All's Wells that Ends Well: Wanderers Prevail But Proper Cricket the Winner
Pacific v Dorset Wanderers at Wells Cathedral School
Sat 17 Jul 2021 at 1pm
Lost by 43 runs
Tour fixture

The Finish - Squeaky Bum Time

878 runs, 170 overs, 31 wickets, temperatures in the mid-30s, a lot of Saturday night pints and an undisclosed number of Apple Sourz, all four results were still possible in as exciting a match as any of us will ever play in, until Pacific were forced to shut up shop when the 9th wicket fell with 6 overs to go and about 50 runs still needed. Rahul and Joe D gritted it out amidst increasingly excited appealing from the Wanderers and squeaking bottoms from the Pacificos watching from the pavilion, until with 9 balls left Rahul, nobly trying to pinch a single to spare his junior partner the pressure of seeing out the final over, tried a bit too cutely to work a quick arm ball across the line, missed, and was hit on the back foot. All 11 fielders went up and Reny, earlier the target of some muttering about an apparent edge behind, did not hesitate before giving the only possible decision.

End of an epic match and a brilliant tour. Whilst another day we might have been gutted to lose when so close to saving the draw, we’d had such a blast after two days of positive, attacking cricket from both sides, that it hardly felt like a loss. In truth Wanderers had greater strength in depth and were worthy winners: they took 20 wickets to our 11, and with Tom Webley and several other guns could probably have buried us with weight of runs whenever they wanted. However both captains played a blinder in both getting everyone into the game (not easy when both fielding more than 11!) and engineering a close contest. Whilst a negative mindset can produce dull draws, this match showed how exciting declaration cricket can be, the match going through different stages and various twists and turns over the two days until the nailbiting finish. 

The Start - On the Road

Needing anything up to 3 hours for the drive down, a lot of us had painfully early starts before hitting the road. Those who rocked up early were presented with another road, the immaculate Wells Cathedral School Pitch, set in a billiard table of an outfield right in the heart of the beautiful miniature city of Wells. It might have been the hottest day of the year but the pitch was in danger of becoming too wet for play as the batsmen drooled in anticipation. We were slightly late in getting started, not least because of the wrangling over the format, with the Pacificos keen for a two day game but both skippers having more than 11 players available, some of the Wanderers not arriving till Sunday.

A negotiated toss saw the stronger batting side have first go and the Pacific mad dogs fielding in the mid-day sun. The early jousting felt like a bit of a phoney war, as the dangerous Wanderers skipper started cautiously against the seamers as Sam Howes, the quickest bowler in the match, probed away in tandem with the wily Custard. Webley senior struggled a little to react to the pace before showing what a class player he must have been in his pomp, barely seeming to touch a cut shot that pinged for four before lacing an equally exquisite drive to the cover-point fence. Simon Jones also gave the Pacificos an early taste of chasing leather over a lightning outfield but then flashed at Brett and was well held by Mutz.

Ton-Up Tom

Aroon came on first change and lured Bob Webley down the track to have him smartly stumped, but that meant that the classy no 3 was joined by our host, Wells’s Cricket Master and brother of Jon, Tom Webley, Formerly Of Somerset. Those of us apprehensive at bowling to a former county pro on a shirtfront had been reassured by Jon that his brother had not picked up a bat in a year and so would be rusty, but that seemed a mite optimistic when he punched his first ball from Aroon off the back foot through mid-off for four with barely any follow through.

In truth, despite some sumptuous shots, Tom W wasn’t totally secure for his first fifty, as he himself confessed later, and played and missed a few times at the canny Custard and a returning Howes. But the two Toms gradually took control, with Aroon unable to find that Killer Korgi Length consistently, and Joe D struggling for rhythm down the hill. Mehta came on and promptly had Weld dropped at the wicket by Mutz, but then he and Reny discovered that perfectly tidy seam bowling was little obstacle to batsmen in this mood.

Ahmed was introduced after the second drinks break and immediately found out the hard way that the call had come to accelerate for the final 20 overs. A relatively controlled first over was met with both batsmen giving him the charge every ball and a collossal straight six by Webley that would have cleared the wall at long on had a tree not intervened. A-Bomb somehow kept his nerve, and a series of quarter-chances, including a valiant running attempt at long off by Mehta, stung various fingers before Reny clung on to a skier. Then with Webley having rampaged to a brilliant hundred, he pushed a googly so wide that it was called, but the left hander missed and was well stumped by Mutz.

