A wise man once told me, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. If one is honest, I am not sure if that actually ever happened, but it is an apt opening to the story your scribe is about to tell.
|Venue:||Old Saw Mill, Sanderstead CC|
|Man of the match:||Neeraj Jindal - finished on 31* off only 20 balls, just pipping fellow not-out partner Kenners to MoM honours, who finished with a brilliant 54*. If he knew how to hold on to a cricket ball then who knows, he may have found himself in MoM territory, but as another wise man once told me, if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a bicycle, so it is indeed, unlucky Kennedy, for the 2nd time in 24 hours.|
|Prat of the match:||Tom Clements|
A wise man once told me, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. If one is honest, I am not sure if that actually ever happened, but it is an apt opening to the story your scribe is about to tell. But first, it is important one sets the scene for how we have got to the position we are in, and more importantly, how we plan to continue with this momentum, and head north, quickly.
HQ at the moment is buzzing with positivity, and I am not talking about the positivity that has set in at our old mates Old Hamps in the last few days. This is proper positivity, a place you want to be around, a place where when you miss a game, proper FOMO sets in. This is a joint that is on the charge up the leagues. It has been noted in previous correspondences how much club performance has improved in season 2021. Coach Talby, Captain Copeland and his supporting cast of club captains have the squads in an unenviable position of having a bounty of talent to choose from in any given week. A host of new Wick talent in the likes of Higginson, Wright, Kennedy, Jindal, just to name a few, have come in, embraced what we are about, and given the selection committee plenty of headaches. Combine that with an added maturity from a host of experienced yet young Wick members, your likes of Browning, Jones (plural), Lawrence, and you have at your disposal the ingredients to make a couple of lethal XI’s. And so it would be. The biggest challenge of the season yet for your all-conquering 2nd XI.
The aforementioned selection committee spared nobody at the selection table this week. The plethora of riches presented to them meant that for missing a week going to watch some big lads sniff some rear-end at the Snoop or whatever it is called, Pod King Michael Wood found himself in the 2s, a promotion many thought was well overdue given that he has more catches than runs this season. The other change was one young quick for another, Wright out, Lawrence in. This XI was as strong a 2nd XI side that your scribe has seen in his time at this great cricket club. However, the challenge in front of us on this (not so) fine Saturday was a rampaging, top-of-the-table, undefeated, Sanderstead. As usual, your scribe woke full of optimism, and in a rare shift away from a semi-skim flat white, opted for a cheeky iced latte instead to accompany his purchase of The Times and scrambled eggs on rye. I’ll acknowledge, there is absolutely no literary value in that information, but I need to draw-out the anticipation of what actually transpired on the field somehow. The 10:25 rattler from CJ was the choice of transport for a supremely hungover Kennedy and yours truly, completed with a cheeky Uber at the other end. Upon arriving at the picturesque Old Saw Mill, we were greeted with a dart-dangling, pink-shoe wearing Collier (he is 46 years young), the lone Wick charger present, despite it being after the mandated 10:45 arrival time. A gentle stroll to the wicket revealed a pitch that had unsurprisingly felt the ravages of the week’s weather. She was green, damp, and sure to do all sorts early doors. With the weather improving ever so slightly as we built towards the scheduled 12pm start time, we were confident of getting in a full day’s play. After winning the toss, Captain Charlton had no hesitation in bowling first. We would however be forced to wait some time to start, giving the conditions.
When things finally kicked off, it was Jones, Sam to charge up the hill, and Lawrence, Gus coming down it, the latter making a very welcome return to the outfit. In prior seasons, we could be guilty of sending down one bad ball an over early doors, thus giving the opposition an easy out. But, as touched on earlier, this is a new Wick beast, a season 2021 beast. The only thing that mattered was putting each ball in the right areas, and it was delicious lines and lengths served up by these two. It wasn’t long before Lawrence got our first on the board, removing the dangerous opener (who the week prior hit triple figures) with an absolute seed. LBW. Thank you for coming. We were on our way. It was an opening bowling partnership that on another day would have yielded 3 or 4 more, but we would have to settle with just the one on this occasion. The scoreboard showed how well these two had bowled, with runs at a premium for the ladder-leading Sanderstead. The early innings antics of their #3 had us very excited. Seemingly in a rush, said chap decided attack was the best form of defence. Unfortunately for him, his windy woofs outside off stump created nothing but fodder for a slip cordon that is never short on chirp, even more so with Woody amongst the three wise men on this fine day. IT was introduced into the attack coming up the hill at first change, and delivered a superb spell of 10 overs on the bounce, metronomic line and length, all off about 5 strides, and after having zero sleep the night before. With the score on 46, Tongy extracted loose shot number 34 from the local #3, and he subsequently chopped on to give us our 2nd, and further stamp authority on this contest early doors. Before long, last weekend’s hero Blobs was in on the act, claiming 2 scalps in his first over, an over which one can only describe as agricultural (rather ironic given he barely used terra firma). In the first beautiful piece of poetic justice on the day, the 2nd of Blobs’ scalps was overheard welcoming the #4 batsman to the crease with the words “this bloke bowls shit”, which in this instance even Blobs would not argue with, but the scorebook tells a different story for this chap, out Ct. Jones b. Blanchard for 3, in what was a beautifully flighted, turning, jaffa (despite what the video evidence may say). With the scoreline reading 52-4, it was your all-conquering 2nd XI well on top. Not surprisingly, some fight was shown from the Sanderstead middle order, with a 5th wicket stand carrying the locals to over 100. But as Captain Charlton emphasised from the top, regardless of the score, keeping standards high every ball was essential, and we were hell-bent on not giving them any easy runs, something we may have been guilty of in prior years. A couple more wickets had the locals up to 140-6, and despite a few tough chances (and a couple of sodas) going begging, we were in a strong position.
