A short match report this week, I am without the scorebook for reference, so apologies to those hungry for statistics. This is not a ploy to draw a veil over my own bowling figures which were appalling (0-33 from 3 overs!) but a necessity borne of my obligation to attend a wedding in a distillery in Islay, Scotland; tough gig, uh? Waseem has custody of the kitbag and the team come to think of it. I hope he has a smoother ride than the usual scramble to bolt together something resembling a Cricket team for the difficult fixture against The Occasionals next week.
I won't bore you with the details of what kept three Exiles sidelined who had been inked in by Wednesday, but the resultant vacancies allowed Mobin to return and show off his batting, Vinny Brooks to show off his fielding, and Nigel Barden (of GLR fame) to just show off!
The Exiles thankfully won the toss on some sort of record-breakingly hot September afternoon (28ºC) and elected to bat. Sean and Dominic were the long and the short of it. Dominic's annus horribilis continued when he top-edged a pull shot into his eyebrow and had to be ferried to Kings College A&E. He returned much later with 5 stitches, more runs than he's scored all season. Now even for a gritty Rotherham lad like Dominic that is too much to pay per run! Hopefully his eyebrow will mask any chance of him being mistaken for a fashion-victim with a designer scar (a fad apparently!). Sean managed to keep his head over the ball and was solid in the face of some accurate and hostile bowling. Nigel Barden, in at 3 after a brief but solid looking net session, received a snorter first ball and "bagged a golden duck". Stephen Brown, looking more bent than usual at the crease, edged past slip for four and managed to connect with a few before losing his off-stump. Naem and Sean stopped the rot for a while before Sean was caught behind off a beauty, he couldn't do much about it. Effie, suffering with the flu but loyally answering the Exiles call, played a Ranatunga-esque innings of beefy hits, strolling between the wickets wherever possible. After being around 50 for 3 off 20 overs (guessing) these two started to loosen the bonds. Effie then fell to a catch, Phil James played a cameo that ended in that unique, tip-toed, bat at 12 O'clock waft that only he plays, unfortunately the ball didn't bounce at all, and there was no room for readjustment in the stroke, bowled by a shooter. Captain Paul Shorrock came out with the score in the 90's with about 14 overs left, Waseem, Mobin (an unknown) and Vinny below him for "Nine, Ten, Jack". He survived the remaining five balls of Prendergast's last over, and buoyed by Naem's encouragement began to settle in. The plan was to give Naem the strike whenever possible, and keep the wicket intact while the maximum runs were squeezed from the remaining overs. For once the plan worked, and when Naem fell to a lofted catch at mid-on it continued in the same manner as Mobin Siddiqui showed that he is no mug with the bat either. Faisal "sold" his friend with the line "he's a good fielder", which in English tends to translate as "doesn't bat or bowl much". In two games we have now found both of these to be untrue, as he smote straight fours and sixes and scampered the odd overthrow too, moving with little fuss to 41 before being out with one ball left which Vinny negotiated intact. Paul undefeated on 14 not out, almost doubling his aggregate for the season.Waseem allowed the last two to bat ahead of himself in the order. Exiles 171 for 7 in 40 overs.
Paul was still recovering form his epic "nurdle" and Effie was still dying of flu, so The Khan Brothers opened the bowling. Dominic was not yet back from the hospital so Sean was press-ganged into keeping wicket. He did his best, and picked it up as he went along but it was a struggle, especially on a slowish wicket with variable bounce. Waseem started a little wayward, and Captain Tim Woodward was brutal on anything loose. Naem bowled quick and got the early breakthrough, bowling the other opener. Paul replaced Waseem and bowled the dreadful spell I referred to earlier; short and both sides of the wicket, Wooward took full toll. A half-chance to Nigel at Long-off was the only glimmer of hope. The sky was darkening and distant thunder rumbled, but the storm passed by to the west and allowed the Cricket to continue to its logical conclusion. Effie replaced Paul and Mobin replaced Naem, Mobin had a wicket but still Woodward thrashed anything loose to the boundary. Nigel Barden was given a chance to get something from his day and obliged with a catch for Naem off a full-toss but he was instantly replaced by Naem after Effie snapped up the crucial wicket of Woodward, lbw for lots of runs. Then the rather battered Exiles went on the offensive, in came the field, and a semblance of pressure was exerted for the first time in the innings. Effie and Naem both grabbed another wicket, Naem sucessfully appealing for an lbw that hit a short guy in the box, Effie breaking the stumps as the jitters began to set in for The Luddites. Prendergast eased them to victory though with three wickets and around nine overs to spare.
Next week, The Occasionals away in scenic Dunsfold.
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