Match Report | Amwell Valley CC – 206-5 (35) lost to BOCC – 207-4 (34.2) by six wickets.

September 13th, 2020

So there is definitely something to be said for home advantage, as the third and deciding tie between these two sides went in favor of the home side for the third straight time.  At our ground BOCC struggled to find any rhythm with their batting and were knocked off easily, yet at their own ground, we just could not find a way to contain or take wickets.  Losing there comfortably, a few weeks back, this time, having lost the toss, we were put in (largely to our late arrivals) and even though we put up quite an impressive score, we were relatively easily disposed of, albeit after a dramatic fight back in the last few overs.

Anantha opened with Manish in cloudy but fair conditions.   Over the other side, minor league cricket was going on and it was clear to see early on that the BOCC wickets were playing as well as they ever had.  The three T20 games played over that side on the day all had scores in excess of 220 a side and you only had to watch their games for a few minutes before you would see a six hit for miles.  After Anantha was a little unfortunate to pick out midwicket, Kishore joined Manish and they put on a fine partnership which didn’t quite match the other games but was impressive enough.  Manish took control early on while Kishore found his feet, but Kishore got things going just before and after drinks to overtake Manish and retire first.  On 54 he retired off just 46 balls having hit a six and five 4s.  Manish soon joined him back in the retired pavilion, 53 off 49 balls having hit six 4s, their partnership worth 106.  Unfortunately after that, we did not really capitalize and from being 130-1 after 19 overs, we were only able to score another 76 in the last 16 overs.  BOCC took the pace off and it became a bit of a struggle.  Glenn Nellins played nicely before being run out for 15 but Mark, Tariq and Kishlay all rather missed out before Kimbo and Armitage put on an unbeaten 29 in the last 5 overs to get us to 206.  Everyone seemed satisfied with the score, but in truth it was a good 30 short.

And so it proved, as Dil and Krish did their usual thing and looked very comfortable putting on 72 in the first 10 overs.  Dil rather surprisingly holed out to Tariq at cow corner off Mark, but Praveen came in and the rate continued with gay abandon before they both retired as they too were 130-1 after 19.  With their best bats taking a rest, we did slow things up somewhat, with Tariq especially getting us back in the game.  In his second over he took two wickets, cleaning up one of their talented youngsters and then getting a caught and bowled.  Chris Lawrence came in and held them together and things looked comfortable with them needing just 23 off 6.  But then Kishlay brought back debutant Ali Malik who bowled beautifully bowling two overs that went for only one run and taking a wicket.  All of a sudden they needed 18 off the last two, but Tariq who had bowled so well, clearly was tiring and bowled a little short in the 34th which included a couple of wides and also suffering a couple of misfields on the square boundary that both crucially went for 4.  With just 4 needed off the last over form Ali, he too could not hold his line and they came home with four balls to spare.  Nevertheless, a really good game of cricket.

As tough as things were, all the bowlers and fielders should take some credit under those condition.  Kishore bowled very nicely up top with a bit of swing (0-22 off 4); Mark took 1-38 off 4, Tony had little luck with his 0-43 off his full 7 and the same for Kishlay who bowled about the best leg spin he has all season with no luck at all (0-37 off 7).  The stars were Tariq who took 2-33 off 6 (he was 2-20 after 5) and Ali who ended with figures of 5.2-1-27-1.

Another great day with friends ending in rapidly fading light while chilling over a few beers.

Tl next week,
Nige.
 

