This was a big day for your correspondent, marking as it did his first outing for the Vinos.
Perhaps news of the debut had spread, because our hosts – unable to muster a full team from their own craven ranks – had summoned the PCC’s youngest, brightest and best to fill out their upper batting and bowling order.
The Bohemians went in first. Acheson quickly castled Jagtap, but when that Giant Panda of an opener, Manjeet, began to lay about himself, Vice-Captain-in-joint-charge-of-strategy Pearce paradoxically ordered up an over of innocuous dobbers.
It was a Brearley-esque piece of psychology. As the BCC hitman girded his loins for an orgy of post-watershed violence, mothers on the boundary rushed to cover their children’s eyes. They needn’t have fretted: After a brace of wides, and a couple of mishits, Manjeet finally located the sweet spot ... only to be snaffled brilliantly by Arshad, loitering with intent at deep long on.
Game on and job done, our kindly old gentleman (flat feet, dodgy back, tennis elbow, deaf in one ear) was shuffled off back to the outfield, there to graze contentedly for the rest of the innings on the memory of his quite undeserved five minutes of fame.
Just as the next bowler up, Tozer, thought it was safe to emerge from the outfield, the next man in, Wickremasinge, began to hit his stride. Only when Leigh had returned wicketless to his post at deep long off did he finally engineer Wickremasinge’s exit for 46. A near carbon copy of the game’s first dismissal, this – different stooge (that Caledonian cheeky chappy, Buchanan), same tactics: bowl a few long hops and see what happens. We soon found out – it was the catch of the match by Tozer.
It fell to Reade and Soucek to gouge out the rest of the wickets with a good cop/bad cop routine straight out of the Cold War’s noir-est of novels. Steve – cricket’s answer to George Smiley – blinked benevolently from behind his specs as his victims played across or padded up to straight-ish balls; from the other end, Soucek charged to the crease like a man desperate to come in from the cold. [Who writes this crap? – Ed.] But hey – whatever works. They bagged three apiece.
All out for 178 ... but would it be enough?
True, Pearce, bristling with his customary truculent intent, top-scored with 53 in 50 balls. But this was not quite the kind of cultured thuggery that routinely endangers innocent civilians playing Monday tennis at Olsanska. The timing didn’t seem to be quite there – perhaps it was because Pearce thrives on a pacier pitch and prefers the ball that comes onto the bat. But it’s no use expecting the mountain to come to Mohammed, Chris ... [Eh? Wrap it up now, please. Ed.]
What else is there to say? Acheson, Soucek and Tozer kept their leader company and hopes alive with pleasing cameos. But really, we were simply outgunned in all departments.
It was a good run-out, though, for the start of the real T20 business this weekend. With a number of regulars returning from the abyss, this strong performance – albeit in a losing cause – is likely to give the Vinos selectors a headache or two for the upcoming fixture.
Man of the Match (MoM) - No individual performance really stood out, so the judges have gone for Pearce ... for his top score and pro-active, macro- and micro-consummate man-management. Was it your correspondent’s imagination, or did he – after scrupulously setting his field for the opening over – look up and signal the sun to move a little squarer?
Play of the Match (PoM) - Tozer. That catch. Like Arshad’s, it stopped a certain six. ‘nuff said.
Tw*t of the Match (ToM) - Scorer Tarique for not letting it be known that Pearce had reached his 50 (depriving him of a round of applause).