Hearts broken in Valentines Park
Pacific v St Clements CC at Valentines Park, Ilford
Sat 27 May 2017 at 1pm start
Lost by 3 wickets
Friendly fixture

Expectations had been high ahead of this fixture, with the news that Valentines Park in Ilford was an old county ground spreading like wildfire. "It's a First Class ground," said Pete. "I saw Essex v Middlesex there with Hussain and Ramps [Mark Ramprakash] in their teams." Aroon added that was "gutted" he couldn't play as he "used to go and watch Essex play there for many years".

Alas, a hungover James Soden, who at least deserves credit for arriving at the park first despite a heavy night, reported that it wasn't at Ilford CC we were playing but "the other pitch", which turned out to be quite picturesque but with a minefield wicket.

Toby won the toss – why couldn't he do that last week? – and, after entirely justified grumblings from the bowlers' union of Hussain and Stockton, persuaded opposition skipper Asad that wides should be judged as normal rather than "anything down leg" as had previously been decreed.

The "plucky" Mutz was unlucky to get a ball that rose sharply; the Kiwi Wilson, playing his first game in a few years since The Satish Incident, was bowled by one that kept a bit low; Ahmed showed resolute defence but was bowled off stump in about the sixth over by an away swinger.

Chasseaud and Stockton built what must have been a fifty partnership before Toby was adjudged LBW to a short shooter bowled from right arm around the wicket with just one ball to go before drinks. Waqas, kindly lent to us by St Clements, hit a few lusty blows before being LBW to Nadem.

Stockton was in a class of his own, making the minefield look like a batsman's paradise. He used his feet freely and hit the only sixes of the innings. At one point St Clements seemed convinced they'd had him stumped but this writer's, and the umpire's, view was that he'd got back in time. Ben thus extends his lead at the top of the runs table, with 342 in six innings at an average of 85.5. Thanks to him for uploading the scorecard.

James Soden faced some hostile bowling in his brief stay at the crease and probably would have struggled even had he been sober. James Hogg, on his Pacific debut and playing his first game in ten years, batted valiantly for his five not out, the most important thing being that he stayed there with Ben.

Mutz's friend, Zahid Ali, looking resplendent in his wife's tracksuit bottoms, was next man in and, though he may not have batted in the middle, he showed no mercy against against Tony T on the sidelines, sending him a long way to fetch the ball off his own bowling. Zahid's intrigue about the game was immense. "When do I go in?", "Should I pad up?"; "Should I wear a helmet?"; "You're an Aussie aren't you, Rich?" The questions kept coming. He was the true hero of the day, playing with enthusiasm and freedom, including making the oppo's wicketkeeper take his bowling before the match started, his unique action bringing back fond childhood memories for Mutz.

Stockton would have liked a rest but, given the lack of seamers, had to take the new ball and found the edge in his very first over though unfortunately it went down. Soden's radar wasn't quite working meaning that Toby, the poor man's Garfield Sobers, thought it might be a good idea to try some medium pace. He wasn't much more accurate than James but did manage to bowl their left-hander as he tried to pull a long hop which hit middle stump on the way down. After a few overs of medium, Toby switched to his usual spin, later claiming another two wickets in his second spell with what were generously described by Ahmed as flippers. Truth be told, they were shooters, but at least they were straight.

As wickets kept falling it looked as if we might clinch a heroic victory. To complement his kit haul, Rich hung on to a skyer at mid-off off Ahmed's cunning bowling, Ahmed beat Hamzah all ends up, and Stockton bowled through the exhaustion barrier to take two wickets in a brilliantly economical spell.

As it was, St Clements got home reasonably comfortably after showing a disgraceful lack of respect to an over of Tony T.

An eleventh man could have made all the difference but a million text messages and emails had been unable to conjure one on this bank holiday Cup Final weekend.

Hands were shaken, the club helmet (making its first outing) was briefly left behind in the changing room, everyone paid their match fees and went their separate ways. In Mutz mother's car the club captain was almost deafened by Arsenal fans celebrating their second goal against Phil Smith's Chelsea, which clinched them the FA Cup final 2-1.

As for Pacific, we're still left searching for our second win of the season. Here's hoping that Monday will be it, in which case we will retain the Lindridge-McDougall Memorial Cup, which is in the boot of Mutz's mother's car, unless she has taken it for her mantelpiece.

Pacific v St Clements CC
Toss won by Pacific
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
Murtaza Siddiqui†   c Wicket keeper b Bilal   4  0  0  1  0  
Ahmed Hussain   b Bilal   0  0  0  0  0  
Richard Wilson   b Asad   5  0  0  1  0  
Toby Chasseaud*   lbw b Adnan   17  0  0  1  0  
Ben Stockton   not out    83  0  0  9  2  
Waqas Shabbir   lbw b Nadem   19  0  0  3  0  
James Soden   b Arslan   3  0  0  0  0  
James Hogg   not out    5  0  0  0  0  
Zahid Ali   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Tony Tambyrajah   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 7, lb 9, w 7, nb 1) 24    
 TOTAL (40.0 Overs) 167    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Asad   4  0  13  1  
 Bilal   6  1  13  2  
 Faisal   8  0  39  0  
 Adnan   8  0  22  1  
 Adil   3  0  21  0  
 Nadem   5  0  25  1  
 Arslan   6  1  27  1  
St Clements CC innings  R  M  B  4  6
Arslan   lbw b Chasseaud   56  0  0  7  2  
Salman   b Stockton   15  0  0  2  0  
Faraz   b Chasseaud   0  0  0  0  0  
Nadeem   b Stockton   18  0  0  2  1  
Jawad   c Wilson b Hussain   7  0  0  0  1  
Hamzah   b Hussain   19  0  0  4  0  
Adnan   b Chasseaud   10  0  0  0  1  
Shah*   not out    31  0  0  5  1  
 Extras (b 7, lb 1, w 4, nb 1) 13    
 TOTAL (25.0 Overs) 171    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Ben Stockton   8  3  21  2  
 James Soden   2  0  26  0  
 Toby Chasseaud   9  0  71  3  
 Ahmed Hussain   5  0  32  2  
 Tony Tambyrajah   1  0  21  0