Club captain's speech, 2016
Sun 13 Nov 2016 
Club news item

The Club Captain's speech to the Pacific CC End-of-Season Dinner, The Vine, Kentish Town, Saturday 12th November 2016

Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to the Pacific end-of-season dinner 2016.

And first of all I think we'd all like to thank the man who organised it – if only we could remember what he looks like. Where is he? Ah, yes, there you are, TOM IRELAND – the wanderer returns. Now, as most of you will recall, after a stellar 2015 with bat and ball, Tom won the Player of the Season award. We were hoping for more fireworks from him in 2016 but he disappeared into the jungle, and off the radar. Still, as social secretary, it is Tom's job to organise the dinner and so, on 14 October, an email lands in our inbox.
"Dear Pacificos," Tom wrote. "The Annual End-of-Season Awards and Dinner is booked for Saturday 12th November at The Vine in Kentish Town. There'll be prizes and awards for best batting, bowling, fielding, newcomer, most improved, and Player of the Year, and Toby will be doing another speech, but don't let that put you off."
Yes, thanks Tom. I missed you too.

But I guess Tom does have a point about the danger of me banging on, so, in the interests of keeping things brief, I'm afraid I'll only have time to mention those of us who are here this evening. Of course everyone who has played this season has contributed to the Pacific vibe. And it is a shame that Navid Choudhury in particular had to fly back to California a couple of weeks ago because we would have loved to have had him here tonight after all the work he put in this season. But Nav, and others like him, are unable to make it – though I'm sure they're with us in spirit. Sorry, Tom, I digress.

But if there's one man who Tom can blame for me standing before you this evening and boring you to death, it's our next protagonist, OLI HAILL. Back in 2009 Oli invited me to come and play for Pacific, and play I did. Things were different back then. I remember that as his pre-match warm-up, Oli held a nine-year-old Luke Hollman upside down by his ankles.
I think that today the club's child protection officer – that's Jon Webley in case you were wondering – wouldn't let Oli near to a youth player due to his increasingly uncanny resemblance to a certain Rolf Harris.

Again back in 2009 I remember my first game for Pacific. I'd only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes when club legend James Gleadow dismissed the opening batsman and celebrated by raising his arms aloft, screaming at the top of his voice, and running and sliding past the wicketkeeper as if he'd just scored the winning goal in a World Cup final. What have I let myself in for, I wondered. Are they always like this? It turned out it was Nuggsy's 100th wicket for the club, which at least went some way to explaining what I'd just witnessed.

A look at the Pacific Wisden – if we're still allowed to call it that (that's another story) – reveals that Oli took his 100th wicket for Pacific in the 2015 season. How did you celebrate Oli? [Oli answers: "I didn't really."]

Still these personal landmarks can mean a lot to players, and one man who has reached the ultimate landmark is with us tonight. It's JON WEBLEY, described by Black Rose skipper Andre Mishra as the Donald Bradman of club cricket.

Now last year you may remember that Steve Lay and Jon were engaged in a tug of war as each battled to go top of the all-time runs chart and one would keep overtaking the other. As it happened, Steve, with 9,692, finished last season just four runs ahead of Jon. This year Jon set out to get his own back. His 350 runs this season – including 148 against Dorset Wanderers (about 50 of them off his dad's bowling) – have taken him past 10,000 runs (10,038). A round of applause for Jon.

Still, I don't remember Jon getting carried away when he reached the 10,000 mark because he's a pretty cool customer.

One man who isn't a cool customer is Mr Angry himself, BEN BURNHAM. Now there've been a couple of times this season when Ben has lost his temper. One moment that sticks in my mind, even though I didn't witness it myself, was the Incredible Hulk moment. You remember that one, Ben? ["No, I don't," replies Ben, looking worried.] Let me enlighten you.

