Sunday May 6, 2018: 1.30pm. 40 Overs
Toss: Nepotists, Bat
Nepotists: 8 - 197, 40 Overs. (Styles 59 n.o., Ovens 29, Grieve 25)
Ickenham: 7 - 200, 36.5 Overs (Thacker 2-27, Ovens 1-17, Styles 1-23)
As I look to the weather for next week’s fixture against Northwood and see the percentage chance of rain, I cannot help but feel slightly miffed at the weatherly direction the season is taking. The first two matches washed out (without rain, just the inability for the grounds to prepare) and the next looking iffy, thank Christ Sunday’s match against new foe Ickenham was blessed with perfect conditions and an over-subscribed Nepo line-up.
So perfect it was, an additional bottle of factor 30 sunscreen was added to the one of the kit bags moments before departure; a bottle that has not been seen since. With many thanks to Australian Cricketer’s past and present, we now have 7 kit bags in which to lose a plethora of keepsakes.
1 for left handed pads, gloves, and thigh pads.
1 for housing right handed pads and thigh pads.
1 for bats and right-handed gloves.
1 for swish lime green and magenta helmets, and the crappy no-longer-captain-approved-but-still-worn blue helmets.
1 home to adorable lime green and magenta traditional English playing caps, and the playing whites and/or creams depending on who did the washing.
1 bag for our new range of spikes/boots and, lastly,
1 for our much admired yet not yet needed sweaters, including 6 new sleeveless babies.
With them to travel is the new NACA jacket and much argued with the tailor, Captain’s Lime Green and Magenta, with a hint of Lemon, Floral Jacket. And the lap top on which the Nepo’s now score digitally with the one touch PCS PRO score program.
So, if ever there was a club that looked every bit a team of cricketers, we need not worry about winning and losing. As garnered by the reaction of never-before-played Ickenham, we were, if nothing more, respected for our very affordable appearance. As said many times, paying £10 per week with everything included, including a beer, you can’t play cricket for less and look as sharp.
If our presentation was any suggestion that we were a team that knew which end of the bat to hold in some vain attempt to put the opposition off their game, it didn’t work. And though we lost very admirably, with 3 overs to go, for the first time in a very long time, I won my first toss of the season and without hesitation, the Nepo’s newly padded up!
Carl Hoar (ENG) and our freshest international import, Nilesh Thacker with a ‘C’ (IND), came together once again after many matches apart, and standing at square leg I had this confident hue about our prospects of putting a big score in our new program. That hue dulled when Carl was castled for a very un-Carl-like 9 followed smartly thereafter by Nilesh when fired for 7, after driving the ball into his pads; a shot that somehow was missed by the officiating umpire. Still off he went which brought debutant Dave Blackman (AUS) to join debutant Rhett ‘Bear’ Ovens (AUS).
After a shaky start the new boys were stabilising the innings. However, after Dave absorbed 17 deliveries for his 4, and Bear 29 deliveries for his big hitting 29, they fell off consecutive deliveries straight after I tweeted their confident successes. Delete that tweet!
This meant our 3rd debutant, Ali ‘When Do I Pay’ Baloch (PAK), joined swashbuckling Rich Price (NZ) whom swashed two fours and two singles before buckling a catch to the man hiding in the oak tree and the Nepo’s were looking better in stature than score as we halted for drinks.
Jim Mason (AUS) and Ali took the score to 97 before Jim casually strolled off for a very casual 15 ball 9, allowing Ryan Styles (AUS) and Ali to add 16. Ali was out ‘unknown’ for 14 but nonetheless still out and at 7-113 in the 27th it was touch and go as to whether we’d even see out the overs, let alone card a competitive total.
13.2 overs still to bowl (love the digital scorebook!) allowed Ryan and Nick Grieve (NZ) to settle into a rhythm that added 61 for the 8th wicket. Excellent fight back. Nick sadly couldn’t see it through but his 25 off 25 was worth a lot more in the context of the game. Steve Werren (AUS) joined Ryan and tried desperately to give his wicket away more often that the 10 runs he scored. Steve remained not out helping Ryan to reach an outstanding 59 off 52 balls to see the Nepo’s home 8-197 off at Tea, which gathered a 7.5 on the RichTea Scale based on some misplaced peanut butter but I digress.
Following their success with the bat, Ryan was given the right to deliver the 1st cherry from the oaks, ending his first over 0-3, whilst Nick from the pavilion came home 0-7! After his 4th very weary over, and figures of 1-23, Nilesh replaced Ryan and opened with 3 overs 1 for 1. This helped stem the flow with Ickenham well ahead of the rate, as our digital scorebook said. I replaced Nick after his 4 overs 0-16 and after a tidy first over of 1-5, dragged myself after gifting Ickenham 26 valuable runs from 3, handing the nut to Rich, whom claimed a wicket in his first over. Great bowling change that.
This nearly didn’t happen mind you as Ali and Dave certainly did not debate over whom would take the catch. With both reaching for 8 Championship points, it was Dave that came down with the glory. Had the catch been grassed I’d suggest neither would play again had they been on the receiving end of a much-maligned Rich Price ‘How The F*** Could You Drop That?’ verbal. Rich was told he could have another over if he got a wicket in his 5th alas, his spell ended 5 overs 1-33.
Looking as the only candidate to keep us in touch Nilesh bled 19 in his 4th that put Ickenham within 100 with 25 overs to bowl. Credit where it’s due, Nilesh conceded only 6 from his next two overs, snaring another wicket, and ending his 6 over spell 2-27 at drinks, with Ickenham 5-118 after 20.
Jim replaced Nilesh and spun the ball better than I ever recall him doing as a medium paced pie-chucker. His first 3 overs only going for 6. With ‘Bear’ taking over from Rich and conceding only 5 off his first 3, the Nepo’s were in striking distance of restriction. Ickenham were 6-172 after 30 and well within reach though continued tight bowling and fielding would just about see us home. That said, there is one that breaks the back of a run chase and though all bowlers are guilty of that one bad over, the 27th going for 16 was what put the match too far away from a Nepo victory, with Ickenham needing that one sneaky inside edge to the short boundary per over to come home.
To our credit we fought on and stayed within a sniff thanks to a cracking 6 over spell of 1-17 from a very breathless Bear. We just weren’t good enough early enough and when the 7th wicket fell to a brilliant run out by Ryan we couldn’t keep the new batsman on strike, allowing Ickenham Captain Dan to seal their victory with 10 off my 8th (ending 1-49), and that was that with 3 overs to bowl.
We still looked fashionably sharp that well and truly made up for it!
Yours in Nepotism,
SCHWIM MOMENT: Ryan Styles for his straight drive, lost ball, 6 over the club house
NACA: Rhett ‘Bear’ Ovens for impersonating 2017 ‘Nepo of the Year’ Paul McCubbin