Take a stroll down memory lane with club news and match reports from the Jesters CC 2016 season.
Updates appear in reverse chronological order...
29th November - Report on AGM and Awards
Brasserie Blanc on Chancery Lane was the venue for the annual dinner. Some 28 or so Jesters turned-out and a good time was had by all.
At the AGM, Jonny Bridcut provided an entertaining summary of the season, and in the absence of Chris Smith John Murphy reported on the Club’s finances which remain in a healthy state.
All committee members were re-elected with the officers unchanged. Noah Hillyard was elected as a new committee member.
The annual awards were presented at the dinner:
Arnold Woods Trophy (best performance of the season) to Alex Smith for his innings of 94 at Sawbridgeworth.
Roger Greenslade Trophy to Louis Harris for unselfishly sacrificing his self-esteem when bowling the 41st over in what was supposed to be a 40 over game at Eversholt.
Michael Meyer Award for big-hitting went to Rowan Clapp for a ginormous blow at Hurlingham into a far distant conifer (his innings of 85 took only 34 balls).
10th October - AGM and Dinner
The 2016 Annual General Meeting and Dinner will take place on Friday 18 November - AGM at 6.45pm, dinner at 7.45pm.
We have managed to secure the Brasserie Blanc on Chancery Lane once again this year, where we will be hosted in the restaurant's private room. The restaurant is at the southern (Fleet Street) end of Chancery Lane, which is a short walk from Chancery Lane tube (Central line), or a ten minute walk from Temple tube (Circle / District line).
The cost is £36 - exclusive of drinks - and all members will receive an invitation by email listing the various menu choices. Please reply to Ollie Doward asap.
19th September - Return to Newdigate
Jesters 173-6 (40 overs) A.Mohammed 43*, N.Hillyard 32*, A.Smith 29, R.Alluri 26, R.Clapp 25
Newdigate 174-5 (33.1 overs) A.Ali 3-21
When the Jesters last played Newdigate some 15 years ago it was one of our more basic, rural fixtures. So it was quite a surprise to be greeted by an attractive modern pavilion that dominated the ground, league sponsors' advertising boards around the boundary, and a team of athletic young cricketers kitted-out in identical club shirts, an Australian "pro" among them. And a 40-overs a side game. How times change.
What hasn't changed is the inaccessibility of parts of rural Surrey on a Sunday morning when Southern Rail is doing its best to prevent all travel by train. When skipper Adnan Mohammed won the toss barely half his side were on the ground and he realised we would have to bat. Which was a shame as it was a bowl-first wicket that promised plenty of movement after recent rain.
Openers Sahil Kher and Andrew Short departed quickly, before Alex Smith and Rupesh Alluri dug in against a challenging seam attack. Runs came slowly but their 52 run stand set up the game and was worth many more in better conditions. When both fell to the Newdigate skipper's offies the score stood at 63-4 - from 22 overs. Quick runs were needed urgently.
Fortunately the skipper's relentless tinkering with the batting order meant the powerhouse of Clapp, Mohammed, Murphy and Hillyard was lined-up in the pavilion. First, Rowan Clapp got us moving with several sumptuous blows. Then the Hon Sec was surprised by a brisk, in-swinging yorker from their 1st XI league opening bowler cunningly hidden at fourth change and coming in off four paces.
This set up an excellent, undefeated seventh wicket partnership between the skipper and Noah Hillyard - 56 runs from the final few overs. Noah was the aggressor - 32 from 27 balls - with Adnan accumulating astutely. At the close Adnan was 43 not out, one of several not out innings in recent weeks - both for the Jesters and beyond Jesterdom - and rumour has it he is currently impossible to dismiss.
Our final total of 173 didn't seem quite enough, especially as we had only ten players - thanks to the alternative attraction of Jonny Bridcut's stag weekend - meaning there would be even more gaps in the field than usual. But we felt they'd need to bat well to win.
Twenty overs later - as we reviewed the match situation during the drinks break - it seemed they weren't batting quite well enough. 67-4.
The "destroyer" had been Adam Ali guesting from Ilford Cricket Club. Bowling his 8-over spell unchanged he worked up a lively pace and with seam and swing was quite a handful. 3-21 were very well deserved figures.
At the other end Phil Berman also bowled his spell unchanged. With late swing and Sahil standing up to the stumps he was just as much of a handful and was unlucky to go wicketless (0-21). Sahil demonstrated his usual prowess down the leg side and it was very generous of Phil to allow him the chance of a little practice.
In fielding news, it is good to report that Alex Smith's one-man crusade for a 7-Day NHS has been at least temporarily suspended. Not only did Alex execute a calm run out to separate the opening pair; he also took a nice catch in the covers without the slightest trace of injury.
