After a heroic run-chase petered out in the away fixture earlier this year, Pacific made an even more concerted attempt to wrench back the Lindridge-McDougall Memorial Cup at the glorious Walker Ground, helped by the devious Jardine-esque tactic of fielding comfortably our youngest side all year in what was originally down as a veterans' fixture.
In the end we were thwarted by a last-wicket stand that resisted all the hostility and guile that Pacific’s next generation could throw at them for more than ten overs. They seemed to be motivated as much by ire at our perceived late declaration (and the potential embarrassment of having to admit they’d no idea where the trophy actually was) as anything, but you’d have to say well played in the end.
Toby elected to bat courtesy of Ahmed’s lucky Auvernian euro, although the oppo were heard plotting to put us in, to the disdain of local pitch expert Rizwan “it’s a bleedin’ road, mate” Siddiqui. He was quickly ramming home the point with some crunching cover-drives and flicks over fine leg, and things were looking really ominous for UCS’s perfectly respectable seam attack when extra cover cuddled a full-blooded drive into his sweater - moments after nearly having his ankle blasted off by something similar - and somehow held on. Riz’s rueful cheeriness was tested as eight easier chances went begging while Toby and Luke compiled the third highest second wicket stand in Pacific’s history, and the Official Highest Ever Second Wicket Stand Not Featuring Steve Lay, their 179 following the stalwart’s 211 with David Murray in 1997, and 191 (unbeaten) with Webbo in 2014.
Toby played himself in carefully but accelerated after Riz’s departure, deciding that the way to foil Johnny-on-the-spot bowlers is to move the spot, lofting effortlessly over extra cover from yards down the track as he motored to another Pacific century. Luke fenced and edged a bit early on, but was soon hitting both his straps and the bowling. Spin came on and was milked straight and biffed square, and it was a surprise when Hollman Jr finally nicked off on 93 (apparently just shy of a Graeme Hick-tastic 2500 in all cricket for the season!) Alas no hundreds, daddy or otherwise, for the second week in a row, but definitely another mummy 50. Sadly there was only time for a brief cameo from Sandeep, and poor Mark and Ben never made it past the nets/scorer’s table.
Having seen their batting in the away fixture Toby was determined to give them a testing run-chase, and so it proved at 262-2 dec. Perhaps their side on the day wasn’t as strong, as the muttering had deteriorated to chuntering by the time we were called in for an excellent tea, but in the end they got 44 overs to our 51 which isn’t too shabby. They seemed more focussed on grumbling than hitting the ball at the start, but then our opening attack (combined age 30) was right on the money and very very brisk from the word go.
A watching Nuggsy looked on in approval as Max (a late replacement for a food-poisoned Ireland) conceded only two runs in his seven overs - close to a club record - to a field even Dennis Lillee was rarely awarded, with a sharp opening spell finally rewarded via a beautiful slower off-cutter. Dan Travers was unlucky not to bag one as well, but was nonetheless in the action as an accurate throw to keeper Nair made a nonsense of an attempted single to him at mid off.
Perhaps feeling UCS needed to be kept interested in the chase, Toby had the right man in leggie Hussain, who didn’t disappoint as a couple of trademark full tosses were duly dispatched. However, he also found some sharp turn when straying back on to a length, and after a couple of near misses had one snaffled by Riz at midwicket. Fellow veteran 22-year old Timbadia, also showed the youngsters the benefit of experience coupled with the occasional pie to keep 'em guessing, following a spectacular beamer by comprehensively bowling their best batsman.
Whipped into a frisky over-rate by Toby and Riz, we managed 24 overs and 6 wickets by the start of the last hour, and it was time to replace the A-Bomb with a more modern tactical strike drone, or “Luke” as we call him. Alex’s seam was given an economical outing but couldn’t break through, so equally spindly Dan was brought back and produced a leg stump yorker of which Joel Garner would have been proud (“I’d be even more chuffed if I knew who Joel Garner was” - bless).