Howes returned with Brett to help limit the pre-declaration damage, both picking up a well-deserved wicket. Woodland was given an over and purveyed a series of tidy offies that looked to have kept things down to singles until the hitherto pedestrian Watkins suddenly launched yet another spectacular straight six, leaving the Wanderers on a formidable 302-6 from their maximum 50 overs.

Mehta Shows His Mettle

In reply Mark Mehta showed he could mix it with the oppo’s gun bats with several elegantly stroked boundaries that drew murmurs of appreciation from the fielders. Rahul looked relatively comfortable against tidy rather than threatening seam, but was restricted by his season-wrecking injury, eventually mistiming a catch. Mark W also started well, calmly pushing a few runs before left-armer Brill fizzed an absolute Jaffa across him to clip the off bail.

While there was considerable support for deploying the Guildford Wall just for the sheer amusement of being able to say we’d fielded a night watchman, sanity prevailed and John D helped Mark steer things through to the close. 5 overs were moved from the Saturday to the Sunday allocation to make sure we could all get to our hotels in plenty of time to hit the throbbing Wells nightlife, and with everyone having been baked all afternoon, there was general enthusiasm for thirsts to be slaked as soon as possible.

C’est Magnifique, Mais Ce N’est Pas la Guerre

As heads cleared from the beer-induced fog of the night before, the plan for the day was simple enough: both sides to score quickly and give a Sporting Declaration, culminating in a testing but achievable target for us to chase with the remaining overs. Whilst the Wanderers kept their side of the equation, the resuming Pacific achieved the goal of moving things along quickly by alternative means, contriving instead to invent the Sporting Collapse.

Having had his innings interrupted by the close of play, Mehta was unable to regain his fluency, and was bowled misreading a googly shortly after completing his fifty. The arrival for Sunday’s play of leggie Jones was a turning point in the match, with the spinners posing a much greater threat than the seamers had managed. Pacific refused to adjust their ‘foot to the metal’ plan in the face of this early setback, and the result was a cricketing Charge of the Light Brigade, with us scoring at 7 an over for the remainder of our innings but losing all 8 wickets in only 9 overs in the process. John D was next to fall, trying to cut a bouncing ball that was too close to him and gully taking a blinder. Webbo’s departure was even more spectacular: having opened his account with a magnificent down-the-pitch drive over long off, he followed up with several more powerful straight hits before also cutting at a bouncing ball and being held at slip off a screamer of a low catch to his 72-year-old father’s wrong hand, to his old man’s considerable relish.

That set the pattern for the rest of the innings, as tricky spin bowling was backed up by amazing fielding, including two sharp catches off full-blooded drives at short cover and short midwicket. Having been somewhat Pacific-esque in the field the previous evening, even to the extent of a needless shy at the stumps turning a rare single off the miserly Brill into a unicorn 5 with the overthrows (something which rather seemed to be preying on the bowler's mind as Saturday's play was dissected over beers), the Wanderers seemed just as surprised by the transformation, eventually ascribing it to the rounds of Apple Sourz downed in the Wetherspoons after the main pub had shut. Burnham counterattacked magnificently, and was supported briefly by Brett, but then things fell away to leave us all out for 158.

Should’ve Had the Apple Sourz

Technically entitled to enforce the follow-on, skipper Jones rightly stuck to the original plan of setting us a target. He was faced with the need to give himself enough time to bowl us out, but without either leaving us an easy or an impossible run rate, so rather than pounding us into the dust with his gun bats opted instead to give his lower order guys a go in conjunction with the newly arrived Mayes. Even the lower order proved a bunny-free zone, but at least it meant we were able to stop things getting out of hand.

Unfortunately our fielding failed to match that of the Wanderers (should’ve had the Apple Sourz…), with Aroon a particular victim of several fluffed chances and misfields, despite his second wicket for the match. Hussain found things more manageable without two well-set axe murderers to bowl to, and could have added to his three wickets had he held onto two sharp low return catches. A vastly improved economy rate was only slightly spoiled when he lost his nerve following an excellent sweep for four by Fred “Two Goes’ Weld and offered up a pie that was clobbered for one of only two sixes in the match hit to the massive square boundaries. Burnham the lesser-spotted bowler then rubbed salt into the wounds of the front-line attack by returning some of cheapest figures of the game, bowling Weld to trigger the declaration.

Allo Allo, Reny Leads Resistance Charge

Facing a stiff but gettable target of 308 in exactly 50 overs, Mutz decided to rejig the batting order to hold back some of his main weapons and give those who missed out in the first dig a chance of death or glory. Seemingly stung by a second-ball duck first time round, Reny chose the latter course and marched to the crease with murder in his eyes. Miserly on the Saturday, Brill found himself slapped for three fours off his opening over alone, which Reny followed up at the other end with a pulled six over the huge square leg boundary. Mutz managed to hit himself back into form, and an initial assault at 8 an over had the Wanderers seriously rattled, not least after a loud shout for caught behind against Reny was turned down by Aroon.

