Batting first, Mayfield amassed a highly competitive 228/9 from 45 overs. For at least 30 overs, Pacific's spin-heavy bowling attack kept their opponents under wraps on Broxbourne's smaller pitch. Opening pair James Gleadow and Jon Brown, playing in his first match of the season, bowled with typical accuracy and composure on a slow wicket. They deserved wickets but had no luck. First change spinner Oli Haill and his comrade in tweak Mr Aroon Korgaonkar formed a formidable alliance. Left armer Haill found his groove immediately, turning the ball sharply away from the right handers with enough pace to cause continuous consternation. Arch tempter Aroon offered a perfect counterbalance, his gentle, arcing, daedalan deliveries coaxed many a Mayfielder into injudicious strokes. They picked up one and three wickets respectively.
With wickets in hand, Mayfield accelerated with long, commanding strides in the final 15, like a Usain Bolt 100m. Gilliver’s batting travels took him to 60, with offensive contributions offered by Sondh and Kazi. Ahmed Hussain, Rajesh Thind and the death-bowling Kieran Mullens bowled a number of good balls. But when they strayed, Mayfield's middle and late order attacked mercilessly, showing particular delight in the splish splosh of leather on water as a succession of maximums sailed into the adjoining stream. Credit to Richard and Oliver for combining to fish the ball from water with Crystal Maze-like ingenuity, Oliver having procured a pole from bankside. I imagined Richard O' Brien and Ed Tudor Pole smiling beatifically on them.
Following a carb-heavy tea (sausage rolls, egg mayo sandwiches, pork pies, Mr Kipling lemon slices and Sainsbury's Everyday Value Neapolitan ice cream), ten men Pacific (Giaco 'Knievel' Bridgett had earlier been intercepted on his journey to the ground by a failed attempt to jump his scooter over an iPod listening pedestrian, followed by a trip to A&E) returned, grounded (in body and mind) and ready for the challenge ahead.
Openers Richards and Captain Mohamed knew the value of establishing a foundation in a seemingly batting-light line up and progressed accordingly. After a slow start, Mayfield’s opening pair perked up, finding swing and seam movement which required experience and skill to combat. But when given the chance our pair showed their class, Richards caressing the ball off his legs here, Mohamed pulling a short ball for four there. But having seen off the new ball, our technicians relaxed and perished, falling to slower, less threatening change bowlers.
So arrived Haill and Gleadow, two all-rounders keen to show their batting prowess with this high promotion bestowed upon them by Mohamed. Perhaps inspired by events at Edgbaston, where West Indian number 11 Tino Best had biffed and bashed his way to a Test best for a last man, the two displayed flair to keep Pacific in contention. Haill took the lead, swatting the ball to all corners of the ground, with Gleadow displaying technical accomplishment around the wicket, two memorable flicks off the legs for four in succession standing out.
With Haill bowled by a straight ball when playing back and looking for a big hit, Mullens arrived with pretensions to prove that he too could cut the mustard higher up the order. Scampering singles when possible to tight bowling, Mullens showed solid technique against the quicks, but, once he'd loosened his shoulders and started to attack, he also showed a certain flaccidity of mind, his over eagerness to run at all costs with partner Gleadow proved his downfall. A direct hit meant a third run out in three innings this season.
Like the Dude in The Big Lebowski, Gleadow abides. And so he did as partners then came and went as the muscular Singh started to make the ball talk. Richard hit some lovely shots, in particular a lovely flick off the legs. He will get better and better. Then Browny was out, Rajesh hit his first ball to cover point, an unfortunate dismissal to a brilliant catch, and so the strapping quick was on a hat trick.
But who better to arrive in a crisis than Aroon? Calmly defending anything on the stumps, the stalwart offered soft hands to everything else, letting the speed of ball do the work. He raced to 20 with five sweetly timed shots. Added drama was brought to proceedings when fulcrum Gleadow was bowled in the final over. So Ahmed Hussain arrived at the crease for the second time in less than a week with the result hanging in the balance.
Pads still on, Gleadow knelt down with his back to the pitch, like a parishioner timidly asking for kindnesses from the cricketing Gods. And they answered his supplications. Ahmed pushed forward to a full ball, hitting his pads. Mayfield went up in a collective chorus. Not out, sliding down leg said ultimate arbiter Mohamed, the god of Cuban cigars. So as Pacificists retired to the Len Froggatt sports centre for ales, lagers and dry roasted peanuts, they could be suitably satisfied with their collective commitment in a battling draw.
Steve Richards – Lithe wicket keeping, an always humorous and supportive presence, interesting views on the internet and its myriad pleasurable uses. Lent Kieran several pieces of kit, including his prized bat and box. Pure magnanimity – a true gent.
Lahri Mohamed – Diving here and there in the field, set a collective example for a disciplined, committed Pacific fielding performance. Fluid batsmanship and, with cigar in hand, looked smoother than a seal's cravat.
James Gleadow – All-round excellence. As he approaches 250 Pacific wickets, the Nugget is providing the kind of stability and continuity cherished in sovereign states.
Oliver Haill – Our match manager proved more than a match for Mayfield, his cornucopia of skills and turn of phrase cherished by his team mates. Spin mastery, swat blastery, throwing arm like Brett Lee (direct run out). Turn the ball back into the right hander and he will be F O R M I D A B L E.
Kieran Mullens – Loves a slide and grass stains on whites. Equalled his wicket tally for last season with a caught and bowled. Batting developing nicely. Needs the internet at home thinks Steve.
Richard Whiteoak – Alert and eager in the field. The actuary showed batting promise in a brief cameo. Dorset tour will help him finesse his game. Set to flourish at Pacific.
Jon Brown – Lathered in sun cream under cloudy skies, Golden Brown's first game of the season showed he hasn't lost his bowling gifts. A calm, wise Pacific totem, 'Browny' will demonstrate his batting ability during the course of the season. Lovely run out combo with Richards.
Rajesh Thind – Our writer/director/producer is primed to enhance Pacific's North Side Story with his very own brand of genial, jocular largesse. Bowled some neat deliveries and, as Kieran found to his cost in some throw downs, has neat timing with the bat. This hedonist loves nothing more than an ale and a smoke. We also learned of his dislike of the Football Association in the wake of the Ferdinand debacle. Thoroughly enjoying his Pacif salad days – lovely stuff.
Aroon Korgaonkar – Frog in a blender he may be, but this lad is producing amphibian smoothies of the highest order. Stoic in the field. Took a superb diving catch and almost incurred injury diving for a second on the boundary off Kieran. Ever the team man, Aroon was unmoved at the end.
Ahmed Hussain – Pacific's bespoke legspinner bowled some sweet deliveries but found it hard to find consistency on Sunday, especially with such short boundaries. His fielding and batting have improved immeasurably. All looks bright on the Hussain horizon.