The story of how this team was put together is a more interesting story than the game itself in many ways. By about Wednesday it looked as though we had eleven, although three were doubtful, Guy Sneesby still hadn't had his neck straightened but was hoping for a spontaneous cure and was keen to play. Stephen Brown is between jobs, and if a job interview went well he would start on Monday, if not he was going to take a week off in Ireland, he's probably enjoying his first Guinness of the day as I type. Most dramatically Tony Brook's wife Patricia was expecting their second child any day, but Tony was down as a "probably available". Being a Bank Holiday weekend and carnival to boot all our usual ringers, stand-ins, and make-weights were otherwise engaged so cover was negligible. Faisal is always good for one fellow Pakistani who can play a bit, so Mobin Siddiqui made his Exiles debut. The phone book was plumbed to it's very depth on Saturday when it became clear Guy was not about to regain the use of his neck and Phil asked for leave of absence to attend the Natwest Final at Lord's. To his credit he put team before West-country and used the opportunity to recharge the battery on his beautiful old Austin Healey on the A3 to Haslemere. From the distant-past Peter Holloway, former wicket-keeper of this parish, was dragged out of moth-balls after a three year break given over mainly to child rearing and his blossoming computer career (which is about to take him to Wall Street, New York for five years.) A valedictory game for Peter, last goodbyes to the old chums, hellos to the new-improved youngsters. Sean O'Connor, the father of this fixture had a mate who had never played who was prepared to "have-a-go" and it looked like he would be needed when Tony rang from the hospital on Sunday morning as 7.15 am, Patricia had just gone into labour. Sean's mate Len got the nod at 11pm, then was dramatically stood down at 11.15 when Tony announced: a) a baby girl (Eve?) 8lbs +; and b) he was now available again, could I pick him up at his when he got back from the hospital? No, I couldn't believe it either, but apparently Patricia had okayed it, but thought he was mad as he hadn't slept more than 2 hours all night. (I'm sure he has caught up since, not!). In spite of the dramas all eleven Exiles made it to the ground just in time, won the toss and decided to bowl on a damp strip under grey skies which was not the mini-heatwave promised by the weathermen.
For some reason known unto themselves Shottermill reversed their batting order so it came as less of a surprise when Counter and Moore groped about attempting to get some bat on the swinging, seaming ball. Waseem bowled Moore before long, but Counter struggled on for an age before getting off the mark after about 15 overs (cue: ironic cheers and ribaldry from teammates). He was eventually dismissed for 4 by Faisal, one of his 4 clean-bowled victims. Paul bowled well but without much luck, Phil managing to get under a catch at mid-on but failing to hold on, the usual edges beaten, or edged short of slip, through the gate but over middle stump, kind of thing. It may have served it's purpose in a lesser way by convincing the incoming batsmen that the pitch was possessed by demons. The rate struggled along at 2 an over or less, assisted by quite the longest grass we've fielded on all season. Phil passed his time rescuing toads from the outfield (2) but frankly there could have been herds of wildebeest out there! Mobin Siddiqui was brought on at the stage where, if we were to believe the inverse batting order theorem, the good batsmen should be making an appearance. Faisal had made short work of the middle order with a spell of 4 for 15 from his eight overs. Mobin soon removed Clarke (21)who had been causing a degree of resistance, chipping a catch to Greg Hollings at mid-wicket who seems to take a similar catch every week. Phil missed the moment of course, being crouched over a small amphibian. Mobin soon revealed himself to be the best of Faisal's proteges to aid the Exiles cause, being quicker than the rest of the aging Exiles attack, but having good control too. After his second wicket (T Howard, bowled for a duck) he was asked how he was fixed for summer 2000, he said he was free, so we hope we have found a new member to fill Ian's big boots. Being a youngster he managed to bowl his eight off the reel for a very respectable 3 for 15. His last wicket (J Salisbury, bowled 2) came with the aid of a little hint from the Skipper to try a leg-stump yorker, as young Salisbury seemed intent to back away and deflect to third man. The first attempt was a bit too legside, but the second was bang-on and knocked back the leg stump. The Shottermill Captain John Larby then set about rescuing his sinking ship, with some lusty blows against Greg Hollings slow left arm that were parried bruisingly at cover by Paul, one being a hard chance that was put down. He was also dropped by Waseem at slip, off the same bowler, the deflection almost being grabbed by Peter Holloway diving full length. When Faisal and and Mobin had finished their allotted overs Paul came back for a single over at the other end but couldn't get much control with his swelling hand so he delegated to Naem who immediately got one through Coopers defence, yet another bowled. Waseem came back at the other end and trapped Wheeler lbw in the penultimate over to finish off Shottermill for 84 all out. Wheeler could be heard bemoaning the injustice throughout the excellent tea.
|S Counter||Bowled||F Ansari||4|
|A Moore||Bowled||W Khan||3|
|C Clarke||Ct Hollings||M Siddiqui||21|
|J Hawkins||Bowled||F Ansari||1|
|A Foster||Bowled||F Ansari||0|
|M East||Bowled||F Ansari||1|
|T Howard||Bowled||M Siddiqui||0|
|J Salisbury||Bowled||M Siddiqui||2|
|J Cooper||Bowled||N Khan||0|
|G Wheeler||lbw||W Khan||0|
Total: 84 all out 38.5 overs.
Wheeler's moaning continued into the first over and beyond, when he was wided for a ball passing a foot behind Sean's legs. The "double teapot with optional gaping jaw and stare" was applied to Umpire Paul Shorrock, which didn't cause him to blink, let alone revise his opinion. Much huffing and puffing, cap-snatching and complaining to all within earshot of fine-leg left no-one in any doubt that Wheeler believed it to be a perfectly good ball. Clarke, opening at the other end bowled tidily enough, but neither bowler made the breakthrough. Instead an unnecessary run-out saw Greg a foot short attempting a second run, with the score on 46 in the 17th over. When James Salisbury was bowling to Sean O'Connor it was former pupil to former teacher (Sport and RE!). He obviously had some axe to grind (cold showers, extra scripture?) for he tore in and banged it in. Sean had one final lesson for young Salisbury; pitch it up on a slow wicket! Sean pulled and cut him for 9 runs that would have been double that if the outfield had been mown. After that he calmed down a little and was the pick of the bowlers, bowling Wayne first ball and the somnambulant Tony Brook also for a duck. This marked the high water mark of Shottermill's ambitions at 47 for 3. Naem Khan who is proving himself to be a good man in a tight corner collected 25 runs and put on 20 odd in partnership with Sean who by that time had earned the sobriquet "Cat" for his many lives, edging in and out of slips hands, mis-cueing into spaces. His luck ran out when he was run out for 27, again attempting a second that the long grass had saved when the pressure to score more quickly was minimal. Naem and Phil James saw the scores level, before Naem was out lbw to Moore in the last ball of his only over. Phil looped an edge over the slips for the necessary single for victory by five wickets and therefore shares my man-of-the-match award with Tony, basically for turning up and taking part against long-odds. Special mention must also go to Peter Holloway for his fine effort with the gloves and for having the "cojones" to tell his wife he was taking Sunday off to play one last Exiles game before jetting off to the Big Apple. Good Luck Peter! Please lets have a nice simple organisation job this week, I don't think I can take the strain again.
The Exiles innings:
Total 85 for 5, Exiles win by 5 wickets.
Next week: The Luddites at home.
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