Match Summary: vs. Energy Exiles, Sunday, 27 Aug 2017
Ground: Haydons Road
Captain: Chris Plume
Match type: 30 overs
Opposition: Energy Exiles scored: 159 for 7 (30 overs)
Exiles Score: 164 for 3 (30 overs)
Result: Ling's Long Hoppers won by 5 runs
Man of the match:
After weeks of anticipation, and much facebook and email banter, Exiles old, current and new gathered at the Haydon’s Road ground to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the cricket club.
Would the weather oblige us? Just a bit – the hottest August bank holiday weekend on record, which gave the almost shade-free ground the feel of the sub-continent, rather than south west London!
Current captain and vice-captain (Messrs Plume and Ling) agreed the two teams – Plume’s Prodders, perhaps? Ling’s Long-Hoppers, maybe? The teams featured three sets of fathers and sons, two sets of brothers, and players from most parts of the cricket playing world (and some non-cricket playing parts – Patrick from Sweden!).
We agreed upon a 30 over a side game – to allow plenty of time for the post-match celebrations, and coincidentally to ensure that we finished the day with a full set of Exiles, given the challenging conditions – sadly, not quite achieved, of which more later!
Scoring was unfortunately a bit haphazard as, in a throwback to much earlier days, it had to be achieved on a sheaf of folded, blank file paper! Just as well, as Bernard reminded me several times, that this game did not contribute to the averages, because the scope for challenge was high… The documents concerned are in the safe-keeping of the skipper – no doubt so that they can be donated to the British Library for posterity - but your author has not had access to them, so any figures quoted below are: i) sourced from my and Phil’s memory of the day or ii) figments of our imagination – delete as appropriate! (NB Does not apply to Phil’s dismissal of Bernard – that actually, really happened!)
Phil’s team batted first, facing an intriguing opening bowling pairing of Naren Patel and Alex Roberts, simultaneously the most and least “experienced” (OK, enough euphemisms – the oldest and youngest!) opening bowlers to have graced an Exiles line up! Both bowled tidily, but couldn’t dislodge the strong opening partnership between Mark Bradshaw and Steve Parkinson.
Change bowlers Bernard and Avinash came on, and a long afternoon in the field looked to be beckoning, as Chris’s team were reduced to counting “retirements” (at 30) as successes! Steve “went” first for a typically hard-hit innings, followed in somewhat more circumspect fashion by Mark. As JPJ slipped straight into his elegant work, mixing excellent driving with hard and sometimes cheeky running between the wickets as he made his way to a third retirement out of the top three, we were beginning to wonder how friendly this game was going to prove to be!
But it was then that the sub-continental conditions began to play a part as first Keith and then Chris began to find some turn (I know, I know, but Wil, who kept wicket very tidily, confirmed on several occasions that I had actually moved the ball off the straight!), which put a brake on the scoring, and eventually led to wickets as Chris cleaned up Andy P.
From there, despite a strong contribution from Sam Scott, a variety of bowlers kept on top of the scoring, before Chris brought on our secret weapon for the closing overs, Evan Roberts. Coping valiantly with a heavier ball and longer pitch than he is used to, Evan managed to land enough of his Chinamen to discomfort the batsmen, culminating in bowling Amil with a beauty that dipped (possibly on the second bounce…) between bat and pad. I may be wrong but I think as well confirming folkloric memory of a vulnerability to slow bowling, Amil also rose to the occasion by essaying a “stretch shot” earlier in his innings, in tribute to his mentor Mr Jeff Hilson (who was sadly unable to join us for the day, due to holidaying commitments in, of all places, Lincolnshire – perhaps a tour of cricket grounds at Caythorpe, Newage and Castle Bytham, followed by sampling the delights of Grantham night-life?!)
Anyway, enough of that - the innings closed with Bradshaw junior showing more than enough composure with the bat to suggest that “the force is strong with this one”! Phil’s team closed on 164-3 off their 30 overs, just as Simon Gundry turned up to strengthen their numbers (cue groans from Chris’s top order).