Luke took a couple of overs to find a threatening rhythm and mode of attack, but coaxed by Riz’s full repertoire of folded arms, scratched chins, and eventually exasperated gesticulations from slip, finally proved the virtue of targeting the pegs when a quicker ball shattered the stumps. Once the number nine had calmly left a leg-side ball, only to watch it rip into Sandeep’s gloves via the off bail, we were well in the hunt, with ten overs to take the final wicket and everybody crowded as close as the ECB’s child protection policy (and Pete’s desire for grandchildren) would allow.
Alas it was Cardiff ’09 all over again, minus Monty’s beard, as several near misses failed to translate into a knockout blow, despite Dan giving the No 11 a brutal working over. It was anything but a bore draw, though, with every nervously blocked yorker and squirted single alternately cheered/heckled by the rest of the UCS side (who seemed to have quite forgotten their disgruntlement in the excitement) and an ever-present Nuggsy.
Speaking of whom, we should all spare a thought for Mr Line and Length himself as he is due to have his first op on Tuesday. Keep fighting, mate.
Other matches: Mon 29-May-2017, Mill Hill Village CC, Memorial Cup comes home!, Mon 30-May-2016, UCS Playing Fields, Won 9 runs So close no matter how far, Mon 25-May-2015, UCS Playing Fields, Drawn UCS - Unfortunate consistent showers, Mon 25-Aug-2014, UCS Playing Fields, Cancelled Messing About In Puddles, Mon 26-May-2014, Alexandra Palace, Drawn Pacific crackers deny cheesy boys, Sat 25-Aug-2012, UCS Playing Fields, Drawn Same old Story.., Sun 24-Jul-2011, Queens College, Lost 125 Runs Craig Secures Another Year of Possession, Sun 25-Jul-2010, Queens College, Lost 7 wickets Final Trophy Challenge Slips From Grasp, Sun 26-Jul-2009, Queens College, Lost 128 runs That Monday feeling, Mon 28-Jul-2008, Queens College, Postponed Challenge Dissipates Like The Flood Water, Sun 29-Jul-2007, Queens College, Lost 83 Runs No CCC Bail Out as UCS Drop Out, Sat 16-Jun-2007, UCS Playing Fields, Cancelled Wrong End of Another Record, Sun 30-Jul-2006, Queens College, Lost 7 wickets Braden Graduates With a First in Oxford, Sun 31-Jul-2005, Queens College, Won 8 wickets Webley's Weekender Smashes Records, Sun 17-Jul-2005, UCS Playing Fields, Won 156 Runs Lindridge-McDougall Memorial Cup, Sun 01-Aug-2004, Queens College, Lost 5 wickets 6 a side ? No Thanks !, Sun 18-Jul-2004, UCS Playing Fields, Cancelled Pacific End Win Drought in Run Deluge!, Sun 03-Aug-2003, Queens College, Won by 139 Runs Delay . Play . Lunch . Play . Rain, Sun 08-Jun-2003, UCS Playing Fields, Drawn Lindridge-McDougall Memorial Cup, Sun 04-Aug-2002, Queens College, Drawn Damp Forecast came True, Sun 09-Jun-2002, UCS Playing Fields, Cancelled Lindridge-McDougall Memorial Cup, Sun 05-Aug-2001, Queens College, Won by 7 wkts Late assault sees Pacific home, Sun 03-Jun-2001, Away, Won by 4 wkts Lindridge-McDougall Memorial Cup, Sun 06-Aug-2000, Queens College, Lost by 5 wkts Bowlers on top, Sun 04-Jun-2000, UCS Playing Fields, Won by 5 wkts Pitch unplayable, Sun 30-May-1999, UCS Playing Fields, Cancelled Game off, Sat 25-Jul-1998, Oakhill Park, Cancelled Too many injuries, Sun 31-May-1998, UCS Playing Fields, Cancelled Waterlogged ground., Sun 29-Jun-1997, Oakhill Park, Cancelled Garfunkel in rearguard action, Sun 01-Jun-1997, Eve Field, Drawn