August 19th – Cockfosters 243 for 4 beat Flamstead II 109 all out by 134 runs
August 5th – Cockfosters 121 for 9 drew with Hertingfordbury II 103 for 7
With bleak availability due to holidays to Valencia and Rugby trips to Argentina, combined with a general lack of availability meant that the team taking the field at our temporary home of Botany Bay, was a little rag tag. In came Gary Corken for Nathan Edwards alongside Amilio Ramcharitar making his seasonal debut. Ben Howell being delayed due to work commitments was a last minute addition when at 10am news came through that emails may or may not have gone astray and Tom Slevin was having a day in the city.
Meeting the Opposition skipper at the middle for the toss to be told it wasn’t the first time in 48 hours that we had met – and that he very much enjoyed sitting behind the “Cockfosters 8” at Lords on Thursday for the T20 regardless of the fact I fail to recall much of the match let alone who sat around us – was a surprise. What was also a welcome surprise was that Hertingfordbury were without the man who single-handedly destroyed us in the previous fixture 2 months ago (Mr M Ambler) when he set the club record of 166 in their total of 277. What was even more of a surprise was that they only had 10 men.
With a pitch that was uncovered and looked suspiciously damp, I was hoping to bowl. Unfortunately as I have learnt so often, no amount of practicing can make you a good tosser (I will be tapping up Yasir for tips after his rather nonchalant statement of Wednesday). And so we were destined to bat which turned out to be very fortuitous for us. What was also fortuitous was that the heavens opened as we were about to start resulting in a 40 minute rain delay coupled with 20 minutes of drying out meant that Mr Howell had time to get to the game, and that because of the delay the format was reduced to 45-39.
When starting at 2pm, Tosh and Yasir strode out to the crease and built solidly from the off, dispatching anything wide or too full until at 39 without loss, the experienced opening bowler T Ives managed to get one to nibble and slip past Tosh’s watchful gaze. This brought Amilio to the crease who after crying on late on Friday was bumped up the order due to his blunt statement when he turned up that he would be leaving at 4 due to a pre-arranged wedding. Amilio had just returned from a tour of Sri Lanka with London Schools and probably thought he was still in the sub-continent as he swung the bat offering no footwork on a pudding of a pitch to be clean bowled and walking back of a few balls later.
This brought Ben Howell to the crease (clothed by the skipper and Tosh) and quickly continued the good work of the openers with Yasir still playing watchfully. Ben looked in good touch on a pitch that required careful watching due to the ball sticking in the wicket and after cracking a beautiful cover drive then followed it up with very good uppish drive through mid-wicket. Unfortunately it was straight down the opposition skipper’s throat and Ben was back in the hutch. Out came Neil Hale who tends to fair well in these conditions, but after getting one that nibbled, Yasir watched another partner depart.
Out came Mark “Xav Knees” Viner making a return from a lengthy stay on the physio’s table and the 2 rebuilt. Yasir finally fell to a debatable decision, when trying to play the ball down the leg side and he believed he missed the ball for it to clip his pad strap and the finger to be extended. He played like the batsman he should be this week and his 35 from 30 overs was exactly what was needed, and I was the most pleased to see him back in the runs as he is a very capable batsman if he switches on.
Prakash joined Mark at the crease and offered his usual stalwart resistance if not troubling the scorer too much which was a useful foil for Mr Viner who was increasingly limping singles. When Prakash departed, It was my turn to join Mark. Knowing that it was a risk to place myself up the order having managed only a single solitary run in 5 innings and how certain members of the 1’s and 2’s have taken to spread betting my likely run scoring, along with a certain amount of expected “playful banter” at my predicament, it was something that was required….Once more into the breach dear friend.
Things didn’t help when Mark fell a few balls after I had joined him, and Mr Moruzzi was striding out to the wicket with an impish grin and a few choice words for the captain (Cheese obviously thought he was the senior batsman and statistically he was, having scored 19 n.o. in a previous game). So it was that the unlikeliest of pairings set about the bowling attack with a care free attitude, building what was to be a very important partnership, from 87-7 we were soon 111-7 with a couple of boundaries and some quick (ish) running between the wickets, Cheese and I added 24 for the next wicket, until I tried one too many big shots and was caught trying to push things along.
In stepped Joel “The Lips” Velasco who didn’t last long resulting in last man, Belfast’s answer to Jethro (Gary Corken) joining Cheese in what was to be yet again another very unlikely but equally important partnership. Both batted well and when the final ball of the innings was bowled we had scrapped to 121-9 (Cheese 11 n.o. and Gary 5.n.o.).
Without opening bowling partner Nathan Edwards, it was negotiated with Amilio that he would not be leaving at 4 but would leave after he had opened the bowling with me and done his allotted 6. Tight lines, a bit of nibble from the pitch and assistance from the conditions resulted in Hertingfordbury being 2-2 off 5 (2-3 if you account for them being a man down). Amilio bowled tight if a little expensive, but was great foil for the skipper who although was increasingly being hampered by his well publicised Achilles problems, kept the batsmen honest.
