Sun 8 May Old Woking Won by 6 wkts
They 207/9 in 40 overs (Dan Ash 67, Sudeep Rana 56, Bernard van Vuuren 3/30, Alex Tharakan 2/25, Preetinder Singh 2/31)
We 208/4 in 37.4 overs (Chris Ledger 51 rtd, Harikrishna Ashar 50 rtd, Andy Stokes 41*, Nitin Chaturvedi 32*, Aaron Freeland 1/20)
Last minute drop-in fixtures are thankfully rare at KCC. There is an initial relief at finding an opposition which is immediately replaced by deeper questions – ‘do they play with the perfect balance of social and competitive mindset’, ‘are they classy but not too posh’, ‘is the tea any good’, etc. And so it was at Old Woking this year as the team engaged in energetic pre-match tattle, which is KCC’s version of warm-up. The coin was flipped amidst the loitering and, to skipper Nitin’s delight, OW skipper chose to bat.
Bernard was on target straightaway, removing the gun opener Aaron Freeland in his first over with a sharp in-swinger, followed by the no.3 in his second over. His first spell read 4-0-13-2. In between his overs, David Behar kept the batsmen quiet by expertly varying his line – wide of off and wide of leg. Miraculously, he conceded only 6 wides in 2 overs, but unsurprisingly there were no scoring shots off the bat. The clemency of the umpire was not lost on Nitin and, as quid pro quo, he replaced David with Sid Baveja. OW were bogged down through Marc Alexander (9 off 45 balls, excluding David’s 6 out-of-reachers) and Mo Bilal (18 off 33). During this period Alex bowled brilliantly from the other end but without luck. The next change brought about the fall of both Marc and Mo as they tried to break loose against Preetinder’s pies. It also led to OW’s best period with Dan Ash and Sudeep Rana scoring at a rapid pace against the leg spin twins, Preet and Praveen. But the reintroduction of Bernard and Alex swung the game back in KCC’s favour as OW finished with 207 for 9 in 40 overs. Their skipper, Humza Mazar, walking on a very faint tickle behind that no one appealed for, won the hearts of KCC players as he was applauded back to the pavilion.
In reply, KCC started brilliantly with Chris and newbee Harekrishna Ashar (inset). Humza bowled a tight line but runs leaked from the other end. With the KCC openers in full flow, it was hard to see where the wicket would come from… unless they were retired… after reaching fifty by the skipper. This predictably triggered a whole debate about retired out or not out. Nitin, who had not bowled himself, chose to send in David, Rohan and Andy to avoid any ambiguity about the intent behind the retirement decision. As it turned out, both David and Rohan fell cheaply but Andy and Nitin finished the game with an 80-run partnership.
The real winner though was the humility and self-deprecating affability of Old Woking CC, clearly shared and valued by KCC, which could be the harbinger of a recurring fixture.