However, we knew that a good back-end performance with the ball would be the difference between chasing 175 and 220. The back-end bowling unit, the BEBU’s (the younger, slightly shitter cousin of the BMOIS) lead by Neeraj, delivered an excellent string of overs to restrict the locals to 176. A competitive score yes, but one that was in no way daunting, given the pitch didn’t actually have many demons in her. We had once again done a brilliant job with ball in hand, 5 bowlers bowling their full allocation of 10 overs, and each receiving at least a 7.5 out of 10 on the MPG scale of performance. It was a bit of a shame that a certain fielder couldn’t back-up his bowlers with a similar level of performance, but I guess when you’ve had 34 pints the night before (ledge-end), forgotten your pizza order, tried yet failed miserably to persuade a member of the fairer sex into a late-night dalliance, and nearly missed the 10:25 rattler with Clemmo, it is fair to say you’ve got an excuse. Some of that may or may not be true*.
*I think the train was actually at 10:27.
As always, it would be the reliable duo of Blanchard and Collier to kick things off for the good guys as we looked to chase 177 for the win. It was a tight start from the locals, their opener from charging up the hill in particular displaying some serious wheels and supported admirably by his down-the-hill counterpart, and it wasn’t long before the latter broke through, managing to finally convince the umpire to raise his finger for an LBW shout that looked unbelievably not out. The video evidence would support this fact, so in this instance, I encourage you to watch it, but alas, Blobs was given his marching orders. This meant Wood strode to the crease, eager to make a statement after being given the kybosh from Captain Copeland, and he was quickly into his work, partnering with Collier nicely. When Collier fell with the score on 29 at the 15 over mark, it was left to the savagely-hungover Kennedy to join Wood. Kenners would play the support act for the next 45 minutes, as Woody accelerated our already strong position to an even more formidable one. Anything that was remotely full, Woody pounced on, and the wet outfield was no match for the power of the stroke play on display from Woody. When Wood was given out LBW with the score on 92, he left with 60 of them in a delightful return to form. 20 overs to go, 85 the equation, 5 an over with nothing silly and we would be marching off with the W. Thankfully, we had the man for the job. The finisher. The difference. Clemmo.
Kenners was going about his work nicely by this stage, now well and truly taking centre stage, but Clemmo was keen for a piece of the limelight himself. Having already given the locals a chance, Clemmo thought this time he would take on the cameraman. Despite said filmsman standing in a bright red jumper, right next to the sight screen, Clemmo should have known better than to do what one should never do. The gobby Aussie Shytebag decided to ask the cameraman to move in what was a rookie move. A couple of already departed Wick legends knew the writing was on the wall, and sure enough, the very next ball, well, I am still too annoyed to write about it. Refer to the bloomin’ video. Red jumper. What a 🔔🔚.
After Clemmo-Cam, it was the far more mature head of IT that joined Kenners, however his foray didn’t last long either, meeting a similar fate to Clemmo, but without trying to make the show about himself. It was now getting a little nervy for your Wick heroes. Neeraj, with confidence as full as a catholic primary school, strode out to the crease to join Kenners. 50 required from 11 overs was now the ask. This one was nowhere near over, and the next 2-3 overs would be crucial in determining this one. Fortunately, the locals gifted us a few easy runs, with a couple of charitable fielders playing some tunnelball for us, and this allowed Neeraj to find his groove, and Kenners to continue carving out a superb anchor innings. All of a sudden, we’d managed to sneak a couple of overs in at 8+ runs, and despite a close run-out shout, we were close to putting this to bed. Neeraj was in the groove, and decided that it was time we finished this one in style, and with his 2nd maximum, described perfectly by Clemmo’s favourite cameraman, won the game for your all-conquering HWRCC 2nd XI.
We walked off having conquered the top-of-the-table Sanderstead, on their home track, in front of a now deflated home crowd. The post-game scenes, albeit brief for yours truly, were utterly enjoyable. The away digs full of joy, and the home digs rather intense and angry. On paper, this one looks like a 3-man performance with the bat, and sometimes the paper does not lie, especially when it can be supported by video evidence. Whilst the chase from Woody, Kenners, and Neeraj was sublime, it was the performance with the ball that really stood out to your scribe. We’ve come on leaps and bounds with the ball this year, and the ability to restrict strong opposition batting line-ups for a full 50 overs is what is most pleasing. MoM, for his all-round performance was of course Neeraj. DoD, unfortunately with Captain Linter sidelined due to kicking a post last week in a fit of rage, it can only go to one man, and that of course is Clemmo for his cameraman antics, and getting dismissed the very next ball. What an Aussie Prick.
I implore you to take some time to watch the day on the below link. Fair play to Sanderstead CC who were not only a decent bunch of lads to play against, but for putting the game online for us all to enjoy over and over. And it would be remiss of me not to thank the cameraman for that, who put in an almighty shift and seemingly does it every week.
We are back at HQ next weekend with the lucky visitors being Woking & Horsell. We’ve beaten the best, and therefore I have no hesitation in saying that we can be the best. Time will tell. We continue the charge.