Pacific triumph over Gleadiators
Pacific v James Gleadow Alliance at Wray Crescent  Sat 28 Oct 2017 at Midday
Won by 151 runs
Friendly fixture

April is the cruellest month, but November runs it a good second, as dark evenings and general chill herald the grim time of the year (shorter, admittedly, than at most clubs) when there is no cricket save a probable vicarious drubbing 12,000 miles away and maybe the odd Catford net.


After enduring a good month of ironic incredulity from colleagues, friends, other halves, publicans, and random people in the street unable to believe we were still playing, within about three days of the final weekend of the season we were all shivering to work in the frost, unable to believe we’d recently been playing. Given some of the soggy wash-outs at the arse-end of July, it wasn’t at all unpleasant conditions to be playing in, with plenty of autumnal sunshine and an outfield that was at worst soft. With two strong sides on paper, we looked set for yet another thriller after a recent run of cracking games.


Pacific won the toss and batted, and rather sportingly, given we had two keepers to the Galliance's nil, donated Mutz, in a shining demonstration of the Spirit of Cricket. Of course, the real spirit of cricket, certainly in the realm of the friendly-but-competitive Sunday game, is non-stop banter and piss-taking, particularly when fraternal rivalries are concerned, and we were treated to 35 high-quality overs of Riz making sarcastic remarks about Mutz's ball-stopping merits compared to, say, a rolled-up sweater, and Mutz querying Riz's competence to e.g. skipper a pack of lemmings over a cliff.


Having escaped the Curse of Wray that has claimed the debut of nearly all Ahmed's mates from the Oval coaching clinic, Pete wasn't so lucky this time: having calmly played himself in he was gifted a wide long-hop that failed to bounce as much as is usual at Wray (the autumnal damp finally starting to seep under the wicket, we reckon), and put Mutz 1-0 up in the Siddiqui's Hillbilly feud, with a fine diving catch at full stretch. Opening partner Aly showed some of his best form of the season, with superbly timed boundaries and one magnificent six, and it took a brilliant one-handed grab at long-off by Estate Agent Jack to see him off.


Toby and Sumeet then compiled the major stand of the innings. Having been out of sorts earlier in the season, the skipper was very much back to his best and has – from a long way behind the 8-ball – clocked over 1,000 runs for the year yet again. He also hit one of the most amazing shots that can have ever been played at Wray, instinctively flicking a leg-side ball on its way, but timing it so well that it turned into a near-Dilscoop that went for six almost directly behind the keeper. Sumeet also carried on his imperious form from the President's game, and underlined why it's so criminal for such a dangerous player to throw it away trying to dominate before he gets in: once set he is as destructive as anyone in the club against the very best bowling. Young Imaad, who had received a real mauling in the President's game courtesy of Riz's "Hard Knocks" school of parenting, had a much better outing this time, and as a spinner who gives it a proper rip [solidarity, comrade!] induced several false shots without being rewarded with a wicket.


Another fine catch by Jack the Estate Agent finally saw off Chasseaud, but by then we were into the death overs and Riz was trying to control things by getting Sumeet off strike. Hoggy showed what he thought of being cast as the junior partner by launching one cleanly out of the ground, but a bad mix-up saw him stranded at the same end as Sumeet, and run out despite definitely being the injured party.


With ringer Paddy Joyce showing a touch of class, and a brief cameo from boy-mountain Khan, we scoffed yet another good tea (Official Chasseaud Highlight: the Hussain Kedgeree) having notched up a competitive but not insurmountable 230 off our 35 overs.


Whilst maybe not quite as accomplished an all-round player as Toby, we know from past experience just how good Jon Thornton can be at playing a similar anchorman role, holding the innings together while still able to accelerate later on. So the Galliance's prospects received a considerable setback when Ben swung one back into him in the first over of the reply, and he was sent (somewhat reluctantly) on his way having essayed no shot. The match then took a slightly farcical turn when Zahid (cricketing experience: 0, cricketing enthusiasm: 1,492,388), was joined by Junior Siddiqui #2, the lesser-spotted Hishaam.


Both skippers were acting with the best of intentions in trying to get everyone involved in the match, but when Toby sportingly withdrew his frontline bowlers to give an outing to Rob Dinsey (who despite his protestations is clearly only a few nets away from being a lot more than just a fine fielder), plus Aly's unashamed donkey-drops, the result was a couple of highly movable objects contesting an eminently resistable force. Although both earning warmly-appreciated maiden wickets for the club, alliterative names were perhaps Dinsey & Duncan's primary similarity to Wasim and Waqar in the pantheon of famous bowling partnerships, and despite Zahid in particular looking like getting out every ball, the coup de grace took a while coming and piled scoreboard pressure on the men to come.


Zahid also appeared to have confused the laws of cricket up with those of the game of Tag, running not so much on the shot, but on any contact with the ball whatsoever. One outrageous dummy saw off the adhesive Mike Gubbay, but did nothing to tame his appetite for randomly charging to the other end. There have been some famously dodgy runners down the years, but not even Sir Geoffrey of Boycott stitched up an entire batting side in a single innings, as briefly looked likely.


