Sun 7 August Sawbridgeworth Lost by 25 runs
They: 271/5 in 40 overs (Tom Hamilton 57, Asim Waheed 56, Romesh Paktsun 44, Adam MacDonald 37, Extras 37, Rohan Ghosh 1/20)
We: 246/9 in 39 overs (Rohan Ghosh 83*, Andy Stokes 57, Nitin Chaturvedi 34, Romesh Paktsun 4/55, Shyaish Waheed 2/27)
Even though Sawbridgeworth is no longer the batting paradise it used to be, the small boundaries and relatively benign pitch invariably attracts our best batters to sign up. This year was no different. And when Nitin lost the toss and the opposition chose to bat, there was a sense of relief and quiet optimism. Someone even mentioned that “anything is chaseable”. Spoiler alert – this game was evidence that there are caveats to that statement. It is true IF the bowling is disciplined under assault, IF the top order gets going, IF the finisher .. err.. finishes the job. None of these things happened and KCC lost a winnable game. That’s the short of it.
The long of it is that Sawbo were very solid throughout the match. Batting first, they kept a healthy run rate throughout their innings. Their dependable top batters – Tom, Rom, Adam and Asim – all played well to set a very strong foundation. Tom and Asim scored fluent fifties while Rom scored a brisk 46. KCC bowling was decent given the pitch and the boundaries. But there were two problems that ultimately cost us the game. Namely, we conceded 33 runs in 2 overs at the death and gave away 37 extras in total. Sawbridgeworth ended on 271 but it should really have been 245-250 had we not momentarily lost focus.
Still, at the break we didn’t feel that the total was too imposing. We knew we had to apply ourselves but with a very strong batting line-up, the odds of a KCC win were pretty good. Nitin sent Jai and Harsha to open as a demonstration of early intent. Sadly, neither got going despite a few early boundaries. The punt of sending Sumaer Amar at Harsha’s fall, to up the run rate from one end failed as Sumaer failed at the only thing Nitin had asked him – ‘Don’t try to hit the first ball’! At 32/3, there was still no panic with Nitin, Rohan and Andy to follow. Nitin and Rohan stabilised the ship with a 60-run partnership at the required run rate before Nitin holed out at deep mid-wicket for 34. Andy and Rohan then further strengthened the chase. Andy in particular hit a flurry of boundaries to bring the target down within striking distance. His dismissal for a fluent 57 with the score at 176/5 and 14 overs remaining proved to be the turning point. Although Rohan kept ticking and eventually was not out for 83, his strike rate dipped appreciably, and wickets fell at regular intervals. KCC were all out for 246 in 39 overs. Romesh once again was the destroyer in chief taking 4 wickets. In all, Sawbo conceded 13 extras to our 37. The difference in extras was almost the same as our margin of defeat. On another day, we would have batted one more over (we were a man short), given a few less extras and not had those super expensive overs. But that’s cricket!
The post-match conviviality at Sawbridgeworth is always worth staying back for. KCC decided to give young Tom Hamilton the MoM award although Romesh was factually a clear match winner for them. This gesture towards their future was well appreciated. We exchanged vows to keep this excellent fixture alive and settle scores next year.
Mon 30 August Sawbridgeworth Lost by 77 runs
They: 218/9 in 40 overs (Steve Ashman 69, Nick Dale 30, Saad Naveed 29, Extras 32, Mark Roughley 4/37, Adam Sumner 2/29)
We: 141/10 in 37.5 overs (Preetinder Singh 47, Andy Stokes 32, Adam Sumner 17, David Behar 17, Extras 23, Five ducks!, Saad Naveed 4/1, Romesh Paktsun 3/21)
KCC played the August bank holiday fixture at the lovely Sawbridgeworth ground. It was not, however, the usual road of a wicket that batsmen loved, and bowlers dreaded. This one had something in it for both. Preetinder lost the toss and Sawbridgeworth elected to bat.