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Match Report | Amwell Valley CC 178-9 (35) beat Hoboken 143 AO (32) by 35 runs

Sept 6th, 2020

Another terrific day at Amwell Valley CC produced a fine win against a strong opposition.  Kishlay got back to winning ways with the toss and batted first on a used pitch that looked like it was tiring out.  Hoboken first four bowlers all bowled with good pace and accuracy and it was hard work for openers Pan Patel and Quintus Joubert.  It wasn’t until the 12th over that Pan finally perished to a fine catch at cover for 10 with the score only on 27.  Soon after that Q followed Pan back (also for 10) after being run out trying to up the pace, but with that change of batting pairing, came a change of bowling and Hoboken set about giving everybody a bowl which did make things a little easier and Manish and Mark Marsan took full advantage not just of the more friendly bowling but of the numerous drop catches that proceeded.  Manish did get bowled for a fine 24 off 27 balls but Mark went on and played simply splendidly retiring (on 49 so says the scorecard – he got a ‘50 applause’ nevertheless) off just 48 balls which included 3 4s and two 6s.  After that Kishlay scored 13, Kishore 21 and a fine new addition to the club, Glenn Nellins ended 9 not out as the score improved dramatically after the drinks break to go from 57-3 after 17 to 178-9 off the full 35.

In reply, Mark and especially Uday bowled quite beautifully and picked up three quick wickets, all to good catches.  Nellins, Manish and particularly Kishlay held on in fine style which was quite contrary to our opposition.  However after that, Jha, Sagar and Ron all played very well and hit the bad balls hard and were more than up with the rate before Yousef Hasan removed Jha and, right after the drinks break, the dangerous Sagar who had played some quite delightful shots.  From there it was down to Ron but he felt the pressure building and eventually skied one high in the air for Kishore to take a fine juggling catch off his bowling, while keeper Armitage stood and watched full of confidence that his younger friend would more likely snaffle the steepler than he, with it being off his own bowling.

Once Ron went, it seemed to be in the bag, but Taimur and Kirti kept going against the slow spin and guile from Kishlay and Tony Thandi.  With four overs to go and three wickets in hand, 37 were still needed, but Tony put things to bed by taking all the last three wickets in that over, two clean bowled and the last stumped by Armitage to wrap up a fine win.  For me Yousef was the pick of the bowling with 2-23 off 5 and Kishore bowled well at an important time with 2-22 off 5, but Kishlay was at times unplayable on a worsening wicket that ripped when he got it in the right place (1-12 off 5) and Tony took the plaudits with 3-17 off 5.  Further excellent catches were held by Yousef and Mark and that clearly marked the difference between the two sides as we did not drop a single catch while they had spilled….. many!

A great win against a great bunch of lads who hung around very socially while Uday cooked up some marvelous tandoori chicken in the fading light.  Fading..?  By the time I had swallowed one beer and my spicy piece of cauliflower alongside my chicken leg, it was positively pitch black.  I left the scene confident that Tony could get the tent folded up in the dark and indeed, in his sleep.

Til next week when we wrap up the tri-series with BOCC, currently standing at 1-1, winner takes all.
Nige.

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Match Report | Germantown 141 all out lost to AVCC 142/7

​August 30th, 2020

Germantown were to be our opponents once again on a beautiful Sunday morning in the Valley. Despite Amwell being without the services of Alan, (Al, Al or Steve either), Andy, Neil and the other Neil (AKA Nigel), 12 valiant warriors signed up to play against GCC. In a comical recreation of “The Long Story”, Tony rode the roller down from the barn across the driving range and the strip was rolled and compressed in true village fashion, without any water weight in the roller! Immediately, Alan’s quiet but commanding presence was missed. After the square was cut down to a mere millimeter high, we attempted to mark out the crease. It was the blind leading the blind. Fortunately, Quintus was able to facetime Alan and we were able to work out how to put together the frame. Finally, we were able to mark out the creases, albeit a bit wonky, and we were ready to play.

Due to the conditions of a lot of rain earlier in the week, Kishlay was told by multiple players to bat second. He duly came back and told us that we were bowling first, holding off the beatings that were promised if he didn’t do as he was told…! 

