Before the match Alexandra Park CC's barman supreme Nigel Grimes had briefed us that we would be unable to park at the club due to the Red Bull Soapbox Race, an event in which contestants hurtle down the hill at breakneck speed in homemade contraptions. It seemed as if Black Rose felt a similar need for speed in their race with Pacific.
Black Rose captain Andre Mishra, the pantomime villain, called heads and elected to bowl despite having only three players present, thus delaying the start by 25 minutes.
Ravi, fresh from his top Pacific score of 64 not out last week, opened the batting with Paul Davis but unfortunately neither lasted long against the nagging left-armers Mishra and Zahid on a dry pitch that was bouncing, turning and shooting. The famous Jon Webley, playing his first game for a couple of months, looked solid until falling for 28, but that was enough for him to again surpass Steve Lay as Pacific's highest run-scorer of all time. He now has 9677 to Lay's 9656. (Club founder Peter Hollman, yet to play a game this season, is in third place with 9630.)
Webley was joined by skipper Chasseaud, making his comeback from a hand injury, who overcame any discomfort with a mixture of off drives, leg-side clips and late cuts to compile 75 not out. In doing so he reached 4725 Pacific career runs, overtaking Jonathan Campbell as the club's sixth highest scorer of all time. (Campbell made his debut on 16th June 1990, was player of the season in 1993, 1994 and 1995, and hit 4651 runs.)
The match was also notable for a double Duncan – the first time that brothers Chris and Aly had played together for Pacific, in a scene reminiscent of the G Force days of 2009-10. Chris, batting at five, struggled to find his timing on the slow pitch while Aly, the elder of the pair (though not everyone realises this), used his extra years of sporting experience to good effect, hitting his way to 26.
Then chairman of selectors Kieran Mullens, fresh from a weekend off in Leeds, joined the party too. Was it a six? Was it a four? Opinion was divided and Ravi, umpiring, must have changed his signal about five times while the point was argued over. In this writer's opinion, it was a six – the second of Mullens' career – as the ball came sweetly out of the middle of the Duncan Woodworm (circa 2005) and cleared the upstretched man at long-on.
Despite a rain delay and an early tea, Pranav Chandramouli kept the momentum going with a brisk 8 and Sharan Timbadia finished the innings with a single to mid-on, meaning we finished with 179 (and six batting points). Alas, it wasn't to be enough.
When the Black Rose openers took to the crease, it seemed the rain had improved the wicket. No longer was the ball turning and popping. Instead, it skidded nicely on to the bat. With drizzle still falling, Chasseaud made the rash decision to open the bowling himself using the old ball on the grounds that "I'm not a bad wet-ball bowler". Well today he was a bad wet-ball bowler, complaining that he had put too much moisturiser on his injured hand and could therefore not grip the ball properly. His first over went for five. His second, disastrous, over went for 16 – though to be fair Gourav was an unforgiving batsman. The scorebook doesn't state how many balls he faced for his 47, but it wasn't many as he dispatched each bowler around the park.
After a couple of extra showers the most beautiful rainbow appeared on the pitch next to ours but it didn't quite inspire us to victory. Ravi was the pick of the bowlers, and mention must also go to Ahmed Hussain, whose second over was a maiden. Chris's wicketkeeping was the highlight of the fielding performance. He took three catches, one of them diving low to take an inside edge and one of them diving down the legside to take another inside edge. He also completed Ravi's run-out (at the second attempt), meaning that he was involved in every dismissal. Our one bowling point meant we took seven points in total from the match. Black Rose deserved their 20 points, making light work of our respectable total and knocking off the runs with a whopping 12 overs remaining.
Apologies must go in particular to our senior pro Tony Tambyrajah, and also to Sharan and Ahmed for not getting as much of a game as they should have done. They must get more of a go in their next match. It would have been nice to give Kieran and Paul a bowl too.
After the game we were able to watch highlights of the soapbox race on the television – or APTV as Nigel called it. You can see some pictures of the race here. Paul talked us through the finer points of whiskey drinking and Kieran rehearsed his reading of a Shakespeare sonnet in preparation for Andy Birley's wedding:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
When we're scoring please can we record each ball the batsman faces in case there are any records for fast or slow scoring.