A big win on a chilly overcast windswept day in a match that was as good as over by the 35th over of the first innings - but provided Pacific with their only win in a terrible September.
Ben and Keiran strode out onto a blustery Alexandra Park cricket field to find Calthorpe opening with spin and slow bent arm seam. Boorman tucked in straight away, using what always looks from afar like a child's size bat to blast six, six, four and take 18 off the second over of the day. Keiran did not allow the wicket-keeper’s noisy blasts of belly gas to put him off and was soon hitting well-timed square and lofted cover drives down the hill too.
By the time Keiran fell for 32, the pair had built a large, Cape Canaveral-like platform of 97 for Pacific to blast off from. Ben perished not long after, skying one into the legside after a bombastic 65. Webbo looked comfortable from the start and, with spin seemingly the only option available to Calthorpe's captain, began to introduce the ball to the Alexandra Park shrubbery. Unfortunately Soumik was run out taking a suicidal run just as runs started to come easy. As Ireland came to the crease Jon block-shifted up several gears, demoralising the Calthorpe bowlers with some relentless thwacking. Hitting the third change spinner's first over for 20-odd, he reached his half century and then century in no time.
Ireland, as well as talking about himself in the third person, got away with some horrible agricultural heaves long enough to get his eye in and soon joined his fellow West Countryman in gorging on longhop-flavoured treats. (Editor's note: I hear it tastes like chicken…) As Calthorpe disintegrated in the field, the pair batted in a way only the Dorset Youth Cricket system can teach, and their unbeaten partnership of 174 took Pacific up to 314 in their 40 overs. Webbo finished on a massive 137 off what must have been under a hundred balls, Ireland 64.
Having tucked into the bowling, Pacific turned their attention to a feast of mini-spare ribs, mini-kievs, mini-spring rolls, mini-chicken skewers, and fairly small onion bhajis. Such a selection of small party treats always suggest Kerry Katona or Coleen Nolan's involvement, but the gluttonous Pacificists weren't complaining and began carb-loading for the second innings like the dedicated athletes they are.
Nuggsy opened tidily off a short run, doing his bit to get through the overs quickly so our hopes of a win wouldn't fade with the autumnal light. A strange kite-like spool of string floating out of Ahmed's backside was the latest edition to his armoury of psychological techniques as he opened at the other end. And soon enough, it paid off - the A-bomb detonated - and Calthorpe’s cautious opener spanked one to Rohan who took a sharp shin-high catch at square leg.
Ahmed took a second, and Rohan took the third in a lively first change spell. As Calthorpe fell way behind the rate, the result began to look inevitable, but Pacific couldn't find wickets regularly and the game descended into its 'blue period'. Some double bouncers, scrappy batting, slapstick fielding and five or six dropped catches ensured this one-sided game was still likely to go to 40 overs.
Further breakthroughs came from Mamun and Soumik’s wristy twirlers. But if this game was a person, the chilly players would have been appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to have the life support machine turned off and the feeding tubes removed. A low point in the innings was reached with Stacey and Jon wrestling each other to drop a skier that Jon had called for.
Someone was needed to humanely break this innings' neck. Inspired by a sword-wielding ninja/nutcase practising in the evening light, James Smith stepped up to the plate, injecting some samurai spirit into the game with his no-nonsense pace. He took four quick wickets as Calthorpe realised they might have to push on a bit if they were to get 20 an over. Smiffy then ended the game with a trademark smash out, throwing down the wickets from four centimetres away to claim a run out from a truly farsical last ball (author's original spelling).
Back in the pavilion, centurion captain Webbo broke with tradition not just by not buying a jug, but also knocking over one bought by Ahmed.
Many thanks to Chris for scoring.