Sun 2 Oct Kew Won by 4 wkts
They 169/7 in 40 overs (Indie Sherlock 86, Andy Croft 28*, Krishan Sornalingam 19, Praveen Lekhraj 2/21, Neeraj Nayar 2/33)
We 170/6 in 27.5 overs (Harsha Gandadi 70, Chris Ledger 40, Kalit Jain 3/39)
Farmer George, Hoodlum Harsha, Girl, Pigs and Nicker Neeraj Nayar
By Andy Stokes
Kew, West London, awash with both historical and horticultural significance. Interesting tourist information plaques now surround Kew Green, Information aplenty but I decided to behave and keep this report brief.
Kew Cricket Club (circa 1737) in the shadow of St Anne’s Church, the Cricketers pub and near the wondrous horticultural oasis the World Heritage Kew Botanical Gardens would be the theatre where the curtain falls on KCC’s 2022 playing season.
The day started and ended with that familiar bedfellow, farce. To begin, Roughers awoke in Tunbridge to torrential rain and decided not to travel to Kew, where the sun inevitably shone brightly. To end Alex, who was busy scoring, was nearly timed out before hitting the winning run. The KCC tail end, confident in the quality of the middle order had decided to shower and dress, ready for an attack on the Cobras. With the middle order of Ghosh (8), Katakey (4), Lekhraj (14), and Preetinder (2) surely nothing could go wrong? But cricket’s a funny old game that constantly juggles those two imposters, triumph and disaster and as each wicket fell, more out of boredom than drama — for the win was more or less secure — it soon dawned on all that Alex was the only one left in whites, should a wicket fall. Sure enough, with only one run to win, Preetinder smacked a lollipop straight to mid-wicket and Alex duly had to put on his pads in a state of panic and scamper on to the pitch amidst raucous laughter, face one ball and hit the winning run.
Had Roughers paid attention in his history class, he would have known the overnight/morning rain was not a reason for concern, for Princess Augusta (1719 -1772) Princess of Wales fed up with her dress getting muddy on the way to Church from nearby Kew Palace had the land that is now Kew CC extensively well drained. Kew cricketers claim it is the quickest drying ground in the country. It was certainly fit for our fine October fixture. Princess Augusta’s son succeeded her father-in-law to become King George III in 1760.
Rohan won the toss and mindful of the overnight damp shrewdly elected to field in this 40 over match. Kew’s innings was a tale of two halves, the first belonging to them and Indie Sherlock who batted sublimely for 86, before being dismissed trying to smash the cunning loopy leg spin of Praveen to the South Downs.
The second half of their innings belonged to KCC, thanks to tight disciplined bowling from all our bowlers and tactical field settings apropos for local playing conditions. But first, Preetinder, in something reminiscent of a crazy LSD illumination, had the idea to open the bowling as a seam bowler! Soon (three balls and a beamer into his spell) he had a far better idea (encouraged by everyone) to revert to his normal spin. And he did so with great success, 8-4-14-1, setting the tone for the rest of our bowling effort. Praveen, Alex and Neeraj then provided the wickets and control that put us ahead. Sunil and Saikat pitched in with tidy spells as per normal service.
Apart from Nicker Nayar’s man-of-the-match winning spell (8-1-33-2), the highlight of our fielding display came from our new cover point, Alex, who ran in hard at the ball, as is his usual wont, but then and highly unusually, actually picked the ball up cleanly, to execute a tidy run out. In only the previous over, he had opted for his high tariff run-hard-at-the-ball-at-any-cost strategy, whilst trying to execute a catch on the cover boundary, only to see the ball soar over his outstretched hands for six. Had he stood still, the ball would have landed straight into his hands. In any evert, Rohan led the side in exemplary style and we were all more than happy to go into tea with Kew 169/7 off their 40 overs.
St Anne’s Church was originally built in 1714 on land given by Queen Anne, which today borders Kew CC’s ground. In 1781, it was whilst standing on the grand steps of said Church, that George III received the ominous news of Lord Charles Cornwallis’s surrender to General George Washington at Yorktown (Virginia). This decisive engagement of the American Revolution effectively meant the loss of the British American Colonies and the birth of a new nation, the USA. (Yorktown is known as the German battle because Germans fought for all 3 armies involved) From thence forth the British Empire’s gaze would surely focus elsewhere. Lord Cornwallis would soon be sailing to the exotic shores of India as Governor-General where he would receive far more triumphant acclaim, thus moving on from his past calamitous disaster.