With Amilio satisfying his end of the bargain, and sent on his way with our thanks, the skipper turned to Prakash, who the week before had bowled very well at Cheshunt, and although he bowled tightly initially, did come in for some punishment once the batsmen had got used to his skiddy action. Now limping in to bowl, the skipper went for more in one over than he had in his previous 7 so took himself off and brought on Ben Howell. Ben bowled with control accuracy and began to bear fruit, bowling their number 4 who looked extremely useful.
Prakash was removed and “La Fromage” was introduced, and it wasn’t long before the opposition, faced with little pace on the ball and with a pitch that was sticking and occasionally popping were in a world of trouble. Cheese picked up a wicket (finishing with a very credible 2-24), Ben another and the opposition were 75-6. Smelling blood the skipper’s field setting become more and more attacking. At 80-6 off 31 and all results were still possible, and a proper game of cricket was being had. When Hertingfordbury’s remaining opener gave a leading edge to the close in fielder to leave it poised at 88-7 with 32 overs gone, I felt there was still enough in it for Hertingfordbury to go for, however that thought was to be extinguished after the first ball the new batsman faced when he smothered the ball and then looked very sheepishly at me.
So it went, for the remaining 6 overs where the only element of note was that I now know why people are reluctant to field in close on the leg side to Mr Moruzzi, as after two full tosses had been bludgeoned past my ear, and new underpants required, Cheese finally got one in a good area and the batsmen buoyed by his previous deliveries decided to take swing at this one for it to be edged just over Viner at Gully. So 121-9 played 103-7 and the opposition walked away with 4 points. More importantly, they restricted our points scoring to 7 meaning their safety gap from relegation remains intact.
I am a big advocate of “Timed” cricket, however when a result like this can in effect seriously jeopardise our position in the division, you begin to wonder. What didn’t help matters, was the apologetic comments coming from the opposition. We were the better side on the day, and when you take away Mr Ambler’s contribution in the previous fixture, you can’t help but think that this truly was the level of cricket we should have been playing. Dont get me wrong, I bare no grudge against Hertingfordbury for the way in which they conducted themselves, and I may have considered something similar were I in their position, but even now, on a drizzly Monday afternoon, it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth and makes me (for the first time ever) look forward to the return of the 50 over format and 10 over bowling restrictions.
What also leaves a bad taste in the mouth is a team who would work so hard for each other, I sit looking at only 4 names who want to do it all again next week, but that’s the life of a 3’s skipper and that it seems is the modern day availability problems of amateur cricket.
July 8 – Cockfosters 57 all out lost to Hoddesdon III 58 for 2 by 8 wickets
After the poor performance of the week previous, a much needed break to the Cote D’Azur was very much needed, however with only 32 players available and a few drop outs and last minute changes, I returned in time to take the field with more men than I expected. With Ben Howell unable to make the meet time for the 2’s he was dropped down to the 3’s and assured me he could make it by 2:30pm. The only problem we had was unless we batted first, Mr Howell turning up an hour and a half late means he would not be able to bowl for us so on that basis, when winning the toss I elected to bat and pray that we didn’t have a repeat of last week.
July 1 – Cockfosters 95 all out lost to Bentley Heath 99 for 1 by 9 wickets
Over the past few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what team is selected on a Wednesday as it will resemble nothing of the side that takes the field on a Saturday. However this week proved the exception to the rule and although we were relatively weak, we took on a Bentley Heath side who I felt we could restrict and then snipe off the runs.
So it was with a heavy head (from a good night at Minch’s Quiz) that I popped into Sainsbury’s on Saturday morning to pick up the teas and set about catering for 22 players (more on this later).
My plan for the cricket was to win the toss bowl, restrict them to 120 and then knock them off comfortably. Unfortunately my master plan depended on winning the toss, which as any skipper will tell you is harder to do than first seemed. I mean it’s a 1 in 2 chance isn’t it, you have just as good a chance as the other. Unfortunately the toss was lost and we were put into bat.
Dan Stead having been dropped from the 2’s opened the batting alongside our longest serving club member in Tosh Pigden. Last week another Pigden got a golden, and I didn’t for one minute think that this would happen again but unfortunately it did. Tosh departed first ball to one that swung considerably and he just couldn’t keep it out.
With Tosh out it brought our returning scholar Yasir Khan to the crease fresh from Leeds Uni who had admitted this year he was gonna score big runs. Unfortunately he must be saving them for later in the season as when he departed for 2 and the score 13-2, I was resigned to the fact that this would be a long day. Out strode Nathan Edwards to the crease to join Dan and the pair of them were very good foils for each other. Dan calm collected and happy to accumulate runs and Nathan taking the attack back to Bentley Heath.
In the 10th over and with the score motoring on quite comfortably at 41-2, Nathan having slapped the bowler back over his head for 4 in the previous ball decided he would do it again and was caught behind for 16. In came Ben Slevin fresh from exams and other academic activities and carried on where Nathan left off and in the next 9 overs put on 38 for the next wicket with Dan before falling in similar fashion to Nathan for exactly the same score (16).
