Detail: 02-08-2020 - Brockley
Result: Won by 3 wkts
Blues vs Brockley CC
A brilliantly auspicious start to a new fixture in South East London, saw half the team (the skipper included) turn up at the wrong ground. A phone call to the oppo skipper revealed a nervous Brockley captain fretting about us missing the 12.30 KO. Would that be a sign of things to come? An early psycological warning shot across the bows. At about 12.45 we all lolloped into the car park and were ready to go.
Being on 9 all week, which caused a certain individual sleepless nights throughout, in a very Blues manner we ended up with 12 on the day. Late night recruiting on Wednesday night after 5 a-side football saw Jenkins rope in Alfie who had never before donned the hallowed white cloth to ride out and do battle. Not only did Alfie arrive but he also brought along a friend to swell the Blues' ranks and take the tally up to 12. A quick long barrier training all session all round and bingo we were ready to go. The Blues' side featured 4 debutants, Alfie, Andrew, Bertie and Umar. Bertie, was a recruit from the heady days of Devizes Rugby U13s. And to complete the Blues theme of having brothers in the same team, Mo had invited his bro Umar along. Forget Moeen and Rashid, we had our very own South London 'spin twins'.
The Blues opened their bowling attack with the oppo volunteering an antipodean bearded hobbit to call the shots. In a very un-Sunday fashion he proceeded to call every 5th stump ball a wide, which rather hampered the Blues' figures early doors and caused a good amount of tutting all round.
Mother Cricket, being the fickle mistress that she is, could smell fresh meat and Alfie found himself called into action almost every over, the ball finding him wherever he was stationed in the field. The gauntlet thrown down, Alfie answered that challenge admirably, demonstrating with pride his newly acquired party trick and stopped multiple 4s with his impressive long barrier.
From one end we had Hal charging in, looking somewhat wearied by his morning 7-a-side footy match. And Rory at the other end, steaming in with customary gusto and menace. Both bowled with hostility and pace on an interesting wicket which troubled batter, wickey and slips with variable bounce.
After some clever line and length, Rory slowed it down, banged one in short and asked the batsman a question. Duly obliging, the batter, eager to get off strike, swiped at the ball and ran down the other end. This swipe flew into the air and remarkably the first catch of the day went to Andrew, who you could tell was not a Blues player as he took it with consummate ease. The next 2 catching opportunities came to Jenkins and Alistair and true to form, both were shelled. Of course, this was not their first rodeo and both boys had a litany of excuses ready to hand. Normality was restored.
Mo was then let loose on a turning wicket. Not long after weaving some magic, he caught their batsman in his web. The batter swiped at a full bunger hoping to send it sailing over the boundary. Hearts were in mouth as it sailed towards the deep square leg fielder. Thankfully, another Blues debutant, Bertie, had volunteered to prowl the boundary to see off a hang-over. Gracefully flowing along the boundary, Bertie loped across the outfield and took a superb catch right on the boundary rope to dismiss one of their big hitters. 2 down.
Sam Dawson, fetching a rather charming elephant necklace, fielded with the penache and elan one would expect from such a fashion icon. After Tinkerman Jenkins made yet another fielding change, Sam was called into action. The batter pulled a short one straight to Sam at square leg, who despite being right-handed and having enough time to use both hands, decided to remain rooted and threw up a left hand just as the last minute to snaffle the ball. Very well taken indeed. Relief all round, especially from bowler Mo.
After a quick net at half time drinks, Bertie was scouted and given the ball. Pushing his luscious locks to one side and setting his steely blue eyes on the batsmen, Bertie ran in with venom. After some initial warning shots that called Das into action behind the stumps, Bertie sharpened his aim and set about displaying his body of work. In textbook Blues captaincy, just as the batsmen had started getting in Jenkins removed himself from the attack in a forlorn effort to protect his figures. Bertie therefore, had the dubious honour of bowling to the oppo's best batsmen who was smashing the ball to all corners of the park. Being of impressive girth, the batter was refusing to take singles and was only dealing in boundaries. After some early punishment, Bertie found his length and got one to nip back off the seam to canon into the batter's firmly rooted back foot, bang in front of middle. Despite the batter refusing to walk the oppo umpire gave him out. Terrific stuff.