And so, it was. Harsha and Lord Ledger opened KCC‘s reply. Harsha’s focus was firmly on boundaries and set about the Kew bowling immediately playing some elegant and powerful shots. If George III had had the decency to wait on those church steps some 240-odd years, he could have received a message in leather from Harsha who struck a mammoth elegant straight six that sailed into that very Churchyard. Several notable persons have been buried at St. Anne’s Kew and we hope no damage was inflicted by our Hoodlum Harsha on Thomas Gainsborough’s gravestone as the ball clattered around the churchyard.
A superb opening partnership of hundred in just 14 overs was enough for Chris (40) who decided a thick brush off the pad into the keeper’s glove was enough for him to walk. Family is a key value for KCC members, and, in truth, Chris just wanted to see his fans — mum, brother, kids and wife (not necessarily in that order) — who had all turned up to watch. Rohan and Harsha (70) then batted us up to 130; surely, we were pretty much there?
Incidentally George III was also known as “farmer George,” a nickname redolent of his fellow sodbuster, George Washington. The King contributed articles to the “Annals of Agriculture” under the pen name Ralph Robinson and favoured greatly Kew Botanical Gardens. The other ‘Farmer George’ George Washington studied and implemented improved farming methods and thought of himself first and foremost as a farmer. Much of his agricultural activities are documented in his papers at the National Library of Congress.
Back to the cricket and after the aforementioned mini collapse, it was left to this year’s trophy winners Stokes (most runs) and Tharakan (most wickets) to finish proceedings which they did with overs and wickets to spare. No catches in the outfield today, well none that were held, just another solid SanPointing performance from Gandadi who took the season’s coveted SanPoint crown, with runs, a well taken catch and a smart stumping. A flurry of four consecutive wins for Kensington to end a most enjoyable and memorable season.
Whisky was presented and beers were taken as Andy Stokes reminded the lads of Thomas Gainsborough’s great work ‘Girl with Pigs’ conjuring up highly inappropriate thoughts in the ranks, and memories of their wanderings into the dark recesses of the web when ‘working’ from home in lockdown.
Indie Sherlock the JW Gold Label for Kew and Neeraj just Nicked Harsha to the Cobra for KCC.
Warm thanks to Umpire Nick Stevenson of Barnes who kindly officiated for us, as ever in exemplary fashion.
As is the norm we took a table in the name of ‘Joshi Man’ at the local Richmond Four Regions Chinese and the whole team (Nick and San included) rolled up for a fine post-match meal, where we digested the days and season’s many successes and few failures, remembering all with thanks and raising glasses to our fine club.
All pigs fed and ready to fly. Keep safe and Winter well my KCC brethren.
Sat 25 Sept Kew Lost by 8 wkts
We 128/10 in 32 overs (Neeraj Nayar 44*, Rohan Ghosh 24, Wesley Johnson 15, Andy Stokes 14, Adam Licudi 2/1, Nas Khan 2/20, Neil Reed 2/27)
They 130/2 in 20 overs (Indi Sherlock 63*, Robert Tindall 40, Sunil Amar 1/24, Wesley Johnson 1/34)
KCC v Kew games had been rather one-side affairs in recent years. This year was no different, except the shoe was to be on the other foot.
Put in to bat on what looked like a very decent track, we had a disastrous start with Rakteem dismissed first ball of the game for a golden duck. Quack! Rohan steadied the ship, first with the confident colt Benny Reid (on loan from the opposition) and then with Andy Stokes, who looked a bit scratchy having driven around half of Hampshire the previous night looking for petrol!
Rohan however produced some sparkling shots all around the ground and we raced to 51/2 by the 8th over. It all looked promising before a questionable lbw decision, one that would have almost certainly triggered a 3rd umpire review, catalysed the inevitable collapse. We stumbled to 82/7 leaving Neeraj to judiciously farm the strike with numbers 9, 10 and 11. 46 valuable runs were added to our total, of which Neeraj contributed 44 of them. Bravo!
Kew then strode out and put us out of our misery, chasing down the paltry target of 129 with minimal fuss. Some admirable hitting by their young No. 3 – Ian Sherlock who remained unbeaten with 63, egged on by some friendly banter from a fired-up Wesley. Kew then arranged a splendid BBQ, free of charge (a big shout out to Mr. Croft)! Thankfully, our performance at the bar afterwards had better success. Particularly memorable was Sunil smashing his beer glass in bits when trying to call the assembly to order for the post-match presentation.