Steve Ashman gave the home team an excellent start but Adam Sumner with the new ball bowled a hostile spell, picking up 2-29 and getting some decent carry. Overall, the Kensington bowlers did creditably especially the three youngsters, Jai Bhalla, Rohan Prasad and Anuvrat Shanker – a future KCC seam attack right there! But it was the oldster, Mark Roughley, who took the bowling honours with his off spin to finish with 4-37 off his 8 overs.
A Sawbridgeworth total of 218 looked very gettable but we were soon to get a very rude awakening!
The game was virtually over as a contest in the first 3 overs where KCC lost Jai Singh, Amit Shanker and Jai Bhalla for ducks, with Bernard soon to follow with another duck (14/4). Saad Naveed swung the new ball prodigiously and bowled the most amazing spell of 7-6-1-4.
Winning was almost an impossible task from thereon and saving face became the order of the day. Andy Stokes brought some respectability but when he was out for 32 the score was 46/5. Preetinder managed to get 47 putting together a couple of partnerships with Adam (17) and David Behar (17). We were eventually bowled out for a fighting 141 – after such a disastrous start it seemed an achievement in itself. It should be noted that our last man fell without scoring, making our ducks tally five in the innings, thus equalling a rather dubious KCC record!
A humbling day but very enjoyable one with our wonderful hosts who hadn’t had the better of us in the last four encounters. Perhaps they should prepare such bowler-friendly wickets in the future.
Sun 19 July Sawbridgeworth Won by 32 runs
We: 310/6 in 40 overs (Preetinder Singh 110, Andy Stokes 60, Nitin Chaturvedi 59, Sid Chhibbar 33, William Jones 2/32, Harry Gale 2/50)
They: 278/6 in 40 overs (William Jones 119, Louis Kirby 60*, Harry Gale 32, Saurav Sen 2/38, Neeraj Nayar 2/40)
There is no better sight for batsmen than the short boundaries and true batting pitch at Sawbridgeworth. That’s why they usually arrive early to lobby for top order slots. So, it was a surprise that two of our key batsmen hadn’t arrived at all when skipper Nitin went out for the toss. Given that Nitin’s default decision is to field, the other batters were actually quite glad that Praveen and Rohan were still meandering to the ground. Surely no one would be mad enough to field first at Sawbridgeworth … with 9 players. We will never know as he lost the toss and KCC was asked to bat.
Harsha and Nitin opened solidly but were a bit overcautious, perhaps aiming to set up a firm foundation for the strong batting to follow. But on that pitch, run rate is always on your mind and Harsha swiped at the 5th ball of the 5th over trying to hit over the infield with the score at 17; the loud appeal for caught behind was turned down. (“Did you nick it?”, asked Nitin after ‘Over’ had been called. “Yes”, was the reply. “Then you should walk”, which he promptly did, in keeping with the spirit of the game, but much to the confusion of scorers Richard and San!)
That was to be the only blip in KCC’s batting. Nitin and Andy paced their 96-run partnership scoring at run a ball. When Nitin fell for 59, caught at deep cover, Sid continued with Andy at a similar rate. KCC was heading comfortably towards a healthy 240-ish total – a certain defeat on that pitch. With Preetinder chomping at the bit to go in next, Nitin kept peppering him with repeated reminders that KCC needed 280+. Preet likes to take 20-ish balls to settle but Nitin was hopeful that might have changed after Preet’s Seniors World Cup experience. He definitely looked switched on and when Andy got out for a well-made 60 with the team total at 147 in the 24th over, Preetinder ran in with purpose. He moved to 28 after 30 balls which was in line with the overall run rate – solid but not good enough. And just as Sid holed out and 280 was slipping away, he moved into another gear. The last 8 overs saw a brutal assault as Preetinder blasted 82 runs in 28 balls faced, Praveen pitching in with a timely cameo of 20 off 11 balls. In all, Preet scored 110 runs, the second fastest ton in KCC history, hitting 17 fours and 4 sixes, before he was dismissed second last ball, caught Kirby bowled GALE! The last 4 overs had gone for 62 taking KCC’s final tally to 310. Surely, a winning total?
