Black Marks as Drought Resumes
Pacific v Black Rose of Highgate CC at Highgate Wood
Sun 09 Jul 2017 at  2pm
Lost by 4 wickets
Friendly fixture

After a couple of overdue victories, it was deja vu all over again for the Pacifists against old rivals Black Rose. A strong-on-paper line-up, with useful batting down to no 9 and at least 4 gun players - any of whom could have gone very big on their day - proved again that games are won on the park rather than on paper. Meanwhile a slightly weakened Black Rose, who really only had two frontline bowlers and three-and-a-bit frontline batters, demonstrated that that's all you need if they all fire.

For the umpteenth time this season, we were demolished by bowling that could be described as the cricketing equivalent of one of the milder intimate diseases: unlikely to be fatal if properly treated, but intensely irritating, liable to cramp the style of a man in a hurry, and prone to causing a rash [shot]. Though burdened with the new ball, left-arm spinners Andre and Shahid nagged away for eight overs each of maddening just-doing-a-bit, just-not-quite-there-for-a-big-shot dolly mixture of crafty swingers interspersed with some of their usual speared-in tweak, and we obligingly succumbed.

Soden confidently punched his first ball from Shahid, then had a booming drive at his second without moving his feet and was bowled. Andre pegged away before offering up a big full toss of borderline legality that Aravindan top-edged to one of the two kids on the oppo. In a rather unsporting break with tradition, Black Rose were fielding a junior who turned out to have one of the safest pairs of hands in the game, duly pouching it at mid-on. George chose his fielder rather better, miscueing a drive to the badly-hung-over Joe, who no doubt seeing three balls headed towards him clutched at the wrong one and shelled it. Moses failed to make the most of his life as a good one from Shahid somehow burst through the tiniest of gates to clip the top of leg.

Sumeet started well despite a couple of close shaves, but a missed sweep produced a primordial bellow from Mishra and an upraised finger from John, a touch contentiously. Stockton also looked solid, using his long reach and calmly driving the spinners for singles, but tried a big loft against Andre and didn't quite get enough of it, whereupon the aforementioned junior overran the catch slightly from long off only to extend a nonchalant hand and grab it over his head.

Ben B, in whose bed the cricketing Gods have thoroughly defecated this season, came in determined to get his head down, dutifully propped forward to a ball that merited far less respect, and saw it skew gently to extra cover. When the Gods have it in for you...

Bemused skipper Chasseaud batted through the carnage with something like his old authority, mixing calm blocks with powerful drives, and giving a second filthy full toss from Mishra the treatment the first had deserved. The sin of losing your top order before sampling the change bowling was heavily underlined by the arrival of an elderly offspinner of fabulously vertical trajectory. One can only guess at the mayhem that might have ensued had the likes of Stockton or Sharma still been in. Another day Toby would have filled his boots, too, but obliged to reign himself in by the revolving door at the other end, reluctantly patted back a couple of gentle lobs before deciding that a borderline wide really had to go, and improbably underedged to garrulous keeper Ali, where it even more improbably stuck. Collis was then beaten for lack of pace and bowled on the charge.

Horrified by the thought that only rabbit Hussain was to come, Hogg and Saunders patiently compiled the best stand of the innings, Hoggy showing the rest the way by waiting for the really loose ball and belting it en route to a priceless maiden fifty. “Colonel” S played a terrific supporting hand, his pushes through cover and taps through third man not nearly as impressive as several blocks played to tantalisingly slow tweakers, which must have been torture not to try smacking. A final handful for the last wicket saw us almost bat out our overs and acquire just enough runs to allow us to attack with the new ball.

Ben carried on his fine season, troubling the classy Gorav with a mixture of inswingers and balls nipped across him. Arch-enemy Ali slashed and squirted before trying an extravagant heave to leg and being castled. Poor young Maroof, promoted to work on his batting,  duly followed a ball later. The too-cool-to—turn-up-and-field left hander looked ok but never threatened, slapping a rare long-hop to cover. Saunders bowled well in support, unlucky to see a couple of nicks go down, but Gorav in particular was ruthless in putting away every loose ball.

Ahmed relished a dusty pitch and his rejuvenated googly, discomfiting the batsmen and earning almost deferential caution. But while going at under 2s represented something of a career highlight, in all honesty the oppo had all the time in the world to knock off the remaining runs and a few wickets burgled with filth would have been far more use. Given an overdue bowl in Pacific colours, Collis tweaked economically and provided the champagne moment when matchwinner Gorav tried to dispatch a massive leg-side drag-down and somehow looped it gently over his own head to slip.

