Pacific CC Magic Moment #19 - 'Webbogate - Webbo gated!' - Ahmed Hussain
Thu 09 Jul 2020 
Club news item

It's 'A Bomb' time: Pacific's legspinner supreme Ahmed Hussain has chosen a momentous cricketing memory. 


A palpable love for the game and a motivation to develop his skillset has seen Ahmed surge up the Pacific bowling charts; our bowling specialist currently stands as the 12th highest wicket taker in club history with an impressive 198 scalps.


He writes: "My normal criteria for a memorable game of cricket are a close finish, a beautiful venue, plenty of banter with the opposition, and, let's face it, a good tea.


So choosing a match we lost by 5 wickets on our 2014 West Country tour because of an individual memory is a bit gratuitous, although in my defence there were at least two other champagne moments in the match, and it was indeed an idyllic venue.


Plush CC, a beautiful rural ground just outside a village in Dorset, with 100% genuine cows at Cow Corner, is one of the loveliest venues on the Pacific circuit. It was my first cricket tour ever, and I was desperate to play, despite having incurred a minor groin twinge a couple of weeks earlier playing lunchtime football at work (I know, I know: like my cricket, only minus the athleticism, speed and coordination), and being reduced to bowling off a single pace.


We were playing Dorset Wanderers - one of our customary tour fixtures against a side of Webbo's father's mates, and owing to their coming up slightly short in terms of cobbling together the numbers, the great W had opted to play for his Dad's side to help make a game of it. We batted first (of which more later), and they had put on a few in response for only 1 or 2 down when I sidled on to bowl, with Jon having come in first drop, already having played himself in, and looking dangerous.


I actually tried a googly first up to him, which did 5/8ths of bugger all, but earned a very, very suspicious look as he patted it back. An over or so later, with one of my trademark deliveries (loopy leg-stump waist-high full toss) having endangered several of the aforementioned cows, things were looking a trifle ominous. I somehow got a good-length leg break to grip on middle, and it got nicked down to third man for a couple (presumably either down hill, or all of the fielders were in front of square on the boundary), and I gave him a very tongue-in-cheek stare mid-pitch, pointing out to a chuckling Mr Webley that I'd not get too many chances in my life to give such an accomplished batsman a Teapot, so I might as well milk it.


Then I tried another googly. The wrong'un is a big part of my bowling, and it makes a huge difference if I'm in some kind of rhythm and landing it. For some reason, even really good batsmen at our level don't ever seem to have been taught how to read it, so I like to get one in early so that for the rest of my spell it's in the back of their minds, even though *I* know the chances of getting one in exactly the right place to get a wicket are pretty slim. Webbo does know how to read it, but by some miracle I simultaneously fluked one in just the right spot and caught him napping. He shaped a cut as it pitched a foot or so outside off and turned back, prompting a yell of 'no!' as he was unable to pull out of the shot. It hit the pad in front of middle-and-off and I remember an astonished split-second of thinking 'Jeez, that's plumb!' and preparing to turn my lungs inside out, when there was the sweet, sweet 'dink!' of a bail being knocked off as it crept through.


Celebrations were loud and prolonged, shall we say, and the Great Man took the leg-pulling in great part. His many fans will be relieved to know that his was only a transient visit to my back pocket, as a smashed light and several dents that appear to have been inflicted by mortar fire on the Wray Crescent Pavilion will attest.


While we're on the subject of Jon, I'd just like to mention that he's the reason I ended up at Pacific. I played a one-off game as a ringer via Jon Hardisty, and so enjoyed playing under Jon's captaincy that I was keen to come back. For such a terrific player to be so modest, and so encouraging towards the 'athletically challenged', and to so obviously delight at our occasional moments in the sun, speaks volumes for the man and the club. So cheers Webbo, not just for this memory, but for all the others over the last 8 or so years.


Earlier in the day, Champagne moment #2 had arrived courtesy of Webbo Senior and Tom Ireland. Jon's dad, having clearly been a Proper left-arm quick in his youth, now bowls chinamen, and managed what was essentially a widdershins Gatting ball: Tom (who'd already spanked a couple of boundaries) was caught in two minds about a slow loopy delivery tossed up just outside his leg stump. Fatally, he opted for caution and propped forward, only for it to pitch just out of his reach, turn sharply across him, and hit the top of the off bail.


But the real highlight of the day, and one that might just be a significant moment in the history of English cricket, was Luke Hollman's maiden century in senior cricket. As he grew in confidence and spanked sixes onto the bank by the pavilion (maybe not quite Flintoff hitting Brett Lee over the stand behind him, but a decent hit in village  cricket, not least for a boy yet to hit his growth spurt) it increasingly seemed surprising that he hadn't managed it before. Giaco was in no doubt as to his own vital contribution during a long partnership, and an umpire who shall remain nameless found it increasingly difficult to keep a straight face as one of Pacific's tailenders (albeit no bunny) attempted to overcome the damage done by several years' Middlesex and England coaching by dint of a constant stream of advice from the non-striker's end.


Alas it was all to no avail, not helped by the much-missed James "box of frogs - not nearly mad enough!" Gleadow exhibiting some of the eccentricity which so endeared him to everyone, and insisting on cycling over 50 miles to the game. As such, some of our bowling and fielding may have lacked a touch of sharpness, and they chased down the runs in comparative ease. But an evening mingling with the oppo in a lovely pub in Sherborne, lubricated by jugs of some of the frothiest, hoppiest summer ale this author has ever tasted, rather took away the sting.


Happy times, happy memories. Let's hope the next ones are just round the corner."


Scorecard and match report (penned by Nuggsy)

Plush CC