Pacific show no mercy to local youth side
Pacific v Stoke Newington at Wray Crescent
Sat 04 Sep 2021 at 1pm
Won by 288 runs
Friendly fixture

Fairly straightforward match, this one, in the sense that we thoroughly, thoroughly battered our replacement opponents Stoke Newington. Apparently it was an all-time high score for Pacific although, without wanting to suggest an asterisk is needed, let me just say that I did much of the scorekeeping. Possible “off-by-one error” sort of thing. Also Stoke Newington appeared to have raided their colts section to make up the teamsheet.

Stokey won the toss and elected to bowl. Their openers looked OK but not particularly troubling to our Sikh Attack (Jas and Amandeep) as they attempted to solve Pacific’s England-like search for a prolific opening pair. And before anyone comes for me regarding that last sentence, 2021 Pacific CC 40-over openers not named Chasseaud have averaged 13 going back to June, which is as far back as I could be bothered looking. Unfortunately, Amandeep managed to quickly get out for 5, which probably annoyed him considering the feast that was to come. Newcomer Venkat was in next at #3. His first shot was one of the ugliest turned-round-backing-up-bat-hanging-out-there shots you’ll ever see, but our skipper detected nerves and told Venkat’s mates to tell him to “just play his shots”. He responded positively to this advice with some very late-played drives and then an excellent slap for four from right under his nose. Venkat was then run out in farcical circumstances, casually jogging down the wicket for a return run only to unexpectedly find his bails removed by a direct hit courtesy of a 12 year old fielder near the boundary.

This bought Kaleem “the Dream” Luthra to the crease. After a few more watchful overs, Kaleem and Jas finished seeing off the opening bowlers, and it was pretty much pie-time from there on out (it’s worth watching that clip, btw, if you’ve never seen Stand By Me). Kaleem tucked in and never looked back, and he was still there, undefeated, at the end of our innings after scoring 135 runs and his first ever century. Jas, also enjoying himself by now, pushed on to an excellent 50 thanks to his signature pull-shot. An exuberant helmet-off, full-throated, fists-in-the-air celebration followed, perhaps more than you’d expect from a half-century, or Jas, but maybe I’m just used to Toby (and what would I know anyway, I’ve only ever managed to hit 46).

Jas was out for 58 shortly afterwards thanks to a good catch by another child. That brought up our other debutant Kishore. Someone said “He looks like a cricketer”, which I think at our level means he’s not fat. Kishore treated us to an explosive 51 off 25 balls, repeatedly breaching Wray Crescent’s protective nets with towering sixes that threatened the safety of children and adults alike. We even offered that he swap ends so his shots could head towards areas that were less populated. At this point, with Kishore blasting away and Kaleem well on his way to 100, we sensed that proceedings had devolved from a game into an exhibition match...not really the sort of thing I’m used to with Pacific CC. To find new opposition Mutz had apparently advertised us as a weak side, which normally is fair, but on this day it probably didn’t feel that way to our underage guests as we raced past 300 with 5 overs left.

At the end Kaleem kept things moving while Sunny, in at #6, made repeated use of an agricultural on-side mow to add 27 runs and Josh added a quick 10 runs not-out at #7. Stokey’s keeper was, shall we say, “not tidy”, so we were gifted 34 byes. Add up the other extras and we got to 351 (or somewhere thereabouts) off our 40 overs.

It was time for lunch and playing at Wray means I can put my local gastronomic knowledge to use. I’d already bought food from Yasar Halim, which is also local, but that’s where I always buy lunch on my way to just about every match. Now I remembered Roti Joupa, the Trinidadian roti hut on Stroud Green Road, and quickly developed a craving for pumpkin and prawn roti with hot sauce. My lamb kofte and spinach gozelme were good, Yasar Halim’s food always is, but they became unsatisfying on this occasion and I made a Trini-themed mental note for our next match at Wray.

As we quickly munched, Jas marshalled the troops and developed his defensive strategy. I was informed that I’d be bowling “towards the end...2nd change” or something to that effect. As a swing bowler, there really is nothing worse than not getting a bat (if you enjoy batting), then being brought on to bowl 2nd change in the 24th over with no shine left on the ball so you can get your ass handed to you by set middle order batsmen. You might as well just walk around all day with a big hat that says “I’M SHITE” on it. Luckily Jas soon saw the error of his ways and re-jigged the bowling lineup, handing me a nice shiny ball in the 11th over. More on that later.

Josh and Jack opened and faced little resistance for the 5 wickets they took. Josh’s bowling was the quickest, most accurate, and most orthodox of our bowlers on the day but Jack’s was more interesting so I’ll talk about it – plus Jack took 3 wickets to Josh’s 2. Jack has a short run-up with a protracted shuffle-step and bowls inswingers. He says he can’t explain what he’s doing, so I watched closely and it appears that he pronates his right arm as he brings it round, which makes his wrist and palm rotate inwards and the ball turn toward a right-handed batsman. Also when he releases the ball it rotates along the seam, but instead of being seam-up with the seam at a 90 degree angle from the pitch, it’s at about 70 degrees. Essentially if you were a really slingy left-hander, you might have a stock ball that looks like Jack’s stock ball, but of course Jack bowls his right-handed and from a fairly orthodox position behind his right ear. It’s a very good sort of delivery to have at Wray - a pitch that offers little turn or movement off the seam. Jack’s movement in the air plus the occasional skiddy one, likely because at a 70 degree seam angle the ball will often make contact with the pitch completely on its smooth surface, made his bowling difficult to handle for our opponents.