Tea was strange as we were still getting to grips with cricket in times of Covid. One bowler forgot to pack anything at all and drove off to find a sandwich, adding more stress for the skipper. At the other side of this tea divide, a player had packed an insulated bento box with warm food. Thankfully, no one brought samosas or jalebis and the errant bowler made it back just in time. KCC ambled out in drip dose as usual and the huddle was a low-key affair mostly about not dropping catches, walking in etc. More of a wish list than a checklist!
In stark contrast, Sawbridgeworth CC batters strode out with purpose. In passing they mentioned they had chased down 330 against much stronger bowling. How had they gauged our bowling strength? Could it be due to our total lack of activity in the nets, warm up or catching practice? Nitin decided to open the bowling with a somewhat off-piste choice – an all-Bengali opening attack of Saurav and Rohan. Rohan had already atoned for being late by not batting. Now he had to bowl to rampant Sawbo openers on that pitch? His job was to support Saurav by not leaking runs. And he did exactly that bowling a tight spell. At the other end, Saurav was giving another masterclass of bowling off spin with the new ball. His first spell of 5-0-18-2 put Sawbo so far behind the curve that despite some stellar batting by William Jones (119 off 87 balls), plucky resistance by Louis Kirby (60 off 57), and a threatening assault by Harry Gale (32 off 15), they never caught up. Sawbo finished 32 runs short. Neeraj bowled well in the middle finishing with a very respectable 8-0-40-2.
The difference in the end was Preet switching on beast mode in the last 4 overs of our innings! Another great day at one of our favourite fixtures. Sawbridgeworth is a long drive for most people but no one was complaining that day. Cricket was back!
Sun 23 June Sawbridgeworth Won by 93 runs
We: 257/10 in 39.5 overs (Tim Keleher 141, Tim Russell 34, Wajid Tahir 23, Matt Billings 4/18, Ramesh Pakthun 3/38, Saad Naveed 3/52)
They: 164/10 in 30.1 overs (Rahim Sohail 44, Saad Naveed 34, Matt Billings 32, Seethal Tharakan 3/31, Anuvrat Shanker 3/35, Rajat Mehta 3/42)
Runs have always been the order of the day here (our 2016 fixture is still an all-time record) so Tim Keleher had no hesitation in batting first to set a decent target.
With the pitch somewhat unusually positioned very centrally – no short side boundaries as we’ve become accustomed too – boundaries did not flow with as much ease but flowed all the same especially once Kiwi Tim joined Aussie Tim at the crease.
That said, a lack of patience from the KCC line up saw a slew of starts wasted, as Aussie Tim first had to knuckle down to record his century, and then opened his shoulders in the latter overs as his batting partners began to diminish. Classy Sawbo player Matt Billings bowled with class and guile on the way to excellent figures of 4 for 18, but in the end KCC still managed a very imposing score of 257 when the innings ended in the final over.
Ryan clearly still dreamt of being in the Lord’s nets with his short-pitched opening over. It certainly softened up the batsmen and helped young Anuvrat Shanker take 2 wickets in his first 2 overs and 3 wickets by the end of his spell. Ryan also got in on the act, as did Rajat Mehta playing only his second game. He was the pick of the bowlers with a mixture of controlled in-swing bowling and subtle variations in pace.
That said, even with Sawbridgeworth somewhat reeling at 46 for 4, the run rate was still very much in line with the target and with two quality batsmen at the crease who were scoring with ease. It was Rajat who stepped up to dismiss Sohail and then Billings (beautifully caught by Nitin at mid-on), which effectively ended the chase. Seethal stepped in at the end to clean up the tail and in the field it was five catches from five chances, a far cry from the seven dropped chances the week before. A fantastic team performance and in the end a comprehensive victory washed down with a decent amount of Cobras.
