OMWs 109 AO - C Johnson 5-36

by Paul Fortescue

Come the designated meet time, the 3rd XI were all over the place. Some, surprisingly were at the club. Charley had just gone home. Matt was the wrong side of Heathrow and Peter was in his garage - looking for Matt's kit. Gihan was shopping and Worgy was busy catching the drips off a lolly, which was frankly so childish that my 2 year old would've gabbed it. Apparently the lolly wasn't a Chupa Chups lolly, as it had red and green stripes, as opposed to blue and white.

Due to a potential shortage of transport, the clubhouse became an airport and a huge pile of kit grew outside for transport to Sanderstead. In a great show of club unity several of the first XI, those that bring their own kit added theirs to the collection. There was a very real prospect of Quaggy's bat being used by Munge at one stage.......

10 men arrived at OMW. The pitch looked good. There was some impressive warming up going on on the top square, which turned out to be the opposition and one of the midwives batsman warming up on a bowling machine with auto feeder. Net's
weren't as nice as ours though. La de dah! The oppo skipper decided to put in an appearance at about 12.45 and duly, Fortescue lost the toss. Taxi.

Inserted. Skipper makes a promise. If we don't get 140 on this track then Matt Allan's keeping and Peter's opening the bowling. At 39-5 the lawyers were out looking for the technicalities to avoid this happening. Worgy good a good one that left him, caught behind. Gihan jogged through gently whilst the wicky threw the stumps down following a leg by call ( by Gihan!). Awais determined the pace of the pitch to be slow, proving it by getting a leading edge that floated gently to mid on. Munge had a gently waft at one - and hit it and Matt - well Matt still hadn't arrived.

Of 39-5 Rob Staples had 25, including 5 fours. Then he picked out on of only two leg side fielders to become the fifth victim.  Usman batting at 6 though was battin gas sensibly as anyone in a steaming rage could. This is a ground where passions run high for the 3's - ask Dunbar, and Usman manage to get hit in the head - by a fielder, with the ball!! Van der Walt looked like he might be the man to rescue the situation and stay with Usman, but was deceived. Bring on Couch.

With a variety of different stares and a cacophony of dodgy giggles, Couch and Usman put on 57. Couch scored just about half of those and later claimed "that's the best partnership I've ever had, with a bloke without his shirt tucked in".During his innings Couch hit a six and Matt arrived.

Matt's arrival spurned a change in the batting order. Fortescue and Allan Snr dropped down to 10 and 11, to make way for Matt at 9. Couch's dismissal cam eat an inopportune moment however as Matt has disappeared again. It's a long walk to the wicket when you start in the OMW car park, fetching fags. A cameo innings of some drama took the score to 136 as Matt crashed 23 in 4 overs. The skipper came in next and was out LBW in the same sentence. Peter Allan came in last and watched from the other end as Usman played one shot too many and the innings closed.

142 was not enough. It was enough to mean that Peter Allan wasn't bowling - just, but the track was better than that.

Usman registered his highest score for the 3's in this innings and showed a degree of determination and application lacking in too many of his teammates. He showed a great level of commitment and demanded it from the rest of the team as we went for tea. Worgy was the fist to rise to the challenge, instantly seeking retribution from the Midwives furniture, breaking chairs on his way to the nearest sugar fix. Tea - average, quality good, but variety very poor.

There was a goo ddeal of rabble rousing and uplifting of spirits and bowlers as we took the field. Early on the oppo Captain asked Worgy "Am I goin gto have listen to you all afternoon?", to which Peter answered "It depends on how long
you're going to bat". The answer actually for quite a while. He was accused of having only one shot by couch, pulled a ball and then announced proudly that that mist be two shots. Next ball, he demonstrated the lack of a defensive shot and lost his off stump to Ian vd Walt.

Charley had been plugging away from one end. He had the other opener early, caught behind and just kept going in a miserly, spell. He removed number 3 and 4 to leave the score on 67-4 and the game delicately poised. A dangerous partnership followed from their wicketkeeper, and their number five bowler, opening umpire and muppet who couldn't work out that as I bowl off the wrong foot,  that my right fooot is therefore my back foot. Muppet. Anyway, just to make it worse, Matt bowled him, - the ball hit the stumps hard enough for the deflection to beat two slips, but the bail didn't come off. Then he was dropped (skipper) and put one just over Munge's head. Anyway, Couch cleaned him up and Matt had his wicket by encouraging the keeper to hit a half tracker to point. A very W&H-esque shot.

98-6 and the tide seemed to be turning. A Couch appeal to the captain turned umpire was replied to with " You know that wasn't f****** out," which probably accurately summarises our assessment. A good LBW appeal left Couch searching for a cap to grind into the dirt Mike Walsh style, but his 5th was soon to come, another victim bowled to leave the score on 105 for 7.

Skipper came back on, a tense maiden. Charley - a couple of runs, skipper - a single and then 109-8. Charley, another maiden, the skipper 5 dots and then - 109-9. Charley  - another maiden and then finally the skipper left with the number 11.  Rob and Munge short in front, Batsman "I'm good enough to get it between you". And he was, in the air and though to Matt, who made great ground to take the catch that won the game. To say we were happy would be a bit of an understatement.

An examination of the averages shows that none of the regular 3's players is averaging over 20. The side is winning games through excellent bowling and fielding - and this was a great example. There were no poor performances, the odd misfiled and a rare dropped catch, but the level of application and commitment was excellent. After our innings we were 5-0 down in  football terms, but we came back to win 8-5. Fantastic. We were even accused of being "A bit verbal" by OMW.

Honours go to Couch for 24 runs and 5-36 with the ball. To Usman for 34 runs, another excellent display in the field, and demanding a response from the team when we were out of the game.

Sadly, Dulwich and Old Wombledonians both won also. We're 17 points behind Dulwich and 22 behind Wimbledon, so two wins. With 4 games left, including Wimbledon, we need to maintain our presence and performance level in the field, but find some consistency with the bat. Two abandonments are costing us right now, but that's in the hands of the league.


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