After 10 overs and 6 wickets - 5 thanks to the bowlers plus a run out - Jas brought on Raf and myself to take it home. I’m not being unfair in saying that Raf’s bowling doesn’t look intimidating in the slightest, but we love it because it always takes wickets, especially when he gets his length right. He definitely found it in this game and added two wickets, caught as usual, to his lifetime tally. Yours truly also took two, the first was bowled from a simple change-of-pace using my knuckleball, but the second one was special. Weather permitting, my stock ball swings away from a right hander and I’ve had hundreds of deliveries that might look good or “pass the bat” or whatever but aren’t ever going to bowl anyone because they swing away from the stumps. So ever since I realized that I can bowl out-swing naturally, I’ve been trying to bowl a delivery that swings the same way but starts far enough leg-side that it swings into the stumps and at least presents a challenge. I’ve tried all sorts of things to do that...changed the angle my body faces, changed my arm angle, tried to bowl exactly the same but run-in at an angle towards leg stump, switched to bowling round the wicket, etc...but it always went wrong and generally very wide. Anyway, bowling to their #10, who by the way looked like an adult, I tried it and it worked! I aimed for just outside leg, the batsman saw the angle out of my hand and went forward to sweep it, he then decided it was headed wide and let it go, and the ball went right around him and swung back into middle&leg. Bingo! I think the trick might have been that I was concentrating on keeping my wrist cocked back as much as possible, and then snapping it down as much as possible as I released the ball - their umpire even asked me “How do you get it to swing like that?”. Unfortunately the extra wrist cocking and snapping made my action look even dodgier than usual, or “it looked bad...really bad” in the words of one of my teammates.

Stoke Newington managed to hang on for about 20 overs, replying to our 351 with 63 all out. Yes it was a one-sided win but there were quality contributions from everyone: Kishore and Amandeep keeping and fielding, Venkat made some good stops to make up for his laggardly running, and Mutz, high on life, chirped away from the slips to ensure we stayed motivated even at the end when we were all just waiting for it to be over. There were many highlights in this game, Kaleem’s 135 obviously topped the table, followed by Jas’s hard yakka half-century, Jack’s wicket trilogy, and Kishore’s aerial assault of Wray Crescent’s playground. There was some minor issue with a bit of chat coming from the other side, I didn’t quite catch what the deal was, and I also thought it notable that their skipper was Canadian. Too bad I didn’t get a chance to bat in my ice hockey helmet. Afterwards a few of us headed on to a pub with Kaleem to unwind and celebrate his century, and there was a lively chat about the usual topics – early sporting memories, Cop26, institutional racism, the fondness for hockey (or as we say in the states, “field hockey”) amongst Punjabis, and of course, cricket.

Pacific v Stoke Newington
Toss won by Stoke Newington
Pacific innings  R  M  B  4  6
Jasbir Basi*   c Sub b Hamza   58  0  42  8  2  
Amandeep Dhir   c Faisal b Clark   5  0  6  1  0  
Venkat Ana   run out Sub    7  0  8  1  0  
Kaleem Luthra   not out    135  0  83  21  2  
Kishore Bava†   b Tados   51  0  25  3  5  
Sandeep Nallajonnala   b Ewan   27  0  14  5  0  
Josh Reynolds   not out    10  0  8  1  0  
Murtaza Siddiqui   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Paul Davis   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Jack Mendel   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
Rafiq Ratta   did not bat    0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 34, lb 1, w 22, nb 1) 58    
 TOTAL (40.0 Overs) 351    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Faisal   4  0  41  0  
 Clark   8  0  43  1  
 Harmer   4  0  34  0  
 Tim   5  0  32  0  
 Ted   5  0  34  0  
 Ewan   5  0  52  1  
 Hamza   2  0  35  1  
 Oliver   4  0  45  0  
 Tados   3  0  35  1  
Stoke Newington innings  R  M  B  4  6
Hamza   run out    4  0  0  0  0  
Peter   not out    26  0  0  0  0  
Jacob   b Reynolds   0  0  0  0  0  
Ted   b Mendel   0  0  0  0  0  
Oliver   b Mendel   0  0  0  0  0  
Tados†   c & b Reynolds   0  0  0  0  0  
Tim   b Mendel   0  0  0  0  0  
Ewan   b Davis   6  0  0  0  0  
William   c Luthra b Ratta   0  0  0  0  0  
Faizal*   b Davis   2  0  0  0  0  
Hamza   c Bava b Ratta   4  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 11, lb 0, w 4, nb 6) 21    
 TOTAL (20.0 Overs) 63    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling  O  M  R  W  
 Josh Reynolds   5  0  20  2  
 Jack Mendel   5  1  12  3  
 Paul Davis   5  0  16  2  
 Rafiq Ratta   5  0  15  2