GCC started brightly against the opening bowling of Kishore and Uday, Kishore throwing down some beautiful seeds with some vocalizations that would’ve made Steffi Graf proud. Fielding was especially sharp in the freshly mown outfield and with Sudip behind the timbers, nothing went past him. The opening bat of Rajesh was taken by Uday clean bowling him and the lefty Nikil was being especially stubborn in support. At the first drinks break, Tony told me “I’ll have ‘im” and sure enough, he threw down some filth that induced him to nick off for 30. Later in the innings, an amazing, spectacular sharp chance was taken at point, the ball looping and spinning out of the sun towards the handsome devil fielding there – Yes, me. It was a contender for catch of the season until Uday happened. A chance was skied in the air and we all witnessed a miracle. Uday exclaimed loudly “I can’t see!” however, lo and behold, a cloud passed over the sun, Uday put down his cane and let go of his guide dog, raised his hands to the heavens in supplication and said, “now I can” and took the catch! Tony, smelling blood in the water, lobbed down some more filth and had a batsman trapped plumb. The GCC umpire was suddenly afflicted like Uday and claimed temporary blindness and didn’t raise a finger. This made Tony see red and duly took the batsmen out next ball. This meant a 4-for and the hunt was on for the Michelle. Alas, it was not to be, so Tony was credited with a 4.5-for instead. Uday claimed two and Tariq the other two.

We were chasing a total of 142 to win, on a wicket that was drying out fast. Our opening pair Mark and Quintus took the field against bowlers that were personally adjusting the sight screens before they ran in (yes, it was that long of a run up…). Mark was returned to the coop shortly, followed in quick succession by Manish and Pan. Each one failed to hit double figures. With the score in the low 30’s for 3, the secret weapon was sent to the crease. I may look like a fat, middle aged imposter in whites, but in reality, I am a dumb, fat middle aged imposter in whites… I managed to run myself out first ball, thanks to confusion on the call (apparently “YEEEESS” means “NOOOOO” in Afrikaans), me hesitating and a direct hit by the fielder. Thankfully, Quintus, Tariq and Kishlay were able to build the score. Adding to the total was a ferocious but short innings from Sudip (16 off of 12, including two 4’s and a 6). A beautiful partnership between Tariq and Kishlay took us over the hump and in an anticlimactic finish, I signaled a wide to take us onto the prescribed total needed. Another win against our friends from GCC which was celebrated with beer, Chardonnay and a fine single malt supplied by a very generous GCC player. I look forward to part three of this trilogy – Next time it’s for keeps!


Owen


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Match Report | BOCC 182/9 won against AVCC 143 all out 

​August 23rd, 2020

So on yet another sultry day, we ferried to Pennsylvania to meet with our friends in Collegeville, the British Officers CC for another fine contest.  After us having prevailed at Amwell just a few weeks ago, BOCC gained their revenge in fine style on a very different wicket to the one we have got used to in Hillsborough.  Kishlay lost the toss and we were put in the field and that didn’t seem to be a bad thing as Kishore ripped out their skipper with his very first ball (the second over of the innings) with a fine outswinger which took the edge to keeper Sudip.  Unfortunately, that brought Praveen to the crease to join Krish and they put on a very fine partnership indeed.  At drinks they had rattled along to an impressive 97-1 off 12 and they carried on their merry way until Krish retired on 50, striking the ball nonchalantly to the boundary and tucking the bat under his arm as he retired.  Dil then joined Praveen and while the rate slowed a little, it wasn’t until Tony got Praveen with a good swirling catch by Roger, for 47 at 122-2 off 19, that we managed to get things under a little control.

From there Dil batted through the innings while wickets fell around him.   It was Tony (1-25 off 7) and Andy Dick (2-24 off 7) that turned things round for us, as spin and guile was the way to go on a true and bouncy pitch.  Kishlay himself finally saw the signs and brought himself on at the end to mop up some cheap(ish) wickets with some terrific legspin which included a remarkable hattrick in his second over.  Having got two stumpings in a row from a very impressive performance behind the stumps by Sudip who had three catches to add on the day, one of the BOCC youngsters came out and Kishlay fired in a quicker one to clean him up for the hattrick with most of us thinking it might have been…… kinder to toss up another leggie to the young lad.  Dil finished 40 not out as the innings was cut slightly short by the rain at 182-9 off 33.4 overs.

