The Worth of Khan
Pacific v Golden XI at Wray Crescent
Sun 08 Oct 2017 at 1.30pm
Won by 6 runs
Friendly fixture

Another autumnal Sunday, another bunch of Pacifists nervously hanging around Wray crescent wondering if the footballers would vacate the ground before dark descended/a fight broke out/everyone became too stoned through passively-smoked dope to stand up. Ahmed's captaincy skills seem to have  become mysteriously more favoured of late whenever this delicate diplomatic standoff arises, and he was duly summoned to play Trump to the footballers' Kim Jong-Un, or more likely, Sooty to Rizwan's Matthew Corbett. However, not only were the footballers as good as their word in scarpering at the appointed 1.30, Ahmed displayed such verve, subtlety and tactical nous in the art of Basically Doing Whatever Riz Tells Him, that a famous victory was snatched with an over to spare.

The joy of cricket is that the really good games have a unique plot, with the balance of power and likely victors suddenly switching round in th blink of an eye. This was Aliens: a slo-o-o-w build up, a sustained frenzy of action, a lull as things seem to be drawing to an amiable conclusion, and then a nasty twist before the end.

We won the toss and batted first under blue skies, but were pinned down by not-particularly-devastating-but-really-accurate seam bowling, and were three down for only about 50-odd with nearly half the overs gone. Amir - one of Riz's ringers, and normally a quick scorer - never got going. Mark batted as long and as quickly as any of the top order, following his personal landmark of the day before by further cementing his transition from rapidly-improving-beginner to highly useful contributor. Mutz was just going through the gears when he fell, and Ben, having looked as though he was going to walk off with the season's batting, bowling and c'mon-give-someone-else-a-go awards, has hit upon an unexpected and inexplicable vein of non-form.

Toby was perhaps still a bit jaded from his magnificent effort the day before, and was unusually shackled for a man clearly back to his very best. However, underlining the maxim that one should Never Send a Man to Do a Boy's Job, one of Riz's youthful ringers rescued us with a muscular half century. Showing impressive power - and bulk - for a 15 year old, Ramiz demonstrated that his years absorbing all the wise tutelage North London's Mr Cricket could impart were not wasted, and that he had received expert tuition in the Ancient and Mystical Art of Not Bloody Dying Wondering. A series of fours were smote down the ground, and three sixes nonchalantly swept into the pavilion for good measure.

The master blaster himself was soon into the fray to assist his protege, the pair continuing to give it some severe Humpty, and chuck in a dollop of Jemima and an almighty dose of Hamble to boot. Having christened the houses at the far end with broken glass 24 hours earlier, Riz chose to aim at the Porsche owner instead. Two maximums were just about snagged in the netting, to Nuggsy's considerable relief, before he got under a slower ball and was held inches inside the straight boundary. Despite some comedy ground-fielding, perhaps caused by trainers and a touch of autumn dew, Golden's catching was excellent throughout.

 Kieran arrived to bring his typically hyperactive running to the party, brilliantly scampering singles off every ball he faced to give Ramiz the strike. Suddenly we had rattled up to 158, no mean feat from our position at the start of the last 10, but knowing that 5 an over is eminently possible with Wray's short boundaries and surprisingly fast outfield.

 A nervy captain was feeling a lot better about things after Ben's opening salvo in reply. Having looked out of reach as leading run scorer for the season, he was perhaps piqued enough at being coshed from behind by Toby that he was in the mood to put the bowling award beyond doubt. He soon had the much maligned morant hooping around, and four of their top order knocked over in the course of his spell (minus points for jug avoidance).

One of their top order was still in and scoring crisply, but he was joined by their ageing wicket keeper. A gazelle behind the stumps earlier, he proved a bit of a tortoise with the bat, and for a while engaged the fielders in a slow motion hokey cokey as we conspired to get him on strike and keep him there. The asking rate was climbing nicely when mini-Riz #2, the spindly Jonas, conjured up a cutter that was just too good for him. Poor Jonas then rather unluckily copped the brunt as their main man was forced to target a bowler to try and get the scoreboard moving, and Tim too found out how unforgiving Wray can be for a spinner, with four tidy and economical overs followed up by an average-wrecking burst of mayhem, despite 6 pretty blameless balls.