Pacific Collapse as Webbo Fails to Get His Leg Over

Sadly the magnificent opening salvo was too good to last, and the introduction of spin proved a watershed, just as it had in the first innings. First leggie Jones held a fierce return catch off Mutz, and then came possibly the decisive moment in the match: trying to catch up with a horrible drag-down miles down the leg side, Webbo clipped the top of the stumps with his hand as he followed through. Already buoyed by this massive piece of luck, the Wanderers were well on top a couple of overs later. Reny swung once too often against offie T Weld, then Mark Woodland was surprised by a massive full bunger and spliced it straight up in the air to the keeper, before first-innings hero Mehta tried to sweep a dipping full toss only to miss and be castled. 

Deighan Dares while Custard Creams

Normally a loss of 5 wickets for 6 runs in two or three overs would have been fatal, but the openers had given us a platform, and to our enormous credit we kept up our pursuit of the target. Credit too, to the Wanderers skipper, who kept a close attacking field throughout. Some busy running helped John and Brett rebuild as they compiled a stand of 117. The fielders inevitably started to flag in the heat, and the batsmen managed two cruel all-run fours as some of the elder statesmen were forced to pursue the ball from the infield to the boundary.

Brett showed the dangerous Jones could be defended, playing either right forward or right back, and Deighan went one better by tonking him over the long-off boundary rider for six. The leggie had earlier looked set to manage 10 wickets in a day, not just the match, prompting discussion as to whether this would require the purchase of a keg rather than a jug, but Brett ended the debate with a stinging caught-and-bowled chance that forced Jones off the field with an injured hand.

Pacific Go Down All Guns Blazing

Both batsmen reached well-deserved fifties, but with us well up with the rate and the Wanderers getting nervous again, a loss of concentration saw JD bowled by seamer Shardlow. Instantly rejuvenated, the fielding team had nonetheless seen enough of the Burnhamator first time round to immediately set long off and long on right back on the fence. Paid this not inconsiderable compliment, Ben cleverly just pushed singles to feed Brett the strike, but a tired shot to a rare ball that kept low saw Custard bowled by offie Weld. With the run rate creeping up and running out of wickets, we might have been forgiven for abandoning the win, but instead Burnham reverted to first-innings master blaster, and Sam, having insisted on going ahead of Rahul, hammered home the point by clattering three boundaries.

Unfortunately both perished by the sword, leaving us nine down and with little choice but to try and block out the last few overs. We failed, but can feel pretty proud to have given the run-chase a real go. Losing Webbo to freak dismissals in both innings was the sort of bad luck you can’t legislate for: it’s easy to see in hindsight that a quick 40 from him would have put the target well within range. Whilst it was a crying shame that such a lovely bloke and such a magnificent player drove such a long way for a near air-game, it was overall a fabulous match.

Cricket, lovely cricket.

(This was a two-day tour match, played on Sat 17 July and Sun 18 July)

Can We Play You [Here] Every Week?

All's Wells That Ends Well

Overnight Heroes

Time to give it some Humpty, Skip?

