Another game at Highgate Woods: sadly, another loss, as the Annus Horribilis continues for the Gardeners [a bit strong, eh? Ed]. Surreally, we all turned up in north London early on a Saturday; everyone all fresh-faced, no bags under the eyes, no lurid stories from the night before (well none that were told anyway), no rain. All looked set for a prime Gardeners performance.
Toss lost, we bowled. Easy peasy, we thought, especially when we eyed up their unlikely-looking openers. Double especially after Doc Bongo and Cunners both opened their accounts with maidens. We were licking our lips. Little did we know this was as good as it would get! Fourth over in, Cunners tries to bowl a googly, and lets slip a rare full toss. The floppy-haired Nicholson biffs it to the boundary quicker than a fart in a dust storm, straight into oblivion. After much gardening, the ball is declared lost - and we end up bowling our overs out with something that resembled a red tennis ball with stitching. Gardeners on the back foot.
Al Desco Go-To Men de Jesus and Polaroid are called on for the vital breakthrough. Nisbett bowling with that badgering regularity he's become famed for; he might have to become the new Metronome. De Jesus keeping the batsmen as honest as ever, that is until Warbo tries a bit of fancy footwork on the boundary, only to kick the ball for four! Seedy at the time, amusing looking back! Eventually, Dan fires the perfect yorker in and dismisses Nicholson for a well-played 50. The Gardeners huddle for the obligatory high 5s. All except for Jamie on the far boundary, hmmm.
Skip (Tom L) brings himself on and bowls Gower and West in fairly quick succession. More high 5s. Jamie's mime impersonation continues on the far boundary. Nice. Tommy's bowling is far too good to give him a rest. Bowl me through, he implores himself. Was a good shout as slow bowling looked the key to unlocking this pitch. Flatter than Keira Knightley's chest I overheard!
Sadly, the biffing continued with the arrival of that man Schneider, who proves my theory that it's a good thing Germans don't play Test cricket! After a rapid 50 from him, enter Messrs Gower D and Proctor to the crease. Gardeners heads drop further. Luckily for us, we haul things back in the final overs thanks to Dan and RBG, managing to restrict them to a doable 209 from 40. With the amount of biffing and subsequent gardening we did, I thought 250/300 was on. Special commendation to PG Woodhouse for a superb display behind the stumps. No ring-rust there!
Tea followed swiftly, consisting of everything from dried fruit to pickled octopus, and about 10 litres of iceless water in between. All is wolfed down in a hushed frenzy. At this point, the weather seemed to finally turn. Huggy perks up, helps himself to another tentacle...
Vinnie and the Brick opened our reply, looked solid as usual. Sadly, both nudged to the keeper cheaply. Enter Jamie and PG, our cake-fuelled engine room. Both also fell cheaply: 25/4 and the curse of Highgate Woods seemed to be rearing its ugly head again! Enter the Deejay to spin a few tasty shots around the ground with consummate ease. His partnership with Pokerface seemed to turn the tide for us. Yet PF fell for only 11, caught by that man Schneider at mid-on. Enter Skip. Surely a captain's innings was on the cards following his captain's spell in the first innings. In a word, no! After a cameo of one, he trudged off bowled Gower.
With weather and darkness closing in, Piers stepped up for a superb cameo of 27 including one monster six which got us closer. Put that man up the order! Cunners batted with Piers as runner. Who else! With three of us at the crease, confusing the cr@p out of the opposition (and ourselves at times), we finally got it down to 16 or so runs from the last 3 overs. But Cunners fell to (don't say it) Schneider, taking Piers kicking and screaming with him. Doc Bongo was last man in, but before he could unleash the fury, Dan was caught on 80. Still, Rob did get that run he claimed he didn't.
But that's only nine wickets, you say? Correct! Last man, a Mr Hugo Nisbett scarpered off early to go to a party without giving the trusty willow a swing. And why didn't he go in earlier would be the logical next question. Only one man can answer that I'm afraid. Shall we let him explain it at the end of year dinner, having taken down the biggest fine of the night??!!
Another loss, yes, but all in all a competitive game with a result that wasn't in the bag until the very end. More of the same please. With the opposite outcome. NC
We play most of our games in Dulwich and net during the winter at The Oval. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Aked (life)
Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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