Sun 29 July Sawbridgeworth Cancelled – rain
Sun 30 July Sawbridgeworth Won by 122 runs
We: 249/5 in 35 overs (Sid Chhibbar 79*, Amit Shanker 49, Jamie Keleher 40*, Wes Johnson 31, Jai Singh 26, Luke Wharton 1/16)
They: 127/8 in 26.2 overs (Clayton Floyd 45, Matt Billings 38, William Jones 31, Wes Johnson 3/11, Saikat Barua 2/16, Chetan Singh 2/40)
Overnight rain had threatened the match, with Sawbridgeworth admitting that if they weren’t playing the mighty KCC they would’ve just called the game off. Very kind words from the hosts, and after a slight delay to the start time we batted first in a reduced 35 over match.
Sawbo only had 9 available players but did not let that dampen their spirits. We lent them a fielder for the whole of our innings. Emma Jones and Sean Black opened up, both bowling with shape and control. Rohan was dismissed early but Amit and Jai were watchful on a tricky pitch. Singles were hard to come by (and avoided wherever possible) but loose deliveries generally found their way to the boundary which kept the run rate ticking along. Jai and Tim both fell in quick succession, though Amit continued to push on until he rashly called for his fiftieth run to an unresponsive Wesley and was run out by a mile. After a handy cameo from Wes with a well-struck 31, Jamie and Sid were paired up for the final overs. Jamie got things going with some lovely lofted drives and sweep shots (40 from 24 balls), but it was Sid who stole the show with a brutal assault on the Sawbo bowling attack. Skipper Matt Billings, with a young side to look after, took it on his shoulders to bowl at the death. He probably wished he hadn’t.
Sid faced 10 balls in these 2 overs, hitting Billings for 42 runs (4 fours and 4 sixes) with an array of power, timing and placement. A KCC score that looked like being a barely respectable 200 suddenly became 249 with Sid scoring 79 off just 34 balls. Indeed, if the innings had not come to a close the record for the fastest KCC century (51 balls) was in severe danger.
But if history has taught us anything at this ground it’s that no score is safe in a chase, and Sawbridgeworth got off to a blinding start with their first XI top order pair of Will Jones and South African Pro Clayton Floyd. Floyd in particular looked in ominous form with balls flying to, and over, the boundary.
Saikat made the vital breakthrough, removing Jones caught smartly at first slip by Jai. The following over Chetan got his patented wobble to remove Floyd, to another sharp catch, this time by Jamie standing up to the stumps. With the two danger men gone, and with a young line up to follow, the Sawbridgeworth chase fell apart with Wesley and Tabrez sharing in the latter wickets. The fielding standard also remained high with all 5 catching opportunities taken with aplomb.
A comprehensive 122 run victory and plenty of time to enjoy a post match beer.
Sun 24 July Sawbridgeworth Won by 7 wkts
They: 326/4 in 40 overs (Ruann Willemse 100*, Alex Axon 95, John Thorley 53, Matt Billings 44*, Jai Singh 1/26, Amit Shanker 1/42)
We: 330/3 in 39.2 overs (Tim Keleher 187, Amit Shanker 94*, Extras 26, Sam Timms 2/23)
Congratulations Tim on breaking the long-standing individual batting record and also Amit for setting the highest partnership record with Tim of 258 for the 3rd (and any) wicket. Other records tumbled, including the highest successful run chase and most runs scored in a match.
Contributed by Richard White, scorer for Sawbridgeworth:
Sawbridgeworth have been honoured to be hosting Kensington for 10 years. We’ve had some memorable encounters over the last decade, but none have been more extraordinary as the latest chapter which saw records tumble on both sides.
An astonishing 40 overs a side game began with a maiden over bowled by Saikat Barua, and ended 78.2 overs later with Kensington having pulled off their most successful run chase in their history as they recorded their first victory in this fixture since 2013.