Perhaps Newdigate slipped something into our orange squash. Or perhaps our drinks interval analysis hadn't paid sufficient attention to the 19th over of the innings when Adnan had been dispatched for fourteen, including a huge wallop for six into the trees beyond the long mid-wicket boundary.
Whatever the explanation, the match changed dramatically once the action resumed. A pair of young batsmen launched a clinical assault, finding the gaps and hitting powerfully. The 100 came up in the 24th over and the 150 in the 31st. We did drop a couple of chances - John Murphy was once again the unlucky bowler - but it was essentially good batting. Noah picked up the fifth wicket and a Short "pie" nearly located a boundary fielder but that was the extent of any success. They romped home in the 34th over winning by 5 wickets.
Disappointing to end the season with another defeat but we fought hard all the way. And a really good effort just getting there and back with so few cars and a dysfunctional rail network. Thanks to all those who persevered through lengthy journeys.
Many thanks too to Newdigate for their hospitality. It was great to return after so many years and find a cricket club most definitely on the up.
12th September - Lovely day at Eversholt
The annual Roger Greenslade Memorial Match with Eversholt at their picture-perfect ground in Bedfordshire ended in a close three wicket victory for the Jesters.
Eversholt - 185-6 (42 overs) J.Bridcut 3-22
Jesters - 189-7 (40 overs) R.Dancey 32, L.Harris 31, O.Doward 29, R.Clapp 27
It wasn’t until the 41st over of their allotted 40 overs that the Eversholt innings really came alive. Unhappy with a below par 153-6, the home team made the unusual request to extend proceedings by an extra two overs. Up stepped Louis Harris, who sacrificed his self-esteem and birdlife in locals’ front gardens to generously propel Eversholt to 185-6.
Up until the declaration bowling, the away attack had kept a miserly watch on the Eversholt middle order. Birthday boy Jonny Bridcut, who turned up an hour late without trousers, rolled back the years in borrowed whites. His 3-22 off eight overs was full of the zip and late in-swing that characterised his early Jesters performances.
Opener Adam Henchy, who had carved 63 of the first 91 runs, was all at sea against the 32-year-old veteran before edging low to first slip where Nick Mumby stooped to take a fine catch. Earlier Jonny had knocked back the middle stump of former Jester Roger Lewis.
At the other end Mumby was in the middle of a mean spell that yielded just 26 runs from nine overs. Andrew Short was just as parsimonious, taking 1-11 off his five overs, the juggling Mumby snaffling another sharp offering at slip. Just 34 runs were scored between the 16th and 34th overs.
But the undoubted highlight of the day came in the 39th over. Stuck on 499 ‘career’ wickets for the last few weeks, John Murphy’s big breakthrough finally arrived in what we initially assumed was the penultimate over. John had begun the day with 20 dot balls and bowled an impressive but unlucky first spell of 7-4-17-0, so it was a moment of great delight for all when Josh Macmillan became an unwitting victim of Murphy history.
Would the Jesters pay for their generosity? It seemed entirely possible at 13-2. Some lusty hitting from Rowan Clapp (27) briefly got the reply back on track but the leg spin partnership of Khan and Henchy exerted something of a stranglehold. Louis Harris (31) and debutant Tom Garvey (18) played skilful, disciplined roles seeing off the talented duo.
When Rob Dancey (32) and Ollie Doward (29) came together with the score on 109-5, the game was very much in the balance. A glut of sharp singles and burgled twos whittled down the target before an explosive 39th over changed the complexion of the chase. Two Doward boundaries were followed by a mighty blow into the woods over the road at mid-wicket.
The sixth wicket partnership of 57 was ended shortly afterwards, paving the way for yet another John Murphy cameo. Not to be outdone in the "cathartic" hitting stakes, John finished the game with a flourish, launching a towering six into a bush over extra cover off their quick and hooking four more next ball to wrap up an exhilarating three wicket win with exactly two overs to spare.
Thanks to Eversholt CC for another special occasion and for the sterling effort clearing an outfield that had been underwater the previous day. It’s a delight to have this fixture back on the card and to once again remember their and our Roger Greenslade, gone but never forgotten.
7th September - Victory at Wargrave
With only three wins under their belt all season, the Jesters rode into the pretty village of Wargrave (at varying times) hoping to recapture form with bat, ball and in the field. By 7pm that evening all three objectives had been met and the feel good factor had returned.
The afternoon began in typical fashion…we would be fielding after another disappointing outing for “Tails for Wales never fails!” The pitch seemed flat and the outfield fast. We looked set for a long afternoon chasing leather.
Up stepped the opening pair of DJ Chak and Phil Berman. Chak bustled in with real intent and caused the opening batsmen problems from as early as ball two. Phil glided to the crease and had the ball shaping beautifully.
