In stark contrast to our season's opener, the weather for our first home game at Gallery Fields this year was less dank and bone chilling, but more a mid-summer sweltering neck-burner. Conditions that definitely suited our Bengali opposition. Just a two-shirt day today for them.
The weather too brought out some general public to adorn the boundary rope, albeit to catch rays and not leather. It was rather refreshing to hear one female spectator explaining cricket to her boyfriend and not the other way round. Taking great delight in between slurps of in-the-can G&T to say “yes dear, a bit like baseball” Then to hit him with 'the bowler's Holding the batsman's Willy' line' “Yes” she snorts, “he really did say that!”
Why am I banging on about the weather and spectators, I hear you cry? It will soon become apparent.
We were all looking forward to a few games on a quality pitch this year so we arrived at Gallery Fields to face today's opponents, the Bengal Troopers, keen to inspect each other's tea offering. So as we gathered and prepared to head out for teh first dig, talk was of sandwich fillings, Mr. Kipling and post-wedding hangovers, rather than batting approach and pitch conditions.
At the top of the order came no nonsense, does-what-he-says-on-the-tin, plate of turkey sandwiches on sliced white from Dave. Characteristic of this seasoned Gardeners opener, does his job and does it well. Striking a wonderful counterpoint at the other end was Steven with two glorious quiches (vegetable, not Lorraine) The top order of bread based staples did us proud with Will and Greg serving up Cheese & Onion, Egg, and cheese & pickle.
Tom and Ed made good work on the savories with a selection of olives, koftas and some 'very tasty' crisps (not going unnoticed by their namesake, Cunningham N.)
Then came the battle of deserts amongst the tail. Cunners and Sam both logging solid performances with Mr. Kipling's Bakewells and assorted slices. Followed by the War of the Roses in strawberry form with Tom providing a punnet each from Lancashire and Yorkshire. I fear there was no contest, but alas, they were all gone by the time this roving reporter had chance to check for sure.
Finally came the last stand of the Drizzle Brothers Steve Mac and the Metro. In the red corner Steve's lemon drizzle cake and in the blue corner Rob's lemon & lime drizzle offering. Passing judgement in the shade of the clubhouse was the recently arrived John 'just in time for tea' Lloyd, having to sample both cakes, purely for scientific purposes you understand. The general consensus was Steve's had great texture and a beautiful sweet crust on top from the drizzle. Metro's had the tang, confessing he'd doubled up the juice from the recipe for the hell of it. That one met Gastro Lad's approval but I think we'll call it a draw.
Overall, a very strong team performance here. A group, who when given instructions deliver the goods each time. So much so that the opposition wanted another innings. It's a shame then, that this team philosophy cannot be transferred to our cricket.
After a poor showing a fortnight ago in our season opener we thought we'd be hard pushed to bat that badly again but somehow we managed it. Although this time getting a good start, we once again failed to bat out our overs while succumbing to a middle and lower order collapse, eventually being skittled out for 135 in the 36th over.
Innings' to be commended however were those of Dave and Steven at the top order putting on 50 together before the first wicket, Jamie and Cunners backed them up with 13 and 25 respectively. The rest however, probably still reveling in their own personal pride in their sandwich craft forgot how to bat for the second week running. On a beautiful wicket and outfield that was giving up boundaries with carefree abandonment, 200 or just 180 was a decent target for our bowlers to defend. In the end 135 was all we had to play with and it was never going to be enough.
In an uncharacteristic start to the season the Metro's calibration is well off relinquishing 28 runs from his first and only two overs. Not the best way to help his skipper defend a small target. To the rescue and not for the first time was super Cunners at the other end. Firing in his laser beams to bag Troopers opener Shajib lbw for 2. Duly followed by the his left arm counterpart Greg picking up 2 more plumb lbw's bowling that line, that all who have netted with him know only too well. On a day where even our good balls went for four, we didn't even have drinks to look forward to as the Troopers knocked them off in the 19th over.
Where winning the toss was a possible champagne moment, my dear readers may forgive me lamenting the buffet we served up between innings rather than that which was served on the field. Our Skipper alluded to our batting woes in last week's match report so I shan't repeat him other than to say it has to improve if we want to be competitive this year.
This by no means undermines the quality of the Troopers side. A team that play hard, play proper cricket shots and are a thoroughly decent bunch of chaps. We look forward to visiting them in June as part of our TOWIE tour where Syed has promised us true Bengali fare for tea, which could be rather welcome after a boozy weekend near a vineyard.
Here's to stronger performances to come.. #slowouttheblocks
We play most of our games in Dulwich and net during the winter at The Oval. Send us an email at email@example.com
Jamie Elliot (life)
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