There is no point repeating the beginning of past match reports when writing about the game with Pretenders: you can imagine what Gardeners were saying and thinking. As sure as dong follows ding, our encounters are hotly contested affairs, even when one side collapses. Tennis and stats fans may recall that GCC clinched the “first set” on the head-to-head record (7-6) last year. “New balls, please.”
With a late kick-off – and some unfamiliar faces for the oppo ;) – Gardeners started in the field after some neat catching practice that allowed Jamie, stepping into the MSD role in the absence of alternatives, time with the gloves before the real thing.
Metronome and Cunners began well and made sure the openers batted hard for their early runs. Although no early breakthrough was made, Pretenders were kept at bay.
The break came after some high-pressured bowling and a simple catch to Jim off Piers. From then on, Pretenders recovered and began picking off GCC’s strong bowling attack with some powerful strokes. When we were presented opportunities, we failed to take our chances, with a series of drop catches – some more difficult than others I may add.
With only two more wickets to fall, Pretenders posted a very competitive 242-3 off their 40 overs. The Gardeners bowlers received a bit of a battering, however Rob’s seven overs, three maidens, no wickets for 28 was the standout performance.
Give credit to us: we toiled away in the field under the sun giving 100% to the cause – unfortunately, Pretenders had some batsmen who were clearly in a bit of form (Raj 114 not out, Peacock 65 and quick-fire 31 from Toney).
In a pleasant surprise from the usual match teas at Turney Road, there was an overall consensus that the new spread in front of us was something of treat – although nothing on Laura’s….
At the restart, Jamie and Jim strode out to the middle with an air of authority, looking to make a dent on the Pretenders score. Unfortunately for Jim, he followed a wide one that went straight to point for smart catch. In came big brother (Olly) Cunningham, now officially relocated to the UK, and immediately made an impression with some early boundary hitting. Things were going nicely for the Gardeners… Not long after, BB Cunners fell, starting a mini collapse, as James, Ed and then Jamie all went shortly after one another in the teeth of some good bowling from Abra and Duncan.
With Cunners (Nicholarse) leapfrogging the debutant Steve MacLeod in the order due to the latter’s lack of speed with the pads, the two eventually found themselves in the middle. Clearly, they had not read the script, and decided to go about their business seeing off the now familiar faces of Pretenders’ bowling attack. It appeared Cunners was carrying on from last week’s batting performance. He looked in complete control, while Steve found his feet and played a strong supporting role.
To the surprise of the Skip, who had taken a leisurely shower, no wickets had fallen during his ablutions, and the pressure was now being forced on the Pretenders. Steve and Cunners passed the 100-run partnership, but Steve fell soon after to Dunn. With Pretenders smelling blood, Gardeners were 192-6, left chasing 61 from the last five overs. We were now entering the “realm of possibility” [or Powerplay, Piers? Ed.]
Next in was Teakle, who some might say was born for this moment, others – looking at his batting record – that he could be out fairly shortly. However, Cunners and Piers kept the run rate up, making sure they were in for a shout in the final over. Running hard between the wickets and putting away the bad balls, they gave themselves a small chance. With 225-6 on the scoreboard we entered the final over – needing 18 to win. The trusty Dalton was handed the ball to see it out…
Two balls remaining – eight to win – Piers gets hold of it – surely its going for six? It’s going, it’s…… Dunn on the boundary gets a palm to it to stop it going over… . only two runs scored.
One Ball remaining – six to win – with pressure on both sides. Dalton, the wily old fox, plants a short quick leg cutter, which bamboozles Piers and a dot ball results….. Pretenders win…
Face with what seemed to be a near impossible task, Gardeners grouped together to nearly pull off a remarkable victory for the collection.
Special mention goes to Cunners for his 67 not out, the cameo performance by Steve (42), with useful additions by Jamie (35), Big O Cunningham (28), and a dashing 33 off 18 for Piers. The phrase “catches wins matches” springs to mind (again) and had we held on to few more, the result might have been reversed.
After the initial disappointment of losing, I’m sure Gardeners will look back at hard, well-fought match that went down to the wire. “Pretenders lead by one game to love, second set, and Gardeners by one set to love.”
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Rob Navratil (life)
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and may involve some poetic licence. GCC cannot be held liable for any misrepresentation in these articles.