BB tries to beat the Ladder single handedly
Pacific v Archway Ladder at Springfield Park
Sun 03 Jul 2022 at 1pm
Lost by 6 wickets
Friendly fixture

When planning my brief trip down to London, a nice, low standard Sunday friendly seemed like the perfect opportunity to don the Pacific colours once more, two years on from my last game for the club and 18 months since I decamped to the noted cricketing non-hotbed of Orkney. 

As it turned out, my hopes of a low standard game were dashed: Archway Ladder were a team composed largely of young, competent cricketers in a reasonable state of physical fitness, and after several dry weeks the Springfield Park pitch had more in common with Bridgetown or the Gabba than the usual slow, low council fare. Balls that pitched on a good length regularly climbed to shoulder height or above, with the odd shooter as well thrown in for good measure. In case the bowlers got too excited, there was also an extremely short boundary on one side to give them something to worry about. Pacific skipper Mutz won the toss and chose to bat.

Fresh from top scoring in Saturday's league game, Mark Mehta strode out to open alongside debutant Joe Kidd. Both were watchful early on with some very decent bowling zipping past their noses, but it was one that didn’t jump that brought the first breakthrough: Joe adjudged lbw for 6, completing his Pacific initiation in record time. Shortly after, Mehta was bowled by a fuller one that stayed low and splayed the stumps from the impressive Wahab. An extremely scratchy 8 off 24 balls from yours truly at number three wasn’t quite the steadying of the ship that might have been needed, but it certainly provided contrast to Ben Burnham’s enterprising innings at the other end. 

Burnham walked out to the wicket needing 10 to reach his personal target of passing Toby on the Pacific run scoring charts, and later in his innings he also went past Tristan, a tremendous achievement for a much improved batsman. If I might add some technical batting analysis (and I really shouldn’t), BB has always had the shots - Ahmed once memorably described him as being the club’s foremost purveyor of the 360 degree cut - but has now added the ability to spot the good ball and block it, a much underrated cricketing skill. Early on in his innings, Ben was struck on the hand by another lifter and almost immediately came down the wicket to express that all was not well inside his glove. It didn’t seem to stop him tucking in to some of the bowling, but clearly caused some serious discomfort.

Pacific seemed fairly well placed at 106-4 at drinks, but things went awry almost immediately afterwards as the home side threw away three wickets in four balls. Burnham was the first to go, gloving a surprise lifter from a slower bowler behind on 47 and walking without waiting for the umpire to raise his finger, before Vadwala and Hunte both attempted big shots too soon and were caught. The Archway fielders crowded round Rafiq Ratta as he faced the hatrick ball… and was badly dropped at first slip! Bowler Sean collapsed in heartbreak, proving that you can never truly enjoy cricket; his three wickets in four balls proving insufficient consolation for missing out on a career highlight three in a row. 

Pacific were in deep trouble at seven down with 19 overs to go, but a captain’s innings from Mutz Siddiqui and really solid support from the reprieved Ratta, Joe Deighan and Aroon dragged us up to 189 before the skipper was the last man out for 41. 

Having posted a competitive total, Pacific took the field looking to use the spicy pitch - which had latterly displayed a bit of turn in addition to the bounce - to their advantage. They were missing Burnham (off to A&E) and soon after, Kidd, struck low by a back injury - but were allowed two subfielders: the watching Ricky, who proved more than useful diving around the he outfield despite tight jeans, and later in the innings Tim, who was also in denim but showed a little less athleticism. Both their efforts were much appreciated by the remaining Pacific nine.

Debutant Vasim Vadwala bowled with skill and decent pace in picking up both openers - and could have had more with two drops off his bowling - whilst Joe Deighan bowled tidily without reward. Archway’s middle order proved solid despite Alex Hunte picking up his first Pacific wicket, one of two catches for Mehta at mid off (along with one of the drops - but as Meatloaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad). Captain Fazel (a previous centurion against Pacific) and Maroof accelerated after drinks and targeted the short boundary well, taking particular toll on Aroon’s left arm wrist spin. 

