Sir Don Bradman once said “May cricket continue to flourish and spread its wings. The world can only be richer for it.”
With these words ringing in my ears, I headed to my first game for Vinohrady Cricket Club in the Czech Republic, a T20 contest against PCC 2nd XI. On an overcast and slightly blustery day, Captain Vojta won the toss, elected to bat and issued clear instructions to openers Arshad and Mik: be patient and steadily build a score. Both were happy to oblige and began the innings by following these instructions to a tee. Facing a medium pace attack from both ends, straight balls were defended in textbook fashion and loose ball were assaulted.
Arshad began finding the square leg boundary with regularity as PCC’s second bowler struggled for length in his first over. One huge six appeared to be top-edgy but when this notion was put to Arshad, he offered assurances that it had definitely come off the meat of the bat, definitely. Eventually a small group of Vino “fielders” was positioned amongst the wheat crop to assist with ball retrieval.
With Mr E Xtras contributing a healthy addition to the opening partnership, Mik finally came a cropper with the score on 85. Ball against pad, lots of shouting, finger of death. Tariq was in at 3 and began to build his innings patiently, the PCC attack by now having changed to a crafty spinner at one end. Arshad reached his half century with some more aggressive swordsmanship but at last misjudged one and was bowled out. Vojta took up the reins and attacked the bowling with a variety of positive shots to all areas of the field. At the halfway point in the innings the score was 103 and there began some whispers of the possibility of a record score.
However the second half of the innings saw something of an epic collapse; Hugo and Tariq were both bowled and Vojta and Chris both snaffled at mid on. Following which, the tail end of the order adopted a six-or-sticks approach – Leigh, Steve and Andy were all caught after swinging for the rafters, Louis was bowled first ball while Will was unbeaten on 1. 148 all out.
Louis opened the bowling for Vinohrady and immediately found pace, line and consistency while Arshad bowled effectively at the other end too. Their batsmen were attacked full length deliveries effectively and made use of the fast outfield to pick up some boundaries. Steve and Leigh picked up the bowling and also bowled with accuracy and variety, Steve picking up a couple of well earned wickets on the way. Yours truly had a bowl but couldn’t hit off stump with a handful of rice, eventually leaving Will to bowl the final over hoping to prevent the 16 runs that PCC required. With the fielders on the boundaries and the crowd going wild, Will nonchalantly bowled their big hitting batsman with the first ball of the over and frustrated them for the rest of the over with some good line and length. The final ball actually produced a stumping by Chris but it was academic at that point anyway.
A satisfying 11 run win for Vinohrady. One pleasing stat is that we only conceded 18 extras compared to 39 for PCC – a testament to the accuracy of the bowlers and the concentration of the field.
Man of the Match (MoM) – has to be Arshad for a game winning half century and an economical second spell with the ball
Play of the Match (PoM) – Tariq’s armpit/chest catch and Vojta’s 4-saving slide deserve a mention but it has to be Will’s epic catch at long off – a run, watch and dive effort from a high swirling ball that seemed to stay in the air for an eternity
Twat of the Match (ToM) – nothing particularly twattish to report although Leigh’s dropped catch at deep midwicket earned him a nomination. The award therefore goes to the mid and lower batting order; our final 7 batsmen scored a combined total of 8 runs.