A quick glance at the GCC WhatsApp group.
I was half expecting bad news, someone reporting a persistent high temperature, a dry cough and anosmia.
After a miserable afternoon when collectively we couldn’t catch a damn thing there would have been some irony in one of our number coming down with the dreaded virus.
Obviously, we couldn’t even catch that, which is one of the few positives to emerge from our annual visit to the bucolic surrounds of East Sheen Common.
After a fine start to the truncated 2020 season in July with comfortable, confident and dominant victories over Brixton and Palm Tree, our run chase and performance came up well short against the usual mix of energetic youth and doddering old men that make up Sheen Park CC Sunday XI.
We have only ourselves to blame, or more specifically our hands. They seemed incapable of hanging on to anything lofted into the air. A simple catch to slip, a dolly to deep cover, a mishit to backward point, an under edge to the keeper, a couple of high fly balls to mid-off and a straightforward caught and bowled. It didn’t matter where it went or who was under it, we spooned the lot. You could blame the sun, the sweltering conditions or the fact it was the first outing of the season for some but in reality, it was just shoddy fielding.
The chief beneficiary of our largesse was the young Sheen opener, Ozzman, who will rarely play against such generous opposition. His 83 not out could so easily have been 8 and out, of perhaps 17, 25, 38, or 52. Sulliman who bludgeoned his way to 72 could and should also have departed before making double figures and even George who made 22 before holing out at deep square - hat's off to Ed for holding on to one, just keep it on when you are fielding the ball! - was still in single figures when he edged a straightforward chance to slip.
It’s hard to say how many runs we gifted them – the dropped catches were not the only fielding presents we were handing out that sunny afternoon - but without Ozzman and Sulliman teeing off in the last ten overs, it’s unlikely Sheen would have made it to 150, particularly with the veteran half of the team still to bat.
It’s not that we bowled badly. The opening ten overs from the Nome and Greg were stingy and tight but produced only a solitary wicket and countless chances. There is nothing like a dropped catch, or five, to embolden a batsman. Most of the inevitable punishment was delivered to the left arm trio of Ludo, Tom and debutante Tariq. The one solitary mark in the plus column was a top-of-off-stump delivery from Ludo to see the back of Sulliman. But it was his fourth or fifth life. Pick of the bowling was Matt Wood’s bustling medium pace, which after a torrid first over finished with an excellent 2-14 off six, including two overs at the back end of the innings.
As depressing as it is to trudge off the field and see 195 staring back at you, the game is never lost after the first innings. We like a chase and on a super-fast outfield, more reminiscent of the Savanah that suburban London, and with two of our all-time best batsmen in the line-up, knocking off five-and-a-half an over felt like a chase we could handle.
So it seemed when the returning Shomit Dutta, who averages over 80 in GCC colours, and the hard-hitting Matt Wood were together at the crease and accumulating towards a 50 partnership. Sadly, the perception of control disappeared when Wood misjudged the flight of the leg-spinner and was stumped, and Dutta departed a few overs later to an unbelievable one-handed diving catch at mid-wicket.
There was some good middle order resistance from Ed, Tom and Tariq, the latter departing to another spectacular one-handed catch from the same fielder, but as the run rate started to climb and wickets continued to fall the chase and the game were largely up. We inevitably came up 40-odd runs short of the 195 target.
It is always disappointing to lose, particularly when you are the chief architects of the defeat but it’s still a delight just to be playing cricket at all this year. Sheen Park are always affable hosts and it is also good to welcome some new recruits - thanks to Tino and Tariq for stepping in late in the day - and to welcome back and play alongside a GCC legend like Shomit.
After not much deliberation we decided there was nothing worthy of a GCC Sandwich moment. To be honest had we awarded anything on the day, the recipient would surely have dropped that too.