Detail: 27-08-2023 - Worcester Park

Result: W by 31 runs
*Match report - Blues v Worcester Park*

By and large it would be fair to say that Harry Jenkins is a decent bloke. So when he messaged me to ask if I would step in to match manage the game against Worcester Park, I presumed we'd had someone pull out and were short of options. A visit to the spreadsheet uncovered an ulterior motive - we had 4 available and it was a bank holiday weekend, absolute stitch up. The Blues recruiting beacons were lit and as of the Monday morning we had 11, which quickly became 9, before managing to get back to 11 - thanks for stepping in Ben and Jake, maybe you wish you hadn't.

So we arrived on a bank holiday Sunday, the sun was out as the Blues tucked into some pre-game nets (Fyfey bowling some heat to dust off the hangover), with cheap beers promised by the oppo and just about 11 players (after Jimmy's Leworthy and Howe arrived late, shock). With some rain forecast for the early afternoon and a strong batting lineup I was keen for us to have a bat. Unfortunately the oppo also wanted to bat first and we had to do a toss. Thankfully tails never fails, and Wardy and debutant Ollie Carlstroem padded up.

The first 10 overs saw 43 runs as both openers played themselves in initially and then looked to pick up the scoring, but the opening bowling pair kept the fielders interested with some tight lines and good movement. The forecast rain arrived dampening the ball, plan working so far. The highlight was in the fourth over, with the young bowler dropping short and Carlstroem hitting the ball over the much bigger leg side, over the fence and into a stream - which made the falling rain slightly redundant.

Much to the frustration of the opening bowler at my end, the first bowling change brought a wicket first ball. Having toiled away and regularly beaten the bat his frustration was audible as Wardy, who was looking in control and beginning to press on, was too quick onto a leg-side clip and a leading edge gave an easy caught and bowled off a first ball loosener - tough gig. The name Mirchandani on the team sheet is always a welcome sight for a match manager and I was assured younger brother Ben was a chip off the same block. With Carlstroem looking in good touch at the other end, thankfully for those of us not quite as blessed with unreal hand-eye, the Blues continued to be a great leveller - Ben played a lovely clip off his legs second ball before being caught behind third ball, it's not always fun being a specialist batter.

This brought Jenks to the crease and the Blues sideline was resettled after an over of excitement. With Carlstroem playing the role of the aggressor, Jenks accumulated at the other end, utilising the holes being created in the in-field. The next 15 overs flew by with the ball doing similar, and Carlstroem batting himself to a chanceless debut century. Having strolled through the 90s he was left out to complete the over and finished with a huge six down the ground, finishing 107* (81). With spirits high on the boundary, and Carlstroem in a highly unusually generous mood, Leworthy was caught by him with a 'how's that' on the first pint of the day - fair to say he didn't manage to finish it in one (or two, or three, or four).

Having had his pads on for 26 overs Max was raring to go and almost immediately teed off, hitting some customary strokes and regularly finding the boundary. In very village scenes he was almost stumped after going for a wander and a heave, but the keeper hit his own teams water bottles which they'd placed at the bottom of the stumps, and the bails stayed on. This was followed by a fantastic sight, one ball of an over being dab swept into the vacant side leg region for 4, the 3rd man being moved over to plug the gap, only for Max to reverse sweep for 4 into the new gap at 3rd man - much to the South African bowlers audible disgust. It was a therefore a shock when he was bowled through the gate having almost caught Jenks in 6 overs, much to the amusement of the sidelines, finishing 34 (21).

That left me 3 overs to avoid challenging Ben for a thanks for coming, with thankfully the first ball going for 4. Facing in the final over, with Jenks on 46, the 14 year old keeper suggested I keep the strike for the rest of the over. Whilst the temptation was there, and with Wardy vocally backing that option from the boundary (no doubt with the 'incident' from tour front of his mind), I left him 4 balls to finish off. He did, before taking a wild swing at the last and being stumped.

With Wardy having prized out of the oppo that 180 was par, 246 at the turn seemed a very handy score. Perhaps with a little too much excitement, the sub GBP4 beers were tucked into enthusiastically by some over a good spread of a tea. Special mention at this point must go to Jake, who having woken up on Sunday morning with a bad back still turned up, so was unable to bowl - but didn't let the team down and still turned up.

With Jake out, Jimmy Howe and Chandra opened the bowling. Jimmy looked sharp after about a month of trying to drink the world dry, bowling with good pace and bounce and Chandra using his swing to test the openers resolve. It fairly quickly became clear why they were so keen to bat first, as their openers quickly began to accumulate and after 10 overs had already made it to 66. By this stage Max and Carlstroem were already on, both bowling aggressively and with swing and bounce, but the openers heavily punishing anything that allowed them to hit square. To sum up the opening 10 overs, after one too many tea time beers, Wardy managed to run through the stumps whilst trying to collect a throw in from the boundary.

After 15 overs they were 86-0 and I was starting to get pretty nervous of a brutal session in the field and somehow losing a game where we'd got a hundred. We needed a spark and on the cusp on drinks it arrived, Jimmy Leworthy being the man to step up, trapping their South African LBW. Jim bowled beautifully throughout, hitting the pitch hard, using numerous slower balls and not allowing the batsmen the width they thrived off.

The old adage of drinks bringing wickets thankfully struck, with Fyfey and Jimmy initially dropping the run rate to build the pressure, before sending them packing. Jimmy got the other opener just after his 50, caught for a thick edge at deep gully, before Fyfey and Wardy linked up for a second stumping in 2 weeks.

Having bowled us back into the game Fyfey and Leworthy bowled all the way through, bringing Jimmy Howe back into the attack. Their captain then decided to reinforce our comeback, barbecuing their new man for 0 at the bowlers end, Jenks executing the runout after a calamitous mixup. Jimmy then clean bowled the new man through the gate.

With the run rate now rising quickly and the noise from the Blues fielders rising similarly, there was some calamitous running happening. Max almost managed to throw down the stumps at both ends, missing both ends by inches from one throw, with both batsmen gone if either had hit. Ben then decided to keep them in the game by absolutely blasting a throw at one stump coming in from point and missing by a distance, when a slow underarm would have been absolutely sufficient with Wardy in place. Jenks was clearly feeling similarly charitable, gifting them 18 off his second over.

We managed to sneak Ben in an over, thankfully his offspin was better than his batting / runout attempts. With Chandra now also injured, Carlstroem came back to bowl, cleaning up the 14 year old wicket keeper to earn himself a dick of the day award. Thankfully the new bat wasn't as generous as I was and with his captain on 48, smashed his first ball for 4 before being tied up off the final ball of the innings, leaving them 200-5 and the Blues with another win.

It was a bank holiday and jugs were GBP13 so the post game debrief was long and hydrating, stopping in at Clapham Junction on the way home.

O Carlstroem - 107* (81)
H Jenkins - 53 (67)
M Romer-Lee - 43 (21)
J Ward - 16 (34)

J Leworthy 7-0-22-2
J Howe 7-1-23-1
O Carlstroem 5-1-17-1
H Fyfe 7-2-39-1

[updated 28 11 2023]