Early on Saturday morning it appeared the weather Gods had no intention of allowing us to take our long-awaited vengeancefor the recent heavy defeats out on the Barbarian hordes. With the outfield decidedly soggy the match was postponed until after noon, cue everyone checking their preferred weather forecasting website, all foretelling doom and gloom for the boys in burgundy and gold. Nonetheless we all gathered on the wide green expanse at Vinor just before 12 for an extended session of warming-up whilst the field did the same. Winning the toss we decided to have at them with the ball in an endeavour to get them out quickly, knock off the runs and evacuate before the forecast thunderstorms washed us all away.
As it turns out the Barbarians had other ideas and dug themselves in. Ben and Lukáš opened with some tight bowling and the first few overs came and went with less than 2 per over coming off them. Captain Navoniel seemed determined to keep his head down and just hang around. After a time Yash decided to have a go at Ben and rode his luck to score a few with some nice shots back over Ben's head. He was a bit unlucky not to pick him up before he had his eye in with Robbo spilling a tough chance. Lukas then managed to slip one through Navo and when Steve came on he immediately caught Yash in front for what turned out the be the highest score of the Barbars innings (and the only one in double digits) -18. All of a sudden we had two new batsmen at the crease. Cue a magnificent performance from the pavilion end in the form of Arshad. Bowling stump to stump the batsmen couldn't get him away and getting frustrated they then flailed at the ball, only for it to inevitably take out the stumps. Anas managed to get some wood on one which sailed in the air only for Lukas to take a brilliant running catch. At drinks the score was just over 40 for five wickets and we were looking good.
Picking up where he left off Arshad, aided by some tidy bowling at the other end by Steve, picked up another wicket and finished with the laughably great stats of 8 overs, 4 maidens, 4 runs, 4 wickets ! The opening bowlers came back in for Ben to knock over Pradeep to finish off whatever hope there may have been in the Barbarian camp. After a self-proclaimed brilliant direct hit run-out from the deep thanks to yours truly which was in no way wind-affected the no.'s 10 and 11 were ours for the picking. Only problem was they weren't ready to go. Frustratingly, despite our best efforts they hung around long enough for our front-line bowling to run out of overs and they were left with Rob & I to finish off proceedings. Whilst I let some runs dribble through Rob held his line and didn't let them get away with anything. However, after a good 7 overs of frustration finally Terry tried to heave the wrong ball and I finally got one straight and that was the innings – after 37.5 Overs for 85 runs. So much for knocking them over quickly. With the sun shining brightly off our by now crimson faces the memory of impending thunder was far from our thoughts.
After a quick turnaround Tarique and Piers headed out to knock over the runs. Having picked up some handy bowlers over the winter the Barbars decided to make a game of it however. The first ball to Tarique managed to take an edge but slipped through the fielders and meant one quick run for us. His first ball Piers pushed one to directly to point, but nonetheless took off for a run. Tarique rightly sent him back, but not in time for him to recover his ground and up went the umpire's index finger. Piers was having none of it and stayed out there. As it turns out point was Anas - dressed in black trousers and grey top. Piers thought he was an umpire and we were of the opinion he should be given another go. Cue a comical storming off of the field by some of the Barbars and after some negotiations the game went ahead, albeit with Piers sullenly sitting by his lonesome some distance away from it all. Whilst I still think it was the Barbars fault for taking the field without the right gear and most of us recognised it was Anas fielding (asides from Piers) we probably should have picked up on it and called them out on it. Still unsporting not to let Piers back in.
Some very good bowling from both ends meant Rob and Tarique were having a tough time of it and eventually Javed managed to slip one through Tarique for 8 and we were two down. I came and went quickly for an exceptionally uninspiring innings that featured me being dismissed not once, but three times in my 11 balls - once drop off a no-ball, once bowled but the fielders were all talking (about cricket clothes, no less) and finally undoubtedly bowled by a yorker. Rob was doing a fine job at the other end and managed to last out the opening bowlers. Once the pie chucker's came on it was time to cash in. Hugo however had other ideas, and when the third consecutive wide down leg side to Rob from Yash was spilled by the keeper he set off for a quick run that was always there if both batsmen were on the ball. Too bad then that whilst Rob was trying to decipher where the ball was Hugo neglected to call yes until he was ¾ of the way down the pitch. Rob dutifully took off, but was undone just short by an admittedly smart pick up and direct hit. Hugo also lasted only 11 balls, but when he went we were already 5 down with not much on the board. At this point Chris and Robbo steadied the ship and proceeded to methodically cut down the runs needed column. Coming into drinks it felt like we were in the drivers' seat and nothing could keep us from getting the 20 more we needed.
The weather then decided to turn up and out of nowhere a wall of blackness appeared out of the West bearing down on us, seemingly hell-bent on keeping us from victory. After instructions to up the enthusiasm the guys in the middle set to, but unfortunately Robbo holed out after a very measured innings where his contribution of assisting Chris was greater than the scoreboard suggests. With a certain apocalyptic weather event about to descend on us at any moment Arshad headed out – and picked up his first delivery, a half-volley, as clean as you like and deposited it over mid-wicket boundary and into the wheat field. The wind was howling and now wearing his groundsman's hat Hugo was itching at the bit on the sideline, covers in hand ready to leap into action. We still needed a few runs though before the high wall of roiling black clouds unleashed their fury on us. Fortunately Chris had seen enough to have his eye in and took his cue from Arshad, popping one over mid-on, and with a few more strokes we had our victory.
Hugo sprung into action, along with a few other brave souls and the covers were laboriously wrestled into place, despite the best efforts of the gale that had brought the storm-clouds above us. As it turned out, no sooner had the covers come on then the wind that brought the weather took it away and we were bathed in lovely golden sunshine. Time for a beer in the sun to celebrate a return to our winning ways.
PoM (Play of the Match): For the first time this year, the editor is stepping in and overruling the author, partly due to Vojta's misinterpretation of the meaning of this award and partly due to his resultant modesty. Firstly, as Vojta rightly pointed out; special mention must go to Lukas for his running catch of a ball that almost gave the International Space Station a scare. However, having personally watched the ball leave his hand and followed it all the way from a deepish extra cover - the throw flat and and dead-straight - Vojta gets the PoM award this week for his spectacular run out. After our fielding wasn't up to scratch over the last few weeks, it was great to have our skipper back and leading from the front in this regard (if not with his batting).
ToM (Twat of the Match): For comedy value Robbo's gallant attempt to catch Yash at deepish mid-off, only for it to audibly rebound off his hip-bone deserves mention. My rather poor attempt at a slightly closer mid-off was also toolish, but the winner here has to be Hugo thanks to his silent running followed by very loud call once he was already there to rob Rob of reaping the rewards of his opening efforts. Pier's failure to realise that the point fielder was not a Vino also deserves a word or two.
MoM (Man of the Match): Chris's 28* (41), which was the only score in double digits deserves a mention, but for his spell of 8-4-4-4 and his quickfire 7 when it looked like every second counted, Arshad carries the day.