Sat 26 Sept Kew Won by 8 wkts
They 213/6 in 40 overs (Kidron Thomas 50, Adam Licudi 50*, Krishna Kankanwadi 45, Extras 34, Alex Tharakan 3/35)
We 214/2 in 28.1 overs (Harsha Gandadi 108, Jai Singh 58, Preetinder Singh 34*, Charlie Weeks 1/29)
On a cold, cold autumnal day, the mighty KCC battled choking traffic around Kew Bridge (always a disaster) to arrive at the pretty Kew Green, adjoining the gorgeous Kew Gardens in South West London. We had hoped for a welcome warmer than the chilly one the prior year’s fraught affair had fostered. Sadly, it was not to be, as the Kew skipper decided, unilaterally, that it was their right to bat. Bemused and, frankly, a bit pissed off, we all took the field with the bit between our teeth and soon had the opposition pinned on the floor. 34-3 in the 10th. All three dismissals were engineered by the mighty Alex Tharakan for a mere 18 runs. He went on to cap a brilliant season, that would see him finish as the highest wicket taker of the year, in style with his 3/35. Kidron Thomas then played with astonishing clarity, raising his bat upon striking a 40-ball fifty. But just as he looked set to run away with the game, Nitin got him out, caught by Preetinder. 123-5 (25th). While Nitin (1-27) strangled one end, Wajid and Amit Kumar provided good support at the other. On what is after all a small ground with a rock-hard outfield, paved by a countless summer picnic blankets, Kew’s limp to 213-6 was never going to be enough . It could have been worse, were it not for a fighting unbeaten fifty from Adam Licudi and the 34 extras we leaked.
While the rest of us huddled together, drinking hot tea from Preetinder’s eternal-fountain of a flask, trying to stay out of a wind from Siberia that blew brown of brown autumnal leaves about, like swarms of locusts, Harsha and Jai launched a brutal assault out on the pitch. Harsha smashed his first four balls for 14. 4-2-4-4. But that early double clearly was a mistake; at least to Harsha it was. He decided to ignore farming the strike and smash boundaries instead. A towering six that sailed over long off, into the Church graveyard beyond, brought up a 29-ball fifty for him. Jai Singh’s 58, in comparison, may have looked pedestrian, but it came at a run a ball! Unperturbed by Jai’s untimely dismissal in the 16th (127-1), Harsha carried on smacking the ball to all corners with Virendra Sehwag-esque flair, reaching his maiden hundred for the club in only 67 balls. A full 90 runs in his knock of 108, came in boundaries (18x4s, 3x6s). Such was his dominance. With only 2 runs to win Harsha was caught on the boundary trying to finish it in style. It’s rare that a KCC batting order with the likes of Ro, Andy, Nitin, Praveen, Saikat, Wajid et al, don’t even get a look in.
An early finish (12 overs unused) meant more time spent at The Cricketer pub across the road. Neej trotted down to join the festivities in his flash new Asics.
A few weeks later, various KCC senators scratching their lockdown beards debated long and hard over a Zoom session about what to do with this fixture. We had long looked forward to securing a fixture at this charming venue, but without a warm welcome the charm appeared hollow. However, following reassurances from Kew themselves soon after, we look forward to a renewed effort next season. After all, many a lasting friendship is often born out of an indifferent start.
Sat 28 Sept Kew Won by 52 runs
We 253/4 in 40 overs (Nitin Chaturvedi 115*, Jai Singh 47, Rohan Ghosh 40, Praveen Lekhraj 20, Charles Lawton 2/50)
They 201/10 in 38.4 overs (Saban 43, Amanjit Sandhu 41, Nick Baxter 28, Tim Russell 3/14, Amit Kumar 2/34, Adam Sumner 2/37, Saurav Sen 2/48)
The last game of the season was our first fixture against Kew. Playing on the pretty and historic Kew Green ground, where cricket has been played since the C18th, was an attractive prospect, and we were all much looking forward to the game. Chris Ledger lost the toss and KCC were inserted; this looked a bad toss to lose, given a very green pitch, but as it turned out the wicket was much truer than it looked. Openers Jai Singh and Praveen Lekhraj put on a rapid 45 before Praveen departed. Jai played imperiously for his 47 in as many balls before losing concentration and getting bowled by a full toss. Then Nitin Chaturvedi and Rohan Ghosh continued to pile on the runs in an exhilarating 131 run partnership for the 3rd wicket. But the star batsman on the day was Nitin, who went on to score a superb, chanceless and unbeaten maiden century for the club, taking us to a fine total of 253.
In reply, Kew never looked likely to match our total, wickets tumbling at regular intervals in the face of excellent KCC bowling. A threatening opening spell from Adam Sumner and Saikat Barua kept the Kew scoring rate down and the pressure up, before Amit Kumar and our spinners took advantage as Kew tried to increase their slow run rate. Despite one or two lusty blows from the lower order, Kew were in the end well-beaten, falling 52 runs short, bowled out within the allotted 40 overs.
Kew Green is a lovely place to play, but if the fixture is renewed we hope it will be played more in the traditional spirit of a friendly fixture rather than a Saturday league game.