We were playing a game at Ally Pally and everyone had decided to catch the 12.14 train from Finsbury Park in order to arrive in good time for the match. Everyone was on the platform apart from Ben. The train came, the players got on. Oh well, Ben must be making his own way there, they thought. Then Ben is seen sprinting up the staircase and dashing for the train, only to have the doors slide shut in front of him. "Noooooooo!" he cries, bearing his cricket bag above his head in anger, his jeans splitting open at the bottoms, and his T-shirt bursting off. Thankfully when he did arrive at the ground he was able to take his anger out on the bowlers, flaying them around in typically aggressive style with what has been described as his 360 degree cut shot.

Another time he lost his cool was in that infamous match at Chigwell where Ben could again be seen to be losing his temper, looking as if he might explode with rage, but no one could quite put their finger on why he was getting so angry. To quote from that day's match report: "Was it that Ahmed, stuck in traffic, had entered the field seven overs late? Was it the misfields? Was it that the captain had failed to bring the in-form Mullens on to bowl until it was too late? Was it that Chigwell were not declaring their innings closed? Perhaps these were all contributory factors. But the real reason, it transpired, was that not only was Ben the only player on the pitch not wearing a hat on the hottest day of the year so far, he had also neglected to apply any suncream and was thus becoming redder by the minute. His mother, if she is reading this, would surely not approve."

Still, despite his temper, Ben is normally a sociable chap. Speaking of which, Ben, aren't you missing someone tonight? Where's your partner in crime…
Some of you may not know what I'm talking about. Well, after last year's dinner, Ben, as usual, fancied another drink so he and the bowler of the season went on to a nearby bar. But the less said about that better…

Let's hope that this year's best bowler doesn't cause quite so much trouble.

One possible contender for that prize is AHMED HUSSAIN – the spin king, the A Bomb. This season Ahmed has bamboozled many a batsman, taking an impressive 31 wickets, which when added to his 85 in previous seasons, takes him past the hundred mark. Well done, Ahmed.

A real student of the game, Ahmed is also one of the best umpires in the club – a role not to be underestimated.

But one of the moments that best sticks in the mind is when Ahmed was bowling in the net during the last game of the season. Luke was batting in the middle and hit the ball towards the net, where Ahmed let it roll through his legs, and then stood statue still, watching it intently. He seemed lost in a trance, as if he was hoping that it might turn into a very nice cake for him to eat – or perhaps a pint of beer. But his daydream came abruptly to an end when the ball was picked up and sent whistling past his ear by the boundary fielder throwing it back in to the wicketkeeper. Perhaps Pete can tell us what he would have signalled had the ball hit Ahmed? [Pete seemed unsure at this point.]

Another wrist spinner is Aroon. But, unlike Ahmed, you won't catch Aroon daydreaming as he commits every detail of the Pacific finances to his trusty spreadsheet.

This time last year we all remember that Aroon was celebrating the dropping of his arch enemy Ian Bell from the England side. And this year he was celebrating again after talk of a possible Bell recall came to nothing.

Aroon is of course the club treasurer, a vital role, and has had to deal with all the usual excuses when collecting match fees. These include the following: "I forgot it"; "I was robbed on my way to the game"; and "I'm under 18 so I don't have to pay" – and that was Tony T.
But Aroon has also had to contend with the modern-day phenomenon of youngsters not actually carrying any cash. So he is now thinking of investing club funds into a card reader so as to enable players to swipe their match fees at the end of the game. But in the meantime, he's been keeping tabs on players in his spreadsheet of doom. So if anyone owes any match fees, you'd better pay up now or Aroon will be on to you.

The origin of the species, Pete of course founded Pacific Cricket Club in 1983 and he is third in the all time runs chart with 9,630 runs. He's second in the wickets chart with 639, and top of the catches with 223. I think we can all agree these are impressive stats.

