HMTCOCC v DfT GreenSox 22nd June 2017
There are losses and there are losses, and this was a loss. In agonising circumstances, HMTCOCC fell short by one run in a thrilling contest at fortressChiswick.
The match started like many others before it – with confusion over the composition of the day’s playing XI and bafflement how after so many collective appearances not one person in the club could precisely locate Pitch B. Having agreed that we should establish ourselves on the nearest free pitch captain Martin promptly lost the toss and was asked to field on what was very much a batsman’s surface.
Wareing (0-19) opened the bowling with more than customary vim and vigour, and lustily indulged himself in his favourite pastime of harsh self-criticism, even if his economy rate did not quite warrant it. Eland shared the new ball (evidence that Martin’s captaincy is as funky as his collection of trousers) and returned figures of 2-23, fully deserving his two wickets.
Martin came on first change, but having seen his first two overs disappear for 19 runs, selflessly removed himself from the attack, in part acknowledging the strong bowling resources at his disposal. This gave opportunity for the inimitable David Owen to bowl a very tidy two over spell, knocking over the leg stump of the opposition number 3, who to that point had been looking as though he could take the game away from the GOGGS team.
Despite Owen’s entertaining and productive spell, perhaps the highlight of the first innings was death-bowler Tom Orford (1-27) proving once again he is as fine a gentleman as he is a cricketer; confessing that a return catch didn’t quite carry, in the process impressing the batsman so much that he could not help but donate his wicket to the very next ball. French shared the responsibility of finishing the innings, bowling with customary aggression (reprised from the sideline in the game’s Second Act) and returned decent figures of 0-26 from his four overs.
This left the game finely balanced at the halfway stage, although HMTCOCC would have been happy to restrict the GreenSox to only 127. Sensing this, Martin charitably asked Rimmer to open the batting with long-term stalwart Fairburn. The pair responded with a fine 50+ partnership, with Fairburn’s knock displaying rather more élan than his partner’s. The pair’s practically simultaneous retirements disrupted the innings and slowed the run rate, but HMTCOCC were still well set at 60-0 from the first nine overs. Thorpe (6) got a start but fell to a thick outside edge going for one of his signature booming drives. Bagg (15 from 20) and Wareing (27 from 25) then took responsibility, batting sensibly if not sensationally to keep the scoreboard ticking over and HMTCOCC on top of the required rate.
It would be fair to say this was not a universally appreciated approach, with Wareing’s incessant self-flagellation outstripped by French’s unique brand of motivation unceasingly rolling in from the sidelines. This policy proved successful, with HMTCOCC reaching the final over requiring only six runs to record their second victory of the season. The first delivery was a wide, on which Simon Dietz sacrificed himself on a suicidal single, thus setting the stage for the club’s finisher to steer the ship home.
As any regular observer would predict, needing less than a run a ball, Mr French would open with a positive forward defensive followed by a series of the powerful strokes to bring home the bacon. Only on this occasion this was not the case. Under the weight of expectation and the thrill of the chase, he had worked himself into such a lather that he could only produce a wild swipe first ball, missing the ball by some margin and losing his off-stump in the process. Undeterred, he offered more words of encouragement to his batting partner en route to the pavilion, although your correspondent must confess that he couldn’t the exact content from his umpiring position at square leg.
The rest was frankly chaos, with subsequent batsmen Owen and Eland both run-out in the pursuit of mad-cap singles, leaving Bagg stranded not out, but one run short. Cue wild celebrations from the GreenSox and no small degree of soul-searching for HMTCOCC.