The KCC record book had to be re-written like never before. There was no doubting the headline act, a brilliant performance from Tim Keleher, who shattered his club’s record for the highest individual score which had stood for 27 long years since the scorching summer of 1989.
In this case, the statistics do tell most of the story; he scored 187 runs off 111 balls with 26 fours and 7 sixes as he despatched the Sawbridgeworth attack to all parts of the ground in a performance that will be remembered for many years to come.
However, Amit Shankar played his part in a wonderful third wicket partnership of 258 in 165 balls (27.3 overs) which took Kensington past 300, with the pair having come together at a precarious 43/2 in the 9th over. The record books were being continually checked by San and I in the scorebox, as the pair broke not only KCC record partnership for the third wicket but indeed any wicket in the club’s history.
Tim’s share of the partnership was an astonishing 168 runs (or 65.11%) but eventually fell lbw to his opposite number with 27 needed for victory from 22 balls. His side only needed 18 deliveries to finish the job as Amit struck the winning boundary to finish unbeaten on 94, if ever a player deserved a hundred it was him. Kensington also broke a ground record which had stood for 22 years. They became only the third side ever to chase over 300 and win at Town Fields, and overhaul the previous best of 306/5 set by Sawbridgeworth v the Cherubs in June 1994 (they were chasing 303)
It was easy to forget the part Sawbridgeworth’s batsmen played in this game after they unsurprisingly elected to bat first. Alex Axon finally found some form with a brutal 95 from 80 deliveries (of which 80 came in boundaries) before John Thorley struck a breezy half century (53 off 41).
The coup de grace was provided by South African Ruann Willemse and Matt Billings, whose unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 113 came off the last 64 balls of the innings. Ruann’s maiden century for Sawbo came from just 61 deliveries while Billings (44* off 30) failed his attempt to reach his 50 off the final ball of the innings, which went for four byes.
It was a game I was privileged to be a part of. A brilliant day’s entertainment which conjured up 86 fours and 16 sixes and was wonderful to watch. San asked me during the second innings what a good score was on our ground and I guess the answer is that in the right conditions, no total is safe anymore. Kensington may have pulled off a record breaking victory but in my opinion, cricket was the overall winner. Here’s to the next 10 years of great games with KCC, it remains the most anticipated Sunday game of our season.
Sun 12 July Sawbridgeworth Lost by 6 wkts
We: 182/9 in 40 overs (Tim Keleher 53, Nitin Chaturvedi 34, Justin Lai Lam 28, Pammi Chaggar 23, Bharat Gorasiya 20, Harry Gale 5/33,Billings 2/29)
They: 185/4 in 33 overs (Chris Bird 85*, McGarry 43, Bharat Gorasiya 2/32, Justin Lai Lam 1/9)
The annual trip up the M11, this year with threatening clouds looming all day, again proved fruitless but this was a somewhat improved KCC performance from the thrashing of last season, especially from our bowlers.
The first highlight was the notable absence of Charlie Rudkin, last year’s destroyer. The absolute lowlight was two KCC players forgetting their white trousers and playing in coloured bottoms. “Village”, they shouted. Oh the shame.
Winning the toss and batting first, openers Tim and Nitin got the innings off to a very decent start, finding regular boundaries on the quick outfield. Perhaps could have had more if there weren’t so many damned teenagers prowling the field.
Sawbridgeworth changed tack, introducing slower bowlers from both ends. This brought the key breakthroughs when first Nitin was bowled dancing down the wicket, soon followed by Tim caught on the cow corner boundary. In hindsight, a big score from one of these two was crucial to putting up a competitive total.
Justin Lai Lam, a colleague of Tim’s playing his long-awaited first game, and Pammi settled in thereafter. Even with some hefty blows being delivered by Justin, scoring became more and more difficult. In the last 10 overs wickets tumbled, as did the run rate and we finished on a well below par score of 183 from our 40 overs.
