Pacific made a good attempt at chasing Lord Gnome's imposing target on an excellent Queen's Oxford wicket. However the required rate of more than 10 an over for the last 20 overs proved too much - and a late clatter of wickets left the Islington side being content with a well fought draw at the end. Ultimately Gnomes skipper Anton Fineran’s record breaking quick fifty ensured that their total always looked beyond the visitors once a slow start had yielded two early wickets at the beginning of the chase.
Lord Gnome 271 for 7 Dec. (Tom Godfrey 74, Anton Finneran 69*, Martin Griggs 39, Darryl Roberts 2-50)
Pacific 213 for 8 (Jim Davies 71, Ollie Haill 37, Lucius Faisal 36, Dave Murray 34, Matt Cannon 3-79, Martin Griggs 2-2)
On a day of mixed weather skipper Dave Murray chose to bowl first – wary of how the wicket would play. Tom Godfrey’s powerful innings of 74 had enabled Gnomes to recover from a shaky start when two early wickets fell. In partnership with his brother Nick he saw to within sight of lunch. However with two wickets taken just before lunch – the Gnomes innings was in the balance at 130 for 4.
Gnomes seized control after lunch. First with a good partnership between Matt Cannon and the impressive Hertfordshire player Martin Griggs set the platform. Then a spectacular club record breaking fifty from only 21 balls from skipper Finneran ensured a healthy declaration total. It came of something of a surprise to Pacific – since runs for Anton have been as rare as hen’s teeth in recent fixtures between the sides – but this time it was the Gnomes poultry expert who had the last laugh.
There was little joy for the bowlers after early breakthroughs for openers Lucius Faisal and Darryl Roberts. Both Jim Davies and Peter Hollman took fortunate wickets in their first overs – and the process was repeated by stalwart slow bowler Ian Lay and the returning Roberts – prompting suggestions that skipper Murray should use his bowlers in one over spells! There was also time to run out burly Irishman Colin Black – the Pacific man beaten by some sharp work from keeper Rob Bastin and Jim Davies when attempting a second run. Darryl Roberts was the pick of a toiling attack on a good wicket.
A heavy shower between innings showed the value of the new covers at Queens – as the pitch was largely protected from the weather – although some time was still lost. However there seemed to be more life with the new ball as the Pacific innings started – and both Cannon and Finneran enjoyed success as openers Hollman and Guy Wiehahn fell to catches behind the wicket. The diminutive South African’s failure brought to an end a club record run of 9 consecutive innings of over 25.
When skipper Dave Murray edged to first slip things could have been even worse – but the straightforward chance from Cannon’s bowling was spilled. Instead the skipper and left-hander Jim Davies regrouped around the delayed tea interval – but the target seemed a long way off with only 40 on the board at the interval. The 75 run partnership was ended when Murray mistimed a drive and was caught off the accurate left arm spinner Ferney.
Indeed it was only the arrival of a focussed Lucius Faisal – punishing any bad balls – and the return of veteran paceman Cannon – that resulted in the tempo being increased. Davies resumed his duel with the Gnomes spearhead – one over yielding 16 runs as the ball flew through the covers from a series of punishing drives – yet with the occasional beauty also passing the outside edge.
With 65 runs added in little over half an hour – an improbable win began to look possible. It was Pacific turncoat Colin Black who made the vital breakthrough – inducing an edge from the burly Welshman Davies to end his innings on 71. A revived Cannon then did for Rob Bastin and spinner Griggs ended Faisal’s good innings on 36 and deceived Ian Lay into offering Black a catch. It seemed Pacific’s twelfth man was going to prove a decisive point to his team!
Oli keeps slips interested
When Ollie Haill offered a slip chance off Cannon to his first ball – all might have been lost – but again Griggs let the chance go. Haill then flayed the bowling through the covers for a highly entertaining 37 – only falling in the final over – while Darryl Roberts batted responsibly at the other end. With three balls left and two wickets in hand – senior pro Nigel Wilkinson strode to the crease with memories of the narrow defeat against Washington in his mind – particularly with Jim Davies standing at the bowlers end! However lightening did not strike twice and Pacific left the field having enjoyed a creditable draw in a well-fought and highly enjoyable game.
“Anton’s fireworks and the rain meant the target was always a bit remote” admitted skipper Murray afterwards. “Another great batting track at Queens – but the early life in it after the rain set us back - and despite Jim, Lucius and Ollie’s efforts we had to settle for a draw. I’m sure Gnomes fancied their chances of finishing us off at the end – but we saw them off quite comfortably.” he added.
MOM – Jim Davies – 15 boundaries for the Welshman in his first fifty of the season.
Packing the Kit – Colin Black – a vital breakthrough and a catch for the burly Irishman – for the opposition!
XI: Guy Wiehahn, Peter Hollman, Jim Davies, David Murray*, Lusius Faisal, Rob Bastin+, Ian Lay, Ollie Haill, Darryl Roberts, Allan Roberts, Nigel Wilkinson