Kishlay made it a trio of impressive slow bowling figures as he took 4-9 off his 3 and probably ruing not bringing himself on earlier.  A captain’s job is not an easy one as he had other bowlers to use, but they might be thinking they would have been happy to come off earlier as these figures suggest… Marsan 0-42 off 4; Kishore 1-30 off 4; Roger Woods 0-40 off 7; Uday 0-9 off his one over and Anantha also bowled just one over for 6.

In reply, we were soon up against it as Mark was cleaned up by Klaus in the 4th over.  Armitage kept Sudip company for a while and at 32-1 after 7 it wasn’t the worst start.  Unfortunately, Armitage smashed one straight to mid-on off Klaus, Anantha got himself run out, Sudip got stumped for a bright and breezy 25 and Kishlay quickly followed bowled by Krish and in the blink of an eye we were 45-5 off 11.

Andy Dick and Tariq saw us to drinks and then both played quite nicely to get us to 105-5 off 21, 78 needed off 13 was very doable especially if one or both of them retired.  Alas it was not to be, Tariq getting caught brilliantly on the long-off boundary by Rajat for 26 and then Andy quickly followed LBW for 23.  From there it was a procession of wickets including a couple of spectacular catches until Kishore was joined by Roger for the last wicket stand.  Ten-year old Karan came on to bowl some flighty leg spinners and Kishore duly nicked one to the keeper, a nick heard all the way to Bucks County by everyone except for Kishore himself and Anantha who was umpiring.  Anantha duly gave a wide and then Kishore duly dispatched the next ball miles over cow corner for six with ball heard screaming the words “YOU SEE YOUNG MAN, THIS IS PROPER CRICKET..!!!”

Roger finally succumbed to another great catch for 10 and we ended 143 all out well short of our target.  Another great day with great friends and we go again with these boys in two weeks to see who can go 2-1 up in the ‘series’.

Til then.
Nige.

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Match Report | Mad Dogs won against AVCC

August 9th, 2020


The fifth game of the shortened Covid season saw the first visit of the Mad Dogs to the HGCC. The teams were greeted by traditional hot summer weather, made steamier by the preceding week of rain that included 5 inches from the prolific Tropical Storm Isaias. The day before, the annual Chappell-Hadlee game was played at HGCC, and the strip used created mud that resembled the Somme after a particularly nasty day in 1917. Another 24 hours of dry weather did reduce the amount of moisture in the wicket, but toss winning captain, Adithia of MDCC had an awkward decision to make. Bowl first to take advantage of the moisture, or wait till later and bat on a track that was likely to be damaged by the preceding innings. Adithia decided to bat, and the swinging ball from Uday and Roger had almost immediate impact, putting four of the Mad Dogs back in their kennel with just 21 runs on the board after seven overs. Most memorable of these wickets was the diving slip catch by Quintus to dismiss Noel Greene for a duck. This brought Kimberley to the crease to (almost literally) dig in. Dharamsala hit 10 off an over and departed, but then the classy and powerful Rahul came to the crease. Over the next twelve overs, the pair took the total to respectability of 90/6 before Kimberley fell to a Kishlay special leg-break. From here big hitting from Rahul continued until he reached his 50, and was then joined by Ali, Adithia and others to put up a more than competitive 167/10 on the board.

The AVCC innings started brightly enough, but the wicket was becoming more awkward. Tight bowling from Ali, Aditithia and Rahul saw lots of movement bothering all the batsmen and steadily picking up wickets as the AVCC innings progressed. By the 12 over drinks break, four wickets had fallen, but there were only 40 runs on the board. And from that point on, attempts to increase the run rate were normally lopped off by wickets, mostly caught at long off by Mad Dog George Kinsey who ended the day with four catches. Kishore battled valiantly to stay in the game, and hit the bad ball very hard, but there were few of them. With six overs to go, and more than 10 runs per over needed, the third string of Mad Dog bowlers came on and Kishlay crashed a couple of consolation boundaries at the end. Eventually AVCC ended the chase around 20 runs short.

