This low scoring contest was like the brilliant green coriander chutney sandwiches served by our hosts at tea; aesthetically unappealing at first sight, but a piquant, dynamic grower: a cult classic in the making. Unfortunately, on a day when the XI enjoyed their tea in a day nursery called ‘Once Upon a Time’, PCC couldn’t fashion a fairytale ending, though there was to be a spellbinding finish.
Batting first on the hottest day of the summer in the wide expanse of the Cavendish Recreation Ground, Pacific’s 126 didn’t do justice to the batting calibre available, even on a two-paced pitch of uneven bounce. The wicket looked tricky from the outset when Chasseaud was hit on the shoulder by a ball rising off a length. Save for a trio of fours in quick time from skipper Richards (who was sweetly caught by PCC member and Priory gloveman-for-the-day Sandeep Nair) and a brace of sumptuously timed drives from debutant Simon Wright at the close, run scoring was as evasive as a cooling breeze. A view which was supported by Nuggsy’s swanky new scoring app, which gave us new insights into personal and collective efforts. On the day, Pacific’s ‘Manhattan chart’ was more a swathe of low rise favelas in a Rio slum than soaring skyscrapers.
A combination of injudicious shots, judicious field placings, good catching and bad luck left Pacific utterly grateful for Korgoankar’s determined, patient 25 to guide them past three figures, qualities which evaded others as the mercury soared. Witnessing Korgy return to his crease with the arrival of each new batting partner was to see inspirational obduracy. Sweat-drenched and sun cream stinging the eyes, slumped-shouldered he moved with a brooding intensity, like a stone age warrior ready to defend his land from attack, his bat held in one hand a club to bludgeon with.
Our legspinner’s ‘allroond’ efforts were not reserved for the square. Sitting in the solace of the shade during the hottest part of the day, conversation bubbled up like water from a fountain. Talk meandered then flowed, moving from the retro pleasures of Cherry Coke to domestic goddess Nigella Lawson’s ham and coke recipe; from ponzi prince of darkness Allan Stanford to the commonplace ball-hitting squeals of the modern female tennis player. Aroon showed scant regard for such antics, leading this writer to speculate whether, as the England team’s afternoon break is set to be known as The Yorkshire Tea, this installment should now be known as Aroon with a View.
Beers flowed among the opposition at tea, indicative of a casual attitude perhaps, or did the 'Priory' in Priory Park have more therapeutic undertones? In any case the booze break was misguided because this was anything but a done deal. Not even a fever could keep the Nugget down on a pitch he was to make the ball spit on. From the get go JG made a ball lift and take the edge of Sandy Nair, then he bowled Vijay through the gate. Hat trick ball was flicked off the legs by Vijay but Glead prized him out soon after. JB offered ever economical support in a four over spell yielding just nine runs.
First change Simon Wright struck in his first Pacific over, the old school style seamer producing a chance for the balletic, athletic Sheldon Greenland to pouch. In fact, donning black and white dimpled shoes, the thespian’s sashays on the square added the energy of a ballroom dance to Pacific’s fielding efforts. More Fred Astaire than Fred Trueman though. Captain Sid also edged behind to give the debutant a second scalp. Alongside a neatly taken catch at square leg, this was a ‘loverly’ contribution by Simon, whose long hair and open chested action bring Dermot Reeve to mind.
Priory were wobbling at 50/60 odd for 5 and Pacific hearts soared as the thermometer was dropping, until Hitesh’s arrival. Tony Tambyrajah’s introduction, along with spin brother Aroon offered Priory’s powerful number seven loop-laden, guileful deliveries to negotiate following the seam trio. Korgy took two, including one-time Pacific man Forhad Ahmed, who rode his luck and swung continuously to leg for a precious 11. But the powerful Hitesh started to pierce the gaps and the long grass at the boundary edge, favouring the heave through the mid on area. Anxious Pacific eyes caught fleeting glimpses of Priory men rapidly changing the scoreboard.
A final drinks session saw three left with 35 runs needed. Richards summoned the spirit for one last effort over weakened squash and Greenland and Webley responded, JW bowling Junior before Sheldon played some chin music, coaxing Ritesh into presenting a dolly to the recently shinned but steadfastly courageous Brown at mid off. Six required now and off the last ball of Sheldon’s over Hitesh punch drove him down the ground for four for his first 50 in six years, by far the smoothest knock of the day.
After the heat, the low scores, Nugget’s app, luminous sandwich fillings, the sack race taking place in the corner of the field, seven hours of labour had come down to one battle. Jon Webley vs MP3. Webbo found his range then beat the bat twice. Pacific channeled what they had left, some wishing they could materialise an MP3 voodoo doll out of grass and sweat. In raced Webley, down came the ball. Out prodded MP3’s bat to tickle the ball over Richard’s head to the boundary. Le jeux sont fait. Finally, our game was up (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-wa6L6KzPc).