Saturday 15th July - Highgate Woods
An away fixture at Highgate against Strongroom, a fond fixture in many old Gardeners’ eyes.
Like Stoke City FC, a bit too north and difficult to get a result. A quick look over last year’s scorecard saw us get a win (first in many years). Will lightning strike twice? ……rain in the air on a warm cloudy day….Saj late (1 and ¼ hours?!?!)…..slow/low pitch….the omens were good.
Somewhere in the dreich, vice captain Tasty Cunners lost the toss and we went to field with only 9. With a slippery new cherry and onlookers seeking shelter, Metronome and Sam opened the attack. A decent ringer opening for ‘Room and difficulties in controlling the ball at times meant ‘Room were at 8+ an over for the first 5, but the pair pulled it back as Sam laid down a heavy riff while Rob's rhythm got going. Add to that some Peter Shilton saves at long on by Dave W bringing the rate down, the beginning of another fielding masterclass. Sam struck first, getting one to straighten and take out off stump, a jaffa (54-1). Rob with plenty of dots and conceding only to decent batting by opener Jamie, ended his spell for 30 off 6. Bowling change, Highlander Macleod mixing it up with some wild back-of-the-handers bought another wicket in the 17th, through the gate with a cutter, a sign the pitch was drying.
Then the ‘Al Desco Sandwich Moment’ just before drinks, Dave having a shy at the non-strikers end to get out backtracking opener Jamie (54) with a direct hit. A momentum shifter and a Boycott “1 brings 2”. Tasty comes into the attack getting oppo Captain out with a well set up lbw after a lifter from the previous ball. 97-4 at drinks, which ‘Room really needed. Saj eventually turned up and got a bowl soon after the break but it wasn’t until the 31st over when the partnership was broken. Saj bowled solid Jon Gower (143-5). Then another for Saj as he forged his line and bowled a second Gower, David.
The Chancellor came spinning in from the other end, maiden off the first and a wicket in his third (unsure which was the prouder moment), bowling wide of an advancing no. 8 stumped by heroic Vivek. 165-7. Sights reset at getting them all out rather than restricting them to 200. Alas, the tail wagged and with a couple of lusty blows ‘Room ended on 202-8 after Tasty brought himself back on for a last over wicket (*inevitable) to end with figures of 22-2 off 8. All bowlers held their ends, no-one going for more than a run a ball on a field with some short boundaries. OK, there were 36 extras, but this is down from 52 the previous week. [The Oppo not us, Ed]
Tea came and went too quickly as the sun started shining, children’s parties grew and grew and homemade veg wraps were munched upon. Jazz blew in with the wind, as did some old timers parking themselves on benches along with Rhiannon and Aspro to see some goings on. And what goings on they got!
Dave and Olly the opening pair and the G’s got away with 3 consecutive boundaries, all square(ish) drives off the back foot from Olly. Dave eventually got one through the infield after 17 dots before Olly smashed one straight into the gut of the Extra Cover, quite amazing/lucky. Another breezy 20+ score. Saj joined Dave and took us into the 13th before the goings on got going. Dave called for a sharp single, Saj still wondering what was wrong with his eye (his latest excuse for being late). Easy run out at the strikers end, Dave out for 12. Now if there was an ‘Alternative Al Desco’ moment
(the dirty traybake moment?), this was it. Dave turning lunchtime jazz to something more punkish. Poor scoring hut (with scorer still in it), not your fault. Hope Dave’s bat is still good for later matches.
Nuff said, let’s move on.
With batting quite light and 140+ still to get, Saj had to stick around. Something like his 76 from last years’ fixture will do. Well he could do better than that. In a very controlled manner, Saj, advising all incoming batsmen (4 were needed), calmly got us to our target with nine balls to spare. Decent knocks from Ed for 12 (effectively run out by Saj) & Vivek lbw for 30, a plucky knock which was evidently part of the winning partnership. Saj enjoyed seeing us through, even more so when he learnt he also reached 100! Somehow the G’s kept it secret, thinking it wise he should get us over the line first. How very selfish. A knock of 104 n.o. that even Dave/Ed couldn’t begrudge.
A good competitive match that took too long but was worth it in the end. On the flipside, this can’t be done every week with only 10 players, (9 for a short time) chances went begging as we couldn’t afford any slips. We were fortunate ‘Room had similar issues.
So 2 wins in 2 years at this bogey ground. A great achievement and celebrated as much at the pub afterwards and long into the night for some. At least there are a few weeks to sleep it off and get that eye sorted.
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