INDIAN GYMKHANA 202-9 (55 overs) SOUTHGATE 203-4 (44.5 overs)
Southgate’s roller coaster season continued, as after the debacle of 45 all out last week, at Barnes, they raced to a brilliant six wicket win off the last ball on Saturday, despite receiving ten overs less than the opposition.
It was a superb performance from start to finish, Indian Gymkhana won the toss and batted.
Darragh Edwards and Mikey Stevens are turning into a very good opening partnership indeed and were both a little unlucky with their respective fruitless opening spells. The deadlock was broken with a timely run out from Luke Hutton, the more aggressive of the two openers was the victim of a superb direct hit from all of 50 meters after he’d turned for an optimistic third. After nine inexpensive overs Stevens was replaced by Woffers at the Church end and immediately the Gymkhana number 2 fell for the old Woffers trick of bowling about twice as slowly as it seemed, and the batsman played his shot about ten minutes before the ball arrived, chipping it to Varney at short mid on. The batsman’s expletives were heard well before the ball reached the fielder.
There followed a spell of consolidation as the visitors scored at a rate well under 3 an over for an hour or so, before they speeded up and at the same time offering catches to the Southgate fielders.
Woffers retained the Church end until the end of the innings with his usual guile, eventually taking 5-53 in 19 overs.
Good catches were held by Edrich and Rory Miscampbell (on loan from the third eleven!) and Woffers transformed himself into the young Woffinden by leaping high into the air to take a brilliant one handed catch off the returning Edwards, and Gymkhana were forced to use their full quota of 55 overs to reach their eventual total of 202.
All agreed that it was an excellent batting wicket, and full credit to our new groundsman who is revitalising the ground after years of neglect.
All also agreed that in all honesty, it would take some sort of miracle against the visitors’ spinners, to achieve victory in just 45 overs. All agreed that a four-point target of around 165 may be achievable.
All were pleasantly surprised by a magnificent all-round batting display by the home side.
Matt Stratten (17) and Mike Stevens added 49 for the first wicket, mainly against a reasonable pace attack, but Stratten was soon stumped, deceived by a quicker ball from Bupinder Singh, the visitors experienced off spinner. Jamie Jouning soon followed, caught at point from the other off spinner, but Stevens (77) and Captain Edrich (45) added 59 for the third wicket, and at 131-3, there was hope of 4 points, at least, although a run a ball for victory seemed unlikely, at that stage. Captain Edrich was joined by Keeper Dunnett and at this point it was decided that we had to go for it and with the incredibly large boundaries 2s & 3s were going to play a large role in hunting down 202. Edrich perished looking for one of those boundaries which brought Hutton to the crease, this is where it got exciting. Needing 31 from the remaining 13 balls, Dunnett managed to clear the boundary at the top end leaving 25 from 12 and from that point on, Luke took over. Timing the ball to perfection from ball one which left 14 needed from the last, a few lusty blows meant we needed 2 from the last ball of our allotted 45 overs. Luke swung and struck the ball away to the mid-wicket boundary where a fumble allowed Dunnett (26 not out) and Hutton (27 not out) scramble the 2 needed. It was fitting that Luke hit the winning run, in front of his fiancée and a relatively large audience.
The running between the wickets by super athletes, Stevens and Dunnett, and the not quite so super athletes (still super by the way!), Edrich and Hutton was fantastic and a considerable contributing factor.
My final memory of the victory was of Ravi Desai being the first to run to the middle in congratulations, camera phone in his hand.
A wonderful victory.
Three victories in the last four games, and North London away next week.