Slaughter in the sunshine

Flashback: on 28 July last year Dodgers beat New Barbarian Weasels by 84 runs, holding eight catches and effecting two run outs. Those of a nervous disposition ought not to read this tale of the 2005 encounter.

JC’s first three actions in this game – up to and including the first ball – were to have a massive bearing on the game. First, his Haig-esque persistence with the “it’ll come up heads eventually” strategy failed us yet again and we were forced to field first on by far the hottest day of the season; second, and less obviously wrong, he declined the offer of a time game.

The third action set the tone for the day. The first ball was pushed to mid-wicket and the non-striker inexplicably set off for a stupid single and was sent back. JC, who had done well to reach the stumps, missed Cooper’s low throw completely and the batsman escaped. To be fair, opinions were mixed about whether the direct hit was required or not.

The early exchanges were quiet after that, with Paterson out of sorts and Benn getting little movement to trouble the batsman. The introduction of Nick Harrison proved effective as he reeled off his eight overs for just 21, snaring one opener thanks to a good catch from McB. At the mid-innings drinks Weasels looked threatening at 87-1 and Tawhid Index were quoting a runs spread around 200 at this point. Their proprietor had to run for cover (actually “the covers”) when the buy orders flooded in, but nobody could have foreseen the carnage to come.

Benn’s comeback spell was expensive as his 100th wicket continued to elude him, returning 0-44, but things got worse and worse. Heads dropped and tempers flickered (briefly) as the run rate increased dramatically with Cooper (7-0-66-0) and Pope (5-0-53-0) severely treated, not helped by some truly atrocious fielding on the hard, fast and bumpy outfield. The opener missed on ball one gave his next chance on about 95 when the Cat downed a simple catch off Pope.

Heads were held in hands, but it got worse still as the opener was dropped again just after his ton en route to 140. Some rapid clatter against McBarron (4-0-45-1 – a good catch from Qureshi) and Paterson (8-0-54-1) saw a ruthless Weasels post 297-5 from their 40 overs – 210 coming off the last 20 (perhaps that was what Tawhid’s quote was for?).

Two sights in these closing overs were unpleasant. First, I hope never again to see a Dodgers side humiliated to the point that, in the first innings of a game, not one fielder saving a single could be justified. Second, I wish we didn’t play against teams that were so anxious to rub our noses in it that they embarked on outrageous strike-farming in the way Weasels did, even going so far as to deliberately run out one of their lesser batsman to rotate the strike in the penultimate over. But that’s only my view.

Dodgers’ reply actually started brightly, with McBarron in good touch and Qureshi gaining confidence with some bright strokeplay. Tawhid eventually played all round a nip-backer for 14 and McB perished in unusual fashion for 31 when he skied a dolly that was promptly dropped; unfortunately he had set off without calling and was easily run out by about 15 yards.

Harrison batted well for a patient 48 with blocks and leaves interspersed with powerful boundaries including a tasty six. Chris Jacobs had been bamboozled somewhat in making just four and JC hit an assured 27 before being trapped in front. Veterans Benn (42) and Matthews (13*) added 62 in quick time against some lesser bowlers at the end to see us to a respectable 206-5 at the close.

It was a game of what-ifs. We wouldn’t have lost a time game, I’m sure, on what was a very flat pitch. But how many would they have got if their opener had been dismissed without facing? Could we have chased down 250? In particular, did they have any decent bowlers in the hutch? We shall never know, but the eventual margin of 91 probably flattered us in what was wholesale slaughter in the last 15 overs.

Comments

John said…
Score correction: Weasels 296-5, Dodgers 207-6 (40 ovs). Not all MoM votes are in but I'll update the totals later. Good report. Tragic match :-(
John said…
MoM votes: Harrison (5), Benn (2), Carr (1) [2 votes to come]