Innings of: St Andrew's
Innings of: St Michael's
Picture the scene. It is Saturday evening at 6:32pm. St Michael’s, chasing a modest 106 for victory, are struggling at 55 for 9 as number 11 bat Martin Baker walks to the crease to join fellow rabbit, Simon Cannell. The fat lady is loosening her vocal chords, the spectators are packing up their chairs, the St Andrews’ players are chirping like a flock of excitable budgies. They thought it was all over.
An hour later, the fat lady had left, tired of waiting to sing. The home crowd were on their feet, and the St Andrew’s players were sick as parrots as the last St Michael’s pair completed their half-century partnership to steer their side to an improbable victory.
But let’s start at the beginning. That’s a very good place to start.
St Michael’s vice skipper, young Will Kingston, won the toss, and despite the sweltering conditions and a couple of home players nursing stiff heads, decided to field first. But it looked a good decision as opening bowler Martin Baker soon removed openers Price and Lloyd in his first 3 overs, both batters misjudging the line of the ball and spooning simple catches to Matt Collier and Kingston respectively.
Both Baker and Tom Marlow were bowling a tight line. Marlow especially seemed to be enjoying himself. Bowling on a lively track, he had the St Andrew’s top order hopping around the crease as balls flew past at various heights. He eventually removed Charnley, caught and bowled, for 26.
The tight opening spell by Baker and Marlow restricted he scoring, so that after 20 overs St Andrew’s had only score 32 for 3.
A double change saw Baker and Marlow replaced in the attack by Simon Cannel and Faizel Omarji. The St Andrew’s batsmen, having seen off the openers, now began to score more freely. But 2 freak incidents brought the game back towards St Michael’s.
Boyd went to drive a delivery from Cannell. The shot went in the air to Cannel’s right, but he was unable to hold on to the ball, succeeding only in deflecting the cherry on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Foreman, backing up out of his ground, was duly run out. And judging by the way that he threw off his kit down and swore a lot, he didn’t seem to see the funny side of it. Ho hum.
Two overs later, and another Cannel pie was driven uppishly down the track by Boyd, this time as the umpire called a no ball. Butterfingers Cannell, unable to hold on to this one as well, repeated his early party trick and deflected the ball on to the stumps to run out the stranded Sibley.
From the point, the St Andrew’s innings collapsed. From 101 for 5, they succumbed to 106 all out as Baker and Marlow were brought back to finish off the tail.
After a marvellous tea, the St Michael’s reply started poorly. Openers Dale Harrison and Al Bartley were back in the hutch for only 5 on the board. Wickets fell at regular intervals, with only Matt Collier reaching double figures until adjudged LBW for 19.
When the half-century was reached, at least a batting point was gleaned, but when Gary Eccles was out for a duck and Baker strode to the middle, it all looked over. Somehow, Baker survived the last three deliveries from a Foreman over by wafting at air, and promptly looked at his bat for clues as to why no contact had been made.
With time not part of the equation, it was just a case of occupying the crease and delaying the inevitable. However once settled, both Cannell and Baker looked more at ease. When Foreman and Lloyd had bowled their allocation, the odd boundary came, a few wides were called, and the score started slowly but surely to move towards three figures. Could they hang on for a famous victory?
A bit of luck was required for that to happen. Baker was dropped twice, one a difficult caught and bowled attempt to Loyd, the other, a lofted shot to mid off that really should have been held. Cannell gloved one past the keeper, though to say it was a chance would have been a tough call. A mix up also saw Cannell sent back in a hurry when a quick single turned out not to be on, but he managed to turn and scramble back to safety just in time.
As the score increased, so did the desperation of St Andrew’s fielders, leading to increased levels of sledging aimed towards the St Michael’s rabbits. But this seemed to have the opposite to the desired effect, spurring them on towards their improbable target. Imaginative bowling changes were also made to mix things up, but to no avail.
The winnings runs came in the 43rd over as first a wide and then a push for 2 through the covers from Cannell saw the climax of a truly stunning turnaround.
The gob smacked home players and spectators came on to the outfield to congratulate the unlikely heroes. It was all over now.
The preamble to the rules of the law of cricket (‘The spirit of cricket’), state that it is against the spirit of the game to ‘direct abusive language towards an opponent’.
Whilst banter is accepted, the continued sledging aimed at the final St Michael’s batters crossed the line. Comments such as ‘Bowl it to knock his f##king head off’, ‘Their balls must really be aching now’, ‘You’re not playing in the f##king town league now’ and other such foul and abusive language was all over the mark, and made the final victory all the sweeter for it.