An enthralling match against long-standing rivals ended with level scores after 64 overs of rollercoaster cricket action. The match was reduced by 16 overs as the local constabulary patiently discussed with some aggressive footballers the possibility they might want to move off the pitch, as us cricketers had a paid booking for the facility.
"It is really time for the council to get to grips with this issue which has ruined most of our Sunday fixtures at Wray for years and years," said skipper James Gleadow. (The footballers argue that Wray - the only cricket pitch in the entire borough of Islington - is a public park and so, despite the council taking money for our booking, it is theirs to play on whenever they wish.)
After this tense and frustrating start, Pacific lost the toss and took to the field with some optimism, having never lost to Homerton or their previous incarnation as Chats Palace since the two teams first began playing each other in 2001. It was still early and the optimism was not dimmed too much when Giaco Bridgett dropped a hard-hit chance to Walid on zero, although it was later rued as the batsman made a fluent 77, hitting everyone to all corners before falling to Nuggsy's short run up trick.
New Homerton skipper Christie played an anchor role hitting 57 to almost carry his bat before being run out in the final over. Pacific were a little lethargic in the field but the catching was good with the skipper taking two excellent catches off Vincent Croft's bowling.
A contentious moment briefly upped the temperature when Ahmed Hussain was denied a caught behind despite Ali Pritchard's brilliant grab standing up to the spinner. This was a brief blip as Ahmed bowled an excellent economical spell (0-23) despite other bowlers being hit to all corners. Two such victims were Oli Haill and Croft, who were punished for bowling a touch too short but the batsmen played aggressively with wickets in hand. A challenging total was set, aided by a dose of tight wides.
The Homerton attack was unlike any faced previously, with accurate and pacey opening bowlers recruited from league clubs whose seasons had finished. These accounted for Ali and, despite some resistance from a free-hitting Steve Lay, we were in trouble with two wickets down for not a lot on the board.
Opener Soumik was joined by Sandeep Nair and the pair began the rebuild with the former showing a lovely array of touch shots including some superb front foot driving off the seamers. Soumik was eventually yorked for 21 trying to up the rate as the runs required per over began to rise alarmingly.
Smith joined Sandeep and they began to sieze the initiative against change bowling with an 84 run partnership, especially some towering sixes from the former as he unfurled his 5-iron. The opposition began to quieten down as these agricultural heaves cleared the fence but overall their ground fielding was better than ours. Smith departed for 46 playing across the line to a long hop after hitting four maximums.
By then Sandeep had his eye in and began to pierce the infield with an array of strokes. Haill supported him perfectly, with the left- and right-hand combination mixing hard hitting and quick running to excellent effect. The opening bowlers were brought back in very poor light and it seemed the task would be beyond Pacific with 29 required from 12 balls.
However, Sandeep (75no) and Oli (30no) hadn't read the script and inspired by the England (women's) T20 team they showed super hustle to drive Pacific to the brink. With two required to win from the final ball a bye was run to the keeper to end an exciting match.
From the game's belligerant beginnings to its breathtaking finish, Pacific showed grit to remain in the contest when they were on the ropes, but victory ultimately managed to evade our grasp. Homerton were a much improved outfit who will surely test us in next year's fixture where we can hopefully get the rub of the green.