After a break to take on much needed fluids (of both the isotonic and the alcoholic variety – how useful to have a sainsbury’s at the ground’s gates!) and to re-apply Deep Heat for some of the older players, Chris’s team set off in pursuit of their challenging target, with the resumption of a vintage Exiles opening partnership, between Q and Keith.
They were greeted with an equally vintage opening bowler in Chris B – which of course gave Mark the opportunity to reprise his immortal cry of “New Bowler! Bun-ton!” – supported by Phil from the other end. Chris quickly settled into his full range of “varieties” and Amil (who, like Wil, performed really well behind the stumps after donning the gloves for the first time in ages) clearly didn’t know whether to direct his gentle sledging at the bowler or the batsmen.
Run rate was not an issue for the chasing team, but wickets in hand soon would be as some rustiness amongst the batting line-up was evident, and first Q and then Avinash holed out – the latter something of a collector’s piece for older Exiles, more than one of whom said to me that they couldn’t remember “c Ling” appearing over much in the score book during their playing days!
Bernard strode to the wicket, looking to enjoy himself (“since the averages are not at stake” – did I mention that?!), and the stage was set for one of the more interesting match-ups between current Exiles, as Phil reached the top of his mark, and commenced to “steam in”. The “contest” was short-lived. Bernard couldn’t remember facing Phil before (an assertion greeted with disbelief by his team-mates – many nets having been taken together, and surely Phil’s bowling must be a case of once seen, never forgotten?!) and, after toying with him briefly, Phil had him lbw, plumb in front. Another collector’s item for old time Exiles, since the officiating umpire was none other than Naren, and who can remember him giving a decision against anyone (other than Mitesh of course)? Three down.
That brought Wil to the wicket, who was clearly in no mood for running. He laid into Gwyn particularly severely in firing his way to 20 in just 10 balls, but Gwyn got his revenge eventually. Chris and Keith continued the chase (pausing only briefly between impressive overs from Chris, Jonny’s brother, to see if they could recruit him for the rest of the season!), but when Keith holed out for 25 to midwicket off Gwyn it looked like we were beginning to run out of wickets with five down.
However, Chris continued to strike the ball well (particularly off 10 year olds – Naren was purring appreciatively!), and with able support from Jonny (until bowled superbly by Joseph Bradshaw) and then Luke, the unlikely began to look possible. Chris’s retirement came at just the wrong moment, leaving Luke with an assortment of young Roberts’s, Patrick (not played before) and Naren (played a few times…) to get over the line.
Luke batted brilliantly – the highlight was a sumptuous straight drive off Sam – and Alex held up one end for a couple of overs before being castled by Sam, leaving the stage clear for Evan to i) fearlessly get into line against Gundry, ii) attempt some very entertaining aggressive running between the wickets (relying upon the mercy of some of Phil’s fielders from time to time, it must be said), and iii) generally be a good advert for Old Ruts batting coaching, until finally sent on his way by a direct hit run out from Sam! Luke finished on exactly 30 and the team on 160, having needed a 6 off the last ball to win the game. A great game!
Oh yes, I said earlier that not all Exiles made it safely through the day. As is rapidly becoming traditional at anniversary games, there was a finger dislocation as Steve failed to gather a slice over mid off from Luke. He was carted off to St George’s (I wonder whether anyone had warned them of a potential major incident on their doorstep?!) – thanks to Katie for that, not least for also swiftly quashing any suggestion that we might pop the finger back in (South African first aid runs along rather different lines to ours!).
All that remains to be said is that Phil then hosted a magnificent barbeque on his frankly outrageous penthouse terrace overlooking the ground, even laying on a fantastic sunset. We were able to present Naren, as the only founding member still playing, with a bat signed by the England cricket team to mark the enormous contribution he has made to our club. And we were all pleased to welcome Steve back from A&E (with an alarming X-ray) – not least because he then set about barbequing his excellent trademark chicken wings…
Report By: Keith Roberts