But these days Pete has hung up his whites and taken to umpiring. It's always an interesting experience going out to toss with the opposition skipper and Pete. Normally the toss consists of a quick discussion about how many overs the match will consist of, how many overs each bowler is allowed, and whether the side bowling second will get a new ball. But not when you go out to the middle at Wray Crescent with Pete. Before you know it, all sorts of weird and wonderful local rules come into play. In fact, recent developments at the ground mean that the captains have to sit an exam in order to memorise all of the following rules and regulations:
Law 1, If the ball pitches off the artificial strip, it is a no ball.
Law 2, If a fielder fails to stop a ball before it hits the nearest pile of dog shit, that fielder shall have to sit in the sin bin for 15 minutes for ball tampering.
Law 3, If the footballers fail to vacate the pitch before the scheduled start of play, they shall count as fielders and can catch the batsman out, but if the batsman hits the ball into the football net, that counts as 20 runs.
Law 4, If the ball hits a scary clown who is marauding around the boundary, the batsman who hit the ball has to play the rest of his innings wearing the clown suit.
Law 5, If the ball hits a telegraph pole on the full, the batsman has five minutes to climb to the top of the pole, sing the Pacific club anthem, and be ready to face the next delivery.
Now I hope everyone got all that because you will be tested on it at the end of the evening.

Now, from father, to son…

What to say about Luke? Well, in his case, the stats speak for themselves. Due to his other commitments, Luke's only been able to play seven games for us this season, and had only six innings, but still he has soared to third place in the run chart. In just six innings he has made 559 runs, hit three centuries, including a 150, with an average of 111, and a lowest score of above 50. How many was it Luke? ["About 54," answers Luke.] Ah, letting the side down!
He's also taken five wickets, and eight catches – a couple of them exceptional.
At one point, having reached yet another century, Luke was pretty much hauled off the pitch by that day's captain, Ahmed, who clearly thought he's outgrown little Pacific.
In fact, news just in: I hear that Luke has been invited to join the Middlesex Academy, meaning that next year he can expect to play for the county Under-17s and Under-19s. That right, Luke? ["Yes," says Luke.]

Up next, it's ALY DUNCAN, otherwise known as the Alygator, who has now completed his second season for the club. I played a series of Twenty20 matches with Aly before I joined Pacific. One moment that sticks in my mind from the first of those game is when Aly thought we had twelve players and so spent the whole of a match scoring only to realise that we'd actually been playing with ten men the whole time.
The name of that Twenty20 side was G Force. And, speaking of the Force, many of us feared that Aly had disappeared to the dark side when he left honest journalism at The Guardian to become a corporate apologist at the Confederation of British Industry. A son of Grantham, Margaret Thatcher's hometown, we thought that maybe he, like she, believed there was no such thing as society.
But, like Luke Skywalker, Aly's inner resolve was strong enough that he remained with us at heart.
Indeed, Aly is the most selfless of cricketers, always doing his best to score quick runs for the team regardless of his own wicket. So it was nice to see him enjoy a swashbuckling innings against London Fields. Aly, the Force is with you.

Sumant played his first game for Pacific at the end of 2015 and this season he has settled right in. He's a hard-hitting batsman and a dangerous bowler, his trademark delivery being the fast yorker that's on to the batsman's stumps before he knows it. If there's one thing the coach might disapprove of it's Sumant's excessive use of the feet while fielding. One sometimes suspects he thinks he's Neymar rather than Kumar. Still, with a batting average of 40, and a bowling average of 20, Sumant is a genuine all-rounder and a valuable addition to Pacific. Sometimes I'll ask Sumant whether he wants to bat up the order at No 4. "Oh, I wouldn't do that," he replies. "There's always the danger that I'll do something really crazy." So there you go, the danger man of Pacific, Sumant Kumar.