Rich finally put an end to things by resolving that if anyone was going to get run out by Ali, it was going to be Ali himself. He also briefly looked to be a Beard to be Feared with the bat, but faced with a rapidly escalating required run-rate, gambled on giving Ahmed the charge, and was immaculately stumped by Sumeet. Scoreboard pressure also helped bring about the early demise of the destructive Malnick, forced to attack before playing himself in and being castled by an inswinger from the returning Stockton. Earlier in the season (89 off 41 balls, having been dropped), we'd found out the hard way just how dangerous he can be. Although his temporary withdrawal from the attack against the minnows probably cost Ben his 50 wickets for the season, he could at least be comforted that bagging two barracudas off his four overs all but won us the match.


Arguably the biggest shark of them all, Riz himself, was still to come, but he strode out to the middle knowing that more than half his side (and all his gun players) were back in the hutch, and that even by his standards it was going to take something pretty phenomenal to chase down the runs. As comforting thoughts go, this was something of a double-edged one for Pacific's podgy legspinner, since even in defeat a cameo from Riz could easily have ruined a season's hard-earned average. As it turned out, Ahmed continues to be ahead on points against the Siddiqui Railway Sleeper. This is something of an ongoing mystery, especially as he has been given neck-ache at Wray by far less accomplished players, and that some eminently tidy bowlers (e.g. Toby) have suffered some pretty horrible maulings at Riz's hands. One feels that rather like the housing bubble, postponing the day of reckoning is only going to make the inevitable bloodier when it finally arrives. He was almost paranoid in trying to deny Riz room to swing his arms, and whilst this did cost a beautifully flicked four down to fine leg, Riz was shackled enough that when he finally tried to launch one, he succeeded in only chipping it to the safe hands of Stockton at long on.


With young Ramiz mopping up the tail, the only remaining twist was the peculiar disappearing innings of Mutz. Nominally, we were playing 12-a-side but with only 11 being able to bat. It is thus unexplained how Mutz was able to give young Imaad some time in the middle, but the custodians of the scoreboard swore blind that the Galliance were only 9 down when he emerged. The innings then spookily appeared to have been excised from the scorebook when it came to writing the match report, and thus  joins the Roswell Landing, Cambridge Analytica and the Grassy Knoll as one of the Great Mysteries of our time. The truth will out, sheeple.


A great pity that a promising fixture was a bit of a one-sided damp squib in the end, but ultimately a bunch of mates had a fun game in a good cause. It was our seventh win in a row, which Steve "Statto" Lay informs us has not been achieved since the beginning of 2010 – it included two games from the end of 2009. The same thing happened over the end of the 2008 season and beginning of 2009. Before that you probably have to go back to the record 12 in a row of 1984/5. For long periods Pacific played mostly time games, which I suspect made it harder to get long runs of wins.

It rather underlines our puzzlement earlier in the year, when we barely had two wins to rub together, despite feeling we had a pretty handy side. Possibly our excellent batting line-up was shackled by a series of indifferent pitches and unable to find form and confidence. It certainly can't be that we have just been beating up weak sides, as if anything the autumn opposition contains a higher proportion of gun players. Let's hope for a fast start next year and being in real contention for whichever leagues we found ourselves playing in!

Final thought – the reason we were playing this game. Nuggsy fights on. Please give what you can, and show him every support.

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Pacific v James Gleadow Alliance
Toss won by Pacific
Pacific innings Runs Mins Balls 4s 6s
  Pete Williams c Sub? b Rich  0  0  0  0  0  
  Aly Duncan c Malnick b Junky  28  0  0  3  1  
  Toby Chasseaud* c Jack Malnick b Michael  68  0  0  5  2  
  Sumeet Sharma† not out  68  0  0  4  2  
  James Hogg run out  9  0  0  0  1  
  Paddy Joyce b Asad  12  0  0  1  0  
  Ramiz Khan not out  5  0  0  0  0  
  Ben Stockton did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
  Arfan Akram did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
  Rob Dinsey did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
  Ahmed Hussain did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 17, lb 2, w 16, nb 5) 40    
 TOTAL (35.0 Overs) 230    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling O M R W  
 Asad 7 0 34 1  
 Gabbay 3 0 11 0  
 Rich 3 0 8 1  
 Junky 5 0 21 1  
 Dinesh 3 1 16 0  
 Michael 7 0 64 1  
 Imaad 2 0 22 0  
 Jack 5 0 31 0  
James Gleadow Alliance innings Runs Mins Balls 4s 6s
  Jon Thornton lbw b Stockton  0  0  0  0  0  
  Zahid Ali c Chasseaud b Dinsey  4  0  0  0  0  
  Hishaam Siddiqui c Sharma b Duncan  4  0  0  0  0  
  Mike Gabbay run out  0  0  0  0  0  
  Rich st Sharma b Hussain  14  0  0  0  0  
  Jack b Stockton  1  0  0  0  0  
  Rizwan Siddiqui* c Stockton b Hussain  30  0  0  0  0  
  Asad Nabi lbw b Khan  0  0  0  0  0  
  Dinesh b Khan  6  0  0  0  0  
  Michael not out  10  0  0  0  0  
  Imaad Siddiqui b Khan  0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 0, lb 1, w 3, nb 0) 4    
 TOTAL (24.0 Overs) 79    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling O M R W  
 Ben Stockton 4 2 15 2  
 Rob Dinsey 4 0 13 1  
 Aly Duncan 3 0 7 1  
 Ramiz Khan 7 0 22 3  
 Ahmed Hussain 6 0 25 2  

Other matches:
 Jon's ton a thorn in Pacific's side, Mon 17 Apr 2017, Wray Crescent, Lost by 3 wickets
 Charities the winners, Sun 10 Apr 2016, Wray Crescent, Lost 6 wickets