Never a man to finish a match in four balls if three would do, axe-murderer Mishra arrived with only 14 needed. Undaunted by the longest boundary and a typical Andre field (cow, extra cow, forward square cow and wide long cow), a trademark mow at Ahmed’s gingerly lobbed-up wrong ‘un was skied just out of reach of the keeper running back. Having calmly rotated the strike in his own individual style, he heaved again at Sumeet’s skiddy loosener and was bowled.

Extending Andre’s rare run of low scores was our last moral victory, as hung-over red-inker Joe settled matters and finished his leisurely net with a welly over cover. Despite a couple of close shouts and a catch bursting through the fingertips of slip, we never really had enough and did well to take the match as deep as we did after being 6-56 off the first 16 overs.

Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of the Black Rose book of cricketing discipline. Pacific arrived up to an hour in advance, netted enthusiastically and even threw in some fielding practice. BR in contrast rocked up anything from 20 mins before the start to the end of the first innings, languidly stuck a couple of stumps in the ground, half-heartedly shooed picnickers off the square, eventually agreed that a toss mightn’t be a bad idea, and, having won it, made a firm decision to definitely either bat or bowl.

On the field, however, they meticulously stuck to what is clearly a successful formula. Whether chastened by their expulsion from the league or just in a generally good mood, they were a model of Wodehousian pass-the-cucumber-sandwiches amiability, politely clapping each incoming batsman to the wicket. There again, we did give them a lot of practice at it.

Pacific v Black Rose of Highgate CC
Toss won by Black Rose of Highgate CC
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
James Soden   b Shahid   0  0  2  0  0  
Aravindan Ilangovan†   c Fielder b Andre   3  0  16  0  0  
Toby Chasseaud*   c Wicketkeeper b Tossell   26  0  42  2  1  
George Moses   b Shahid   12  0  8  1  0  
Sumeet Sharma   lbw b Andre   7  0  13  1  0  
Ben Stockton   c Fielder b Andre   5  0  8  0  0  
Ben Burnham   c Fielder b Fielder   0  0  5  0  0  
James Hogg   c Fielder b Maroof   61  0  53  11  0  
James Collis   b Tossell   0  0  3  0  0  
John Saunders   c Fielder b Thomas   13  0  38  1  0  
Ahmed Hussain   not out    2  0  13  0  0  
 Extras (b 8, lb 2, w 8, nb 0) 18    
 TOTAL (39.0 Overs) 147    
 Fall of wickets:  1-0 [Soden] , 2-11 [Ilangovan] , 3-31 [Moses] , 4-46 [Sharma] , 5-52 [Stockton] , 6-56 [Burnham ] , 7-59 [Chasseaud] , 8-59 [Collis] , 9-116 [Saunders] , 10-147 [Hogg]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Shahid   8  2  29  3  
 Andre   8  0  26  3  
 Tossell   8  2  26  2  
 Irfan   5  1  23  0  
 Thomas   6  3  10  1  
 Maroof   4  0  23  1  
Black Rose of Highgate CC innings  R  M  B  4  6
Gorav   c Hogg b Collis   69  0  79  10  0  
Ali†   b Stockton   7  0  17  1  0  
Maroof   b Stockton   0  0  1  0  0  
PTCC(?)   c Chasseaud b Stockton   9  0  21  0  0  
Joe   not out    31  0  42  4  0  
Raz   c Chasseaud b Hussain   8  0  30  0  0  
Mishra*   b Sharma   1  0  3  0  0  
Thomas   not out    1  0  3  0  0  
Shahid   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
No 10   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
No 11   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 14, lb 0, w 7, nb 0) 21    
 TOTAL (35.3 Overs) 148    
 Fall of wickets:  1-24 [Ali] , 2-24 [Maroof] , 3-73 [PTCC?] , 4-110 [Gorav] , 5-134 [Raz] , 6-135 [Mishra]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Ben Stockton   8  2  25  3  
 John Saunders   6  0  34  0  
 George Moses   4  0  26  0  
 Ahmed Hussain   8  1  14  1  
 James Collis   7.3  0  25  1  
 Sumeet Sharma   2  0  12  1  

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