All in all a fascinating and fun afternoon of cricket.


Neil
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Match Report | BOCC 104-10 (35) lost to AVCC 105-4 (23.4) by six wickets

August 2nd, 2020

A commanding performance by AVCC saw us home by six wickets with overs to spare, a well-deserved victory where we were outstanding in every department. 

Kishlay won his fourth toss in a row to stay 100% and for the first time chose to bowl first on a wicket which did look a little like a cabbage patch with the weeds and crab grass beginning to take control of the situation.  With the heavy roller return imminent and the groundsman’s promise to spray the weeds, we are confident that Kishlay will return to batting first while he keeps winning the toss.  That said, his bowlers did him proud, Mark Masterson (1-12 off 5) and Udaya (1-12 off 6) bowling splendid early spells and at the first drinks break, we had witnessed a rather pleasant sedate passage of play with BOCC at 28-1 off 12. 

For the rest of the innings, it was hard work and BOCC were not helped by some excellent bowling and truly impressive fielding.  Kishlay got nice turn taking 1-9 off 4, Tony bowled with flight and guile (1-29 off 7), Roger cleaned up with 3-12 off his 5 overs, but the highlight was when Les Schriber came on to bowl in the 20th over.  Captain and Vice-Captain conferred and agreed to have two excellent fielders on the square boundary behind and in front.  Sure enough, Les, who hasn’t bowled for two years, dropped his first one short and Praveen swiveled and rocked back for a mighty pull shot that went soaring for a six over the heads of the two square fielders.  But wait..!  Like a graceful gazelle, Alan George, on the run, leapt in the air, stuck out his left hand and cleanly snaffled the most amazing open-handed catch while just keeping himself inside the rope.  When asked for comment, Ben Stokes said he would have been proud of that one himself.  Les then went on to bowl really well actually and was a little unlucky to come off with 1-5 off his 2 overs. 

From then on it was a procession of great fielding.  Boundary catches for Mark, Andy Dick and another for Alan almost became routine and then Les himself took a terrific one-handed catch at point.  To finish off the fielding performance, debutant, Sudip Jadhav kept wicket quite beautifully (sorry Q, you and me are out of a job!) which included an outstanding stumping off Andy Dick who wrapped up the innings taking 1-4 off his 2, the last over of the innings being a maiden.  BOCC were not at their strongest but they sure were up against it playing an Amwell team on fire.

In reply it was all over bar the shouting at the first drinks break.  Sudip completed a marvelous man of the match debut with a quick fire 33 off just 20 balls which included 2 6s and 2 4s and when he was out, we were already half way there 61-1 after 9.  After drinks it was a little more sedate, but Andy saw us almost over the line caught behind for 31 in the 19th over and then Alan and Manish brought us home in the 23rd over.  But wait..!!   With the scores level, Mark Mastesson started removing his pads.  We all shouted to stop, but too late, Alan pulled a long hop straight to midwicket and Mark had to hurriedly put his pads back on much to the tent’s hilarity.

Not to worry, Mark hit the winning single and pleasant drinks were had with good friends while we all wondered what happened to all that rain that was promised from the day before.  Oh I know, we got that today (I am writing this on Tuesday) when Hurricane Isaias rolled into town.

Til next week.
Nige


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Match Report | AVCC won vs. Germantown

July 26th, 2020

Ahh, another day hotter than a scotch bonnet enema, so we brave few venture once more unto the breach that is Amwell Valley. Thanks to the ground being set up from the day before, we only had to put up the sails, sorry, sightscreens and we were ready to go. Our opponents from Germantown turned
up with their matching facemasks and we once again threatened Kishlay with grievous bodily harm if he didn’t bat first when he won the toss. Thankfully, we didn’t have to beat him mercilessly as he indicated with a flat hand that we were batting.