It didn’t take long for the wickets to start tumbling. An angled ball from Berman drew a leading edge and Santosh, making his debut as wicketkeeper, sprinted round towards square leg to effortlessly take the catch. That brought Wargrave’s captain and number three to the crease. He looked intent on scoring fast runs, but despite lashing the ball ferociously into the off-side the Jesters ring was impenetrable.
The frustration began to grow. Sensing this Berman sent down a full length swinging ball which proved too much for the batsmen to resist. The ball was sent spinning into the covers and straight into the ever reliable hands of Ollie Doward. The Jesters were on a real roll now and Berman snared his third victim in an identical fashion. This time the fielder was Alex Smith and taking a good catch at extra cover.
The batsmen had clearly been spooked by the swing and guile of Berman and he was to claim his fourth wicket in his last over. The ball clipped firmly to short fine leg, where Rob Dancey took a fine catch. With one ball in his spell remaining, Berman had 4 wickets and the Jesters were cruising. Many bowlers would have been happy with that. Not our Phil. Once again he glided in and delivered a ball which swung away, nipped back off the seam taking the inside edge. From there the ball crashed into the pad and cannoned into the off stump! 5-24 for Phil Berman, a fabulous effort!
At the other end the action was no less dramatic. DJ Chak had bowled an excellent spell, and club legend John Murphy had continued the good work. Desperate for a 500th career wicket he bounded up delivering a ball which spat awkwardly at the batsmen, causing the ball to loop harmlessly into the air straight to our ageing fielding coach. Surely this was the moment…? A gasp of disbelief spread across the field. More fielding drills in Chiswick House seem the only remedy. For John, alas, the hunt for the 500th wicket goes on.
Further wickets fell as Harris and Doward made the most of their respective bowling talents, and DJ returned to throw down the stumps while being politely asked not to by his own teammates. With 8 wickets down Wargrave sent their first XI leading run scorer to the crease. He unleashed a series of brutal drives and cuts and managed to help boost their total to a competitive 185-8 off 40 overs.
The run chase began in unusual manner. Jonathan Bridcut, for years pigeon holed as a fiery in-swinging opening bowler capable of delivering brutal and short spells, was asked to open the batting.
He and Jesters debutant Rupesh Alluri confidently set about chasing down the runs. Balls were played on merit and runs flowed before Rupesh attempted a repeat of a previously excellent pull shot, only to be struck on the pad and given out LBW.
This brought Santosh Verma to the crease who unleashed a steady stream of powerful lofted drives to ensure the Jesters were operating well above the required rate. If Santosh was all power, Bridcut was all finesse. Effortlessly using the pace of the ball to guide cover drives behind square and guide late cuts behind square and to guide backward defensives behind square.
The Jesters assault on their target was briefly interrupted by the unfortunate run-out of Santosh for an entertaining and aggressive 40. Bridcut knew the calling could have been better, and being as honest as the day is long, ‘Honest Jon’ apologised and set about making sure he made amends by leading the team to victory.
Bridcut was joined in the middle by Adnan ‘how are my hands?’ Mohammed. He has been in majestic form all summer and began to time the ball effortlessly. Runs flowed and it looked like the Jesters were going to canter home easily.
As the game neared its conclusion there was to be no collapse, no foolish nicks behind and no more foolish running. Bridcut and Mohammed both passed 50 in stylish fashion and unusually for Bridcut, in front of square!
With the victory guaranteed, the crowd demanded Mohammed finish it in style. He responded, dispatching a full toss way over deep square leg. As the curtain game down, Bridcut was left unbeaten on a fabulous 65 and Mohammed on a delightful 56.
In the end it was to be a very comfortable win, but the day will be remembered for so much more. A huge thank you to our hosts Wargrave CC for their hospitality and the great tea, we will look forward to returning next year.
One last note of thanks to John Murphy for a 30 over stint as umpire, Phil Berman for immaculate scoring and for Rob Dancey for excellent scoreboard operating. (And thanks to Louis Harris for this match report.)
29th August - Narrow defeat by Bedouins
An excellent game at the pretty Chiswick House ground ended in a three wicket defeat by the Bedouins. Jonny Bridcut’s match report follows the stats.
Jesters: 184-7 declared (45 overs)
A. Mohammad 56*, J. Murphy 49, Simon Rawson 4-35
Bedouins: 185-7 (34.2 overs)
R. Clapp 85, S. Zaib 39, A. Mohammad 4-67, E. Willis 3-49
“In between winning the toss and the Jesters' opening batsmen taking the field, a heavy shower freshened up an already sporting wicket, allowing any innocuous medium pacer to morph into Malcolm Marshall. The Bedouins' Malcolm Marshall turned out to be none other than Simon Rawson, who defied his ageing limbs and fading highlights with an impressive opening spell of four wickets in ten overs, reducing the Jesters to a precarious 55/5.
