A game in which the Gardeners were less great white whale and more beached porpoise, ended with one of the more disappointing sporting losses of the writer’s career, as GCC went down by 23 runs to brand new oppo, The Whalers.
The scene of Sunday’s crime was a busy King’s House Sports Ground in Chiswick, where the assembled Gardeners found themselves competing for spectators with a smorgasbord of other sporting sights. Had the public pitched up to watch the cricket from ball one though, they would have seen anything other than buffet bowling offered by the GCC opening pair of Navratil and Cunningham after The Whalers had won the toss and elected to bat.
The pitch provided few demons, but a lush outfield and a tight line from both bowlers meant runs were hard to come by. The first breakthrough coming in the eighth over as Cunners dismissed opener Sheridan, caught behind on the drive by Stevie Seaton. As regulation a wicket as you could hope to see and The Whalers 22-1.
Alas, Steven’s catch did not set the tone for the rest of the fielders as five, yes count ‘em, five regulation catches went down during the Whalers innings. Most of which Boycott’s mother could have taken in her famous pinny – and in Rob’s case possibly while wearing a blindfold too. Not only did the catches go down, a long boundary and an un-backed-up shy at the stumps meant a pair of Whalers managed to run a six – a GCC first?
Despite the generous welcome offered to the batsmen by some fielders, the seam bowlers stuck to the task well and team catchers David and debutant Phil both took a brace to show the rest of us how it’s done. A brisk 28 run partnership for the eighth wicket pushed the innings towards respectability and The Whalers finished on 136 off their 35 overs. Very gettable was the word at tea and a confident group tucked into their sandwiches without too much to trouble the digestive process.
Thinking about the tripod of bowling, batting and fielding on which the team’s performance rests, a strong performance in two of the disciplines might make up for a poor third, but as Meatloaf might have said, one out of three is rubbish. Thus it came to pass that when the Gardeners batsmen emerged to chase a modest 137 for victory, a combination of poor running, poor shot selection and accurate swing bowling meant the whole lot came tumbling down.
Sana was the first to go, succumbing to a direct hit from gully attempting a quick single. He was soon followed by the in-form Saj, who smote a couple of mighty blows, before trying one smite too many and finding himself castled by the stingy Ahmed.
As the batsmen came and went, the rampant Whalers swarmed round the bloated carcass of the Gardeners innings like a rampaging crew of Nantucket Yankees; each wicket a harpoon to the heart of a GCC victory. With number 11 Rob run out trying an impossible single, the innings started as it finished, and the Gardeners found themselves all out for a pathetic 113 - 24 short of victory.
In the end only four Gardeners made it into double figures and with a highest partnership of just 28 coming for the eighth wicket, a more limp batting performance you could scarcely imagine. Kudos goes to the seamers and those fielders who held on to their catches, but a final verdict for the rest of us? Must do better.
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Oliver Cunningham (life)
Jamie Elliott (life)
John Lloyd (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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