Seven, eight, nine. Prior, Broad, Swann. Names that roll off the tongue for a trio who have often assuaged the easily provoked fears of England cricket fans spooked by the too commonplace '90s batting collapses. At Highgate, as the sun dipped beneath the ground's ring of trees, it was our eight and nine who provided spine, with Commander Bridgett and Master Gleadow’s skilled batsmanship securing Pacific a battling draw which offers optimism for the future.Highgate’s batting showpiece of 249 was garlanded with Holly, who constructed a chanceless 136 before retiring. JG and GB, alongside seam allies Lucius Faisal and the Web master bowled as well as they might on an unhelpful wicket, but Jon profited to the tune of two wickets by taking the slow, low pitch out of the equation with a full, swinging trajectory. However, this would be Holly’s day, his innings a study in risk-averse accumulation. He placed rather than pummelled, expanding his scoring options to include the skies more often only once our brothers in spin struggled to find a length. Perhaps our tweakers needed an earlier introduction. This innings would surely have been approved of by Uncle Algie, who had a defining role nurturing Geoffrey Boycott’s unquenchable run-scoring thirst. “Stay in, lad. You can’t make ‘owt in pavillion,” was uncle’s legendary dictum, which Holly followed to a tee before retiring not out just before tea.Pacific’s Mr Cricket Steve Lay set the tone for a bold reply with his first couple of scoring shots, twice cut-slashing Islam to the boundary with the ferocity of one with collective and personal goals in mind*. In tandem with companion Chasseaud (35), a promising 68 run partnership was constructed. But, having just sweetly driven Worsley, Lay was tempted to cut a straight ‘un. He had already been gifted a life by, off all people, Holly, whose predilection for the turf was so great that, when Lay earlier gently spooned a catch to point, sight of an airborne ball seemed to send his co-ordinatory functions into sleep mode. Nice lad, but perhaps on this occasion the cricketing gods of modesty were chastising him for wearing a Dennis Lillee-style headband on the field while bowling gentle off spin.We were then treated to a gem of an innings from a resurgent Richards (46), who’d scored a hundred against these opponents two years ago. Like Marcus Trescothick at his best, Richards employs a stand and deliver approach combining economy of foot movement, a magical eye and a lusty blade swing. Not high Richards perhaps but the very best of a blossoming late Richards, the highlight of which was a six over extra cover against the wily darts of Vaijinath. After Webley, Alexander, Mullens and Faisal perished cheaply, Richie Benaud would have opined that Steve needed to be there at the close for Pacific to have any chance of saving the game. But the brutally muscular "my how you’ve grown" Jake Sharland, who as a slip of a lad had played for Pacific, produced a rip snorter with his McCague-like chest-on action first ball, forcing Richards to glove behind.Game over? GB and JG would have none of it. Benefitting from his newfound responsibility, the Anglo-Italian combined aggression with defensive sense, allowing himself square time to construct the innings that his talents deserve. We watched the steady blade of defence and witnessed considerable power as several balls were creamed to the boundary with what the Italians call an energia which define the man. The Nugget, meanwhile, just as he approaches his bowling, fielding, and, perhaps, life beyond the boundary, employed measured precision. Keeping his hands soft and low to the pace of Stansland on entering, he blocked, nurdled, and occasionally cut loose, shepherding Pacific to the respectable figure of 207 for 7. Both men ended unbeaten on 31, numerically significant for this is also Giaco’s age, perhaps symbolising an emergent maturity as a byproduct of the captain’s responsibility. And for the Nugget? Well, the man of measure measured up nicely. As for Pacific, we move on, move up and keep on keeping on… * The man whose statistical devotion illuminates Pacific history lies within reach of a club landmark figure, just 500 or so runs from the promised land of 10,000. And in the year of our 30th anniversary it’s worth remembering that this cricketing journey started out some 29 summers ago in 1984, marking nigh on three decades of persistence, patience and sweaty pads. Statistics are the lifeblood of a club and cricketer’s existence, documenting our past successes, motivating us to future triumphs – we wish Pacific’s cricket conservator well in his pursuit.
Other matches: Sun 15-Oct-2017, Wray Crescent, Mon 01-May-2017, Highgate CC, Collis king in fourth successive victory, Sat 28-May-2016, Wray Crescent, Won 148 runs Raining on our parade, Mon 02-May-2016, Highgate CC, Drawn The highest Irish landmark, Mon 04-May-2015, Highgate CC, Lost 5 wickets Webley leads the victory chase, Mon 05-May-2014, Highgate CC, Won 7 wickets I regret to inform you..., Mon 07-May-2012, Highgate CC, Cancelled Richards leads run fest, Mon 25-Apr-2011, Highgate CC, Won 5 wickets Long awaited return ends with victory, Sun 08-Aug-2010, Highgate CC, Won 3 wickets By Mutual Agreement, Sun 27-Apr-2008, Highgate CC, Cancelled Highgate Social 1 Highgate Club 0. We Miss Out Again, Sun 09-Jul-2006, Highgate CC, Cancelled A Win To Avoid the Wooden Spoon, Sun 04-Dec-2005, Middx Ckt Academy, Won 25 Runs Favourites Confirm Status, Thu 09-Jun-2005, Victoria Park Pitch 1, Lost 2 wickets Sun 21-Nov-2004, Middx Ckt Academy, Lost 9 runs Xmas dinner at the Alexanders, Thu 28-Aug-2003, Highgate CC, Abandoned As a draw