Inserted after losing the toss (a fine old Exiles tradition) on a slippy, damp green wicket The Exiles were soon sinking fast as Occasional openers Mike Reynolds and Asim Jawad (who would have been an Exile if he hadn't been too busy to come to the Oval nets after responding to our Time Out advert) found cut and swing enough to make inroads into the upper order. Sean was first to go, adjudged lbw padding up to straight one, next ball Rob Anderson edged to the keeper for a golden duck. Jim Moffat fell to a big off cutter that eye-witnesses swear cut back up the hill a foot to hit off stump. Steve Parsons was bowled by the same bowler without scoring and John Neal was given out caught behind from a ball that bounced and seamed into his midriff but he swears he didn't get a nick on it. With the score on 15 for 5 the possibility of being all out for less than the record 42 looked a distinct possibility. Fortunately Pete Watts was unperturbed by the mayhem going on around him and set about hitting boundaries in the manner he had employed last week on a much friendlier surface. His 38 was by far the major contribution to the innings and all the other bats did their best to give him the strike and hang around a bit for him, with varying degrees of success. When he fell Paul and Vincent stuck around for a few crucial overs, picking up a few runs and a few extras (Vincent caught behind off a no-ball), Paul even finding the boundary when looking for a single to keep the strike. Asim proved too much of a challenge for Vincent's defence though and a straight one closed the innings on 82 as the skies opened up again and everyone was relieved to get out of the weather.
|S O'Connor||lbw||M Reynolds||3|
|J Neal||Ct Doran||Griffiths||6|
|R Anderson||Ct Doran||M Reynolds||0|
|J Moffat||Bowled||Asim Jawad||1|
|S Parsons||Bowled||Asim Jawad||0|
|P Watts||Bowled||M Patel||38|
|M Saunders||Bowled||M Patel||1|
|J Weir||bowled||M Patel||0|
|V Brook||Bowled||Asim Jawad||4|
After a short inspirational word from the Captain to the bowlers, Paul Shorrock and James Weir set about the seemingly impossible task of restricting The Occasionals to less than 82 in 35 overs. Lots of sawdust was applied and sprigs were cleaned to try to prevent slipping in the delivery stride but it was a losing battle with the greasy surface. Four leg-byes from the first over showed how easily this total could be whittled down.The batsmen weren't finding it too easy to locate the middle of the bat and James had a couple of stout lbw appeals turned down. The breakthrough came in the third over-the normally circumspect Sorba wafting away from his body and playing on. A wicket maiden and the first chink of light for the Exiles. James put in another tidy over then Shorrock stuck his size ten boot through the chink with two wickets in two balls to raise the hopes for a tight game, the hat-trick was only avoided by a deflection off the pads past leg stump. Josh at the non-strikers end threw his wicket away with a ridiculous call for a single that went to Martin Saunder's left hand at short midwicket, or should I say foot because he just stuck out a boot and deflected it directly onto the stumps with the hapless Josh yards short trying to recover his ground. Just the sort of wicket to give a Captain "it's going to be one of those days" thoughts. the Exiles were beside themselves. Paul tightened the grip with another wicket maiden, Husher plum lbw. Shorrock's figures a virginal 4-4-0-4 at this stage. Mike Patel played all round a slower ball and now a win looked most likely for the Exiles but you can never afford to relax in these low-scoring games. Shorrock's sixth over went for 10 from two mighty blows from Asim. Then Pete Watts fell flat on his backside in his first delivery stride which was a tad worrying because we were relying on his bowling. Lots more saw-dust and an even shorter run up seemed to do the trick and a good length ball sent Stebbings back to the hut. Martin Saunders came on at the far end and managed to keep things quiet with his RA medium inswingers and in the process picked up the wicket of the man most likely to see The Occasionals home safely-Asim Jawad pinned his ears back and drilled the ball like a shell straight at Captain Sean O'Connor at mid off, not a man with a reputation for safe hands the responsibilities of Captaincy must have given him new powers as he held the missile in front of his face. The loud slapping noise of the impact was soon drowned by whoops of delight and slaps on the back of his teammates. Mike Reynolds again batted with a runner (although he was fit enough to bowl) and Sean felt confident enough to bring Vincent Brooks (last week's destroyer) on to bowl. The conditions were too treacherous underfoot for a man without spikes and he failed to reproduce the heroics of last week. Sensibly Pete Watts was recalled, and with Rob Anderson finally given a bowl at the other end the last frantic drama was played out to rising tension. Mike batted well enough, driving the ball repeated at off-side fielders for no run, pulling anything short into the vacant legside areas but Pete managed to get one to lift on him, the clear edge to the keeper was pouched safely by Roric and acknowledged without dissent. The Exiles gleefully pulled up the stumps and congratulated each other on a great team effort. Once again everyone had some part to play in the drama. In spite of the inclement conditions this was the first exciting finish of the Exiles' season and the good news is that the nerve held, the catches stuck and the team spirit continued to climb to new heights.
The only shame was that a result was achieved so early that Mick Day the club steward was absent from the bar, missing out on the trade of a jug from Paul Shorrock for his first "five-for" for a very long time. My man of the match nomination goes to Pete Watts for his invaluable runs (and wickets too) without which any of the later bowling and fielding heroics would have been irrelevant. Post match refreshments were taken in The Crown and Greyhound by a few of both teams and of course the talk was of "revenge in September" but we've heard that before. The fact is the Exiles are now two-up in a three match rubber. At least this was a close contest and played in a very good spirit. I'm sure Mike will be grooming his best possible team for the remaining fixture and we should do the same. In this game we were missing several players who have made major innings already this season. It could turn out to be a classic.
|S Sorba||Bowled||P Shorrock||0|
|M Doran||Bowled||P Shorrock||1|
|M Patel||Bowled||P Shorrock||1|
|Asim Jawad||Ct S O'Connor||M Saunders||10|
|M Reynolds||Ct R Coleman||.P Watts||16|
The Exiles bowling figures:
I'm missing the Nightingales fixture but hopefully someone else will be moved to record the play for this website.