Pacific prosper in nail-biting season opener
Pacific v St Clements CC at Wray Crescent
Sat 13 Apr 2019 at 1pm
Won by 4 runs
Friendly fixture

In an afternoon that saw rain and hail make way for bright blue skies after which grey clouds rolled in once more, the 2019 season’s first fixture – Pacific v St Clements at Wray – similarly ebbed and flowed as momentum shifted from side to side throughout.

It came to a crescendo in the day's 79th over. With only four needed to close out for the win and ample time in which to do it, many would have expected St Clements’ opener Arslan to calmly prod and poke his way to a well-deserved match-winning red inker. More still, when captain Toby Chasseaud – usually a safe pair of hands in the deep – shelled a chance at cow corner to snaffle him in the game’s dying overs, it seemed an all too familiar tale for the men from Wray: one of missed opportunities, dropped chances and falling on the wrong side of fine margins.

Step up to the plate de facto skipper Sir Rizwan Siddiqui. With the set batsman stranded at the non-striker's end and two balls left of his sixth over to launch down at the No 11 batsman, here was a small window of opportunity to clinch victory from the jaws of defeat. But tailender Adnan’s textbook rearguard action had so far been impenetrable to the pressure.

What was going through his mind then when he rocked on to his back foot and tried to swipe a Siddiqui dart through the legside will never be known. The ball clattered into the stumps to a roar of delight. Siddiqui reared off in celebration, doing his finest impression of Steve Harmison after bagging the final wicket of Michael Kasprowicz at Edgbaston in 2005. Onlookers half expected to see Riz held aloft by Mutz in a Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff-like embrace – Mutz lifting him by the waist while his brother clasped his hands either side of his face in sheer delight. Instead it was high fives all round and a consolatory handshake for Aslan who’d ended on an unbeaten 84.

Pacific had successfully defended their total of 171 and launched into the new season with a win in the opening fixture.

It had been an uncharacteristically composed start to a Pacific innings. Mark Woodland (12) and Aly Duncan (38) deftly negotiated the early overs and took the team to 22 without loss. Duncan looked assured at the crease, coyly dismissing first change bowler Nadeen over midwicket for six and later pumping Adnan back over his head for a one-bounce four from the other end.

A short spell of hail sent the players seeking shelter in the club’s temporary pavilion, which outside of cricketing circles may be referred to as a "gazebo". Rob Allum (8) fell shortly after the break, bringing 2018’s highest run-scorer to the crease. 

Chasseaud showed sparks of the form he displayed last season, but the ball – now misshapen and heavy with water – was clearly difficult to get away. Who knows the exact number of hours that Pacificos have watched Chasseaud bat? Unfortunately the history books aren't clear on such records. He finished with an assured 49 from 70, with Duncan to later say he was surprised his batting partner had fallen one short of the landmark as it had felt like a 50. (It certainly had, Mr Duncan!)

The middle order struggled to get the ball away as well and in the innings’ final overs Pacific were hobbling towards the tea break. Sumeet Sharma, Ben Stockton, Tom Ireland and the Siddiqui brothers fell without contributing much to the total. Sam Howes and Rob Dinsey finished up, scrambling a few extra much-needed runs to pull the score up to 171.

Buoyed by Dinsey’s daal, PCC took to the field knowing they could give little away if they were to contain an always strong St Clements batting lineup. The clouds had cleared but as the mid-April evening crept closer, a few Pacificos pocketed a couple of Duncan’s hand warmers, which had been provided in what can only be seen as a shameless attempt to curry favour in the vote for the Clubman of the Year Award at the end-of-season dinner.

Stockton and Howes opened the bowling, with the latter unfortunate to go wicketless in his first spell. A change of ends soon brought one for Howes and Stockton finished with two from his eight overs. More metronomic bowling from Ireland thwarted runs from his end, while the slightly more erratic Dinsey bagged two important wickets from the other to turn the game in Pacific’s favour.

But Arslan stood firm, slowly chipping away at the target. Yet while Allum controlled one end, all it took was a sprinkle of the R Siddiqui special, who finished with four wickets for just 14 runs in 5.5 overs.

Many will hope a win in the 2019 season opener will set the tone for a highly anticipated year in which Pacific will face St Clements – a new member of the North East London Cricket League – in what is sure to be another hotly contested match on August 10.

The first Pacific XI of the season

Pacific v St Clements CC
Toss won by Pacific
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
Mark Woodland   b Ali   12  27  26  1  0  
Aly Duncan   c Keeper b Zee   38  71  58  3  1  
Rob Allum   b Nadeem   8  38  18  0  0  
Toby Chasseaud*   c 63 year old b Ali   49  75  70  5  0  
Sumeet Sharma†   b Nadeem   12  25  17  2  0  
Rizwan Siddiqui   c Ali b Zee   13  28  19  1  0  
Ben Stockton   c Long on b Adnan   5  11  7  0  0  
Tom Ireland   b Ali   0  3  2  0  0  
Murtaza Siddiqui   run out    4  10  7  0  0  
Sam Howes   not out    5  9  7  0  0  
Rob Dinsey   not out    0  2  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 3, lb 3, w 11, nb 1) 18    
 TOTAL (40.0 Overs) 170    
 Fall of wickets:  1-22 [Woodland] , 2-61 [Allum] , 3-63 [Duncan] , 4-105 [Sharma] , 5-142 [Siddiqui] , 6-152 [Stockton] , 7-155 [Chasseaud] , 8-157 [Ireland] , 9-167 [Siddiqui]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Adnan   8  1  27  1  
 Ali   8  0  27  3  
 Nadeem   8  0  35  2  
 Zee   6  1  23  2  
 Taqueer   6  1  36  0  
 Shakeel   4  0  15  0  
St Clements CC innings  R  M  B  4  6
Momin   c Ireland b Stockton   13  0  0  0  0  
Arslan   not out    84  0  0  0  0  
Javed   b Stockton   7  0  0  0  0  
Jawad   b Howes   12  0  0  0  0  
Stacy*   c Howes b Dinsey   13  0  0  0  0  
Shakeel   c Siddiqui b Dinsey   0  0  0  0  0  
Nadeem   c Stockton b Siddiqui   10  0  0  0  0  
Taqeer   c Sharma b Allum   4  0  0  0  0  
Zee   lbw b Siddiqui   1  0  0  0  0  
Ali   b Siddiqui   0  0  0  0  0  
Adnan   b Siddiqui   6  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 4, lb 2, w 6, nb 2) 14    
 TOTAL (38.5 Overs) 166    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Ben Stockton   8  2  15  2  
 Sam Howes   8  1  34  1  
 Tom Ireland   8  0  36  0  
 Rob Dinsey   3  0  29  2  
 Rizwan Siddiqui   5.5  0  14  4  
 Rob Allum   4  0  24  1