Today was a victory not just for Pacific – but for English eccentricity against the odds. Who said you can't play cricket in October?
Well, to be honest, most of us thought we wouldn't get a game in after torrential downpours throughout Friday and overnight. The tea had been cancelled, trips to the cinema had been booked and extended lie-ins awaited.
But when Pacific founding father Peter Hollman drove to Wray Crescent for an early-morning pitch inspection, he found reason for optimism. "I've been to the ground and the outfield has drained surprisingly well," he reported to the bleary-eyed and hungover cricketers. "I tried the pitch and there is no moisture, with the ball bouncing well and not picking up water."
And so it was that we would squeeze in yet another game into a long season. Pacific batted first and scored a Richie Benaud-tastic 222 in our 35 overs. James Gleadow, opening the bowling for the visitors, was disappointed to have to contend with the intimidating Rizwan Siddique, who struck a typically aggressive 50. When Riz launched the ball into Islington, Gleadow was very quick to fetch a brand new one from the pavilion. Meanwhile, at the other end, Toby Chasseaud, despite the usual sledging from Gleadow, worked his way to 1000 runs for the season. The milestone must have got his head, because just minutes later he walked somewhat charitably when the replays showed he had scuffed the ground with the toe of his bat when driving at an unexpectedly pitched-up delivery from Sardar Mayana, who was also guesting for the visitors. Well, that's what the replays might have shown in the expert opinion of the eagle-eyed umpire. Tom Ireland, looking like the Incredible Hulk in his boys' legpads, hit 42. Young pretender Luke Hollman, hoping to repeat his heroics of the previous weekend, apparently picked out Jonty Gleadow at point after being roughed up by a firebomb from Mayana that bounced sharply. Aussie Karl Mathiesen made 29 not out on his Pacific debut. He was later overheard describing his exploits to his girlfriend as "a batting masterclass", which isn't too far off the mark. Pete Hollman pitched in with a little cameo at the end after baseball player Paul Davis gave his wicket away by charging the bowler – and what a charge it was! It almost looked as if he would hit the ball before it had even left the bowler's hand. Unfortunately, Davis didn't hit the ball at all, and was stumped while halfway down the track.
A disappointing tea, after we had cancelled our Subway delivery thinking that the match would be called off, consisted of little more than a couple of slices of cold pizza and a packet of crisps – between 18 people! K Dog would not have been impressed.
In reply, Pimlico could only stroll their way to about 165, despite a battling 50 by Mayana. All the Pacific bowlers performed well. Luke bowled with discipline and was yet again robbed of a stumping (and a caught-behind) by dubious umpiring. Tom found some useful swing to hit the outside of the off stump twice. Riz gave Mayana a taste of his own medicine by peppering him with short stuff, but at considerably quicker pace. Rob could have had three wickets in his first over. The glovework of Toby, who had been surprised to be asked to keep wicket, became more assured as the innings went on.
Thanks again to Christopher Clayton for scoring.