This is painful, so I will keep it brief. The Exiles bowled well and in spite of five dropped catches managed to restrict the Occasionals normally destructive batting to a below-par 141. Ian Barker back from his hamstring injury got through his eight overs for only 11 runs. Shorrock picked up Carrington cheaply, ballooning an easy catch to Faisal Ansari who can catch. Richard Strange did his usual sand-bagging operation but eventually had to throw his wicket away in an effort to get the score moving. Naem Khan is not the easiest bowler to "give-the charge" and John Morgan held the nick in the keepers gloves. Naem could have had three wickets in his first over but for some poor catching but I won't describe each incident and mete out a collective bollocking at the end! The Australian Dunster benefited from some early "lives" to post a significant 74 before Stephen Scheepers held him at long on off Paul Shorrock. The other batsmen all struggled to a greater or lesser degree against disciplined bowling from all the bowlers. Stephen bowled his eight off the reel allowing Neem, Faisal and Paul to save some bowling for the expected onslaught from the giant Old-Etonian Will Buckland who must have been eying the short straight boundaries with some appetite. The tactic paid off with only 9 overs remaining when Will came to the crease. Dunster's wicket occurred shortly afterwards and thereafter there was a bit of a procession at the other end as Will was mainly kept at the non striker's end. Buckland sawed-off his Captain with a sharp single that saw him several yards short as Naem threw down the wicket. Mike Reynolds was obviously more used to the leisured pace of Tuscany where he had woken up that morning. The usual "exchanges" between the pair continued long after the innings was closed. A wicket maiden from Paul to end his spell was just what was needed at the death, although Lawrence declined to attempt a single off the last ball off-break. No matter, Naem speared one through Buckland's desperate swipe to clean bowl him the next ball. Jerry Slora, star batsman didn't make it in his epic journey from Scotland, although he never gave himself much of a chance, phoning at 10.10am to check the game was still on !! (There had been rain, and more was forecast). I hope he wasn't involved in some high-speed accident!
In the event his contribution wasn't needed though as tea was taken The Occasionals would have preferred for him to have done his bit. That feeling might have deepened when The Exiles cruised to 71 for 1 at a little over 4 an over. The one wicket to fall was that of Tony Brook who this week managed to "trouble the scorers" by edging past slip for four off Lawrence. His next ball was chipped back towards mid off but the third was a facsimile of last week's dismal dismissal, looped to slip off the shoulder of the bat. By now I would think that Tony has enough evidence to sue his coach for mis-representation. He then had to watch as upwardly-mobile former-tailender Ian Barker added 67 for the second wicket with in-form Sean. Sport should be a meritocracy, and if there were any question marks over Ian's suitability to rise so high in the ranks so quickly then his innings of 41, full of boundaries either side of the wicket quickly dispelled them. He has Guy Sneesby's eleventh hour pulling out to thank in part and the excellent fish supper I enjoyed at his house the night before had no bearing on the matter whatsoever. Ian has certainly never complained about batting down the order, indeed he has been a bit of a shrinking violet when it came to marketing his skills. His batting in the nets suggested more enthusiasm than staying power. If his thigh muscles can take the strain he has a busy summer ahead of him. We now have five quality all-rounders in Wayne, Naem, Faisal, Effie and Ian and it looks like Waseem and myself are going to be lucky to bat above 9. As that wonderful partnership developed the feeling inevitably took hold that we were on course for victory. The Occasionals though never say die and they have witnessed enough Exile's batting collapses to know that they should keep plugging away. Captain Paul had noticed that they had only used four bowlers so far and a glance around the field didn't throw up any obvious fifth or sixth contenders (my intelligence is pretty good in these matters, having been an occasional Occasional myself when they were short). All we had to do was bat safely and the easy stuff would follow shortly. The