Andy and Manish took the opening partnership and quickly asserted their dominance over the guest bowlers from Germantown. Andy was seeing the ball as big as a watermelon and dispatched it all over the ground to cries of “Yes” and “bugger me” from the peanut gallery on the boundary. Manish was
particularly aggravated by the ECB Level One Umpire (I took an online course) not calling wides on 4th stump, but he still put on a good 22 before chipping back to the opening bowler Nikhil. Andy at the other end scored a great 50 before mandatorily retiring. His wife even arrived in time to see him hit a lusty 6.


Quintus and Alan then took to the crease and kept the scoreboard ticking along nicely. Alan fell just 4 short of a 50 himself, bowled by a ball that kept low. Quintus went for 32 before falling to our second Caught and Bowled. Mark “Mastodon” was given out harshly LBW right in front of middle stump, caught
in the crease, below the knee roll, but it was harsh nonetheless. Manish had taken over at umpire and “Itchy finger” Chawla gave out Uday and Kishore LBW as well. This brought out Kishlay and Owen to the crease together and it was like watching Torvill and Dean – synchronized, graceful and coordinated – without the sparkly purple costumes. I once again holed out to someone who could actually catch (rare at our level!) at deep, deep, deep long off (even if Nigel thought it was more mid off!). Kish put on 22 before being run out, forcing Tony to put down his beer and put on trousers and a box to go out to bat. He didn’t even have time to put on socks and Kishlay was put under pressure to declare before Tony reached the square. In the end, he put on one, Nigel put on 2 and the “T” sign was made to bring our innings to an end at 211 off of 34 overs.


Our opening dinosaur Mark set his field, moving Kishore 3.723 inches to his right at gully. Mark bowled a peach of a delivery, tempting and finding the edge with his first ball, straight to the sure hands of Kishore who didn’t have to move to take a simple catch. We kept on the pressure, removing their
opening 4 cheaply. Their number 5 bat, Gupta, was stubborn at the crease, running through partners to bat with as he blocked and nurdled us for 1’s and 2’s. His most productive partner Nikil came in at 7 and was pasting the ball around nicely. It would take something special to dismiss him and boy, did we
deliver! A ball was struck towards Alan at long on and it looked like a six all the way until Alan leapt up at least six feet and snagged the ball in mid air, behind him and just inside the rope. It was truly a highlight catch and it propelled us to mopping up the tail enders very cheaply. Our total never looked
challenged and Germantown were bowled out for 108. Mark ended up with 2-14, Uday 3-14,Tony 2-19, Kishore 1-17, Andy 1-13 and Anantha had 1-9. A very tidy set of figures, even if I am only a video watching level one ECB qualified umpire…


AVCC ended up winning comfortably and we sat around in large socially distanced circle and shared a glass or two with our visitors until the sun set and the fireflies took over the field for their own sporting event. A great day once again put to rest. Onto the next….


Owen


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Match Report | AVCC 189-8 (35 overs) lost to Columbia 190-10 (32.4 overs) by 0 wickets

July 19th, 2020

Yes we lost by zero wickets, in that Columbia won with no wickets remaining, that is the pitfall of playing 12-a-side. Frankly we lost a game that we pretty much dominated right up to the final drinks break (of which we had many) yet lost, ultimately, rather comfortably.

It all started on what was thought would be a sweltering hot day.  So much so, that our one remaining African member of the squad (yes African’s should be accustomed to heat….. right…?) dropped out on the eve of the game saying it was too hot for his petite flower-ness.  It was hot for sure, but I must say, it has been worse and the breeze kept us all sane on the day.  But what a long day!  We did start a little late, but it was a tough slog for some of our older members when the game wrapped up shortly before 7pm.