Seethal and Saikat opened up for KCC and bowled a very tight line and length from the start against the quality opening pair for Sawbridgeworth. Saikat had skipper Charlie Mann neatly caught behind, and Seethal should have had the other opener Chris Bird bowled soon after. Alas, the faint tickle on the stumps was not enough to dislodge the bails. A crucial moment, with Bird going on to provide the bedrock of the innings.
Bharat took some early punishment before taking 2 wickets in an over, and late on Justin bowled some very tidy off breaks, even getting a wicket with his first ball. But with Bird getting an unbeaten 85, Sawbridgeworth cruised to victory with 7 overs to spare.
Sun 22 June Sawbridgeworth Lost by 61 runs
They: 332/5 in 40 overs (Charlie Rudkin 198, Tommy Burslem 61*, Jo Leak 35, Saikat Barua 4/29, Bernard van Vuuren 1/63)
We: 271/9 in 40 overs (Eddy Barretto 57, Shahzeb 49, Saikat Barua 49, Sher Babi 27, Steve Ashman 2/25, Sean Black 2/43, Charlie Mann 2/55)
Attention all batsmen and flat-track bullies. If you want to improve your batting average Sawbridgeworth is the place to come. With a true, fast surface and a short boundary on one side no odds are given against a high scoring game. And so it proved once again, but it could nearly have been so very different!
Chris lost the toss and Sawbo took first strike in this 40 overs game. Inside the first 7 overs the home side was 16/3, all wickets caught behind off Saikat who was bowling with fire. Charlie Rudkin came in and before he was off the mark Bernard dropped a sitter at square leg off the hapless Khush. Charlie made the most of his second chance and proceeded to first build an innings in a 128 run partnership with Jo Leak, then open his considerable shoulders along with Tommy Burslem to savage the bowling in an extraordinary burst – the last 10 overs producing 151 runs. No bowler was spared, and Eddy had the dubious honour of breaking a long-standing club record by conceding 100 runs in his 6 overs. There was simply nowhere to hide in the field as Charlie peppered 8 sixes and 26 fours, falling in the last over just short of a double hundred made in only 110 balls. It had to take a splendid diving catch by David Behar at deep mid-off to dismiss him. 332 was short by 2 for the most runs we have ever had to chase.
We started brightly enough, Sher Babi and David putting on 40 in 6 overs, but 2 wickets in two balls set us back. First, Sher pushed too hard at one and was caught, then Chris was adjudged lbw first ball on a full stretch. Hmmm. David did not stay long and it was left to Shahzeb, along with Ali, to pick up the momentum. Shahzeb duly found the boundaries in a 60 run stand but was caught on the fence going for his fifty (we needed 150, Shahzeb!). San came and went, run out through a silly misunderstanding with Ali, who himself did not last long (114/6). It looked all over, even though we were level-pegging at this same stage. Eddy and Saikat began a glorious revival to give us hope. They put on 111 for the 7th wicket at 8 an over, both hitting the ball cleanly. Saikat just fell short of his maiden fifty but Eddy was not denied getting to it with a straight six. But 3 wickets fell in 3 overs and with nothing to play for but pride last men Bernard and Khush crashed 31 in the last two and a half overs to remain defiant at the end.
No surprises then as Charlie picked up the Johnnie Walker Gold Label prize, though perhaps a bowler should have won it for sheer perseverance on that road of a wicket!
Sun 14 July Sawbridgeworth Won by 21 runs
We 298/9 in 40 overs (G.Menon 68, Ramsagar 43, Karan Bali 40, Gore 28, C.Rudkin 3/57, Gostling 2/54)
They 277/6 in 40 overs (Jerome 111*, C.Rudkin 66*, Mann 48, Ramsay 34, van Vuuren 2/40, Ramsagar 2/46, Tahir 2/56)
Played on a glass top with one short boundary on the tennis courts side, runs were scored freely by both teams in this 40 overs a side match. Sawbridgeworth made a creditable attempt at overhauling the KCC total but we had just about enough runs on the board to come out on top.