James is a watchful batsman and someone who – unlike Sumant – will always give it 100 per cent in the field to back up his bowlers.
While defence is the solid basis of James's game, he has this year extended his sound technique with the addition of the uncomplicated slap over the bowler's head. Ahmed recalls how there was one game where the opposition set three fielders at extra cover for it and he kept just clearing them!
The highlight of James's season was an impressive 83 against Highgate at Wray Crescent which provided a gift for the headline writers: "Collis king in fourth successive victory", reads the Pacific match report.
He also hit a vital 33 against Chigwell at Ally Pally to help us win the tightest of matches – we won off the last ball – and secure second place in the league. Hopefully with more contributions like that we can go one step further and win the league next season.
That said, I'm afraid it's not all good news. I'm sorry to report that James is married to an Australian. James, how could you?

Hugh is the only person who actually enjoys the chaos caused by the footballers at Wray Crescent.
Some of you may know that Hugh works for Electoral Reform Services. Now, Hugh, we really ought to be putting you on a plane to America. It looks like they could use your work out there with the New York Times reporting yesterday that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote in this week's election by more than 2 million votes.
But this year Hugh has of course been preoccupied with investigating the electoral process involved in becoming a full member of Pacific Cricket Club.
So, not wanting him to feel disenfranchised, I proposed Hugh as a full member. Of course following official procedure, as per the club's written constitution, another full member must second any membership proposal. Who better, I thought, than to ask Hugh's good old friend Ben Burnham. But I hadn't realised that Ben wasn't such a good friend after all and in fact threatened to veto Hugh's nomination, potentially triggering an extraordinary general meeting and, no doubt, plunging the club into a constitutional crisis. In order to avert such a crisis, I managed to find an alternative seconder to sign the appropriate documentation which I then put in the post up to Scotland where the club chairman Steve Lay now resides. Steve then posted an official membership invitation to Hugh and offered to put his name forward to an official ballot of existing full members, whereupon, if voted in by the necessary margin, Hugh could, upon paying the nominal sum of 40 English pounds, join our esteemed company.
Hugh pondered the invitation and penned a reply. "No thanks," he said. "I could spend that 40 quid on booze and fags. Maybe next year." Yes, thanks, Hugh, it's an honour to have you with us tonight.

Now Paul, what do you think of events in America this week? ["It's a disaster," says Paul.]
Now back to cricket, some of you may know that Paul plays the odd game for the hipsters of Bussey CC, but when it came to a match between us and them, it was nice to know where Paul's loyalties really lie. Fielding for them as a sub, he put down a simple catch off one of our batsmen to ensure that we didn't lose too many early wickets. Of course we all know that Paul likes to play baseball, where the fielders have the benefit of a mitt. And there are times when we suspect he wishes he could wear one on the cricket pitch too.
My mind goes back to that early season league match against Chigwell, which was a tough day as Chigwell piled on the runs and the sun beat down on us – just ask Ben Burnham. Their competitive Kiwi Dave Colwill drilled the ball in the air a foot to Paul's left but Paul didn't move. "What happened there then," someone asked Paul at the interval, "didn't you see it?" He thought long and hard about the question, and then he replied as follows… [captain adopts bad American accent] "Well, truth be told, I saw it racing toward me and I thought well I'll be damned if I'm gonna get in the way o' that cannon ball. I didn't have a hope in hell o' catching it but I had every damned chance o' getting shot down. So I just let it go on its merry way down yonder valley."

Who's next? It's Tony T, the whippersnapper, who still claims that he's under 18.
Now, Tony, as the youngest person here, I know you've probably been getting a bit bored of all the adult conversation. So I've come up with a little game to keep you entertained. It's called spot the difference.
Tony, who is this? [Shows photo of Kieran, whom Tony correctly identifies]
And who is this? [Shows photo of Toby, whom Tony also correctly identifies]
Well done, Tony! Why play spot the difference, I hear you ask. Well, let me explain. Many a time Tony has been kind enough to give me a lift to a match. To be honest, I'm always a bit nervous when Tony's driving because, as a youngster, he can't have had his license very long, but still we manage to reach our destination in one piece.
Anyway, I'll be talking to Tony in the car and he'll say how Toby had asked him to play because we needed a spinner. "But I'm Toby," I point out. "I think you mean Kieran."
But at least Tony's on the ball tonight. A round of applause for Tony T! [The crowd claps Tony vigorously]

