US correspondent Paul B Davis writes: Team Pacific assembled in the rain at Alexandra Park, not exactly encouraged by what we saw in front of us: waterlogged pitches and more rain on the way. To make a boring story short, some of us left while others waited for over two hours, hoping for a 3:15 start instead of 1pm. Only the gods know why the groundskeeper took the covers off right before the forecast said rain was coming. Anyway, our oppo also left, and of the game scheduled for the adjoining pitch, one of the teams had left as well. However we were able to quickly organize a match against the one team remaining: Archway Ladders. They won the toss and unsurprisingly elected to bowl in the sludge.
Double Paul openers was a surprise call from the skipper, well one of them anyway. Rajkumar, typically aggressive from the start, was looking like a big score might be in the making. Unfortunately the Raj was out for 13 or so trying to steer some rubbish round leg side, but it was extra rubbish, stayed low and hit him plumb as he backed up. He walked before the umpire's finger even went...good man, but let's hope he's not always so quick to leave the middle just because someone shouts.
The other Paul (Davis) was nevertheless providing some absolutely breathtaking batting at the other end. Scintillating. Lovely footwork. That's a complete lie - he was hanging on for dear life as both opening bowlers quickly sussed out that the baseball-reared batsman didn't like short stuff pitching at his body - the wet wicket providing some surprising bounce and the batsman foregoing a helmet. It was touch-and-go as Davis hung on for around 20 balls until he realized there was this strange thing called "a cricket bat" in his hands. At about the same time, the oppo's young change bowler came on. What happened next? Arguably child abuse as four 4's in a row were smashed straight back, two of them stinging the teen bowler's groping fingers. Who says you can't beat your kids anymore? As the Nanny State was briefly lifted from over Alexandra Park, strike partner Duncan claimed he feared for his own safety at the other end. Then some old farty spinner came out and Davis popped one up, good for 31 runs and his highest ever Pacific total.
Speaking of Duncan, he's alright. Made 70-odd and closed the game up. No big deal.
I can't remember what else happened, I was too annoyed at popping up to that spinner when I should have sent the ball to Finsbury Park to pay attention. I think Vamsi was in for a bit, Olli, couple other people and we made 170 for our 30 overs (or so we thought - more on that later). Anyway, it was looking good.
Then we bowled and it wasn't looking so good. It was if lightning had split a gigantic boulder in two, both halves rolling down the hill at Alexandra Park to turn up at opposite ends of the wicket as our opposition's openers: in age, physical appearance, speed, and refusal to get out. Scoring mostly in boundaries, Pranav and Vamsi's opening overs were way more expensive than we needed. Ahmed's overs were, in retrospect, actually not that expensive, but the batsmen seemed untroubled so he was ruthlessly yanked as well. Olli, the sensitive cherub of Pacific, was so upset by bowling three wides in his first over that he yanked himself straightaway. Again it was more of a psychologically than numerically disturbing spell: the over only went for three (the wides), all the other balls were dots.
The batsmen were nonetheless unthreatened, scoring, and things seemed to be slipping away rather quickly. Someone said 100 for 0 at one stage? I can't remember. Anyway there was redemption to be had when P. Davis came on and Olli gave himself the Stuart Smalley treatment until an aura of positivity again flowed through his psyche (for those unfamiliar with early 90s-era Saturday Night Live, that means standing in front of a mirror and saying the phrase "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me!"). Kieran said we "stabilized" the innings. I'm not sure, looking at my figures I still went for 31 in 6 overs. What did happen is that Olli got one of the openers out, and I moved the ball a lot in the air which nullified the other one. So instead of 2 boulders, we had 1 boulder, and even then it was like a tipsy-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff type of boulder. By then Kieran had realized that neither of them could run and was setting appropriate defences anyway. Another wicket or two fell, one of them to a batsman that looked good, and all of the sudden they needed 25 with 4 overs to go.
Vamsi and Pranav returned, bowled tight, and left the K-Dog with the last over to bowl and the oppo needing I think 6. Ahmed quietly fumed in the outfield as he watched K-Dog send down a couple singles and some dots. Ball by ball it went until they needed 4 of the last ball. They didn't get it, the remaining (and bat-carrying) boulder smacking the ball in my general direction at cow corner along the ground. I waltzed in to get it knowing they were unlikely to run 2, much less 4, but then someone yelled at me for being slow and Pranav sped over, picked up the ball, returned it, and we won.
There was a lovely moment when keeper Rajkumar went for a run out after the bails had come off, snarling while he lunged at the stumps - I think he actually ripped out middle stump with his teeth??
Oh, and after the game was over we started to hear rumours from the oppo that they'd "miscalculated", and actually had won...even after scoring ball by ball for the last three overs!?!?! When their skipper popped into our dressing room to deliver the news, Skipper Mullens responded by bitch-slapping him in the face with a spare thighpad. OK OK, that's not quite how it happened...he popped into the dressing room to say that even if they'd found a miscalculation afterwards, we were playing with the score as they had it at the time and the fair thing to do is say that we won. Well, uh, yeah. It ended up not mattering because somebody recalculated our score and realized we'd called it 8 runs short - 170 instead of 178 - so we'd have won anyway. A great win by all accounts with contributions from across the team, especially considering we were playing 8 against 9.