More tidy bowling from Mo who almost picked up another wicket in a bizarre interaction where one bail fell off and no-one was quite sure how. The oppo umpire decided to give his team the benefit of the doubt and judged that Das' glove had knocked off the tipsy bail. Mo, like every bowler out there, took the decision well
Well needless to say, it wasn't long before Mo had another. The umpire, perhaps in a bid to make up for earlier decisions, triggered his team mate and Mo had his third.
Umar was chomping at the bit to out-do his brother and demanded the ball. A different angle, looping down left-arm off off-breaks with great bounce and appreciable turn soon saw the runs dry up. Not quite sure how to play Umar, one of the oppo gave it the big heave-ho, missed, and castles went flying. Umar was in the game. 118-6 after 22 overs.
Sadly the next 2 batters dug in and kept accumulating. Despite at one stage having 4 gullies, their tailender kept bottom edging it between all fielders to trickle runs away. Streaky bacon all round, sledges were going back and forth, fielders were crowding the bat, but we could not pry the batters from their crease. All the bowlers huffed and puffed to no avail. Rory was brought in to scare the opposition with pace and hostile face expressions. However, sadly it was with a grimace of pain that he had to bow out of the attack, having hurled one thunderbolt too many for his shoulder to cope with. A bit of dross from Jenkins got the batters finding their groove and it was all a bit troubling.
Finally with 4 overs left Mo sent one right through the gate to crash into the stumps. A partnership of 53 had been broken. Hal, with 2 overs left, then started testing the speed gun with a delicious display of chin music bringing the innings to a close and taking 2 neat wickets.
195-9 after 35 overs. On reflection, being a particularly spicy wicket, we felt this was a slightly above par score. A sizable chase, but certainly plausible.
Das, like Alistair Cook for so many years, was crying out for an opening partner. With Steve and Youcef absent or injured, surprisingly no-one was forthcoming in volunteering. Hamish Fyfe, a victim of looking too good in the nets (poor tactical judgement if you ask me) was volunteered by the skipper to join Das and blunt the oppo's pace attack. Showing Boycott-esque resistance and scoring at a run rate that Youcef would be proud of, the boys took it to 10 overs without loss, for about 40 runs. The oppo's opening bowler was rather quick and cut Hamish in half with a well-placed delivery that forcibly re-arranged Hamish's crown jewels. Luckily for everyone apart from the future Mrs Fyfe, the opening bowler had a shift at Sainsbury's starting imminently. After uttering that statement to a rather startled oppo skipper, he bowled his 7 overs all in a flash and then ran off the field to don his purple and head to the checkout counter.
Hamish and Das after doing the hard work, were undone. Both reaching double figures before offering up catches in the field. A platform had been set, racking up 18 (Das) and 13 (Hamish) respectably.
Alistair, unlike Joe Root, relished the chance to walk out at 3. Playing with commanding ease and judgement, Alistair started picking the field apart. Cutting, parrying and lunging, he swashbuckled his way to multiple boundaries to keep the scoreboard clocking up. Sam Dawson, joined his fellow Blue at the crease and together the beginnings of a strong partnership blossomed. Sam after getting in, attempted to try and tee off. Shrugging of the umpire's frantic gesturing to calm down, Sam stuck to his game plan and slashed wildly at a few loopy slow balls. Alas, a straight one was missed and Sam was on his way for 7.
Andrew, after a quick 'cricketing refresher course' from Hal, took his turn out at the middle. Remarkably, the inevitable did not happen and Andrew survived for multiple overs. Helping Alistair, the two boys kept the scoreboard ticking over and took us to drinks. At the halfway point the Blues were on about 75-3. So still some work to be done, but with many batters left and the ball getting older, hope rather than expectation settled in.
Andrew fell to a dastardly straight one and departed for 3. Bertie Wimble joined Alistair. Again, another partnership grew and the boys played admirably. Bertie found the gaps, stroked a 4 and displayed a good technique that had the opposition bowlers scratching their heads.
