Exiles v The Old Antelopians, Honor Oak 26 July 1998

The Exiles dig themselves out of a hole!

This was our first game against The Old Antelopians. Hopefully the slight controversy over umpiring decisions will not cause ill will to prevent future fixtures with as much interest as this one. The Exiles were again short in the bowling department, work commitments having caused two Exiles to pull out late. Former member Tom McLaughlin was forced out of "retirement" for his one game of the season. A Hockey injury on the morning of the match robbed The Antelopians of one player.
The toss was won by The Exiles and Captain Tony Brook wisely decided to bowl first, figuring our long batting line-up might be able to chase better than our improvised bowling attack might contain.
Paul Shorrock soon had an lbw shout against the Australian opener that was unanimously supported but turned down. He did however remove the left hander with a full length delivery that squeezed through to knock back his off stump. After that there were precious few chances as the key Antelopian batsmen made the most of the easy paced pitch and some slack Exiles fielding to take the score past 150 without further loss. Keith Marchbank more often seen up the batting order put in an improving spell of eight overs and eventually removed the opener with one that left him and was safely pouched by Rohan West in the gloves. Phil James and Tony Brook made up another eight overs in the absence of Effie without much success. The game looked as though it was getting out of reach at 180 for 2 with ten overs left, but the Exiles had a bit of a revival, precipitated by Keith's first wicket. Immediately afterward Paul fielded cleanly at midwicket to run out the new batsman who didn't respond to the call for a risky single that would have allowed the established man to retain the strike. After that James Booth held a skier in the deep to give Keith a well earned second wicket; a bit of a collectors' item that one! Naem Khan got into the action with a catch by his brother Waseem, and a bowled. Paul Shorrock came back for a one over spell in the penultimate over and had a clear catch at the wicket turned down that the batsman admitted had hit his glove, he chose not to walk (perhaps he didn't know the rules?), the Umpire trusted him to walk if he had indeed edged it, so he remained...but not for long; Paul next ball was a bit quicker and was chipped back over the bowler's head as he followed through. A run was called for but John Morgan swooped from cover, scooped the ball on the bounce and his momentum carried him on for the run out at the non-striker's end. In the last over Waseem bowled the last two rabbits and it was a shell-shocked Antelopes side that went in for tea at 204 all out, the last seven wickets falling for 24 runs in 10 overs.
The first over after tea was unique in the experience of this observer, who was also a protagonist of sorts. The fast bowler Owens (referred to as Bubbles by his team mates) sprayed it down the leg side repeatedly, I was umpiring so I applied the Wide Ball law repeatedly. Bubbles got angry and bowled very wide of the off stump so I wided him again. When the twelfth ball of the over was speared down the legside again I allowed it to bring the sorry over to an end. Bubbles then left the field at fine leg, sat on a bench and had a cry where he was consoled by one of the Antelopian women. It is undoubtedly the only occasion when I have "seen off" the opening bowler, and reduced one to tears. I have on occasion been criticised by my team mates for my "objectivity" when a more partisan approach would have won more friends, but a straight sword can cut both ways. James Booth regretted the departure as he enjoys to spar with the quicks, especially those without much control. A few overs later Bubbles returned to the fray, to sulk in the outfield, making sour noises, and flinging the ball back in on the half-volley to his team mates as hard as he could regardless of the chance of a run-out. That his Captain didn't insist he pull himself together and put him back into the attack as soon as possible will remain a mystery to me. Thereafter the bowling was an easier proposition and Sean O'Connor especially made the most of it, hitting four straight fours in a single over. The Exiles were well up with the rate when Sean skied a catch with the score at 95 in the sixteenth over. James then took up the torch with Rohan West as they added 48 for the second wicket in better than even time. Rohan launched a massive six off Norton before gloving a sweep to the keeper and making a show of walking, having been one of the strongest protesters at the failure of the Antelopian's batsman to do the done thing. James redoubled his efforts when joined by Tony Brook as the sun beat down, pulling anything short and rifling some straight drives that would have pinned to the fence any fielder quick enough to intercept them. Eventually he too skied a catch but by then his 81, out of 182 had seen the Exiles to the brink of victory. Tom McLaughlin did his best to cause Tony a heart attack with his keen running, and between them they closed in on the total with a series of singles, and a 3 that could have been an all run four had the batsmen not assumed the ball would cross the boundary. "Bubbles" Owen was coaxed back on at the other end for the penultimate over but was played safely and bowled no further wides. O'Brien was brought on to bowl an over when only 5 runs were needed. Having been run out without facing a ball, he was now asked to have the winning runs knocked off him. Umpire Shorrock was lenient with the wide calls but with the scores level when the sixth ball sailed over the batsman's head by three feet it was decided against the will of the batsmen that another wide had to called. So the innings ended as it had begun. The Antelopians were understandably a bit subdued but all credit must go to the Exiles who clung on and then bounced back from what looked like an unwinnable position, and to do so with three overs and seven wickets left was remarkable.

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