Webbo in Full Flow

Beware of Low-Flying Straight Drives

Leggie? Googly? Dunno, Just Twat It Anyway

The Burnhamator Blocks

Century Stand

Burnham Blasts

Homeward Bound

Dorset Wanderers v Pacific
Toss won by Dorset Wanderers
Dorset Wanderers innings  R  M  B  4  6
S Jones*   c Siddiqui b Custard   20  0  0  4  0  
R Webley   st Siddiqui b Korgaonkar   21  0  0  4  0  
T Weld   c Ponnamkunnath b Hussain   76  0  0  9  0  
T Webley   st Siddiqui b Hussain   102  0  0  12  3  
F Weld   not out    51  0  0  7  0  
M Weston   b Custard   7  0  0  0  0  
C Watkins   c Siddiqui b Howes   9  0  0  0  1  
S Brill   not out    0  0  0  0  0  
P Fosbery   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
D Shardlow   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 5, lb 4, w 1, nb 6) 16    
 TOTAL (50.0 Overs) 302    
 Fall of wickets:  1-28 [S Jones] , 2-58 [R Webley] , 3-204 [T Weld] , 4-241 [T Webley] , 5-278 [M Weston] , 6-290 [C Watkins]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Brett Custard   12  5  16  2  
 Sam Howes   9  1  46  1  
 Joe Deighan   5  0  36  0  
 Aroon Korgaonkar   5  0  41  1  
 Mark Mehta   4  0  40  0  
 Randheer Ponnamkunnath   6  0  35  0  
 Ahmed Hussain   8  1  61  2  
 Mark Woodland   1  0  12  0  
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
Mark Mehta   b Jones   51  0  83  8  0  
Rahul Ravikrishnan   c Weston b Watkins   11  0  33  0  0  
Mark Woodland   b Brill   3  0  9  0  0  
John Deighan   c Weston b Weld   22  0  39  4  0  
Jon Webley   c R Webley b Jones   17  0  10  2  1  
Ben Burnham   c Brill b Jones   21  0  8  5  0  
Randheer Ponnamkunnath   lbw b Jones   0  0  2  0  0  
Brett Custard   c T Weld b Jones   16  0  21  3  0  
Murtaza Siddiqui*†   c Fosbery b Weld   0  0  5  0  0  
Joe Deighan   c T Weld b Jones   0  0  6  0  0  
Sam Howes   not out    0  0  0  0  0  
Aroon Korgaonkar   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Ahmed Hussain   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 6, lb 4, w 0, nb 1) 11    
 TOTAL (36.0 Overs) 153    
 Fall of wickets:  1-49 [Ravikrishnan] , 2-52 [Woodland] , 3-95 [Mehta] , 4-99 [Deighan] , 5-129 [Webley] , 6-129 [Ponnamkunnath] , 7-148 [Burnham ] , 8-153 [Siddiqui] , 9-153 [Custard] , 10-153 [Deighan]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Fosbery   5  1  16  0  
 Shardlow   5  0  19  0  
 Watkins   4  0  14  1  
 Brill   6  4  9  1  
 Jones   10  2  37  6  
 Weld, T   7  0  45  2  
Dorset Wanderers innings  R  M  B  4  6
D Shardlow   c Custard b Korgaonkar   12  0  0  1  0  
C Watkins   st Siddiqui b Hussain   57  0  0  7  0  
James Mayes   c Custard b Hussain   21  0  0  2  1  
F Weld   b Burnham    29  0  0  3  1  
P Fosbery   lbw b Hussain   11  0  0  2  0  
S Brill   not out    11  0  0  2  0  
N Jones   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
S Jones*†   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
T Webley   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
T Weld   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
M Weston   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 10, lb 0, w 3, nb 4) 17    
 TOTAL (33.0 Overs) 158    
 Fall of wickets:  1-34 [D Shardlow] , 2-48 [James Mayes] , 3-14 [C Watkins] , 4-119 [P Fosbery] , 5-158 [F Weld]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Sam Howes   5  0  12  0  
 Brett Custard   4  2  2  0  
 Aroon Korgaonkar   6  0  32  1  
 Jon Webley   4  1  31  0  
 Ahmed Hussain   6  0  20  3  
 Joe Deighan   3  0  26  0  
 Randheer Ponnamkunnath   3  0  17  0  
 Ben Burnham   2  0  7  1  
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
Murtaza Siddiqui*†   c & b N Jones   22  0  27  4  0  
Randheer Ponnamkunnath   c S Jones b T Weld   46  0  32  7  1  
Jon Webley   ht wkt b N Jones   0  0  2  0  0  
John Deighan   b Shardlow   64  0  73  9  1  
Mark Woodland   c S Jones b T Weld   0  0  2  0  0  
Mark Mehta   b N Jones   0  0  2  0  0  
Brett Custard   b T Weld   68  0  63  11  0  
Ben Burnham   c T Webley b T Weld   35  0  27  5  0  
Sam Howes   b T Weld   16  0  10  3  0  
Rahul Ravikrishnan   lbw b T Weld   7  0  24  0  0  
Joe Deighan   not out    0  0  11  0  0  
Aroon Korgaonkar   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Ahmed Hussain   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 7, lb 1, w 3, nb 1) 12    
 TOTAL (48.3 Overs) 265    
 Fall of wickets:  1-65 [Siddiqui] , 2-66 [Webley] , 3-70 [Ponnamkunnath] , 4-70 [Woodland] , 5-71 [Mehta] , 6-188 [Deighan] , 7-211 [Custard] , 7-246 [Burnham ] , 9-254 [Howes] , 10-265 [Ravikrishnan]
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Fosbery   4  0  23  0  
 Brill   6  0  37  0  
 N Jones   9  0  45  3  
 T Weld   11  0  70  6  
 Watkins   6  1  20  0  
 Shardlow   6  0  23  0  
 F Weld   7  1  39  0