Into the bowling attack entered the oppo's big hitter - 'Treybon' was his name, and yes, he was very good indeed. Using all his weight to rip the ball, he found unrivalled turn, spinning the ball back into the bowler. Bertie chipped one up and was undone, having to depart for 11.
Alfie, on cricketing debut, quickly tied up his pads with trembling fingers. Walking to the crease with the burden of expectation on his back he took his guard fearfully. 'Just stay in', 'play under your eyes', 'wait for the ball' - all of these meaningless maxims were jostling for room in his head. A big gulp. Helmet adjusted. Treybon tumbled in, landing the ball on about 7th stump. Remarkably the ball hissed and spat and turned almost square, darting back and taking the middle stump out of the ground. An unplayable ball in every respect. Alfie, who will be having nightmares about that delivery for years to come, took it rather well and left the field to a chorus of applause from his fellow Blues.
Oh dear. Lots of runs needed, wickets tumbling, and the bowler was on a hattrick ball. Into that cauldron of emotion walked skipper Jenkins. Deep breaths all round. The oppo crowded round the bat baying like Hyenas. Treybon sent one down, and Jenkins swiped it away to the offside boundary. Said boundary happened to finish about 4 football fields away so Alistair and Harry skimpered up and down the crease 4 times before the ball was eventually retrieved from just inside the rope. A lesser spotted running 4. Blood was pumping, pork pies at lunch were regretted and Alistair and Harry settled down to business.
Alistair reached his 50, having remained steadfast whilst all around him crumbled. Coming in at 3, steadying the ship and playing smoothly throughout. After reaching 50 and having already hit a 6, Alistair danced down the crease to kick-start our chase. The ball span away from the bat and into the keeper's quick hands to be stumped. Alistair had to go for a superb 52.
The scoreboard read 135-7 after 27 overs. 8 overs left, 48 rocks were all that was left to hit 64 runs. A big ask, but if we went at about 8 an over it was possible. The oppo were fired up and happy to be stuck into what they thought was an exposed tail. As it was a new fixture Brockley were unaware of the remarkable depth of The Blues' batting line up. Famous for having number 9s routinely top score, the game was still on and if the stars aligned, a victory could be achieved.
The play was now in its final act and the show was ready for a few heroes ready to play their part. Enter stage left: Hal Stevenson, the Blues' very own Ben Stokes. Hal, despite being advised to play himself in, went absolutely bananas from ball one. 4,1,2,1,4,2,1,6,4,6 and the game was certainly on. Whooping and hollering from a slightly sozzled Blues team followed every crushing blow to the boundary. The fielders were all back on the boundary, staring at this man-miracle who was dismantling their bowling attack. Rockets were fired all-round the wagon-wheel. A clean connection was 6, a slice flew to 4. Unstoppable. Jenkins did the right thing and pushed the singles to quickly get Hal back on strike at any opportunity. Hope was turning to belief as the boys kept smashing runs. Comfortably going at more than 8 an over, the end was in sight.
At last, 11 needed of 12 balls. This was it. This was the game. Would the boys fall at the final hurdle?
Hal was facing the penultimate over and proceeded to finish the innings as he started it. Brutal and efficient. With a train to catch, Hal proceeded to smash a huge 6, and then hit 2 consecutive 4s to chalk up 14 of 3 balls sealing the epic victory by 3 runs and with 9 balls remaining. Jubilation. A few pints in the sun and congratulations all round.
Despite assembling a rag-tag bunch of mates, the Blues dug deep and put in a real team performance with stellar contributions all across the park. After recording 1 win last year the Blues are still unbeaten this year, going 3 from 3. Next week, the Blues do battle in Putney. Jenkins will hang up his pen and Richard, aka The Mullett, will lead the boys once more into the breach.
Hal (7) 30-2
Rory (5) 17-1
Mo (7) 43-4
Harry Jenkins (6) 40-0
Bertie (4) 25-1
Umar (6) 26-1
Extras - 50
Das - 18 caught
Hamish - 13 caught
Alistair - 52 stumped
Sam Dawson - 7 bowled
Andrew - 3 bowled
Bertie - 11 caught
Alfie - golden duck, bowled. Absolute jaffa, moved about 4 feet
Jenkins - 27*
Hal - 53*
[updated 05 08 2020]