A weakened Pacific XI showed up in the wonderful copse that is Highgate Woods, although the foliage was too thick for Mr Rajaraman initially. The likliest outcome according to the weather looked to be a draw or no result. And certainly once the toss was lost the odds stacked higher against Pacific & it was not long before a 40 over game was reduced to 30 following the first heavy shower.
The pitch although seemingly solid had a sticky muddy constitution & the bowlers were sliding through their overs in the absence of sawdust. Still the 2 sides continued, knowing that one more substantial downpour & that would be the end. Indeed, the forecast was for thundery showers but they never came. Instead Strongroom captain, David Gower, rotated his bowlers continually taking off good bowlers for better strength in depth.
Rob Bastin - the captain & man in form – held the innings together with 37 & was aided by a sparkling Oli Haill as between them they raced to a defendable 126-6 having been on 45-3 after 15 overs.
After a fine tea, a pinch-hitting counter attack from Strongroom was the last thing Rob needed. But two 4s off James Gleadow's first 2 balls & the dye was cast as Claird (60) & Woodhouse biffed their way to an opening partnership of 49 in just 8 overs. Pacific's shallow & inexperienced bowling attack were up against it.
James Gleadow persevered manfully, bowling Woodhousem and then, with the help of a runout, Strongroom were 2 down for 68 at the half-way stage.
The change bowlers tried to contain but there was always a bad ball for the batters to tuck in to. Kieran Mullins, Oli Haill, Jai Rajaraman, skipper Rob & Matt Holliday all bowled well in patches but pressure was released in the field.
The pitch held up, the rain stayed away and the outfield continued to dry. However, Strongroom slowly seemed to find ways of keeping Pacific in the game as a steady fall of wickets at Rob's end – including Claird's to a Bastin daisycutter – brought in one uncharachteristicly edgy batsman after another who presumably had hoped to see Claird win them the game. It couldn't last forever, & along with 5 dropped catches & some indifferent ground fielding towards the end, Strongroom almost seemed to win despite themselves, which they eventually did with 15 balls to spare & 4 wickets in hand.
Summary - a fine effort to play a match by all participants. A good spirit & an under-strength Pacific side did well to have such a close game despite being largely outbowled & outbatted & the loss of a useful toss.
Rob Bastin is 2nd in the batting averages, tops the catches & the stumpings & today's 3-15 is the season's best bowlings to date.
The sum of all today's line up's batting averages = 90
Debut:- Luke Hollman 6 years 238 days (prev Greg Johnson 7 years 160 days v Lord Gnome 19/7/98)
XI:- Rob Bastin*, James Gleadow, Peter Hollman, Matt Holliday, Matt Patel, Jai Rajaraman, Stan McLeod, Luke Hollman, Oli Haill , Moses Hutchinson-Pascal+ and Kieran Mullens