David Behar won the toss and Karan and San got us off to a flyer – 50 was up in under 6 overs. Gautom continued where Karan left off exploiting the short boundary to good effect before being undone trying to find the tennis courts once too often. When he was 4th out in the 25th over, KCC were 3 shy of 200. Ajit knitted together partnerships with the rest of the batsmen to propel the KCC total to 298. Rob Sanders was the only Sawbo bowler to go for under 5 an over.
Bernard and Wajid soon had Sawbo 47 for 4 and the game looked all but over. The fact that Sawbridgeworth got to within 21 runs of the KCC total was down to a patient and composed unbeaten 100 by young Harry Jerome and a brutal late assault on the KCC bowling by Charlie Rudkin, younger brother of Joe and with a similarly uncomplicated hitting technique. Had Charlie promoted himself up the order, who knows what the result might have been? Fortunately for KCC, he ran out of overs and Sawbo finished on 277 for 6.
Sun 22 April Sawbridgeworth Lost by 29 runs
They 268/5 in 40 overs (Ashman 147*, Sanders 32*, C.Rudkin 30, Rishad 2/49)
We 239/3 in 40 overs (Ramsagar 120*, Shahzeb 46, Ghosh 46, Billings 1/37)
Wrestle North London traffic for an hour or two. Check. Arrive barely in time to pull on the whites. Check. Realise you obviously forgot to pack the long-sleeved cricket jumper. Check. Lose the toss. Check. Chase leather all afternoon. Check. Drop lots of catches. Check. Troop back to London smarting from a thrashing. By younger, fitter … better cricketers. Check. Add some salt and pepper to taste. There you have it. A visit to Sawbridgeworth. De rigueur.
So here’s the salt. Upon arrival, skipper Rohan was rather relieved to discover that Joe Rudkin was away, playing cricket in Australia. Joe, an excellent first-team batsman, had hammered the living daylights out of us the year before. In fact, Rohan was rather hoping all the Sawbridgeworth tykes were away. Perhaps busy chasing girls at the local village fair. Herding cattle in the Masai Mara for their gap year. Dancing out of tune at a Justin Beiber concert. No such luck. They were all padded up from the start. Lining up to have a crack at the Johnnie Walker prize.
Still, KCC had something to look forward to. The return of our own fiery Lahore Kebab, the superb Maddy Rishad, and the debut of our latest highly skilled technology plug-in Ajit Ramsagar, who had looked a peach in the pre-season nets. We started strong, even took an early wicket. However, number three Steve Ashman soon picked up the Johnnie Walker scent and started carving poor Bharat to all parts. Rohan and Amit bowled very tight, swingy spells, going at less than 4 an over. At 80/1 in the 15th, it began to look ominous. Maddy, although understandably scratchy with his line and length, bowled with pace to pick up a couple of wickets, but at some cost. Spin twins Gabriel and Seethal then took the brunt of the thrashing as Steve raced to his hundred and more. 268/5 in 40 felt a lot worse than it looked.
And the pepper. KCC started cautiously as Shahzeb and Ajit played themselves in before picking up the pace with some fine pulls behind square by Shahzeb. At 75 for no loss in the 15th, we were in the game. However, once Shahzeb fell, unlucky to miss out on a fifty, our innings drifted and the next ten overs yielded only 40. At 119/1 in the 25th, we were about 40-45 runs behind the required rate. Ajit and Rohan then strung together a 109 run partnership for the third wicket, during which Ajit completed a fine century on debut, dancing down the track several times to unleash rich wristy strokes. However, in the descending gloom, the asking rate proved insurmountable and we finished with a creditable 239/4, 29 short.