Now I'm actually a little surprised that Tony could mistake Kieran for anyone else because I think it's safe to say there's no one else quite like him. True, he has the classic high elbow and a cover drive to die for. You might even say that it's reminiscent of Ian Bell (but we don't want to mention him do we Aroon?). Kieran is also keen on quick singles – in fact he loves quick singles so much that he has trademarked a dating site of that name, where lonely ladies have the opportunity to land themselves an eligible cricketer. If Kieran was here tonight I was hoping he'd give us an update on how Quick Singles is coming on. But, alas, Kieran has been struck down by illness and can't be with us. He is deeply missed.
As well as his undoubted cricketing talents there are also, how shall I put this, his idiosyncrasies. He'll be fielding a touch deep at midwicket, the captain will ask him to close in on the one. "It's OK," he'll reply. "I'm fast. I can cut it off." Then the next ball the batsman will inevitably drop the ball to midwicket and take the single.
Now you may know that when Kieran's fielding he doesn't like being given such advice as "get it in", or "bowler's end". "Guys, I know what I'm doing," he'll reply. "Telling me what to do only distracts me."
And yet, despite his lack of enthusiasm for being given advice, he's more than happy to give it.
Many a Pacific batsman has been at the crease and found themselves within Kieran's sphere of influence, whether he's batting or umpiring. You might be taking guard only to find him standing next to you saying: "Come on, mate, we can do this. We can do this." You might be delivered a full toss which you gratefully put away to the boundary only to find Kieran in your ear saying: "Calm down. Take it easy. We can do this in singles."
Still, we love the K Dog. Not only has he almost singlehandedly kept the club going for the last three years. He has also presented us with new club caps and, like Pacific's own Mary Berry, he's ensured dietary standards at Wray Crescent remain high - even going so far as to instruct us to kill London Fields with culinary kindness.
And no post-match drink at the YB Yeats would be complete without Kieran entering the pub bearing a cold tea in a polystyrene cup.
Kieran, we salute you!

Who's next? It's RAVI PATEL – the disappearing man. A look at the stats shows that Ravi played only three matches this season. Ravi, where were you? [Ravi mumbles some lame excuses.] Well, I think there's only one thing to write on your end-of-term report: "Must Try Harder."

Still, while we may not have seen much of Ravi I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a fantastic year in terms of the newcomers and one of this year's best has been the Yorkshire terrier, BEN STOCKTON. Ben rolled up to the Victoria Park nets and quickly became part of the Pacific furniture. He's a reliable left-arm bowler and a free-scoring batsman. Ben, am I right in saying that you didn't bat too much before you came to Pacific? ["I'd never scored a fifty before," replies Ben to general astonishment.] Well, you could have fooled us – you look like you were born with a bat in your hand.
I remember when we were playing against Oakfield Parkonians at Fairlop and, despite chasing a small target, the Parkonians skipper could hardly lay bat on ball against Ben. "Come and play for us," the skipper kept saying to Ben as he walked back to his mark. "No thanks, love," replied Ben, "I'm flattered, but I only go where the Pacific tide takes me." Hear hear, Ben – spoken like a true gentleman.

That said, unfortunately I can report that Ben isn't quite the model citizen we thought he was. It turned out he was hiding a dark secret, which we were only to discover on the last game of the season. We were in the pub, celebrating a successful year, when we realised that Ben had gone awol. Ten minutes later, all was revealed when Ben's namesake, Ben Burnham, went outside for a Lucky Strike, and found Stockton there smoking a roll-up. "Sorry lads," said Stockton, "but I do like a bifter every now and then." Ben, your secret is out.

Another newcomer is SUMEET SHARMA. In his first season for Pacific, Sumeet has been a reassuring presence behind the stumps and I can't remember him dropping a catch either with or without the gloves. He's taken 16 catches and 10 stumpings and scored 590 runs at the top of the order as an attacking batsman. Such is his reliability that I suspect we could well have a new fielder of the season on our hands.