One moment of levity came late in the Archway chase when the players were joined in the middle by a large white dog who was noticeably more keen to chase a ball around a field than many Pacificos. By dint of his pure white coat, he was also scoring more highly on the Chasseaud Sartorial Scale than several of them. After dispensing with our canine sub-fielder, captain Siddiqui tried a series of rapid bowling changes with Saeed and Ratta both trying and failing to provide the breakthrough before your author was brought on with Archway requiring two runs to win and Pacific seven wickets.

A full toss was dispatched into the leg side first ball to bring the scores level, but the real drama was yet to come. Under the malevolent influence of coach Siddiqui telling him to “do it for the TikTok fans”, Archway wicketkeeper Maroof was persuaded to pull out the reverse sweep, but the ball was much too full and much too straight and struck the batter full in front. The umpire’s finger went up like a shot, and just like that, the Pacific bowling averages had a new clubhouse leader - and one who will not play again this season. Over to you, Pacificos!

The number six took one whole ball to get his eye in before whacking to the cover boundary to win the game for the Ladder, depriving Ricky of a hard earned (and generously allowed by the opposition) bowl of his own. Ricky also got a round in for the assembled Pacificos at The Anchor and Hope after the game, so can be firmly pencilled in for future legend status. Whilst at the pub, we were joined by Burnham, freshly discharged from Homerton General with a fractured metacarpal, which will keep him out for at least six weeks - sad news for him, but also for Pacific who will be without their third highest run scorer for the foreseeable future. 



Gen Z-friendly highlights available here: 

Burnham displays his wounds

Pacific v Archway Ladder
Toss won by Pacific
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
Mark Mehta   b Wahab   16  0  24  2  0  
Joe Kidd   lbw Wahab    6  0  12  1  0  
Rob Dinsey   c & b Waqas   8  0  24  1  0  
Ben Burnham   c wk b Sean   47  0  42  6  1  
Humza Saeed   c & b Waqas   4  0  2  0  0  
Vasim Vadwala   c square leg b Sean   9  0  7  2  0  
Alex Hunte   c wk b Sean   1  0  2  0  0  
Murtaza Siddiqui*†   b Waqas   41  0  44  4  0  
Rafiq Ratta   c wk b Talha   11  0  11  1  0  
Joe Deighan   b Abdullah   7  0  24  0  0  
Aroon Korgaonkar   not out    3  0  3  0  0  
 Extras (b 29, lb 3, w 8, nb 1) 41    
 TOTAL (39.0 Overs) 189    
 Fall of wickets:  1-22 [Kidd] , 2-31 [Mehta] , 3-89 [Dinsey] , 4-93 [Saeed] , 5-106 [Burnham ] , 6-107 [Vadwala] , 7-107 [Hunte] , 8-135 [Ratta]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Peppe   7  0  25  0  
 A Wahab   8  0  29  2  
 Sean   8  0  38  3  
 Waqas   6  0  43  3  
 Talha   4  0  10  1  
 Mahek   4  0  11  0  
 Abdullah   2  0  10  1  
Archway Ladder innings  R  M  B  4  6
Abdullsh   lbw b Vadwala   9  0  0  0  0  
Shahid   c Mehta b Vadwala   23  0  0  4  0  
Jim   c Mehta b Hunte   39  0  0  6  0  
Fazel*   not out    40  0  0  5  1  
Maroof†   lbw b Dinsey   50  0  0  8  0  
Waqas   not out    4  0  0  1  0  
 Extras (b 2, lb 5, w 13, nb 1) 21    
 TOTAL (29.4 Overs) 193-4    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Vasim Vadwala   8  0  39  2  
 Joe Deighan   6  1  23  0  
 Aroon Korgaonkar   6  0  44  0  
 Alex Hunte   4  0  20  1  
 Humza Saeed   3  0  31  0  
 Rafiq Ratta   2  0  16  0  
 Rob Dinsey   0.4  0  5  1