Hacked off
Pacific v Hackney CC at London Fields  Sat 11 Aug 2018 at 1pm
Lost by 4 wickets
North East London Cricket League
 

Khan Solo is CRICKETMAN

Hacked off by Hackney CC (Coach & Horses)

_____________________________

London Fields. The heart of Hackney for over 700 years. Many a horse, henchman and hipster have strolled through it’s leafy enclave to get away from it all. Soak up up some sun and piss away all the booze on some unsuspecting tree/bush/defunct BBQ.

There is, also, another side to this pincered paradise. Just across the tennis courts, where a WW2 anti-aircraft battery once patrolled the skies, lies a cricket pitch. It is here, where Pacificos made their last stand. For these fine, seasoned cricketers, the park contends a spiritual likening to Borodino or Stalingrad. Twas but a week before did the comrades fought hard and good. Wrists broke, backs’ stretched and knees twisted.

Lest we forget those who fell. 

One week later…

Upon my departure unto an honourable and decisive victory, I texted my mother. She, along with my old man, perched a front row seat at my last bloodied battle against The Blads. Armed with homemade bhajis and an emergency umbrella beyond the long-on checkpoint, the folks saw their boy comically break his bat before being run out. No more shame upon the family name, mother! Your son will soon return triumphantly a man fighting the good fight. For club and brotherhood. 

“Solo, can you bat at 3?”

Last time I batted 3 I middled the ball onto my toe; one of many war wounds lingered into this fixture. It’s been a tough season in every sense of the word. The umpire triggered me to add salt so to speak. I got 4. Maybe 5. Possibly 2. 

“THREE? Err, yes of course Captain.”

The mood dampened amongst the men, four of whom were fresh drafts into the team at last minute to make up an XI. The tinge of surprise in my voice may have translated as fear. Whilst the opposition, who took the occasion and themselves awfully seriously, warmed up to bowl first on an overcast setting, we peeled over to the other side of a gazebo to set up camp. 

Pacific newboys set out to bat on a tricky wicket. Wilson Digby, a bullish batsman with bludgeoning intent saw off the new ball nicely with the patient and crafted style of Tom Davies. Hackney CC’s (the erstwhile Coach & Horses) attack tested the Essex Boy & Yorkshireman well, beating the outside edge every so often and it was only via a direct hit from the short boundary did their solid stand of 35 finally break; Davies the unlucky brother trudging back to our foxhole.

“Solo, do you wanna do 3 or 4?”

Relief. That feeling only you in the whole world can feel at the very moment in time. 

“I don’t mind… I’ll do four.”

Relief. Refreshing but temporary. Wilson falls. A valiant 36. I go out to bat. We’re 52-1.

***

The menacing brutes were good in their work. Their fielding was a spectacle in itself. Much like the Wermacht, Coach & Horses’ well-drilled and efficient performance made you respect them whatever side you’re on. There were 1s where there’d usually, often and always be 2s. Catches were well held all around the pitch. 

Except for the slip cordon. Let’s quickly talk about the slip corden.

The main culprit, a blue-eyed veteran with doodles down his arms. Not only did he refuse to catch the ball, he sought to up the banter level to ‘tepid’ during my innings. A tough innings on a tough wicket against a tough attack. More on him later.

Enjoyable as it was, batting with the skip, I struggled to get moving; nurdled a 16 after following him back for a threatening 20. A flicker of resistance from Ben Stockton (22) was not enough to hold the tail together as the Pacificos collapsed from 86-3 to 118ao. It was hard to admit half-way through that the opposition were well on top. 

“Solo, can you open the bowling?”

I was beginning to worry of our battle-weary warrior and captain. Rumour had it he had just recovered from a ‘net’ session the night before with Dempsey and wasn’t the same again. It’s crazy what this game can do to a man. But then again, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

“AYE AYE, Cap’n!”

He looks at me as if I’m the mad one. But we’re all mad, really. That’s why we still play. 

***

Water and rations. Quick piss in the converted bomb shelter. Kits bagged. Into the field. Still overcast with a threat of rain. Moderate or good. Runs on the board. Not many. Batsmen to the crease. Umpires in place. Ben Stockton with the ball. 

First over: Maiden. 