79-4 quickly moved to a pitiful 95 all out as the rest of the team were unable to stick with Dan, and fearing the worst, Dan trying to push the score was 7th man out for a very cultured and experienced 47.
Opening bowler Riley had taken 5-13 in two spells, his first 4 overs resulting in 1-13 and his second spell resulting in 2.2 overs 2 maidens 4 for zero runs!
In response the Bentley Heath openers gave us a couple of chances but they were put down and with exception of a run out resulting the day not being a pointless exercise, they got home quite comfortably. Teas were then taken and unfortunately for this reporter were probably the worst teas in cricket history as with a severe hangover he had completely underestimated how much he had purchased resulting in embarrassingly only asking the opposition for £30.
A poor performance with the bat by 10 men failed to give us a platform to compete, and we need to start valuing our wicket more if we are to improve.
June 17th – Cockfosters 228 for 7 beat Flamstead II 193 all out by 35 runs – report from Darren Medforth
May 13th – Cockfosters 188 for 5 lost to Harpenden V 191 for 7 by 3 wickets – report from Darren Medforth
It wasn’t until 7pm on Friday Evening that skipper Darren Medforth remembered the feeling of being the lowest skipper when the “cry offs” started. Having spent the previous week not having to worry about the dreaded phone call, and whilst he savoured his first pint and watched the future of the club (U11s take on Enfield), the phone started ringing. Three phone calls later, and agreement to find kit for at least two of the late call ups, the skipper was left with a reasonable side and a lot of work to do to get the game on.
As if that wasn’t enough, he lost the toss and was inserted. Adam Pigden joined late call up Yasir Khan at the top of the batting order.
The skipper had new pens and was hell bent on ensuring the scorebook looked like a work of art, which was fortunate as after 3 overs, Mr Khan was back in the shed having failed to trouble the scorer at all. Chris “Jedi” Knight (5) having read the Trip Advisor reviews of Bramley Road soon joined him after getting one that kept so low he was enquiring as to the cost of Ground rent at Holtwhites as he walked off.
At 13-2, out strode Mark Viner who prides himself on making sure when the ball is hit, it travels far enough to prevent him having to worry about such things as running between the wickets. Unfortunately Mark didn’t account for an outfield still quite slow, and Adam who sees running between the wickets a fundamental part of batting. Over the next 30 overs Adam really turned the screw, ably assisted by Mark (5) and Neil Hale (44) the score raced along with Adam playing with growing confidence, and having secured his first league 50 of the season looked certain to get his first ever ton, but it wasn’t to be as he fell 15 short on 85 which would certainly have pierced the three figure barrier on another outfield. A cameo from Nathan Edwards (16*) and at the end of the allotted 50, a creditable 188 for 5.
In reply, the Skipper decided youth was far more suitable to make inroads in to the Harpenden batting line up and opened up with Nathan and Nikhil Patel. Both showed promise and both were unlucky not to take a wicket early on as a couple went down behind the stumps. At the same time the opposition were struggling to get it off the square, however that didn’t matter as in the first 9 overs the score had raced to 36-0 with 16 of those runs gifted by bowler/keeper. It was time for a different tack and if youth wasn’t going to break that nut then experience would, and into the fray came a bowling partnership that has terrorised the lower leagues for many a year.
Simon Westbury a last minute call up wearing “Shoes by Sayers” and “Couture by Stead” opened up the hill and the Skipper came on from the other end (as is his right). The run rate was arrested and the pressure applied and the wickets started to fall. Unfortunately so did the ball…. out of people’s hands. At least 3 good chances went down off Westbury’s bowling and with the batsmen becoming increasingly confident in their ability to hit things in the air without fear of reprisals, they decided to chance their arm.
The Skipper turned to Zac Meyer who although still in his first season, is proving a very useful addition to the side and bowled well in the pressure overs. With the Skipper bowled out for a very economical 3-22, he turned back to youth and saw rewards with a run out, a wicket for Nathan Edwards and Nikhil dropping a very sharp caught and bowled chance. Although now 7 down and all noise from the “Harpy” lot reduced to nervous fidgeting, the pressure didn’t bare any further fruit and they limped over the line with 2.5 overs remaining.
A solid performance let down by a significant number of dropped catches resulted in the 3s still looking for the first 30 points of the season. Some notable performances with both Nikhil (0-35 off 10) and Nathan (1-32 off 9.1) showing signs of improvement in their second spell, and Zac continued to impress with both the ball and in the field. With the bat Neil continued his effective style of plundering runs and Nathan came in and provided a very solid cameo at 6. However man of the match has to go to Adam Pigden who spent a significant time at the crease and took charge of the batting ensuring that from 13-2 a credible total was posted.
Next week sees the 3’s visit our “Noisy Neighbours” safe in the knowledge that should 30 points not be forthcoming, then the Skipper will have to seek refreshment elsewhere on Saturday Evening.