For Peter Allan’s top lip
After some earnest and early pitch debates Sal ended speculation by losing the toss – if this sounds like last weeks report, or even the week before, then that’s because it also happened like that last week and the week before. So W&H fielded first in a 45 over game.
Mandar (22 – 1 - 9) opened the bowling and got a very strong shout turned down first ball when the ball was judged to be swinging down the leg-side, although it hit the batsman in front of the stumps, on his foot. Obviously the umpire had the best view though, obviously. After this Mandar kept things as tight as usual, moving the ball both ways and hitting the batsman on the foot in front of the stumps at least once more. Mandar took the game into his own hands then and executed a good run out as a result of some pretty poor calling between the two openers. Seeing the benefits of this direct action he decided to hit the stumps – something that doesn’t need much of an appeal – and took the next wicket. At the other end Matt ‘Squeaky’ Allan (29 – 4 – 8) bowled his usual excellent line, length and pace and together with fine fielding and a high work rate high with lots of diving, rolling and even the odd ‘long barrier’ (some sort of technique to stop the ball I am told) the W&H boys kept things tight. This pressure told as Matt clean bowled the third and fifth man in. Scotty Stevens (24 – 0 – 9) replaced Matt and kept a similar grip, complementing Mandar at the other end and the away side were struggling on 40 for 4 after 15 odd overs. Mandar bowled out his spell but the increasingly cunning Asbo kept Matt and then Scott back, saving their final overs for the death of this 45 over a side game.
Next up new Sunday man Waheed came on for Mandar. This boy has not had the honour of a Sunday place this season but the pressure did not get to him as he bowled a fine spell of pacy leg spin. This is where the story turns a little sad and those of you of a nervous disposition should look away now, as there follow some scenes of a gory nature.
Our trusty wicketkeeper Peter Allan took a top edge off of one of Waheed’s quicker deliveries full in the face. The poor chap went down like a sack of spuds and then started bleeding all over the edge of the square. Luckily the groundsman didn’t see this or Peter would have had a severe telling off. Peter was then helped from the field, shaken and with a badly gashed top lip. The game stopped for a while as assistance was given to Peter who ended up with a trip to casualty for his trouble. At the post game inquest his son, the turncoat, did suggest that a heavy night on Saturday may have had an impact on his father’s usually lightening reflexes. As it turns out latest reports are that Peter has, post plastic surgery, the looks of a man 20 years younger and is planning to start a new life in South America.
Following this injury the side then rallied around, working hard with only 10 and sometimes 9 men on the field for the closing overs of the Valley End innings. Sam Way, (12 – 0 – 2) another new player notable for his capability at such a young age (some say he is 9 years old) bowled a couple of overs before the vice-captain (27 – 0 – 6) came on with some useful, and some not so useful, off spin. At the other end Sal (24 – 1 – 4) bowled himself and took the key wicket of the established batsman. This, together with some great end of game bowling from Matt and Scott and some very good fielding, saw W&H facing a seemingly achievable 186 from their 45 overs
W&H then opened the batting without their now heroic opening batsman / wicketkeeper Mr Peter Allan, the skipper opting to take the responsibility of partnership with Peter’s squeaky son Matt. Both players started well, finding boundaries with relative ease and not being troubled by bowler or the pitch as it settled down after some uneven bounce in the first half of the day. Matt took on his usual unselfish pinch-hitting role, going aerial a number of times to good effect for a quickfire 21 while Sal left a lot and picked the bad ball – particularly the short stuff which he pulled away well in front of and behind square. A couple of dodgy calls between the boys would have given the impression, to a casual observer, that they were chasing down a much larger target but you have to conclude that this was youthful exuberance. This phase ended when Matt fell to a good catch with the score in the 40’s and the run rate at a healthy 5 an over.
This brought Khakan in to provide a more reserved platform which allowed Sal to continue his innings with a good range of shots that kept the strike moving and the scoreboard ticking over. Valley End rotated bowlers, moved the field around and started to get pretty quiet in the field as both batsmen looked increasingly comfortable. In the pavilion some of the lower order batsmen also started to look increasingly comfortable with the score racing along and no chances being offered. This resulted in a few of them, encouraged by Matt, the only man out, starting to celebrate early with a beer or two. The approach seemed wise, if a little previous, until Khakan fell for 38 with around 35 still to get.
This gave Worgie a chance to redeem himself from a no-show on Saturday as a result of overindulgence on the Friday evening (students – you just can’t rely on them). As it turned out he did nothing of the sort and brought the next man out straight away as he fell for a duck. This left a few of the lower order men putting down pints and picking up pads, gloves, boxes etc as well as cursing the student for interrupting a fine afternoon of watching cricket. Whilst this drama was unfolding we had Sal at the other end rapidly approaching his first club century, a feat that he had fallen short of a number of times previously. Nerves seemed to infect everyone (and not just as Worgie went for a duck and people started having to pad up) and Sal decided that a moment of bravado was called for when he was on 96 as he went for a further pull shot.
He hit the ball hard, but also high, and managed to pick out one of the few overseas fielders. There was a moment of silence as the ball approached the fielder, and then a groan from almost everyone as the fielder caught the ball and Sal trudged dejectedly back to the pavilion to strong applause from W&H and Valley End. This tragedy aside, the immediate problem was that Scott was next in and still had pint (possibly no.3) in hand. A few minutes of scrambling saw him padded up and striding in with around 15 still required. Was there going to be a middle order collapse as had been seen in previous weeks from the W&H boys? Well no not really. Scott (15 n/o) proceeded to play his usual combative game and, much like a man who plays pool better after a few pints, appeared to be seeing the ball well as it travelled to various points of boundary. Watching as a spectator at the other end was our new boy Sam (0 n/o) who played a solid, if short, innings as a perfect and stable foil to the flailing bat at the other end.
Talking of ends Scott finished the game off with another fine boundary, leaving W&H to win by 6 wickets having reached their target with 8 overs spare. All in all a good win against a strong side. Fielding and work rate improved significantly from earlier games and a spring in the step of the lads as they left to relay the glory to friends, partners and colleagues