Probably the nearest Pacific ‘first class fixture’ ever played to Hallowe’en, this match was played in distinctly hotter and sunnier weather than is normally associated with the pagan festival. Also abnormal for a cricket ground were the 30 or so expats around the periphery perfecting their golf swings by hitting onto the pitch. The clearing of these sad individuals and their little balls delayed the start of the match and, due to a large patch of mud created by the worst rain for 140 years in the preceding weeks, play would only come from one end.
Despite the unconventional conditions, spectators were treated to some of the traditional Halloween fare, with Conrad Chandler’s legendary pumpkin-lantern pectoral muscles, ghoulish bowling from Matt Holliday, pesky kids demanding sweets in Luke Hollman, ghostly wailing in appeals, but sadly not witches as the DWAGs had stayed at home!
Opening the bowling, Oli Haill’s bowling was full of tricks and treats, with swing both ways and later on an offcutter bowled down leg side to remove the oppo’s free-scoring opener that was not given out by the umpire but by the good sportsmanship of the walking batsman. He had scored 29 by this point and looked well set after Haill had bowled out his partner and South African Shayne Rees removed the number three caught and bowled.
Then, after new captain James Smith had built himself into a frenzy of frustration due to some tough wide-calling from the umpire, there followed one of the most surreal moments seen on a cricket pitch. As Smiffy walked back to his mark, the theme tune from the Addams Family came belting out from some unseen set of powerful speakers near the ground and, possessed by the spirit of the season, one by one every Pacific fielder Pacificer joined in, clapping, to the finger-clicks of the theme. This brought a bemused look to the octogenarian umpire’s face and a rare smile to Miffy’s, who then went on to take two good wickets for 15 runs.
The new skipper’s other novel tour additions included a special move, whereby on the captain’s cry of ‘99er’ all fielders had to chase the ball whichever direction it was hit on the next shot. This move was called for twice during the game, with enthusiastic support from the North Londoners, apart from young Hollman, whose lack of team-bonding resulted in a hefty fine.
The locals departed to a range of bowlers, six different players in fact, including veteran Pete Hollman and, in a historic event, his son Luke (aged seven years and 44 days). He was brought on at the ‘opposite end’ to his very proud Pa and took what is certainly the youngest ever Pacific wicket when he skilfully forced the batsman into top-edging a catch to his hero John Webley.
The final wicket was taken by Conrad Chandler, who at a night out in infamous Benidorm a few days earlier had tried to ask for a cigar at a bar by mistakenly demanding that he wanted to ‘fumar un pollo’ – or smoke a chicken.
Meanwhile another interesting revelation from one unnamable tourist was that ‘if’ he was gay (he didn’t use the term batting for the other side, and your correspondent wouldn’t stoop to such bad puns) he imagined he might ‘dress like Elton John’. Anyway, locals Sporting Alfas finished on 126 for nine.
After a lunch of burgers, Matt ‘Half-term’ Holliday and Rob ‘Bilbo’ Bastins opened the Pacific batting to the crafty expat bowlers. Not long after, the latter was given out lbw by umpire Shanye ‘Trigger’ Rees despite a clunk of ball on bat that could be heard in the pavilion (‘I’d worked so hard to get rid of that nick-name,’ said Rees later). Happily, the gentlemanly Alfas players called the hobbit back, however, and he went on to swipe at a few more before eventually skying one to a fielder for 23 in his last inning before he leaves on his around-the-globe trip.
At the other end Holliday, showing off a range of strokes on his way to 16, passed 200 runs for the season, a feat also accomplished during the game by burly Aussie all-rounder Kurt ‘Radio 1093’ Rademaker in a quick-fire 25. The fact that the Brisbaner did it in a third of the matches than the Londoner is one that shouldn’t need mentioning to seasoned Pacific watchers. Also showing off a range of strokes, was Matt Patel, none of them came off unfortunately.
Holding the innings together as usual was Pacific’s rock, John Webley, whose 39 was as usual largely untroubled, although if the field had appealed on one occasion when the ball rapped the pads when Haill was umpiring, it would have been unfair to have not raised the finger.
Pacific surpassed the total with over 12 overs to go and enjoyed a few beers bought by proud Hollman Senior on celebration of Jnr’s first ever club wicket.
Pacific XI: Rob Bastin (+), Matt Patel, Matt Holliday,Jon Webley, Kurt Rademaker, Conrad Chandler, Pete Hollman, Luke Hollman, Shayne Rees, Oli Haill, James Smith(*).
Man of the match: Haill, of course, as anyone familiar with his match reports will have known was coming. Although on this occasion the captain actually chose him as well!
Packing the kit: The ghostly-complexioned Holliday’s ghoulish 20 runs conceded off 2 overs bowled, most of them wides.
Rob's pics #1
Rob's pics #2