Exiles snatch defeat from jaws of victory in another thriller against The Old Antelopians
This match was a bit of a repeat of the tied game of last season, give or take the odd run that made all the difference. It's inevitable in a game this close that the "if only" factors return to nag you. The game was reduced to 35 overs based on a gloomy weather forecast for showers that never arrived. Eddie turned up late and Rob Anderson's hands were a bloody mess as a result of injuries inflicted whilst under the influence. I'm not sure if it is hedonism or nihilism that drives Rob's weekend binges but to say he's burning the candle at both ends is probably understating the case. If he'd been anything like his blistering best this game would have been one-sided. Had he been able to get his bloody mitts inside batting gloves the outcome would probably have been less tense. So before a ball had been bowled factors beyond the game of Cricket were already playing their part. "What does he know of Cricket that only Cricket knows?" asked C.L.R. James.
Matt Champkin won the toss and did what any other seam bowler would do on a damp wicket and inserted the Antelopians. The venerable Mr. Temple proved a difficult obstacle, looking vulnerable to anything outside off stump but merciless with anything on his legs. Willoughby offered a chance first ball to Matt but Stephen O'Connor at first slip couldn't hold on. The outfield was fast, the bowling competitive and chances came and went. With the score on 25 Rob Anderson made the first breakthrough, bowling Willoughby. He was unlucky not to have had him earlier. A change of sticking plaster was required when the bowler fell on his face in his follow through. Matt's spell too could have produced a hat full of wickets but he rested himself after four and Terron Miller was wheeled into the attack. Since his first appearance Terron has shown an ability to take wickets with his slow medium pace and today was no exception, a decent ball nicked the edge of Littleton's bat and Roric held it cleanly in front of first slip. Then a rank long hop was pulled with no pace to Sean at square leg to dismiss Irwin. Terron claimed it as his "slower ball". Rob Anderson then got two in two, bowling Gilmore and Ingham as Temple survived and began to prosper. Guy Hatton was brought on to replace Terron and immediately had an lbw shout rejected whereupon The Antelope's captain Heien took a shine to his gentle dobbers, dispatching him to all corners. The Exiles lost what slender hold they had in the field and the Antelopians filled their boots. The feeding frenzy carried on into Rob's last few overs as the scoring rate clicked along at over five an over. Matt called back his veteran seamer Paul, who with the wind behind him and the sun in your eyes managed to flog a bit of life out of the old joints, five consecutive deliveries having Heien playing and missing before the slower ball did for him. Eddie Fuller's off breaks were also putting a break on things at the other end. Matt finished his remaining overs, picking up a wicket that was richly deserved and The Antelopians finished with a healthy 182 for 8, though somewhat below what the might have predicted after 25 overs. Barry Temple carried his bat for a dogged 79 built on a sound defence and an ability to work anything straight through the leg side.
|Littleton||Ct Coleman||T Miller||5|
|Irwin||Ct O'Connor||T Miller||4|
|Total||35 Overs||8 wickets||182|
Exiles bowling figures:
Kevin Hobley was brave enough to take on Warren's short stuff, but top edged a pull shot that looped to slip. After that the Kiwi pairing of Sean O'Connor and Kyle Holling built a serene and majestic partnership worth 123 runs in 23 overs that should have put the game in The Exiles bag. Kyle was the major partner, his 84 a new personal best, full of effortless straight drives and deft flicks to leg. Sean was content to keep pace with the extras column, which clicked along thanks to a hatful of wides on both sides of the wicket from most of The Antelopian attack, who also mixed in some very good deliveries. Their waywardness, and the extra deliveries resulting meant that the five-plus asking rate was always within reach, and when Kyle took a liking to Gilmour's bowling, taking him for twenty in his third over the Exiles eased ahead. The atmosphere was quite unlike the nervousness we have come to expect whenever two Exiles bat, not that it was ever boring. It was rather like watching a large ocean liner gently slip into port. The Antelopians permed the bowling but with the exception of the excellent Warren all went for close to the asking rate or above. Kyle still seemed to be wracked by self-doubts, or maybe he was concerned about the extra expense of a double-jug for a century but with the harbour lights in sight he chipped a catch to midwicket. That shouldn't have been any cause for panic and for the first time the two S O'Connors were together at the crease. The Antelopians soon picked up on the Swazi's game plan and posted three long-ons, a tactic that paid dividends when he holed out to the middle one for seven. Roric Coleman was the perfect man to pilot the Exiles home Then cane the iceberg moment, Sean called for a second run that Roric responded to but was short by a yard as the flat throw came in from fine leg. This rattled the Exiles and placed extra responsibility on Sean who responded with increased vigour, driving straight, once into and out of Captain Heien's hands at long off who spilled it over the boundary for a vital four. Now the Antelopians' heads dropped. When Eddie was caught the tension notched up further still. Then Sean was caught and a hint of panic set in. The tail was shuffled by Matt, trying to judge who was most likely to get the five runs needed from the six balls remaining. He plumbed for the experience of Paul, who recently showed he could slog effectively with the pressure off. Terron's quietness and less than frisky body-language probably counted against him. There would have been no debate had Rob's hands been able to hold a bat, he's opened the batting on several occasions this season. As it was Paul failed to rise to the challenge, conscious of Guy's limited striking ability, and eying the more or less vacant sector behind square on the off he attempted to glide the ball that way, unfortunately the ball followed him and he didn't manage to get it beyond the crease. The next was a long hop that should have gone to the square leg boundary but ended up leaving a bruise in the breadbasket, the third was squirted to midwicket who fielded cleanly and ran out our hapless pinch-nurdler for a sad duck, half of the over wasted for no gain. Terron and Guy (now on strike) were given a mountainous molehill to climb. Two scrambled singles and a desperate attempted two saw Terron run out a few inches short, his bat raised when it needed to be grounded. The Exiles ship, foundered on unseen rocks, in calm water a few inches from the dock. Of course The Antelopians were cock-a-hoop, deservedly so. Kyle was too distraught (or skinny) to stand a jug for his teammates, melting away as the Exiles queued behind the world's slowest barman for some sort of refreshment.
Phew, what a game!
|S D O'Connor||Ct||Kirkegaard||7|
|Total||35 Overs||8 wickets||181|
Old Antelopians bowling figures:
The Old Antelopians win by one run.
No game next week, then the Exiles v Exiles game. Will we manage two teams of eleven?