A fine end to the season and a win for Pacific despite overnight rain leaving conditions treacherously slippery for fielders and bowlers.
President Nuggsenhower, sporting a comical number of woollen layers and an East 17-style beanie, chose Satch and his fellow Old Boy Mike Gabday to open the bowling for the opposition. Just two overs into the game Ben edged a good ball from Satch, and Richard Wilson, playing his third and probably last match, took a stunning slip catch, diving back and to his left, to send the Pacific skipper back for a duck. (Amazingly, not a single person said 'I don't belieeeeve it'.)
A game at Wray Crescent wouldn't be complete without one encounter with a neighbourhood crank, and as Ireland joined Toby at the crease play was interrupted by an old chap in 1970s sportwear sprinting on and off the pitch. After being briefly chased by some of the President’s XI, the man settled into an exhausted pose right behind the bowler's arm and refused to move. Ben was diplomatic and managed to persuade the tracksuited resident to at least move out of the batsman's eyeline, and he continued his 'training' with some yogic thrusting behind a tree.
Toby and Tom saw out tricky spells from Satch, Mike and first-change Shaz, who all made the ball talk in the overcast conditions, and the pair accumulated 140 for the second wicket. With the outfield damp, muddy, unkempt, and dog-poo-strewn, Ireland decided to take the aerial route and was fortunate not to fall early, dropped by Satch and the president. Eventually the luck of the Irish ran out, and the one they inaccurately call Paddy was stumped off Soumik trying to put the ball into orbit, for 84.
Toby fell a few overs later, bowled by President Nuggson for 49. At 153-2, with around ten overs left, Pacific were in a strong position as Webbo and Kurt came in and immediately began to slap George W Nuggs and his men around with disdain. Webbo reached 60 in no time, Kurt 35, and Pacific accelerated up to 252-3 from their 40 overs.
Tea was merrily scoffed by the two teams and any leftovers were hoovered up by the band of travelling cricket enthusiasts, who joined us for the third October weekend in succession and have absolutely loved the autumnal cricket at Wray.
Pacific's opening bowlers James 'Smiffy' Smith and 'Wacko' Giaco Bridgett steamed in after the break, their scotch egg-powered run ups helping them generate good pace. Both forced edges into Boorman's waiting mitts to dismiss Mike and Satch, leaving All The President's Men in a pickle at 20-2.
Soumik and Adi rebuilt the presidential innings nicely – the latter showing a hint of what was to come with an effortless front foot flash for six over point early on in his innings. Soumik fell to Kurt's accurate medium pace for 28, but Adi continued to punish Pacific and went on to make an effortless and rapid 106. Just as the game started to run away from the Pacific crew, Hollman junior stepped up to the plate, dismissing Adi, Sandeep, Wilson and Mamun in seven overs of excellent legspin. The less said about the hip-before-wicket decision that sent Wilson back the better.
It was left to Theodore Nuggsvelte and his running-mate Tony to try and scrape the President's XI over the line. Both hit some nice shots and with three overs left they needed just 24. But in near darkness, the final wicket fell to Pete, with the team from the White House still 16 short. Mr President was left unassassinated on 29.
Players from both teams discussed technique over pints of Riley's Red (4.7%) in the White Lion of Mortimer, where Ben and Tom were this time befriended by an electronically-tagged boozehound on the run from the police. We forgot to ask if he bats or bowls, but if the judge is lenient we could have a new member to fight the footballers for us next summer.
A hardcore of seven headed for some Turkish scran in the Petek restaurant down the road. After several bottles of Jesus Juice, and exhausted by their sterling efforts, Tony T and the A-bomb opted for an upright snooze at the table. Adi flew South (Putney) for the winter, and Toby scuttled off home to iron his dress, and an even more hardcore of three headed for more refreshments in The Faltering Fullback, where Satch confused Ben and Tom with a baffling Indian proverb about an elephant shitting out a melon.
A close game, played in good spirits, with the cricketing gods taking pity on us and holding off the forecast rain until nightfall. A decent end to a disappointing season, with Pacific's improved display in the field hopefully a sign of a catch-tastic 2013.