A fixture arranged at short notice when The Occasionals found themselves with a pitch and no opposition. Proof of the current squad's keenness was shown in the fact that twelve members made themselves available at short notice plus one who shall remain nameless who was prepared to "throw a sicky" to play but we managed without him anyway.The Exiles lost the toss and were invited to bat. Tony Brook, Captain on the day, was quite happy to bat first on a flat dry wicket with just a hint of green. The Occasionals' decision even more baffling by the fact that one of their new opening bowlers had failed to show, without notice-surely one of the most heinous crimes possible to commit on your team! Mike Reynolds is well used to the job of opening the bowling whereas Ben Dale's slingy medium pace is usually seen later in the innings. Both were good enough to trouble The Exiles openers, Tom Birkert and James Booth, both playing in their first games of the season. Both were a bit scratchy though James dispatched two beautiful off drives to the boundary before giving a catch off Reynolds. Tom had been advised that the batting line up was short on "stickers" but big on "hitters" so you could be forgiven for thinking that being asked to bat "out-of-character" was the reason for his inability to make a score, but to watch him swing and miss at most deliveries you'd think "pinch-hitter" was his instruction. He soon fell to Reynolds which in hindsight must have been the high point of his day which then went rapidly downhill as Ros Atkins in his debut set about the bowling like a starving man at a buffet. He was dropped several times before he got his eye in and got the hang of hitting the gaps, of which there were plenty on this wide and flat outfield. Pete Watts was a good partner to him, indeed scored more quickly. Reynolds desperately permed his bit-part bowlers the scoring rate raced ahead exponentially. Richard Strange threw a cog in his leg and sat out the rest of the innings and was replaced by a series of subs. Some say it was embarrassment that drove him from the field as the once mighty Occasionals were reduced to a rabble. Pete fell for 44 but Tony Brook took up where he left off with a brisk 36 that included lots of quick singles, two and threes and a huge six but eventually took on the one fielder with a good arm (Raj-the last minute replacement for the missing bowler) and was run out. With the score past 200 already Steve Little continued to show the improvement in his batting with a twenty that had some big hits but also lots of singles to give Ros the strike. Ros didn't squander the opportunity and continued to find extra gears, taking consecutive sixes in Savage's one over. Reynolds was almost reduced to looking under stones to find someone to bowl. Raj, dressed in dark blue, went for twenty off his single over. Tragically Ros holed out on 98 and while it's true he may never again face such a depleted attack on so friendly a wicket I feel there is a century lurking for this man for whom clichés like "always gives 110%" were coined. Rob Anderson got his first knock of the season and had to apply himself as the better bowlers returned (too late) to use up their allotted overs at the death (post mortem?). He scored 19 alongside his fellow South African and housemate "Big" Steve Little. The score passed 250 when Steve was bowled by Wade off the penultimate ball of the innings. This left Stuart Lindsay with the unenviable task of facing one ball. He did his best, made a good connection but drove it straight at deepish mid-off who held it, much to the relief of the bowler-his two late wickets sugaring the pill somewhat of 6 overs for 52! So a mighty total of 252 for 7 off 40 overs and both teams retired to the pavilion to feast on another buffet.
The Exiles innings:
|Total||All out||(36.1 Overs)||252|
Occasionals Bowling figures:
An asking rate of 6.3 from the start is a tall order, you have to set off quick and then accelerate. Of course The Exiles openers weren't about to allow that to happen. The evergreen Paul Shorrock and Stuart Lindsay kept it under control and bowled straight through their eight overs apiece. Stuart was in sparkling form in spite of carrying a back twinge and having no match practice his eight overs went for only seven runs and he picked up the wickets of both openers and deserved more. Richard Strange, immobilised by a thigh injury whilst fielding, still opened in his traditional "sandbagging" role. He managed a few off drives to the boundary when Paul over-pitched but Steve Sorba at the other end was virtually shot-less and seemed like a rabbit caught in the headlights when facing Stuart. So after sixteen overs, three wickets down, and less than 40 runs on the board the rate required was now climbing towards 9 an over. Dale and Husher then put together the one partnership of any merit, but at such a slow rate it was hard to comprehend. Surely in a limited overs match it's better to go for the runs and fail in the process than poke around for 15 overs collecting singles as the rate required spirals out of reach? Rob Anderson, Ros Atkins and Pete Watts kept up the pressure, Rob picking up the wicket of Husher, or "putting him out of his misery" you might say.
Tony Brook is a cautious Captain and he's seen enough situations where The Occasionals have wiggled off the hook but they were in a hole and digging hard when Vincent Brooks was brought into the attack. Vincent is never going to write any coaching manuals, indeed he describes himself as a "mud-pie-slinger". Richard Strange, always finding humour in extremis, thought there might be grounds for objection on "aesthetic grounds"-fortunately for both of them the umpires don't award points for style and grace. His first over was a curate's egg of some vintage. Legside wides beyond the reach of a sprawling Roric and something that bounced nearer to his own feet than the batsman preceded what may have been the worst display of batting ever by an Occasionals line-up. First Ben Dale took a cross-batted slog at what can only be described a long-hop, it flew high off the top edge and was pouched safely by Roric running from behind the stumps to somewhere around silly mid-on. Patel, the non-striking batsmen having had time to cross the repeated the trick the very next ball with identical result. the field was brought right in for Vincent's hat-trick ball. the left hander Josh managed to middle his pull to square leg for four. The field retreated and Tony placed himself in the vicinity of square leg, Josh hit the next ball right down Tony's throat-three wickets in four ball for Vincent! Unbelievable scenes of congratulation and incredulity all round, Vincent beaming from ear to ear, Mike Reynolds probably not quite so happy. The game was so out of reach of the Occasionals now that calculating the required run-rate became like tracking the Weimar Deutschmark. Even so that man Ros Atkins was still sprinting to the boundary and diving to save a run that might make the vital difference between victory by 112 or 111 runs. Rob added a couple more wickets, including a running catch by Steve Little that was nearly a collision with Ros (that's gotta hurt!) to remove the sulking skipper Reynolds, who was reduced to snapping at his own umpires to cut out the chat during play (maybe he was hearing voices?). He top-scored with 20 but I doubt he drew much comfort from the fact. Vincent Brook was convinced to come back for a second spell after losing his run-up, marbles, or something and grabbed the final wicket, again caught by Tony to finish with career best figures of 4-26. Occasionals all out for 120 in 37.2 overs.
So maximum joy for the Exiles and a long way back for the Occasionals. Mick Doran dropped by half way through the second innings to say thanks for making the fixture at short notice, not a sentiment I heard expressed by anyone who actually played in this one-sided affair. At least back in the bad old days when The Occasionals used to hand down two drubbings a season to us we took it on the chin and smiled through gritted teeth as they lorded over us in the bar afterwards. Today we were treated to a stormy looking Mike Reynolds, chewing nails and spitting screws, promising without the hint of a smile that "Next week will be different". Well I for one hope so because this was pretty poor sport.
|R Strange||Bowled||S Lindsay||10|
|S Sorba||Bowled||S Lindsay||5|
|Wade||Ct. Lindsay||P Shorrock||17|
|B Dale||Ct Coleman||V Brooks||18|
|M Patel||Ct Coleman||V Brooks||19|
|Josh||Ct Brook||V Brooks||4|
|Reynolds||Ct S Little||R Anderson||20|
|Savage||Ct Brook||V Brooks||10|
|Total||35 Overs||for 6 wickets||140|
The Exiles bowling figures:
Plenty of interest now for the rematch at our place against The Occasionals on June 10th!