Brentham 4th XIs (226-7 dec off 50 overs), losing draw: 1 pt Southgate 4th XIs, (170-7 off 33 overs), winning draw: 4 pts
The 4th XIs went into this game knowing that a win would not only keep our promotion hopes alive but would also end the opposition’s chances of getting promoted. Equally a loss would mean that the oppo would close the gap on us and keep their own hopes alive. So both teams had everything to play for.
Sal, standing in for holidaying skipper Doug, won the toss and elected to field. Not entirely a surprising decision as having already played Brentham away and experienced first-hand their skill at blocking out for a dull draw – their opening batsman batted for a full 46 overs, faced 127 balls for a grand total of 21 not out (yes 21, that’s not a typo!) – there was no way Sal was going to put himself or the team through that again.
Bolstered by the inclusion of the dynamic duo of Harrison Folland & Henry Thompson, we were upbeat about our chances and took to the field with confidence high. Henry opened the attack with an excellent display of line & length bowling which the Brentham openers found difficult to score off. At the other end, Sarfaraz kept things tidy with accurate deliveries on a wicket with unpredictable bounce. With the score only on 26 after 10 overs, Henry made the 1st breakthrough when the Brentham #2 edged one to Partha behind the stumps. In the next over, Sarfaraz dismissed their #1 (yes, the same boring blocker who carried his bat in the reverse fixture) with a vicious delivery that cut back in to trap him lbw. Harrison then joined the attack when Henry had to end his first spell after his allotted 7 overs. The batsmen were pleased to see the back of Henry and were even more pleased to hear that Harrison was not a seam bowler. However, their pleasure did not last for long as both batsmen found him difficult to play and shortly before the drinks break, Harrison caught their #4 off his own bowling with the score at 54-3. We were very pleased with our performance up to that point.
After drinks, things started to slip away from us as Brentham put on an 88-run 4th wicket partnership which established a good platform for them to go on and put up a decent total. The rain which had been threatening all afternoon eventually came down and forced 2 stoppages. These breaks, and getting the covers on & off (twice!) clearly affected our concentration. Even though Harrison, Sarfraz, Henry and last week’s hero Delmore all picked up a wicket each in the latter half, we didn’t exactly help our case with some sloppy fielding, a few too many extras and a couple of dropped catches. All this resulted in 3 further mini-partnerships of 32, 20 and 33 runs, which helped Brentham to rack up a total of 226 for 7 off their allotted maximum 50 overs. The pick of our bowling was Henry with figures of 14-3-24-2.
After some reflection during the tea-break, the general feeling amongst the side was that we had gifted them around 40-50 runs. Still, we were confident that we could chase down the total, as long as the rain stayed away.
With the threat of further rain showers in the air, and armed with the knowledge that 190 runs would secure us a winning draw, we started our innings with Partha Dave and David Lowen playing cautiously but staying ahead of the required rate. However, by the 8th over, both our openers were back in the pavilion with the score on 27, and both wickets going to the Brentham bowler (P. Desai) who could easily have be mistaken for the TV comic Romesh Ranganathan. Harrison, who had gone in at #3 was now partnered by Joe McCormick, and the 2 of them picked up the run rate and carved out a partnership of 61 when Joe was caught, again off the bowling of the ‘Romesh lookalike’. Harrison dug in and, over the next 7 overs which were interrupted by rain, he played a dogged innings full of flamboyant drives, pulls and cuts, to craft 2 further valuable partnerships of 33 and 25 with RBL and Sam Larner respectively. Having safely navigated past his 50, and with more rainclouds closing in, Harrison attempted a huge 6 but was caught at deep extra cover. Sam followed him back to the pavilion in the very next over and we found ourselves on 146 for 7 with only 16 overs left to play. ‘Romesh’ had somehow managed to pick up 6 wickets and was looking like getting a few more. Our #8 Henry and #9 Sarfaraz then carefully negotiated the next 7 overs in wet conditions and in fading light, to push the score up to 170 for 7 after 33 overs. Due to the many rain delays, the time now was around 7:40pm and the light was fading rapidly. With 9 more overs to face and the batsmen struggling to see the ball, Sal then decided it was better to settle for the winning draw rather than risk losing the game altogether. A discussion took place in the middle and it was pretty obvious that the oppo were not keen on settling for a draw as they felt they could win. In the end, common sense prevailed and the 2 captains shook hands and agreed to call the game for bad light.
Whilst we were disappointed at dropping 6 points, news came through that the game between the division’s top two sides, Hampstead vs Harrow Town, was rained off and thus resulted in 1 point for each team. This meant that, thanks to the valuable 4 points earned, we now leapfrog over Harrow Town into 2nd place, with just 2 games left to play. And what big games these promise to be?
We play 3rd placed Harrow Town at home on the final day of the season, which promises to be a promotion decider. However, before that, we have a very tricky game against 4th placed Chiswick this Saturday which we cannot afford to lose.
1987 League – Division 5 Table (after round 16)