The Exiles lost the toss and were invited to field on a warm day and a dry wicket. Again Paul Shorrock (Lancashire, dark, middle-aged) and James Weir (Yorkshire, blond and youngish) were the contrasting but complimentary openers. The old-fellow still charges in from the far end and James lopes in gracefully and unfurls in his delivery to his full height and then some, extracting maximum leverage and bounce. James didn't manage to repeat the trick of a wicket first ball but he was first to make a breakthrough, bowling Williams in the fourth over with the score on 10. This made way for Mohammed- a sort of wandering gunslinger who happened to be passing looking for a game. Of course this year The Exiles have no need (yet) to look outside their squad of paid-up members but The Dynamos were one short and looking of a fifth ringer (!). Having described himself as a League player and opening bat/leg-spinner it was hardly surprising that he was given the coveted 3-slot. Maybe he never encountered league bowlers with the control and variation of The Exiles pair but he scratched around for 11 balls before Paul nipped one back off the seam through his studious defence and sent him back for a quacker, maybe wishing he'd walked a different route on his quest for cheap Cricket? Next batsman in was Mark Fisher another player who has stepped down from League for a more relaxed level of Cricket. He certainly enjoyed Rob Anderson's opening spell for The Exiles. Rob has shown considerable promise in the winter nets but a combination of nerves, time since last practise and unsuitable footwear (no spikes) added up to a nightmare first two overs of full tosses, wides and no-balls (height) that went for 24 before John Morgan pulled the plug on him. The genie was out of the bottle now and the run rate climbed through the gears as Exiles bowlers of some vintage but little match practice (Wayne Holder and Steve Parsons) tried to find their form. Steele-Perkins, Fisher and Green of The Dynamos all made significant contributions as The Exiles struggled to regain some sort of order. Inevitably when the pressure is on catches are dropped and the ground fielding becomes erratic. Kevin Hobley bowled his first Exiles over but he'd probably rather I didn't dwell on it. The skipper obviously wasn't convinced and one was all he got! Never mind-he had a few tricks up his sleeve for after tea!
It was plain we were up against a team with more fight than The Weasels. Steve Parsons and Wayne Holder managed to chisel out a couple of wickets each. When Rob returned from the other end, with the wind behind him he finally found his confidence and his remaining5 overs brought one wicket for 11 runs which was bloody good in the circumstances and more importantly he began to enjoy himself. It looked like a score in excess of 200 was on the cards but The Exiles stuck to their guns even as the ammo was running low. As the final eight overs began James Weir came back for a single over and got a wicket first ball , Green chipping the ball to Parsons at mid-off, but didn't have long to aquaint himself with the far end. Shorrock came back at the death, bowled a wild leg-side wide first up but the fell back into the groove, no further runs and two identical wickets from the "mystery ball" in the next seven balls meant that James wasn't needed for a third spell and The Dynamos ran ouit of juice at 178 all out. Quite a total and with a relatively green Exiles batting line-up the game as definitely on.
The Dynamos innings:
|R Williams||Bowled||J Weir||8|
|G Steele-Perkins||Bowled||S Parsons||21|
|M Fisher||Bowled||W Holder||44|
|A Green||Ct S Parsons||J Weir||38|
|D Turner||Ct K Hobley||W Holder||6|
|S Hagen||Ct T Brook||P Shorrock||26|
|A Vallings||Ct J Weir||R Anderson||5|
|T Meeten||Ct T Brook||P Shorrock||0|
|Total||All out||(36.1 Overs)||178|
Exiles Bowling figures:
Kevin Hobley and Tony Brook went out to open for The Exiles. Tony fell relatively cheaply but Kevin went on to build an innings of such skill and control that The Dynamos were suspecting him of ringer status. They'd know about that sort of thing but I can proudly state for the record that Kevin is a fully paid-up member who found us via the website. Therefore I can vicariously enjoy his maiden century ever-in any form of cricket-with more than usual satisfaction. Kevin is very composed and correct at the crease and he goes about the task in hand with the minimum fuss but maximum enjoyment. His gum-shield is his one idiosyncracy-which may have played a part in the run-out of Wayne. You'd have to say he made good any damage. His 100 was made up of 18 fours and two sixes, one 2 and 12 singles. Steve Parsons was his partner for the majority of his innings, adding 17 to a partnership of 53 for the third wicket. Parsons' wicket fell immediately after the one moment of rancour and controversy on what was otherwise a well-mannered contest. That man Mohammed again was bowling his leg-breaks, Steve was struck on the pad, Howzat??!! exclaimed Mohammed, pointing at James Weir in the umpire's coat a few feet in front of him, "Not out" replied James in the regulation manner and with typical Yorkshire sang froid. Mohammed held the pose for an age which now became accusatory rather than inquisitional-the finger in the chest slightly reminiscent of the Shakoor Rhana/Mike Gatting incident, except James kept his cool, his hands in his pockets and didn't eat all the pies. Apparently he was telling James that it was "hitting middle". Winning no friends and not getting any change from the umpire he eventually put his finger away. Steve however was enclined to side with Mohammed so next ball charged down the wicket and was stumped, which was the first ray of light in a previously gloomy day for our wandering ringer. As a bowler I've never found batsmen to be the best judges of their own lbw-ness (if they knew exactly where the ball was going why didn't they get some bat on it?) but not many take the contrary view when the umpire rules in their favour!
Until that point the waiting batsmen were surveying the scoreboard with some sense of security. The Exiles were well ahead of the rate, Kevin looked imperious and The Dyamos bowling was not as deep as their batting. John Neal was the right man for the job, at 50 he's too experienced to seem like he's worried in any way. His and Kevin's partnership yielded 26 runs in 6 overs that was just enough of a bridge towards the total before he was bowled by Mohammed for 6. Then the pure hitting of Andy Brook and Steve Little accelerated rapidly towards victory. Andy had been a bit of a Jonah last season-his appearance on the team sheet guaranteeing no play due to rain but today the sun shone on him and the years rolled back as he swatted a four through mid-wicket like it was 1989 again. Kevin eventually gave Mohammed his third wicket with the total on 153, his contribution a nice round 100. No other batsman passed 20 for the Exiles and no Dynamo managed a 50.
Steve Little is a batsman to whom every ball is a four-ball except for the one that gets him out. In the nets he worked hard to reign in his natural aggression at least for the occasional delivery. This day he was Kluseneresque, three consecutive boundaries to all corners of the ground took the scores almost level before you could say "That's Cricket!". Andy Brook then holed out at long on-just like the good-old days-leaving John Morgan, the Captain on the day, to nick the winning runs to fine leg in a "they all count" sort of way rather than "one-bounce over square leg" which is what he had in mind. But a 100% record is maintained and John can now go off for six weeks to study the mysteries of field placing and how to do mental arithmatic without taking the gloves off.
The keen eyed statisticians amongst you may have noticed the close similarity between Shorrock's figures this match and Weir's last match. Perhaps you suspect a typo? Spooky though it may seem both the sets of figures are correct, the only difference being Shorrock bowling one less ball. Whilst Weir's debut spell was enough to win him my nomination for "Man of the Match" I'm quite happy to put forward Kevin Hobley's finely crafted century as the worthy wnner for this week. Well done Kevin, and may it be the first of many!
The Dynamos were overheard getting Mohammed's contact details after the match and inviting him for a pint. Not surprisingly he declined the drink!
|T Brook||Bowled||M Fisher||7|
|Total||35 Overs||for 6 wickets||179|
The Dynamos bowling figures:
Nothing now until The Occasionals on June 10th.