It was HOT, HOT, HOT, in Dulwich on Sunday-32ºC in the shade. There was a bit of a breeze but it was definitely a day to win the toss and bat. John Morgan duly did just that, and Sean O'Connor who had taken three hours to get here just in time by public transport donned his pads and accompanied Tom Birkert, who had travelled by Lotus Elise from Chelsea in slightly less than three hours, out into the blazing sun. The Old Antelopians had also arrived frazzled in dribs and drabs complaining about the roadworks on the South Circular. While all this was going on Steve Parsons of the BBC and Exiles was filming a kids' cricket game/picnic for a pre-school maths programme with some Exiles, their offspring and some pals-one of whom(Ashenden) stepped in to fill a vacancy in The Antelopians bowling attack. Steve got permission to umpire with a DV camera round his neck for a few overs to add some establishing shots. He wasn't called upon to adjudicate in any close decisions so there was no need for Slo-Mo TV replays although the relentless rise of technology in Cricket may one day come to this level. A "snickometer" might have proved useful.
If they don't end up on the cutting room floor Tom and Sean will have helped to illustrate simple arithmetic, adding mostly ones and twos with an occasional boundary on their way to a creditable 48 for the first wicket in the 15th over. Gloag and Laycock kept things controlled with well set fields and not too much loose stuff on a wicket that left no room for error but they failed to take a wicket. Ashenden, who was only here for the picnic then bowled a tidy spell of eight overs off the reel, no mean feat in these temperatures and with a belly full of samosas and quiche. It was the more erratic Falk who made the breakthrough though, Sean top edging a pull shot that skied to Temple running in from slip. John Morgan elevated himself up the order in the absence of most of the regular top order batsman and upped the scoring rate immediately. The fall off in quality in Antelopian bowling was quite marked and the wides and no balls columns began to fill up, the boundaries came more easily and you could sense the fielder's wilting. Wickets either side of the two mini-drinks breaks revived flagging Antelopian spirits somewhat. John outside edged onto his stumps for a bright and breezy 19, then Tom gave a gloss of respectability to O'Brien's wayward spell by being bowled by the only ball he had sent down anywhere near the stumps. Rob Anderson didn't last long before Ashenden got one to seam up the hill and remove his off stump. Roric Coleman and Pete Watts put together a reasonable partnership although Pete was struggling to find the middle of the bat with any regularity- he stuck it out and carried his bat to top score with 43. Marcus Login, yet another South African friend of Rorick and Rob's got off the mark in spectacular fashion, trotting out to meet a pea-roller near short cover point and hitting it to the point boundary to the surprise of those who weren't quite up to speed on the laws covering Dead Ball. I'm not sure if the Landlord knows how many South Africans are sleeping in that house in Battersea but I reckon they could put out a pretty decent Cricket team. From the off Marcus played with great composure and ran well between the wickets with Pete, helping the latter find his own tempo again and in a brief flurry they seemed to be trying to outmatch the other's sixes, two each coming in the mid-thirty overs period when acceleration was the name of the game. Captain Laycock stuttering in from the pavilion end for his second spell put an end to Marcus' fun for a very useful 31. Vincent Brook then came in with three overs to go and started brightly enough, lofting drives over the offside ring for two and one but with the opening bowlers back on only singles came in the last two overs to take The Exiles to 206 for 6 at tea.
|Total||For 6 wickets||40 Overs||206|
Antelopes Bowling figures:
The Antelopes were denied the steady start they needed by a wicket in Paul Shorrock's first over when the lefthanded Norton played across the line and looped a catch to Vic Ardern under his floppy blue hat at square leg-the easier of his two catches that day. The shorn Shane walloped the next delivery to the long on boundary which sort of signalled his intentions. There then followed a short but dramatic tussle between the aging bowler and the pugnacious batsman, a swing and miss then a sharp return catch that was dropped after leaving it's mark on the bowler's ribs. James Weir started at the other end, visibly wilting in the tropical conditions, cut down his run-up to protect his hangover-hit stamina and was not his usual metronomic self but kept Temple honest under his white helmet. The Shorrock/Shane combat resumed and was swiftly concluded when the batsman attempted to heave a slower ball over deep midwicket but was about a second too early in the shot and was clean bowled without adding to his single boundary. There then followed a controversial umpiring decision when Temple appeared to give a straightforward catch to John Morgan, the keeper, everyone appealed , the batsman appeared to have started to walk and the bowler, Shorrock , was about to be surrounded by congratulating teammates when the umpire shook his head saying "sorry boys..!". Thereafter the bowler ignored the heat and his vintage and put everything he had into the remaining two overs of that spell, fuelled by righteous indignation. It didn't bring any further reward but it may have let the umpire know he didn't necessarily agree with the decision in not so many words-in fact no words at all which is how it should be.
Falk and Temple then put together a potentially match winning stand, preying on the fading Weir. They also had a run of good luck, John Morgan spilling a swirling skier that you would back him to catch nine times out of ten. There were some lapses in the fielding too that could have been due to the aforementioned hangover. I thought that in Yorkshire giving runs away was more of a crime than marrying your cousin but a certain Tyke was in a very generous mood with the opposition. John Morgan also had trouble coping with Pete Watt's pace and let an uncharacteristic number of byes through. It was Rorick Coleman's spectacular direct hit run out from cover that eventually broke the partnership and put the Exiles back in the game just before drinks. Rob Anderson bowled with heart and removed Temple to great relief all round. Vic Ardern's big left handed leg breaks were brought into the attack. Vic is lacking in match practise and was punished when he dropped short but he redeemed himself with a very sharp right-handed return catch to remove the Captain Laycock who looked a threat. The Antelopes were still ahead of the rate when Marcus Login was given his bowling debut. He too was rusty and for a while The Exiles bowling looked as fragile as The Antelopes had, wides and no-balls coming thick and fast as Vic lost his rhythm completely. Login bowled Hine to keep the match finely poised. Vincent Brook came on and bowled one tidy over then retired himself because he had slipped. It looked like the Antelopes might slip away too but a short sharp spell from Paul put the brakes on and had the batsmen refusing singles that they may have regretted later. Anderson got a second wicket to end up with the very respectable figures of 2 for 27 whereas Weir's miserable day wasn't improved by being pulled for six first ball back of his second spell. However he did supply the ball that Rob Anderson caught Bellamy off-eclipsing even Vic's effort-running in from long on and taking it on the dive-one handed at ankle height. The umpire didn't want to believe it but consultation with square leg convinced him. The Exiles were cock-a-hoop as Rob showed off his reddening fingers. O'Brien managed to strand himself half way down the wicket and was run out before he could get back to draw the drama to a close. An exciting game that could have gone either way and was played in excellent spirit. It was worth all the sweat and bruises.
If you happen to be watching Children's TV in spring 2002 The Story Makers on BBC 2 and CBBC, you might see us and our children playing in the sun. See what you make of the not out decision at the start of the piece (the umpire's "sorry boys" comes just after the edit).
|Laycock||Ct & Bowled||Ardern||7|
|Total||36 Overs||all out||183|
Exile's bowling figures:
Look out Gentlemen of West London-here we come!