~~Statistical interlude [and spoiler alert]: plaudits, hats off and kudos to Aroon Korgaonkar, who remained not out at the end of Pacific's innings and therefore managed to pass the entire season without losing his wicket. As he only played 5 innings, club geeks will surely argue over whether it merits him a special place in club statistician Steve Lay's ever-expanding Pacific Stats.~~
Having lost the toss and put in to field, Satish Thiagarajan and Brown quickly got a wicket a piece and Denham were 7 for 2 at one stage. The conditions were perfect for both bat and ball with the sun shining over the north west London M25 greenbelt, intermittent cloud cover, and moisture from the last day’s rain meaning movement in the air for the quickies and turn off the pitch for the spinners: the stage was set for a contest.
Alas! But that was not to be. Denham's No. 4 D Taws and opener J Nicholas were tested by both the opening bowlers but the batsmen resolutely held their nerve and more importantly held on to their wickets. Taws was dropped once in his 20s, and didn’t look back from there on. Along with Nicholas, Taws – diminutive in figure and gigantic in attitude - played a sensible knock, hitting the ball along the ground, playing with a straight bat, leaving sensibly and on more than one occasion pulling and hooking confidently. Being dropped (!) early on in his innings merely seemed to bolster the lad's confidence, and he left the visitors rueing yet another failure to hold an aerial chance. Nicholas though it seemed was playing a helping hand treated himself handsomely by scoring 73 before falling for a ripper of a catch by Chasseaud - who diving to his left managed to hang on to a fast-travelling ball with consummate ease. The pair had put on a game winning 144 for the third wicket, more than half of Denham’s total. Chasseaud's catch was to be the high-point of Pacific’s fielding. With the exception of a few including the Captain leading by example, Pacific’s fielding was below par and one couldn’t help feeling that Denham was gifted 30 odd runs on the field.
After Aroon Korgaonkar’s tidy spell and Nair’s many full tosses, Allum and Haill began to operate at tandem from both ends and were easily the pick of the bowlers for Pacific. Bowling a tight length and not giving too much by the way of flight, both the spinners brought the scoring rate under control while Allum managed to take wickets at regular intervals as well. He finished with the best figures of 3 for 39 off his 8 overs. Soon Taws fell Leg Before to Allum for a well made 70. Denham’s middle order seemed inexplicably weaker than the lower order who with their strong bottom hand managed to send Thiagarajan disappearing across all the corners of the rather beautiful park. Lack of accuracy for a fast bowler is a major handicap and Thiagarajan by that measure was eligible for a double-disabled parking badge. The last 4 wickets put on 75 runs and the game was, by that time mentally well away from Pacific.
Set a target of 246 in 40 overs, Toby Chasseaud and skipper Ben Boorman opened the batting for Pacific. The pitch was true and though Denham continued with the old ball there was decent carry to the keeper and at one end specifically there was uneven bounce, but not too pronounced to trouble the batsmen. After Chasseaud was caught behind of a fine edge, it was a parade of shiny blades by Pacific batsmen. Denham – by chance or by design– made some curious choices with their bowling changes: opening with their lesser bowler at one end, their attack progressively got better.
At 9 for 1, Rob Allum joined Boorman and the pair got off to a decent start putting on 34 for the second wicket. But before long Allum was bowled through the gate which started a trend: Pacific lost eight out of ten wickets without assistance from the field. Seven bowled (and one LBW) shows there is something alarmingly wrong with the technique… for the pitch wasn’t the culprit here; nor was the pace.
Yet there was to be a glimmer of hope for Pacific. After Lahri Mohammed’s quick departure without troubling the scorer, Aditya Pandit and Sandeep Nair joined forces and played a partnership that showed character, patience, and resilience. Strike was rotated and the loose ball punished. They put on 59 runs for the 6th wicket; a tally definitely brought down by two factors: a capital field setting restricting the batsmen to ones and twos and the bowlers (for most part) bowling to the field. That didn’t stop Nair from dispatching a spinner for the longest six of the day and Pandit playing a face saving innings of 43, his highest for Pacific.
But with Nair departing for 23, the not-so-long tail didn’t take long to fall. Oliver Haill and Aroon Korgaonkar put on a brave front, but there was no hope of snatching victory from the oesophagus of defeat. Jon Brown departed for 7 closing Pacific’s innings and a forgettable day at 178 all out.
The clouds rolled in and rolled off every now and then, a good Tea was served by Denham’s folks who were a friendly, unassuming bunch with a well maintained club house and a great serving of IPA. The club house was symptomatic of the team: the jocular caricatures of the players, the photographs of teams going back to early 20th century, a well-maintained ground and equipment, the sub-urban life… maybe made Denham a more cohesive, winning unit on that autumn day. But psychological aspects of the game apart, Pacific were thoroughly outplayed with the bat, the ball, and on the field.