It dawned on others on and off the field that I’m to bowl the second over. The aim for myself and Stockton is simple. Quick wickets for fewest runs. 

First ball: Filth down the the leg-side. Wide signalled.

Second ball: More filth. Pulled for 4.

Third ball: long-hop. Mis-timed. CAUGHT! Solid hands by Oli in the deep.

Relief. There’s no sensation quite like it. 

Soon after, Stockton took numbers 2 & 3, the latter of whom was so upset with his own game in the slips and then with the bat, reacted rather uglily when I upped the banter to ‘simmer’. Our wounded and best Tim Garrett sat in the dugout, cast or no cast, ready to pounce in my defence at fine leg.

A mini battle was won! On with the war!

Stockton bossed one end, never allowing the batsmen to settle. He bowled through his 8 overs with pace and pedigree whilst I leaked precious runs at the other, searching for those scalps. 

16 overs gone. Coach & Horses found themselves 60 odd for 6.. Spirits were high amongst our mish-mash-mix-match team; future club legend, Glen Leeson ever vocal in the field with his colourful caveats of encouragement:

“COME ON, THE BOWLER.”

But the wickets had to keep coming in order for Pacific to stand a chance. Despite controlled and probing spells by Ahmed & Oli, the  CC’s batsmen dug in and got home with 6 overs to spare. 

Oh London Fields! How you hurt us like this, once again!

***

It was defeat number 6 for the Pacificos, with 3 games left in the NELCL. For much of the day, it felt like we were surviving more than anything else. But survival isn’t a bad thing. We live to fight another day and plan to plant the Pacifico flag right into London Fields’ wretched soil next season. 

Given the difficulty we had getting a side together (special thanks to Wilson, Glen, Tom and Paddy) and the superiority of the opposition, we took defeat with a pinch of salt and several pints of ale. The new boys suddenly seemed so settled into the Pacific way of things. Club mascot, Alice Vibert, gave a scathing but fair post mortem whilst I let two women fight for the right to plait my hair. [Video to come]

To the survivors, go the spoils. 

~Khan Solo

 


Pacific v Hackney CC
Toss won by Pacific
 
Pacific innings Runs Mins Balls 4s 6s
  Wilson Digby b Rob  36  0  55  7  0  
  Tom Davies run out  6  0  28  1  0  
  Toby Chasseaud* lbw b Manu  20  0  42  1  1  
  Umrish Pandya b Jimmy  16  0  33  2  0  
  Ben Stockton c Long off b Jimmy  22  0  9  3  1  
  Paddy Joyce c & b Joe  3  0  4  0  0  
  Murtaza Siddiqui† c Fielder b Joe  3  0  3  0  0  
  Oliver Haill c Fielder b Joe  1  0  2  0  0  
  Arup Sen run out  1  0  1  0  0  
  Glen Leeson b Jimmy  0  0  4  0  0  
  Ahmed Hussain not out  0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 6, lb 1, w 3, nb 0) 10    
 TOTAL (35.2 Overs) 118    
 
 
 Fall of wickets: 
 
Bowling O M R W  
 Craig 5 1 16 0  
 Archie 6 2 11 0  
 Rob 7 0 32 1  
 Manu 8 3 25 1  
 Jimmy 6 2 20 3  
 Joe 3.2 0 13 3  
 
 
Hackney CC innings Runs Mins Balls 4s 6s
  Jack c Haill b Pandya  8  0  0  0  0  
  David not out  45  0  0  0  0  
  Edgar*† b Stockton  1  0  0  0  0  
  JT lbw b Stockton  10  0  0  0  0  
  Jimmy lbw b Pandya  5  0  0  0  0  
  Joe c Davies b Stockton  10  0  0  0  0  
  Rich lbw b Pandya  10  0  0  0  0  
  Archie not out  22  0  0  0  0  
  Rob did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
  Craig did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
  Manu did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 4, lb 0, w 3, nb 1) 8    
 TOTAL (28.3 Overs) 119    
 
 
 Fall of wickets: 
 
Bowling O M R W  
 Ben Stockton 8 3 15 3  
 Umrish Pandya 8 0 46 3  
 Oliver Haill 6 1 17 0  
 Ahmed Hussain 6 0 30 0  
 Glen Leeson 0.3 0 8 0