Detail: 10-09-2023 - Malden Wanderers
Result: L by 66 runs
Blues at New Malden
There are few advantages to entering your seventh decade (though getting to 60 certainly beats not getting there), but making a song-and-dance about it does seem to reduce drop-outs.
The XI named on Monday night all turned up at Malden Wanderers on Sunday afternoon, despite the midweek discovery that engineering works would turn a normally simple journey into rail replacement bus trek.
As it happened the buses never showed so Tom Hinde had to get an Uber, but arrived up ahead of Rory, stuck in horrendous traffic (the perils of living north of the river), and Jimmy Howe, who inflicted a cycle ride on his shin splints.
Fortunately the opposition wanted to bat, so were prepared to wait for half our bowling attack to arrive. We wanted to bowl, mainly because the rugby was on later and since the weather forecast suggested it would be baking all afternoon there wasn't much in it.
We also had to wait for Si to get dressed having bowled shirtless in the nets then batted in his underpants.
When we finally started, only 15 minutes late, a quick win seemed on the cards.
Tom, bowling like Bob Willis as well as looking like the former Corinthian Casuals goalkeeper (back when Bob shared a flat with Martin Tyler in Streatham; yes really), had taken two for seven in four overs.
His somewhat elder bowling partner had taken his first wicket as a sexagenarian, well caught by Rory, making a rare and welcome guest appearance.
Wanderers were 12-3, with two ducks, and Blues were loving it.
From 12-3 Wanderers went to 76-4, Rory taking another nice catch after Jimmy found a top edge. Not that he remembered it when asked by the scorer to identify who took the only two catches in the innings.
'Who took the second catch," he asked me.
If only we all took catches so easily they are barely worth remembering.
Catches win matches they say, and dropping catches tends to lose them.
Nottinghamshire were certainly reflecting on that on Sunday after Zak Crawley made 158 for Kent off 153 balls after being shelled on two.
That perhaps puts into perspective the chances that went begging 60 miles west.
New Malden's No.5 was a leftie who cleared his front pad and aimed to put everything into orbit in an arc from square leg to long on. The sort of batter who gives chances. And he did.
The most painful and catchable drop was the second, on 35 off Chellis, who was bowling beautifully, but without luck. Much earlier the batter had inside-edged Jimmy, which would have been a worldie if taken. He was subsequently dropped at long-on, long-off and deep square, and perhaps a c&b too, admittedly none of them easy. A welter of other mis-hits and edges flew just out of reach of despairing hands.
If there's an excuse it was a swelteringly humid afternoon, then a rather dark one as heavy cloud came over. Dropped catches aside Blues stuck at it pretty well in the field.
But the bowling figures began to look ugly (they're on play-cricket if you must look). Even Tom, on his return, was thrashed without bowling badly.
Come the final over (with Glenn bowling) the batters were on 97 and 92. With two balls remaining the leftie, on strike, had 98, his partner 94. The ball was grubbed towards Archie Tawney at deep extra, 'two' was the call. Archie was swiftly in, so swiftly the leftie's partner had just enough of an excuse to turn down the second.
On 94 himself, he was now under pressure. I'd actually been pretty pleased with the last two overs, but this ball was just a fraction short, and to the delight of the home team it disappeared into the trees at long on for a 65-ball century. (the leftie's 99 took 68).
Incidentally, last year the batter, Sam Gerrard, made 44 against us, top-scoring. The previous year, he made 31. Mo and Zubair got him out so maybe we need to bowl spin at him early on next year.
Their 35-over total of 258-4 was about 80 more than had looked likely with 144 coming off the last 11 overs. But a fast outfield and decent track meant the Blues, as ever, were confident.
Fortified by an excellent tea Jack and Metto went out to set the tone. The tone turned out to be look good, but then get out. Jack edged onto both pads and the ball bobbled onto the stumps. Metto inside edged. Si and Fyfey both nicked to the keeper. Neither were keen to walk, though the snicks can even be heard on camera.
From 43-1 we were 53-4 and, annoyingly, it was now a pleasant afternoon in which to field. Maybe we should have batted first...
After Archie, having played some nice shots, missed a straight one we were 5-75 and a long way from victory.
At this point Youcef normally decides to 'have a net', but, perhaps (justifiably) worried that umpire Jack would trigger him at any excuse if he did, he started smacking it around as if playing a T20. He put on 46 with Chellis, Cef making 33 of them, with seven fours and his first six of the season. He even earned a rather daft bowler's celebration when dismissed for a 36-ball 39 (leading to Si, the umpire, sledging the offending bowler).
Chellis, clearly not wishing to be outshone by Cef's strokeplay (or maybe just channelling his anger at his unjust bowling figures), now cut loose. He raced to a 28-ball 50 with three sixes, plus a ramp and a reverse-swept four. His last innings before heading Down Under it was an impressive way to go out.
At the other end Glenn was caught on the boundary for a duck, the oppo having uncharitably not given him a birthday single, but Jimmy H crashed an eight-ball 18 on his favourite batting ground.
Tom hit a four before Rory, batting in black shorts, brought the innings to a close, all out 192, 66 runs short, trying to follow suit.
Afterwards, over a few birthday jugs, Tom was awarded a deserved cap to wear at The Parks as he heads off to Oxford already a capped Blue, and Chellis a much-deserved 'all-rounder champion' trophy which will look great on a Melbourne mantlepiece. You'll be missed, on and off the pitch (though especially on it).
The skipper was then very surprised and Stoked to receive a magnum of champagne and well-signed birthday card, and some nice words from Cef, before eventually getting an Uber home.
Thanks gents for keeping me young(ish).
Bowling: Hinde 2-45 (7), Howe 1-29 (5), Moore 1-31 (7)
Batting: Ellis 50, Youcef 39, Metson 19 Fyfe, 18, Howe 18, Archie 17.
Every ball was (sadly) recorded on camera.
Click on https://theblues.play-cricket.com/website/results/6014053, then BALL BY BALL. Every ball is listed with a video clip, and results can be filtered for wickets and boundaries (mercifully the scorer hasn't singled out 'missed chances'). So you can see Cef's six, Chellis' ramp, etc.
PS: We've played this fixture four times now
2020: Blues 239-5, MW 137. Won by 102 runs
2021: Blues 172, MW 173- 1. Lost by 9 wkts
2022: MW: 134-8, Blues 136-3. Won by 7 wickets
2023: MW 258-4 Blues 192. Lost by 66 runs
So 2024 should be a comfortable win
[updated 28 11 2023]