One of the most hotly contested games of the season, this draw was incident-laden, spirited, and occasionally tempestuous like the storms which buffeted the ground for much of the day. A spectacle so compelling you couldn't keep your eyes off it until the last ball, even when sheets of rain and impending darkness impaired the view.
Put in to bat, Pacific reached 165 in a rain interrupted innings. After captain Boorman's timber was felled by journalist Ben Bloom's vicious swing, UCS' talented opening bowler, he of an infuriatingly unorthodox, slingy action, Kurd and Pandit weathered the storm. Playing and missing occasionally on a pitch with uneven bounce and sideways movement, the pair patiently negotiated a lengthy opening spell from Bloom and his partner in away-swing, Pandit freeing his arms and letting loose with his fast hands to loft several balls to the cover boundary when the opportunity arose. After Rohan was out mistiming a drive, Webley arrived, steering his first ball to mid on with good timing, before edging a good ball from Bloom to slip in the next over, UCS vice-captain Joe Craig taking a brilliant one handed catch diving to his right. Ireland, fresh from a Lord's visit last Sunday, set about his work with the brio of young Bairstow, timing the ball off his legs early on with the same dexterity he'd showed at the Tudor Ground weeks earlier. As blue skies evanesced and thicker, darker cumuli carpeted the sky over Hampstead, Aditya perished. L Mo entered the fray with the skies opening, but Pacific's property man was as safe as houses in the squall.
The covers came on and players rushed to the club house for what turned out to be an extended lunch, with Pacific 73 for 4 off 23 overs. Provided by Pacific and neatly arranged by Webley and Mullens, our food offering felt a little like a reprisal of the hey day of Ready, Steady, Cook. And if cheeky Ainsley Harriot had been to hand he would have been naturally intrigued by our shopping bags. There was the obligatory sandwich platter, the squads' sarnie choices being diverse, from egg and cress to more dubious multipack orange cheesey goo sandwiches, whose garishly coloured cheese alerted this writer to culinary d-a-n-g-e-r. Sausage rolls, Jamaican ginger cake, Bramley apple pies, fairy cakes and some mini muffins in particular were also enjoyed. Minneolas gave cake-lovers a gentle prod in the direction of at least one of the five a day. Pacific made themselves at home in the club house, some watching the 20 20 semis and Bumble's hilarious commentary, others stepping up to the oche for a game of 'killer' at the dart board, Ireland proving a skilful arrow assassin.
As skies brightened, the covers came off, a pitch inspection by UCS' enduringly loyal umpire Andrew led both teams to keenly voice their opinions on a course of action. Pacific were keen to get the game restarted while several UCS men adopted a more risk-averse position, worried by the prospect of injury in a now wet outfield and concerned by repair the groundsman might have to undertake. Further storms put paid to the debate as teams retired to the pavilion, some Pacifists, frustrated by the weather and now sceptical of any further possible play, donning their fine casual wares and heading to the bar to enjoy a strong bottle of ale or two.
But this seesaw of a day would spring another surprise just before five when Andrew deemed play possible, with a revised format of 20 overs from 6.30 employed. Ireland and Mohamed, the former suffused with the speckled spirit of an old hen, came out and obliterated UCS spinners, the home team caught in the headlights by L Mo and Tommy's 'ire'. In just 45 minutes of play, the pair put on nearly 100 runs. Ireland connected with everything, scoring 79 from 61 balls, Mohamed similarly blasting his way to 31. The day’s protracted storms were unable to dampen gathering momentum as Ireland hit maximums all over the field, muting a previously garrulous, high-spirited UCS attack. Mohamed too had his 'mo'ments, one six soaring over the boundary in the 'v' on the leg-side, Lahri's bat swinging through like a beautiful pendulum. A generous declaration from Boorman gave UCS an opportunity to bat and some 30 overs to reach the target.
