Mon 29 August Harrow St Mary’s Lost by 7 wkts
We 200/10 in 48 overs (Kamrul Hasan 72*, Sid Chhibbar 40, Stefanos Nayar 27, Finky Serame 5/19, Krishan Daniel 2/40)
They 201/3 in 21.2 overs (Karan Singh 100*, Shivam Chauhan 91*, Jake Elliott 1/28, Eddy Barreto 1/42)
It is the Bank Holiday Monday in late August. You are a weekend warrior who plays occasionally for a club that puts the social into social cricket. Half the side have just spent the previous day chasing leather at Barnes. You show up at the bucolic surroundings of Harrow St Mary’s on a sunny late summer’s day hoping for an enjoyable afternoon of cricket before your 6am commute into another 13-hour working day the next morning. You’re looking forward to getting a decent bat or a bowl, or both if you are unlucky, before rehydrating with some chilled Cobras at the bar. Ah, those chilled Cobras.
And then the opposition shows up with two batsmen who mutter “IPL” and “India A”, and you realise things may not go totally as planned.
The first signs that it might be an interesting afternoon were from the umpire, who made us fill out and sign an indemnity against us suing him – clearly our reputation preceded us. We duly filled in each player’s name, age (after some defensive discussions on this sensitive topic), national insurance number, favourite curry house etc., noted with due sobriety the profusion of fine print and the ECB logos scattered across various sections of the form, and promised not to scuff the turf in the outfield – but more about that later.
Having disclosed that we were perhaps sub-par in strength on the day even by our usual friendly standards, we won the toss and Saurav made the grave tactical error of going with the democratic consensus and opting to bat in a timed game. Never again, as many a recidivist has vowed.
Neeraj Nayar and Sid Chhibbar opened the batting for us, with Neeraj unfortunate to get bowled early. It then fell to young Stef Nayar to show his dad how it was done, as he and Sid steadied proceedings with a 79-run partnership before Sid, who controversially refused to walk when caught off a bump ball, was unluckily given out lbw just as he started to get going, with Stef following soon after. Young Krishan Daniels (2-40) from the opposition bowled an impressive spell of left arm off spin as KCC struggled to accelerate the run rate and ended up losing wickets at steady intervals instead, with only Kamrul Hasan showing the patience to wait for the bad balls and punish them on his way to a beautifully compiled 72*. Eddy, itching to bat at #7 (yes, we were all scratching our heads too – not 1, 3 or 4, but 7) went in at #8 and got 3, while Jake Elliott, having declared that he could bat a lot better than his dad Ian who was blunting the attack, treated us to a first ball cross batted slog sweep which should have seen the ball sail over square leg but saw it peg back his off stump instead. With Kamrul putting the usual Sunday bowlers to the sword, the opposition brought in their first team South African spinner Finky Serame who bowled a top quality spell to restrict and then wrap up KCC’s tail, bagging 5-19 in his 7 overs.
All said and done, KCC limped to 200 all out in 48 overs, a total which we felt was decidedly sub-prime, but the excellent tea served by out hosts temporarily shut out our feelings about the cricket.
The hosts’ chase got off to a shaky start, as Jake Elliott picked up a wicket in his first over, with the opener caught well at cover by his younger brother Rory. Eddy bowled a good spell from the other end, picking up a wicket too, and together our opening bowlers had the opposition on the back foot at 30/3 in 10 overs, while young Rory was told off by the umpire for “making a scuffing sound with his shoes” near the mid-wicket region. That’ll teach him.
From this point onwards, KCC were given a batting exhibition as the opposition’s premier pair of Karan Singh (100*) and Shivam Chauhan (91*) put our bowlers to the sword. To be fair, the batsmen did what any professional would – they got set and then punished any bowling that was even marginally off the mark – a department where KCC are historically generous. Even on the odd occasions when our spinners did get the better of them, the mishits either went for runs or landed where our fielders could not reach them – and that’s a pretty large percentage of any ground for us. Chasing 200, there was no sign of the pros declaring once they had reached their 50s, no sign of giving the colts a bat, etc. The focus on securing a win was impressive, and the gap between an occasional Sunday side and two batsmen who were nobodies on the professional circuit, were laid embarrassingly bare, as the modest target was comfortably overtaken with plenty of overs to spare.
Kamrul was adjudged our MoM for his excellent contribution with the bat and, given the rarity of scoring 100s against our bowling, we awarded our JW Gold to teetotaller Finky Serame for his 5-fer.
Mon 31 August Harrow St Mary’s Cancelled – rain
Sun 27 July Harrow St Mary’s Lost by 6 wkts
We 183/7 in 40 overs (Amit Shanker 65, Pammi Chaggar 39, David Behar 29, Rohan Ghosh 25, Neal Aitken 3/29, Bourke 2/36)
They 187/4 in 38.4 overs (L.Prevost 47*, Bourke 44, Murphy 35, Amit Shanker 1/18, Malcolm Spencer 1/28)
A vacant Sunday in July was quickly filled through the Conference with a fixture within the M25 in the leafy suburb of Harrow. We could have been forgiven for thinking we were in Oxfordshire as we were surrounded by trees with no buildings in sight other than the friendly pavilion. San won the toss and chose to bat on a flat track. A good decision, we thought, as Amit and Rohan provided a steady start putting on 47 in 13 overs. A disappointed Rohan (25) then nicked one to the keeper, but Pammi kept the momentum going with Amit in a solid 83 run partnership. But in the 30th over Pammi’s classy innings came to an end (130/2). We needed a target of at least 200 in these last 10 overs, but sadly, we lost our way. Shahzeb fell for a duck and soon after, the lynchpin of the innings, Amit Shanker, launched himself for a big hit and was easily stumped. Only David Behar’s cameo of 29 in 24 balls pushed our cause and the innings closed on 183/7; a fair, but unsafe, total to defend.
Saikat and Eddy opened with a maiden each – a good portent – but soon the fours were struck off loose deliveries. Nevertheless, both bowlers dismissed the openers inside 9 overs (43/2). Ali Bilgrami and Malcolm Spencer were introduced into the attack and for a while contained the watchful batsmen. Wickets were hard to come by, just as for the toiling Indian test bowlers currently in England. Slowly the batsmen got on top and runs flowed freely, helped by some sloppy fielding and dropped catches. San rang the bowling changes but could not prevent the home team reaching the target with 8 balls to spare.
An excellent fixture played in fine spirit and a lot of humour; one definitely to keep.