Pacific CC returned to MEI League action on Sunday after a 5-week layoff, taking on South Loughton in an attempt to replicate the result of the nprevious fixture which saw the Essex boys easily overturned at the end of the Central line. PCC knew that a win would put them in good stead for the final half of the league season, and give them the best shot at comfortably taking the league title.
After Ben lost the toss, the fifth in a row (including the previous fixture with South Loughton), Sloughton skipper Andy Battle took the correct decision to bowl. The previous night’s torrential downpour had left the Ally Park wicket in an unpredictable state, and the toss was to prove crucial in the outcome of the match. Erstwhile swing bowler Dave Smith opened from the pavilion end, bowling medium pace off breaks and generating huge turn, forcing Ben to erect a rarely-seen defensive wall. At the other end his partner in crime was content to fling the ball and let the wicket do the talking, and talk it did, cajoling Toby into half-heartedly attempting to pull a short one, succeeding only in nicking through to the wicket keeper. Ben fell to the same bowler, Smith’s economy from the opposite end forcing the skipper to try and score off Alif, the result being an attempted cover drive that manifested itself as a thick edge to first slip. After tucking away three balls for 12 runs, Webbo committed hari kari, and Tom was joined by Si ‘Larry’ Lawrence, fresh from a good knock in Winchester the previous week. All credit to the man from Hampshire as he kept his composure, despite a steady procession of PCC batsmen arriving and departing at the opposite crease, to score a vital hundred on a track that dried and flattened to resemble something of a road. A score of 22something was posted largely thanks to Larry’s exquisite maiden century.
By the time the two sides emerged from the pavilion, you could have tarmac’d the strip and passed it off as the Stevenage – Knebworth stretch of the A1. Nuggsy, bowling off a short run-up to maximise the overs rate, had Sloughton’s Farthing all at sea, only to watch three chances go down to his pinpoint leg-breaks. Understandably, Gleadow lost his head a little and actually- and you might not believe this - started to bowl slightly short of a good length. On this batsman’s paradise, anything short was pounced upon, and the chase was on at a rate unfavourable to our heroes. Nine bowlers in total were used by captain Boorman, but none could really gauge the length of the wicket as a mixture of long-hops and full bungers were dispatched in all directions by batsmen who must have thought it was their birthday and christmas all coming at once. Essex boy Farthing survived numerous mis-timed slogs, 4, maybe 5, dropped catches, and even a blatant caught behind to reach an unbeaten ton, an innings that should have been snuffed out in the first over. But Pacific’s wayward bowling and frankly lackluster fielding were punished suitably, and this Sunday’s fixture versus Old Parkonians becomes a must-win for our heroes, who are expected to be sporting new club caps from the legendary realm of Beckhenham designed to invoke magical cricketing powers in the wearer.