celebrations were premature.
With complete disregard to the KCC script Dil Kanagarajah pulled out an array of audacious and unorthodox shots to areas where no self-respecting fielder would ever stand. The Sri Lankan slashed and sliced at everything and together with Vipin Vijayan saw the Pilgrims home with 2 overs to spare.
Sun 3 May Reigate Pilgrims Lost by 3 wkts
We: 94/9 in 30.4 overs (Mo Musazaie 22, Hammad Rishad 18, San Gore 15, Wood 4/14)
They: 95/7 in 29.2 overs (Janardanan 40*, Ramakrishnan 27, Seethal Tharakan 5/27)
It was not a good beginning to the season. First of all, we could only muster 10 men. Then, unusually, this all-day fixture had been brought forward by a fortnight and we were confronted with a damp uncovered wicket, a slow sodden outfield and moisture in the air that threatened a timely start. “It dries quickly”, we were informed as we all hung around sceptically. Lunch was taken early and eventually, the ground was deemed ‘fit’ for play as the skippers went out to toss, both knowing full well that fielding first was really the match-winning decision. Oh well, San, you shouldn’t be allowed to call in such circumstances!
Kensington began badly as Michael Blumberg lost his off stump in the first over. Oscar Jefferson, now taller and stronger, pushed the score along and with Mo Musazaie put on 41 before both batsmen holed out in the 12th over. Little did we realise at the time this would be the highest partnership of the innings. The stodgy wicket did not help stroke-making and San applied himself to play the anchor role. Sadly, he was not helped by a reckless Regan (two fours and out) and a clueless debutant Mohammad Ali (not the floating butterfly/stinging bee variety). At 60/5 and a man short, San and a restrained Hammad Rishad picked their way carefully through the next 10 overs. But the wheels came off when San and then Eddy were dismissed in successive balls. Hammad threw caution to the winds and hit an enormous six, but the tail-wagging did not last and KCC were bundled out for a meagre 94.
After tea, the Pilgrims set off like a train. Hammad, bowling after several years, had little control as he was smashed for 21 in his two-over spell. But Seethal Tharakan (inset) from the other end was quite a handful darting his skiddy deliveries on this spiteful pitch. He broke the 44 run stand and took out no.3 Saika in the same over. Bowling from the ‘wooded’ end with dappled light through the trees making sighting the ball somewhat difficult, Seethal was literally lethal. San saw this as the best chance to win and decided to bowl him unchanged. Eddy Barreto and Ali Bilgrami weighed in with a wicket each but it was Seethal who led the charge as runs all but dried up. When Seethal got his fifth wicket the Pilgrims had crept up to 88/7 and both sides were within sight of victory. But by then an exhausted Seethal was taken off with figures of 14-3-27-5, a stupendous effort. Pilgrims, managed to get over the line with opener Rajesh Janardanan carrying his bat through the innings and thus winning the Man of the Match award.
A tense game, but it would be nicer to play this fixture later in the season.
Sun 18 May Reigate Pilgrims Lost by 60 runs
They: 183/10 in 46.4 overs (Janardanan 63, Kanagarajah 41, Burnside 26, Khush Khan 5/35, Neeraj Nayar 3/10)
We: 123/10 in 40.1 overs (Eddy Barreto 37, San Gore 31, Rony Rahman 16, Guy Mitchell 5/31, Chris Wise 3/17)
It all began so well, but Kensington inevitably hit the self-destruct button! San lost the toss in this all-day game and the home side had no hesitation in batting first. But Eddy Barreto and Khush Khan bowled tightly at the opening batsmen. Khush was particularly restraining with his accurate late in-swingers, going for only 11 runs in his spell of 9 overs and taking 2 wickets. At lunch the Pilgrims were 89/3 after 24 overs. Navneet Bali and Tridib Das flighted and turned the ball sufficiently to ask some searching questions, but frustratingly were let down badly by the fielders who dropped at least 6 straightforward catches. Janardanan and Kanagarajah were the beneficiaries of this generosity and they made hay with a 77 run partnership, finally broken by Steve Thomas holding one off Navneet. It was only when Khush returned to the attack and Neeraj was introduced that we recovered lost ground, skittling the last 6 wickets for 54 runs. Khush ended with a well-deserved five-for, and Neeraj an astonishing 3/10 in 4.4 overs.
183 was a gettable target, we thought, as Steve and Bharat opened our reply. 7 balls later they were both back in the pavilion. After 8 overs we were 13/4, Neeraj and Ben having been unequal to the task of stopping the rot. San at the other end berated the reckless Regan for swiping (and missing) everything. It fell on deaf ears, however, as he swiped and missed a straight one. At tea we were in the miserable position of 32/5 after 14 overs. Thoughts of victory were put on hold as San set about a rescue act digging in for the day. But Tridib didn’t last long, though Rony Rehman (16) made an effort. Eddy provided some late support and San began to attack. He struck a drive that hit the sightscreen on the full, only for it to be declared a four (silly local rule!), and after a 98-ball marathon was finally bowled by Guy Mitchell. Eddy went down fighting with a lusty 37 runs but the end came quickly thereafter with four overs away from forcing a draw.