So with some trepidation, the captain introduced himself into the attack. If the downside of a leggie is a propensity to serve up deliveries that Old Ma Boycott could dispatch with the proverbial stick of rhubarb, the upside is that the extra spin can at least make things happen in circumstances when mere line and length are being treated with disdain. Sure enough, about four balls in, an offering maybe not short enough and wide enough to be fully gift wrapped, but still meriting a foil container and a Fray Bentos logo, turned and bounced sufficiently sharply to make the enticed offside slap spoon to the extra-cover boundary and the ever-reliable Chasseaud. One over later, one skidded through outside off stump and was dragged on via an inside edge.

Hussain's luck then ran out when a complete mishit still managed to loop over a helpless fielder and into the net by the playground, and with them back in the running and only a few more lucky blows from victory, gave way for Amir. An Akram-esque fast arm, luckless in his opening spell, soon had the batsmen playing and missing and one of the dangermen sending a skier to Riz at mid-off. But genuine bunnies (your interlocutor excepted) are rare these days, and still the runs kept flowing. Riz's risky strategy of bowling fast and short failed to come off, as the inevitable series of top edges kept missing the field on the way to third man. Realizing that they only needed to push singles for a few overs against a ball that was no longer swinging, he talked the captain into gambling on a mishit against the spinning ball. Mutz then pulled off a double blinder - the stumping itself, but also some well chosen words that goaded the batsman into dancing down the pitch and past a leggie that turned just enough.

The last man arrived, and with him - we thought - the tail, as he played and missed nervously at Ahmed, and found himself forced into a helmet against Riz. He then confounded all expectations by blasting a pitched up ball from Siddiqui through extra cover. But with the skipper glumly wondering what contract with the devil would allow him to get away with a second death over in the same game, a risky attempt to ensure the main man was on strike to face it was thwarted by an exocet from Toby at third man, and the cleanest of takes from Mutz.


Riz continues hitting sixes, thankfully into the net this time. Photo by Nuggsy

Where did the ball go?

Up there I think

Nice view

Pacific v Golden XI
Toss won by Pacific
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
Amir Mapara   b Waseem   4  0  12  0  0  
Mark Woodland   b Murtuza   15  0  34  1  0  
Ben Stockton   b Najeeb   2  0  4  0  0  
Murtaza Siddiqui†   c & b Shiva   13  0  17  2  0  
Toby Chasseaud   c cover b Uday   16  0  34  2  0  
Ramiz Khan   not out    68  0  0  8  3  
Rizwan Siddiqui   c long on b Najeeb   26  0  15  2  2  
Kieran Mullens   not out    3  0  0  0  0  
Jonas Nisse   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Tim Garrett   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Ahmed Hussain*   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 11, lb 0, w 6, nb 1) 18    
 TOTAL (30.0 Overs) 158    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Waseem   5  0  13  1  
 Najeeb   6  0  17  2  
 Dilawar   3  0  7  0  
 Shiva   5  0  29  1  
 Murtuza   5  0  29  1  
 Uday   4  0  27  0  
 Khan   2  0  23  0  
Golden XI innings  R  M  B  4  6
Khan   b Stockton   9  0  0  0  0  
Dom   b Stockton   0  0  0  0  0  
Arshad   b Nisse   17  0  0  0  0  
Shahnavaz   lbw b Stockton   0  0  0  0  0  
Sajid   lbw b Stockton   11  0  0  0  0  
Murtaza   c Siddiqui b Mapara   29  0  0  0  0  
Shiva   c Chasseaud b Hussain   36  0  0  0  0  
Dilawar   b Hussain   6  0  0  0  0  
Uday   not out    14  0  0  0  0  
Waseem   st Siddiqui b Hussain   11  0  0  0  0  
Najeeb   run out Chasseaud    5  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 5, lb 0, w 4, nb 1) 10    
 TOTAL (29.0 Overs) 152    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Ben Stockton   6  0  13  4  
 Amir Mapara   6  1  27  1  
 Tim Garrett   5  0  42  0  
 Jonas Nisse   3  0  21  1  
 Ahmed Hussain   4  0  16  3  
 Rizwan Siddiqui   5  0  27  0