Crisis, what crisis? A serene innings of 60 by Jim Warbrick, with cool-headed help from Dan de Jesus (34), ensured a middle-order wobble in which three wickets fell for zilch didn't break our stride towards victory over Palm Tree. The eventual margin at Turney Road was four wickets as Gardeners chased the north Londoners' 123-9 off 35 overs, a format deemed prudent in view of a forecast of heavy rain later. Luckily, we got the timings spot on.
The win represented a monkey off the back of both the batsman and the club. Last year, at the "Big Bash", Jim broke his finger while fielding the first ball of the day in the slips. Despite having joined as a member that was his season crocked. And in the 2011 Palm Tree fixture at Highgate Woods, GCC collapsed ignominiously in the face of a not-insurmountable 188. Wrongs were there to be righted.
Signed up for 2012 and opening with David, Jim batted dreamily well on a slowish, grassy, pock-marked pitch that had persuaded Mike to bowl first. Waiting until the ball was under his nose, Jim played, on the legside, with the air of a man picking a loose thread from his dinner jacket and, on the off, as if ambling towards his drinks cabinet. Without his calming influence, we might not have looked so clever by the end.
Palm Tree's skipper, Russell, again proved if not a mystery spinner then at least a one-pipe problem. After he had foxed David, Russell caught Jamie off Yelland for a blob, haring round from mid-off to mid-on. At 37-2, Bagshot's secret drum'n'bass DJ, Andy O, then propped Russell to short cover first ball, and two deliveries later Tom S nurdled one straight to short fine leg: 37-4. A no-nonsense partnership of 68 between Jim and Dan took us to 105, when Jim glided the left-armer Moore to slip. Palm Tree brought back the always accurate Maggs and stasis set in, compelling Dan to risk an unlikely single to the gully region. His run out left GCC on a dicey 107-6, but Hugo and Mike clawed us over the line in the 33rd over.
Earlier, Greg, cutting the ball into the right-handers, had bowled a masterclass in southpaw seam after his opening loosener. Either that or the three batters he clean bowled were just waiting for another high wide full loss to carve to third man. None was forthcoming. Rob was also on the money, though without success. To have them 60-4 at 20 overs was a great team effort, but it could have been better still. Dan bowled yards faster than anybody else, again. Locating extra bounce in roughly the same strip as he did last year against Washington, he saw four catches go down in his five overs: in and out of Jamie's hands at slip; grassed by a tumbling Clayders at gully; spilled by Rob scurrying back to a skyer at point; and, the hardest of the lot, squirting out Mike's glove as he dived forward and to his right.
Hugo operated manfully as the stock bowler and was rewarded with an lbw decision against the hard-hitting Moore. A bout of extreme stinginess from Clayders (7-2-8-1) contributed to the run out of Robins, beaten by Tom's bullet throw from fine leg attempting a second. Tom chipped in with his first GCC wicket as Wood played on to a bumper. Regular netters will know this line of attack from the Gorman, though his second wicket came caught behind as he pitched it up. Yokel strokes by Maggs, a Matt Ramsden-esque opponent, lifted Palm Tree from 88-8. This game, though, belonged to the unruffled excellence of Warbrick J. RC
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Matt Aked (life)
Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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