off-spinner Stainer was bowling and was being treated with much less respect than last year when he took 3 for 2 of eight overs! Ian thumped him hard and flat towards deep mid-wicket, where Simon Carrington was loitering forty yards out, he took a step towards the ball before realising it was coming faster and flatter than he realised, he stuck up both hands and pulled out a plum wicket. He looked as surprised as anyone as his relieved team mates rushed to congratulate him. At last they had something to smile about. Stephen Brown was next man in, his limited technique augmented by a big heart and a slice of luck had seen him to 57* in his previous innings against The New Barbarian Weasels. He had earned himself 7 runs and a bruise on his chest when he drove low to Carrington again at extra cover who held the catch and held the pose, an inch above the turf as if he was unsure he had taken it cleanly. 80 for 3 and then the collapse really began; Nick Coleman who "Had the Runs" rather than rather than being "Amongst the Runs" fell for a duck edging an outswinger to Sorba the 'keeper off Buckland. Sean drove at mid-on off Stainer and was well caught for 23. John Morgan bizarrely drove the ball into his boot and was caught and bowled (never seen that before!) by Lawrence also for nought. From cruising to a comfortable win The Exiles were now floundering in shark-infested waters! Naem, a good man for a crisis managed to momentarily wipe the grin of Will Buckland's face by twice driving him straight for four in the same over. He then second-guessed a short one and was bowled attempting a pull-shot that was perhaps too risky giving the match circumstances. Paul Shorrock then joined Dave Middle who had stuck around longer than most but the Exiles by the scorers' hut must have been a bit dis-heatened to see these two batsmen attempting to make up the 40 runs still needed for victory. Dave fell to yet another catch, the eighth of the innings for 6 and Stephen Scheepers was called upon to be a hero. A very circumspect few overs followed, where extras were the main contributor. Stainer was allowed a ninth over by mistake but it was negotiated safely. A possible two was kept to one when Scheepers momentarily mistook Ian at square leg umpire as a fielder, in spite of his white coat. The fifth bowler was eventually produced in the shape of Simon Carrington and had revenge on Shorrock for his own dismissal by inducing a rash swipe that dragged a widish half-volley back onto his stumps. Exiles all out 34 runs short.
Now for that promised bollocking: We lost this game in two crucial aspects: 1, we dropped far too many catches. The perpetrators may claim violent spin, sun in the eyes, a momentary lapse in a previously un-blemished fielding career etc. but the fact remains there were five opportunities to take wickets when the ball was in our hands and we dropped them. We let our bowlers down. The Occasionals took eight catches, two of them were blinders the rest made to look straightforward, they backed up their bowlers even when they were taking some stick; 2, We batted without a plan, maybe Ian and Sean were making it look too easy but several of our batsmen fell to attacking shots before they had played themselves in, when we were ahead of the rate and had all the time we needed. We didn't consider consolidating and waiting for the easier bowlers. Do our batsmen ever look at the scoreboard and think about the match situation? We were bowled out by four bowlers and a bit! Like all good teams The Occasionals stuck to their task through thick and thin and they took their chances when they arose. Once again we forced our way into a winning position then threw it away, almost without a fight. We must learn from these games if we are ever going to compete at the level we aspire to.
|R Strange||Ct Morgan||N Khan||7|
|S Carrington||Ct Ansari||P Shorrock||3|
|Dunster||Caught Scheepers||P Shorrock||74|
|S Sorba||Bowled||F Ansari||9|
|W Buckland||bowled||N Khan||16|
|M Reynolds||Run||Out (Khan)||4|
|D Stainer||Bowled||P Shorrock||3|
|Sean O'Connor||Caught||D Stainer||23|
|T Brook||Ct Buckland||D Lawrence||4|
|I Barker||Ct Carrington||D Stainer||41|
|S Brown||Ct Carrington||W Buckland||7|
|N Coleman||Ct Sorba||W Buckland||0|
|F Ansari||Ct Sorba||W Buckland||1|
|D Middle||Ct||D Stainer||6|
|J Morgan||Caught and Bowled||D Lawrence||7|
|N Khan||bowled||W Buckland||10|
|P Shorrock||bowled||S Carrington||2|
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