Pacific took to the field with their tails up, vociferous, keyed up. Jon Brown, carrying on last week's form at Palmer's Green, bowled an immaculate line and length to take two top order wickets, one bowled the other dextrously caught by Adi standing up to the stumps. Satish, reminding some of Courtney Walsh with his open-chested, rhythmic action, also probed away to beat the bat numerous times without luck. Webley had something to prove coming on at first change and generated fearsome pace, eventually finding Taylor's outside edge with a beauty. Dark clouds converged again, and with the rain falling, Andrew decided to take the players off. UCS, in the mood to claim an unlikely victory, now urged ump to keep us on the field, a volte face from their earlier caution. And so we were back. Ireland, in another all-round diamond of a performance cleaned up Goldsmith after the outspoken left hander had clubbed him for six. A few choice words greeted his departure. With captain Johnson returning home to look after mother and baby, Pacific now sniffed victory. But Joe Craig had other ideas and with destructive power all over the wicket set about reducing the deficit. Some 50 runs were needed off the last five but, with precision batting and with Pacific fielders flummoxed by the fading light, a hitherto unlikely UCS victory began to seem feasible. 30 odd needed from 2. Craig began to hit fours at will off Kurd and Ireland from full and straight balls. In the last over Ireland was punished off the first three balls and Pacific hearts skipped a beat. Surely we couldn’t lose this one?! But Ireland managed a dot or two and, after UCS were unable to score a six off the last ball to tie the game, a draw it would be, both sets of players completely engrossed by the action.
And so the Lindridge-McDougall Memorial Trophy remains with UCS for another year. With their chewy, freshly baked bagels, charcuterie board, and homemade lemon drizzle and banana and chocolate cake, UCS edged Pacific in the culinary quality stakes, but on the field you couldn’t separate us. Both teams displayed passion and skill in an absorbing game seemingly charged by the lightning forks illuminating the skies around us. Though emotions occasionally got the better of both teams, underneath there lay no substance, like the skies which were dark one moment, cobalt blue the next. Post-match beers were enjoyed by both teams and the banter flowed. Bring on 2013!
Skipper Boorman found a culinary ally in the mini muffin and also very much enjoyed the moist freshness of UCS' banana and chocolate cake.
A solid all round performance and his nascent form on the dart board would have made Sid Waddell proud. Had L Mo chanting Rohan's namesake "Kanhai, Kanhai" as darkness fell.
Vocal, supportive, humble and highly skilled with glove and bat. A Pacific gemstone in the making that would have Peter Simon of Bid TV fame cooing with delight. "Just buy it!"
The Pacific totem has found love and is slowly rediscovering cricketing pleasures. A big, big innings is just around the corner.
See Tom's twitter page for an illuminating account of his dismissal. Let's just say it involved folds of human flesh. A classy performer is Tom.
L Mo showed that nothing is as it seems in cricket. A shoulder injury has somewhat curtailed his form and enjoyment this season and our cigar-smoking left hander was bemoaning his luck as the rain fell. Minutes later he was out on the park flashing the blade with abandon. Form is simply a concept L Mo!
Abdo-guard has taken its long-awaited place in Kieran's kit bag. Pacifists can now relax in the knowledge that their prized testicle custodian will be tarnished no longer. An afternoon when Kieran well and truly relived his schoolboy corridor sliding days on a slippery top of a pitch.
The Jersey-born legspinner/ topspinner showcased his extensive knowledge of looming cloud formations, giving substance to the amateurish meteorological predictions flying about. Get more overs under his belt and he'll be clouding batsmen's minds with increasing regularity too. Hoping to see plenty more of him in Pacific colours.
Satish Thiagarajan - Azure like it!
The eloquent seamer encapsulates the infinite variety of the Pacific player. Earlier in the day our Satch was celebrating the natural beauty of Hampstead’s environs, in particular a church spire behind the club house set against a backdrop of "cerulean" skies. After the game the lad also showed his appreciation of the feminine form, charming the pants (not literally) off of a young Tory web expert. So entranced he hardly even noticed we'd left. Lovely stuff…
The Pacific legend has truly found his form with the ball, nibbling it around on a length Glory days…
Tamby T doesn't always get the bowl or bat he deserves but he keeps coming back for more. He's a team man who has loved the game since he was a slip of a thing growing up in Colombo in the then Ceylon. Cherish the Tamby and his bramley apple pies!