A dreamy victory for Pacific against grudgematch rivals Strongroom CC. This win had everything: a picturesque setting, a baking hot day, a small crowd and an against-all-odds climax that a Hollywood film producer might call cheesy.
Pacific were put in to bat on a typically lively Highgate Wood track. From one end the ball lifted off a length and from the other it seemed to shoot along the floor.
After a period of grafting Stu was out trying to push the score on, and Boorman followed suit soon after, pushing to slip. Faced with large boundaries, a misbehaving pitch and a bowling line-up consisting mainly of accurate, fast spin, runs were hard to come by, and for the first ten overs byes and leg byes were the only thing keeping Pacific above 2 an over.
Wickets then fell consistently with Pacific under constant pressure to score more than they could. Retrospectively, Webbo's 34 was a massive knock. Shaz and newcomer Andrew Birley hung around to add valuable runs but Pacific were all out for a feeble 117 after 36 (?) overs.
An impressive tea (involving stuffed vine leaves, olives and smoked salmon) was scoffed Al fresco as locals gathered to play aerobie and eat ice cream pitchside in the sunshine. Pacific took to the field full of not just food but hope, with everyone agreeing that the pitch was lively enough to cause an upset.
Lucius and Jon Brown opened with probing spells of seam that had Strongroom's openers playing and missing repeatedly. Both kept the runs down and had plenty of chances but the breakthrough didn't come and at 60-odd for 0 Strongroom's openers started to look settled. Lesser teams may have given up the ghost.
After a couple of trademark wangers down leg Ireland found a rainbow rhythm and bowled Strongroom's limpet Mike Gabday, and Pacific's energy levels soared. Next over Shaz trapped their number (?) leg before and amazingly, the pressure seemed to be on Strongroom. There was suddenly not just fluffy pollen stuff floating across the pitch, there was magic in the air. Pacific's fielding was exemplary - Sam Parkinson, Stu Hopper and Andrew Birley all put in sterling performances pouncing on anything hit towards them, and in these middle overs Strongroom couldn't buy a run.
In a frenetic 10 over period, Shaz took another and Ireland took out three more of Strongroom's middle order, Ireland's scalps all pouched by the excellent keeper Sam Gilliard - one of which was a cracking late take diving in front of slip. Pacific sensed something special despite having less than 40 runs to play with, and Webbo bowled two more of Strongroom's increasingly panicked batsmen with good wicket-to-wicket seam. Eventually Strongroom started to close in on their 117 target, but Satch once again stepped up and took the final match-winning wicket with just 4 runs to spare. It was a remarkable win given that at no point in the game did Pacific look on paper to be in a winning position. Strongroom lost their last 9 wickets for 60 (?) runs.
After much rejoicing, Pacific joined the Strongroom crew for beers in the nearby Woodman alehouse. Truly excellent vibes.
Can whoever uploads the scorebook double check my facts!?