Sun 19 May Reigate Pilgrims Won by 5 wkts
They 183/5 in 49 overs (Burgess 71, Janareanan 20, Baty 19, Extras 43, Imran Khan 1/24, Sumaer Amar 1/38)
We 187/5 in 44.1 overs (David Behar 66, Neeraj Nayar 54*, Al Naser Regan 19, Arnold 3/30)
A new word was introduced into the cricket lexicon by the Reigate Pilgrim’s skipper – ‘San-ded’, meaning ‘deceived’ or ‘conned’. When Guy Mitchell and San Gore went out to toss half of the KCC side were in various parts of the country homing in on the ground. A disappointed San called incorrectly and was told Pilgrims would field first. Using all of his persuasive powers (“We are not very strong in our batting, trying out new players, this all-day game may be over before tea if we batted first”) he managed to change Guy’s decision just as the missing players drove into view.
At first Guy basked in the glory of his magnanimous gesture as the obdurate Scott Burgess and David Baty gave the Pilgrims a steady 84 run start. Balls were flying to the boundary, mostly behind San the keeper as the byes (or near-wides as he called them) kept the score ticking nicely. The old reliables, Sunil and Neeraj, slowed the run rate down but could not effect a breakthrough. It was new boy Imran Khan (no, not the Pakistani legend) who came on fourth change to take the first wicket with a beautiful in-swinger. The pendulum then swung in KCC’s favour as San rang the changes and every bowler tightened lines and lengths to squeeze the batsmen to 3 runs per over. In a desperate attempt to up the scoring rate three batsmen, including Scotty, got themselves run out, and at 183 after 49 overs Guy felt obliged to declare.
KCC managed to lose an early wicket before the tea-break. But then Neeraj Nayar (inset), more obdurate than Scotty, dropped anchor, and David Behar delighted in exquisite drives and cuts to get to 66 in 69 balls in a 108 run partnership. Regan’s short innings of 19 including two trademark sixes ensured the momentum was not lost. Neeraj then took control and nurdled his way to a well-deserved fifty, finishing the game with a four in the last over. San tried to do that in the previous over but was comically bowled by a Saikia looper!
“So, we were San-ded” said Guy in the bar afterwards. But in truth we really did not have much batting that day, and if Neeraj or David had got out early…!
Sun 20 May Reigate Pilgrims Lost by 4 wkts
We 168/10 in 45.3 overs (Furquan Kidwai 54, Shahzeb 42, Amit Shanker 24, Baty 4/21)
They 170/6 in 46 overs (Kanagarajah 46, Mitchell 46, Saikia 38, Ali Raja 1/11)
On yet another miserably cold and overcast May morning KCC were inserted by the opposition on a damp wicket. After San got out to one that kicked sharply, Rohan and Furquan steadied the ship. Two wickets fell quickly, Ajit being needlessly run out for a duck, but Furquan (inset) made a very positive and aggressive 54 while Shahzeb and Amit, mirror images of each other at 42 and 24 respectively (their score not age!), made their usual invaluable contributions. But the rest collapsed to horrendous mis-hits. And we were all out for a below par 168 in an all-day game.
Khush and Ali opened the bowling tightly taking a wicket each. At tea, after 14 overs, Reigate Pilgrims were 45 for 2. There were good bowling contributions by Navneet, Ajit and Furquan, but Guy Mitchell and Pinak Saikia took the Pilgrims home with 5 overs to spare. We repaired to the bar to socialise and applaud their excellent run chase. Also notable was a rare occasion when KCC used 10 bowlers.
The day belonged to something else though. Skipper Khan nearly tore large clumps of his hair throughout the game as KCC displayed one of the most shocking fielding performances ever. Balls running through legs, sluggishness in changing positions between overs, not remembering where to go back to at the end of each over, shades of incompetence at handling the cricket ball and, yes, 12 dropped catches! How can any team win a game if so many catches are dropped? Our fielding standard was baffling, disappointing yet humorous at the same time and left a lot to be desired on the commitment front. Perhaps it was the fault of the fox (see photo below).
Sun 15 May 11 Reigate Pilgrims Drawn (but dry)
We 246/7 in 50 overs (Matt Syddall 95, Steve Thomas 40, San Gore 40*, James Pickles 35, Mitchell 2/18, Wood 2/37)
They 196/9 in 55 overs (Peddermin 34, Phanasekaran 27, Burnside 25, Tabrez Khan 3/42, Neeraj Nayar 2/10, Akhi Shailendra 2/35)
We were inserted (always an ominous sign of weakness). Skipper Neeraj was out for a second ball duck, and thus lowered his ground average by a considerable amount! Matt Syddall (inset) and Stevo smote the bowling. Steve was out for a quick 40 but Matt kept the momentum going, benefiting from seven lives before holing out on 95. Jimmy Pickles brought some much needed calm to our innings making 35 in 75 balls. But San somewhat bucked the trend with an unbeaten 43-ball 40 before Neej declared on 246/7 in 50 overs. Oh yes, and Tabby got a duck!
Pilgrims’ openers began cautiously against Akhi, Charlie Lamb and new boy left-armer Andrew Jones. Scottie continued his nurdling way on the leg-side. But in a seldom seen fit of inspiration Neej put San on to bowl his gentle high-tossed offies just before tea. Well, Scottie couldn’t resist a long hop on the leg-side and gifted Akhi a catch at square leg. After tea, Akhi picked up two and Tabby three. But the game was going nowhere with military medium on offer and no risks being taken. 131/7 at the start of the last 20 overs. The situation cried out for Neej or San to toss the ball and tempt them to a win. The nettle wasn’t grasped however, and Neej (after much persuasion) came on with only 11 overs left. He soon picked up 2 wickets but by that time the overs were running out and a draw was inevitable in the gloom (196/9 after 55). Oh, and it didn’t rain one tiny drop throughout.