Desert? Well … there were some Cobras. A few cakes. An energising cigarette or two. And the crisps. Don’t forget the ever nutritious crisps. But mainly the Cobras … really. KCC diet de rigueur.
Match 2: Thur 25 August Sawbridgeworth Won by 6 wkts
They 151/6 in 35 overs (Spring 43, Chellew 34, Manas Roy 2/19, Tabrez Khan 2/48)
We 153/4 in 31.2 overs (Ledger 46*, Shahzeb 45, Ghosh 29, Howard 3/22)
Heavy rain poured down late morning as we made our way along flooded roads to Sawbridgeworth. Prospects for play looked hopeless but the rain eventually stopped and quite remarkably, after superb work from the groundsman, the game started in sufficient time for us to play a 35 over match. KCC won the toss, and with batting conditions very difficult, asked Sawbo to bat first. On a wet, green, seaming pitch, KCC’s opening bowlers Amit Shanker and Manas Roy bowled beautifully, making runs extremely hard to come by. Needing to increase the slow scoring rate, both Sawbo’s star batsmen then holed out to Tabrez Khan having a heave, and with the rest of the batting line up tied down by an excellent tight spell of bowling from young Stefanos Nayar, the home side ended up 30 runs or so short of a decent total.
In reply, Shahzeb Mohammed and Rohan Ghosh got KCC’s innings off to a fine start, putting on 69 runs before Rohan was adjudged LBW. Skipper Chris Ledger, next in, seemed emboldened by getting off the mark with a straight six back over the bowler’s head, and despite some tight bowling and the fall of 3 quick wickets, KCC went on to reach the target comfortably with over 3 overs to spare… A fun game that never looked like being played – ‘Man of the Match’ should have gone to the groundsman!
Match 1: Sun 31 July Sawbridgeworth Drawn
They 278/4 in 42 overs (Joe Rudkin 106, Sanders 60, Purnell 46*, Inch 30, Bharat Gorasiya 1/41, Sunil Amar 1/49, Amit Shanker 1/57)
We 186/8 in 39 overs (David Behar 42, Shahzeb Mohammed 41, Shanker 31, Mann 2/26)
A spade by any other name is still a spade. And so it seemed as a young and fit Sawbridgeworth beat an aging and unfit KCC to a pulp despite what the scorebook read, a euphemistic “DRAW”, quite obviously scribbled by a KCC scorer still reeling from the blows of a blunt instrument.
It all started pretty badly when, under a hot sun, Tabby steamed in and was promptly dispatched for three consecutive boundaries by classy first-team opener Joe Rudkin. Quite literally, the leather hunt was on and David Behar was permanently posted by Rohan to cow corner to avoid losing more cricket balls. Joe’s brutal assault ensured that by the time he was dismissed for 106 in the 32nd over, all our bowlers were approaching significant milestones as well – conceding 50+ runs in an innings. A particularly memorable shot was a straight six which pinged into the sightscreen and rolled back to the middle of the ground, allowing the bowler Sunil to casually retrieve the ball at the top of his mark. The hosts mercifully declared at 278/4 after 42 overs. Probably out of boredom. Matthew was left holding the wooden spoon, the top “scorer” amongst the bowlers with a proud 74 (runs conceded). But not before some artful skulduggery that involved simultaneously tossing a band-aid at the unsuspecting batsman along with his regulation leggie that doesn’t break. Although we are yet to reach a consensus as to a name for this cunning delivery, there was unanimous agreement on the result – a thumping six over mid-wicket.
In reply, KCC started off well with openers David (42) and Rohan putting on 30 for the first wicket in the first five overs. Shahzeb (41) continued the good work taking the score to 96/1 in the 14th over. We were looking rosy. Soon, true form, or perhaps age, caught up and a flurry of cheap wickets later, it was left to Amit, San and Bharat to bat out the euphemistic “DRAW”. Joe Rudkin (inset) deservedly won the Man of the Match award presented by Rohan.
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