It all started so well for AVCC.  Kishlay won the toss again (still 100%) and was quick to bat first and Mark Marsan (later to be known as Marsden / Masterson / Mastersdon / Mastercard, take your pick, they all annoyed the heck out of him which of course made it funnier) got us off to a flier smashing 32 in double quick time and included five 4s and a six.  Indeed, when he hit his second four in just the third over of the day, it was commented that we had already hit more boundaries than in the whole innings of the previous game.

Unfortunately he rather missed out, caught at slip off a full bunger, a magnificent one-handed catch, but boundaries continued to flow from the very impressive bat of Kishore Gupte.  Clearly Tony and I had it all wrong with Kishore as we thought he was a bowler, but this season, having gone to several nets, he really has got the taste of this batting lark and put on the innings of the day, scoring a terrific 46 off 58 balls which also included five 4s and a six.  He was especially strong on the pull and it was a really impressive show that put us firmly in command and allowed others to play around him.  Yousuf scored a pleasant 23 and Anantha a hard-working 22 and with Tony getting 8 and Kishlay a quick 10 at the end, we felt pretty confident setting 190 on a slightly tricky wicket which kept a little low.

All the more reason to be confident when “Mastersden” picked up three quick wickets in the first few overs, two pop ups to Yousuf at cover and a third played on.  Columbia didn’t give in and kept playing their shots, but a couple of wickets from a very nice spell by Yousuf who took 2-32 off 5 and what seemed a decisive spell from the bowler of the day, Roger Woods who got their main man caught and bowled to end 2-20 off 5 kept us in control and then two ugly wickets for Anantha in his one over left them at 129-9 with ten overs left.

Then came that last drinks break and it started well as Kishlay wrapped up the tenth wicket with another caught and bowled and surely that was it..?!  But wait, it was agreed at the start that we would both bat 12 and Amit who had earlier retired hurt came back out and saw them home quite comfortably with their more than capable No.11 Aakash who finished 36 not out. All a little disappointing having done so well for so much of the game.

But it was a great day and as hot as we all were by the end, drinks were drank, songs were sang and masks were worn and we go again next week.


Nigel

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Match Report | AVCC 102 All out (plus two) vs Galacticos -3,497 for two – (17 overs)
July 5th, 2020

In this post-apocalyptic world that we are living in now, any chance for a sense of normalcy is grasped at, no matter how ridiculous it seems. Despite the heat and humidity being slightly north of Satans jockstrap, 13 intrepid AVCC members signed up to play against the Galacticos. Rules were set, things
were forbidden, and we all got an early night in anticipation of us each scoring centuries and taking gazelle like catches in the field.

As this was the first game of the season, the call went out to rally up at 10 and turn the barren wasteland of the Amwell Valley into a shining oasis of cricket. The two most committed and eager members looked at each other at 10:30 and questioned if it was worth leaving a cold wife and a warm
bed for the vast expanse of clover that passes for our outfield. Slowly but surely the other crazies, sorry, committee members and president Emeritus (Alan, Alan, Al, Steve) turned up and we began the process of staking out the marquee. Thankfully the local mouse population had chewed us several vent holes in the tent so we were able to check to see if the blast furnace was directly overhead, or merely teasing us with an indirect roasting. We also sustained our first of three nasty injuries of the day at this point. The most handsome, tallest, fittest, thinnest Englishman and all round good egg (and Author of this report) forgot that the door to the shed was a lot lower than he remembered. The result was a two inch gash across the crown of his head and a pair of busted Oakley sunglasses.


While I was incubating a concussion, we sustained the second and perhaps the nastiest injury of the day. Nigel, Alan and Tony had taken the mower out the shave another 1/3 of an inch off of the top of the road that passes for our middle strip. This was in anticipation of Kishore banging down on a good line
and length, causing the batsmen to go weak at the knees and capitulating like we had dreamed of the night before. Unfortunately, like most of us on AVCC, the mower is old and knackered and decided to throw a strop and refuse to play with us. Nigel gave it a hard stare, Tony muttered “bugger this for a game of soldiers” and Alan looked pensive and was silently calculating the cost of a repair versus our slim reserves. As this didn’t fix the situation, what was needed was for someone to get stuck in.