Now… SAM HOWES. Back in March I popped to the Victoria Park nets where I found Sam wandering aimlessly on his own, bowling at a plastic bottle, with no one to play with, and generally lacking any sense of direction in life – like an abandoned puppy.
But, seeing his raw potential, I invited him to join Pacific, and join he did. Since then, like Banana Man, an amazing transformation has occurred in his game. In a supportive cricketing environment, and with careful guidance and encouragement from his new mentor, Kieran Mullens, Sam has progressed from a rough-round-the-edges medium pacer into a sharp-turning leg-spinner, and has taken 17 wickets.
He has also made valuable contributions with the bat. When we were collapsing against Oakfield Parkonians, the strongest side in the league and its eventual winners, Sam rose to the occasion with a courageous 33 to help us post something like a respectable total. They were, in the circumstances, the most precious of runs.
Speaking of precious, it has to be said that Sam also does a fantastic impression of the Lord of the Rings character Sméagol. Sam, perhaps you can treat us to some Sméagol now? [Sam obliges, saying: "My precious... My precious... I wants it... I needs it..."]

So, as well as doing a good Golumn, Sam's had plenty of success in the wickets column. Sam, well done!

Another newcomer this season was RAFIQ RATTA. On 8th April, Rafiq wrote an email to the club, which read as follows:
"Dear Sir, Last weekend I was coming back from my friend's house. I saw a gentleman walking on Moray Road with his cricket kit on his back. I stopped him and asked if he was playing for a cricket team. He said yes. I said can I have the name of the cricket club please. He gave me the name; unfortunately I was in a rush and I forgot to ask his name – silly me. But I am very much interested to join your club. I live locally on Tollington Park. I can bat, I can do bowling, keeping as well. I will be grateful if I can be given the opportunity. Yours sincerely and many thanks. Rafiq Ratta."
Pete Hollman, upon reading this message, replied: "Hello Rafiq. What a nice story. We look forward to seeing you on the cricket pitch soon."
And I think we can all agree that it's been great to have Raf on board. He has brought enthusiasm, fantastic cuisine and some true moments of brilliance. One of his high points came in a beer match against Old Citizens in August in which he was the real star. He almost took a hat-trick and hit some lusty blows with the bat. But the real highlight was his fielding when he somehow managed to misdirect his throw by 90 degrees twice while attempting to get the ball in from the boundary in some kind of bizarre one-man relay. It had to be seen to be believed.

And last, but by no means least, we have JULIANA SILVA – one of many overseas players to have represented Pacific, but probably the first Brazilian one.
This year Juliana again stepped into the breach when lesser men failed to do so. We were on tour when, with only ten men, we found ourselves collapsing against the Dorset Wanderers. "I'll field for you but I'm not batting," declared Juliana. "I don't want to get hurt." As the wickets continued to fall and the situation became ever more desperate, Sharan Timbadia came up with the perfect solution: get her drunk. After a couple of beers Juliana was raring to bat and it fell upon me to prepare her for what to expect in the middle. I gave her some throw-downs and she batted them away with aplomb. Next thing we know, another wicket has fallen, and Juliana is striding confidently out to the middle ready for whatever they might throw at her. From the boundary we could see Juliana take guard, the bowler ran in, Juliana played the ball expertly out to cover off the middle of the bat. Then we could see her in discussion with the wicketkeeper, followed by all the players walking off for tea. It transpired that before hitting the ball to cover, Juliana had hit her own wicket with the bat. "It wasn't my fault," she said. "You didn't tell me I could be out like that."
I didn't argue.

So there we go! Another year, another glorious season in the history of Pacific Cricket Club. Thank you all for coming. Now let's raise a glass – to Pacific!


To see who won the awards, click here


And here are the links to the 2016 averages: