Detail: 19-08-2020 - Roehampton T20
Result: Won by 2 wkts
Blues vs Roehampton CC Thursday 20th August
After the weather forced a 24 hour change of date, the Blues faced up to their first and only mid-week game of the season. A real compliment to the recruiting efforts of everyone over the years, as the Blues was able to absorb this last-minute change of date with aplomb. The customary 12 Blues then assembled for a game in the sun, with half an eye on the night to follow. El Presidente arrived armed with a new red scorebook - would the new scorebook see a win for its first entry?
All week had seen a dogged media campaign by HJ directed at the oppo skipper, to massage certain facts which could enable The Blues to bat first in the sun. Alas, all to no avail, as the oppo did the decent thing and turned up last, late and in dribs and drabs. The coin was tossed, the toss was lost. We would be fielding first and batting in the dark. Thanks for coming.
Rules of engagement agreed: 18 overs each, max 4 per bowler, 9 from each end with the batsmen swapping after each over, wides being 2 runs and no extra ball, no balls being free hits, to name a few. Battle with the Pink ball commenced.
Glenn and Will Gaunt opened up proceedings, very much the Jimmy and Jofra of the Blues. Miserly and economical Glenn quickly worked out which of the 2 bats was the more destructive, so gave him an early single each over in order to bowl at the more traditionally minded English opener. With their version of Dom Sibley on strike the runs were drying up all around the oppo. In no time at all Glenn had taken a 3-for and Will G castled another to get them 4 down for not very many. 23-4
The batting-heavy Blues batting line up did not like this one bit. Worried looks all around with muttering rising to an audible cacophony in the field. With certain individuals acutely concerned they weren't going to get a go, Youcef and Jack Ward had a stealthy tete-a-tete over on the boundary out of the skipper's eye-line. With HJ stuck behind the stumps left to ruminate on what they were plotting. Well soon it transpired what they had been scheming, After what I can only assume was a successful bribery campaign the fielding got sloppy... In terms of cricketing cuisine, our fielding had hitherto been sharp as a crisp toasted BLT and now one could argue it had deteriorated to something more akin to a soggy cheese sarnie that has slowly but surely been drenched by the leaking OJ cartoon of wine during the walk to the ground. Will Gaunt did his best impression of former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Flappy-hands-kee and jumped firmly out the way of 2 strong drives to get the scoreboard going. Relief from Blues batters all round as one of their middle order started tee-ing off, making the score respectable and approaching a personal 50*. That being said, perhaps with one eye on the strictly come dancing line up soon to be announced, there was some fancy footwork on show from Guy on the boundary and Matt Rolfe and Glenn closer in. Demonstrating their decades of fielding, they unveiled all manner of unorthodox footballing skills with drag backs, Cruyff turns and keepy-upeys all preventing boundaries.
Debutant Robin Hardman, a top recruit courtesy of Alex Pike, followed firmly in Pike's footsteps and bowled well without taking a wicket. Another debutant Will Mileham offered variety to the attack with some mystery spin. Sending some absolute grenades rocketing skyward, Will taunted the batsmen with ease. With more flight than a Michael Jordan slam dunk, line, length and trajectory was varied each time, bamboozling the batsmen consistently. Very soon Will Mileham had his first Blues wicket. After more accumulation the score approached 130-6.
After watching the Blues bowlers carefully all game, the final over arrived and Guy Freeman was selected to bowl. Guy had picked up a tidy wicket earlier in the innings to win the death bowl honour and then proceeded to show his class. In an eventful final over Guy took 2 wickets in the first 2 balls and then another wicket at the end of the over. Top bowling all round from a strong Blues bowling attack. Oppo dismissed for 139-9 in 18 overs. Which from 23-4 was a sterling recovery, and perhaps too many to chase down.
Now onto the chase which, like a head-pat, is a Blues speciality. Despite being late Youcef strongly volunteered to open the batting, taking to the middle with Blues veteran Steve - tons up when he wants - Metson. Alas, keen for an early beer Steve stroked a few to the boundary then knicked off, dismissed for 6. A Blues 'lifer' Matt Rolfe jogged to the middle, delighted to be away from the kids and keen to make hay while the sun shines. With pastoral scenes in mind, Matt quickly scythed his way to double figures. Crashing a few 4s the scoreboard started ticking. Youcef, keenly aware of the shortened format, played in 4th gear rather than 2nd and did his bit finding the gaps and frustrating the bowlers. Sadly after steering the boys to 50-1 both got out in consecutive balls. Youcef departing for 25 and Matt for 16. 56-3.
Pads hastily thrown on, Jack Ward and Ryan ran to the middle. After a stellar performance for the development team earlier in the summer, pasting Mullett and Glenn to all corners or the ground, Ryan had been carefully pursued ever since. Finally turning out for the Blues, he wasted no time in sending his first ball to the boundary for 4. Keen to protect his high strike rate after that promising start, Ryan hit the next ball to a fielder and had to depart for 4. However, with a nod to the Pyramid scheme that is the Blues recruitment merit index, Ryan had another chance to shine, by proxy, in the form of his plus one Will Mileham.
More speedy padding up and Sam R was out in the middle with Jack. Very much chalk and cheese out in the middle with Jack and Sam running lots of 2s and 3s and Jack Ward bludgeoning the ball to all corners. A very tidy partnership blossomed and the score moved past 80. Jack, after two tasty 6s, holed out and had to leave for 22. Top work in the middle order from JW and SR. Relief from the rest of the players who were keen to get out there.
With the light fading and the hour getting ever closer to 8pm, Harry J joined Sam at the crease. Hogging the strike HJ started to accumulate with some spicy running decisions putting immense stress on the fielding side. Sam R, proving a good foil for his partnering bats finally departed for a plucky 6 runs. Getting in and then getting out, Harry J huffed and puffed one too many times and middled one to a fielder, leaving for 15. With the score at over 100 and about 30 runs needed off 25 balls, Robin and Will Mileham, both debutants, got out their phones to light their way to the crease. Once there, they started to do battle. Top work from both boys as the score approached the required total. Just short of the line, Robin holed out and had to go. Gone for a combative 17 that featured 4 4s.
10 needed of the last 10 balls. Would it be the same comeback story, just with a different Blues cast?
With the Duckworth-Lewis-Blues algorithm deciding that Guy should bat 10, the stage was set for 'Hollywood' to bring it home. Will M played nicely to leave Guy on strike with 6 runs needed of the last over to get the job done. Would he deliver?
3 dot balls followed as Guy tried to find the ball in the gathering darkness. Tension mounted. Silence descended over Putney Heath as dog walkers drew in close as belief in the opposition side started to grow. After bowling so well for the majority of the first innings, would the Blues fall at the final hurdle and let victory slip from their grasp?
Guy, happy that a crowd had now gathered and judging the time was right for fame and fortune, prepared his sword for the executioner's blow. The bowler ran in, Guy lent forward and effortlessly flicked the pink ball right back over the bowler's head for a massive 6. Modestly smiling and consoling the oppo, the jubilant Blues ran onto the field and congratulated each over on a fine evening's work.
With the warm-up act completed the boys moved to Roehampton's club-house for the cheapest pints in all of London. With a round of 4 beers routinely costing less than 12 notes this will be a fixture that the Blues will certainly be repeating next year. A solid performance in the bar followed, with stories all round and multiple Blues generations mixing smoothly in a heady cocktail of bonhomie.
Another win for the year. Now the final push on to Moscow. Blackheath, this Sunday, and then it's off to embark on the Blues Northern Conquest, where we will be campaigning upwards to capture the cities of York and Scarbados and achieve eternal glory. Tour dates are 4-6th September, with games on both Saturday and Sunday, sandwiched in between bars, think of all the pints runs on offer. Don't miss out. I'll be there, will you be there?
Steve Mettson - 6
Youcef - 25
Matt Rolfe - 16
Sam R - 6
Ryan - 4
Jack Ward - 22
Harry Jenkins - 15
Will Mileham - 7*
Robin Hardman - 17
Guy Freeman - 6*
Glenn: (4) 26-3
Will Gaunt (4) - 50-1
Guy Freeman (4) 33-4
Robin Hardman (3) 21-0
Will Mileham (3) 28-1
[updated 25 08 2020]