Literally. Our favourite Southend Fan (there aren’t many to chose from) put his hands into the jaws of the beast and literally was bitten by the blades (just to clarify, not United). Nigel's first finger turned a nice shade of puce and went numb. This was only the second injury of the day and this was even before Tony had had his first beer, so you know it was REALLY early in the day. The rest of the team turned up with various excuses (snow, wrong kind of leaves on the lines, I never got the email saying turn up early and help set up) and we all ganged up on Kishlay and threatened him with physical violence if he didn’t win the toss and, if he did win the toss and chose to field, worse physical violence involving force feeding of that rag that passed for a Liverpool scarf into certain orifices that is designed to be one way only…


Scared out of his wits, he duly won the toss and chose to bat. Our visitors graciously agreed to letting us bat 13 and play 35 overs. Sadly their main man, Nikhil was not able to suit up and we were at least spared from his ferocious batting and sage captaincy on the field. Neil and Alan duly padded up and strode out to the middle and was faced with the most intimidating field setting ever. 9 slips and a wicket keeper. They also knew how to bowl to that cordon and soon Neil edged a sharp chance to the 17 th slip and he held onto it. The ball was keeping low on the on side and low on the leg side which seemed to confuse us. Perhaps it was the remnants of Nigels nail on the pitch that was aiding the bowler – yeah that seems like a good excuse for our dismal performance – The Black FINGERNAIL (one for all you Sid James fans)! The only highlight was an 18 run explosion from Mr. M. Marsden and 15’s for both Andy Dick and Manish. Every half chance catch was snaffled up and every gap was closed at a moments notice. The fielding from the Galacticos was as if they were greyhounds, who had been fed expresso enemas and given an intravenous injection of red bull to speed them on their way. The bowling was good, with a mix of pace and genuine spin with excellent flight and guile. The quicker ball from their spinner would’ve gotten anyone out, except for your dear author, who defended it with a cry of “Ha!” like I knew it was coming…. In reality I was shitting myself and hoping
that he didn’t do that again. Thankfully, I only had to face another ball as a sure fire six was robbed from me on the next delivery by a wonderful, sure handed catch in deep, deep, deep mid wicket. If only there was a replay to check if he wasn’t over the line, I would still be batting now.

In the end, we were wonderful hosts who set a modest target of 103 needed. The Galacticos thanked us and were wonderful guests, getting us off the field in only 17 overs. The third and final injury was sustained by Kishore mid innings, he took a great catch in the covers only for the ball to split his finger
wide open. After we doused the ball with sanitizer, Mark then used that as an excuse to fling a ball at the batsmens head with a cry of “whoops, sorry, it slipped!”…! The only blight on the innings was a batsman who, having almost played keepy-uppy with the ball, hit it into his pads for Manish to take a
relatively simple catch behind the timbers. Everyone appealed, ran in and started to congratulate Manish for finally doing something (yeah, yeah, 15 runs blah, blah blah, second top scorer yaaawn) in the game. The umpire stood, unmoved, contemplating his top 10 chinese food orders, the batsman
equally as statuesque in his crease. This prompted an appeal that John MacEnroe would’ve been proud of from our Keeper du jour. “You CANNOT be SERIOUS?!?!” was screamed and Nigel gave the batsman a hard stare that Paddington would’ve been proud of. He wilted under this combined pressure and skulked off… They did need at that point less than one run an over to overhaul us…!


At the early close of play, we all sat around socially distanced and had a couple of rehydrating beers, a couple of fingers of Uday’s excellent spiced rum (does that man have a bad bottle in his closet? I think not…!) and a good chat with the visitors from Manhattan. A hot day, but a good day was the general consensus and we all agreed that we must do better next weekend against those Mad Dogs from Connecticut…here.


Owen