“Rawson found just enough sideways movement to rip through our upper order, including the prize scalps of Sarbajeet Nag (the current Arnold Woods trophy holder) and Louis Harris (destined never to win the Arnold Woods trophy).
“The sixth wicket fell with the score on 78, as Ollie Doward succumbed to one that kept dangerously low, though this only served in bringing together the engine room of the team, Dr John Murphy and Adnan Mohammed. These two Jesters stalwarts have thwarted many a fiendish opposition attack in the past, and today was no different. As Mohammed repeatedly crashed the ball to the cover boundary, Murphy unfurled several powerful blows to far-flung corners of the ground.
“The two put on 104 for the seventh wicket and seemingly vindicated the captain's decision to bat first. Mohammed notched up a red ink fifty, a milestone which just eluded Murphy, who fell in typically unselfish fashion as he attempted a heave into the leg side with a few balls to go until the planned declaration.
“After a few brief but calamitous fielding drills led by veteran tin man Doward, the Jesters took the field, safe in the knowledge that the target of 185 was a long way off. After two overs, plan A had been thoroughly destroyed, with the Bedouins going like the clappers on 25/0. The skipper immediately turned to the wise old head of Mohammed to try to stem the flow. Just off the back of his match-rescuing innings of 56*, Adnan reeled off 17 overs unchanged, against all medical advice.
“The introduction of Ed Willis saw the demise of Saj Zaib for a sprightly 39, but Rowan Clapp continued unabashed to bludgeon his way to 85, depositing the Jesters' attack to all parts of Chiswick. Eventually a Mohammed ripper snuck through Clapp's audacious slap and suddenly there was light. The Bedouins proceeded to collapse from 137/1 to 164/7, as Willis (3/49) and Mohammed (4/67) put the desert dwellers all at sea.
“With the field up and the pressure on, the new pairing of Sachin Rawson and Sandy Balfour gradually nudged and biffed their way to the victory target and gave the Bedouins a well-deserved victory with wickets and overs to spare.
“Many thanks to Chiswick House for a fine sporting theatre and to the Bedouins for another thoroughly enjoyable encounter.”
24th August - Rain halts play at Chobham
We were in a strong position at Chobham when rain forced us to abandon the game. In the usual 40 over match we had made 248-5 and Chobham were 81-2 from 19 overs.
DJ Chak continued his fantastic recent form with a superb innings of 124 not out, batting throughout the innings. He was well supported by 43 from Louis Harris.
Adnan Mohammed had begun to work his way through the Chobham batting line up when the rain became too heavy to continue.
17th August - Good win at Middleton Stoney
We recorded a convincing 5 wicket victory at Middleton Stoney. John Murphy’s match report follows the scores:
Middleton Stoney: 177 for 9 declared
J. Moorman 70, R. Simpson 39, D. Chak 5-51
Jesters: 178 for 5
N. Grant 72, S. Verma 43, S. Nag 30, L. Randall 3-18, O. Selway 2-48
“For the first time in several years we arrived at Middleton Park to find a dry ground and track conducive to run scoring. We duly lost the toss and were consigned to the field.
“Middleton Stoney started quickly with Simpson (the then Mongoose wielding destroyer of 2014) scoring at his usual rate. Jonny Bridcut bowled well, getting the ball to swing, but runs came rapidly. Bridcut managed to get the crucial breakthrough removing Simpson for 39 with Robbie Hudson diving forward to catch a looping ball which had deflected off both the thigh pad and back of the bat.
“This year it was the other opener, J Moorman, who did the real damage. He played some elegant and big shots in his innings of 70. We dropped him just after his half century, and feared this would be costly, until he was well caught by debutant Nick Grant off John Murphy's bowling.
“Other than the top three, the Middleton Stoney batsmen found it hard to score and DJ Chak bowled superbly. He claimed five wickets bowling thirteen consecutive overs with an attacking off-stump line at good pace.
“Their final score of 177 was below par in good batting conditions, and Grant and Sarbajeet Nag opened the Jesters innings confidently in reply. They added 52 for the first wicket, when Nag fell for 30.
“Santosh Verma on debut came in at three. He overcame the early nerves then batted very fluently, adding 98 for the second wicket with Grant who made an excellent 72. Verma’s concentration was broken when he went for another big drive, making contact with the ball, but the bottom of his bat broke off and spun through the air to the surprised slip cordon. He fell shortly afterwards for 43, also deserving a debut fifty.
“Then came the customary Jesters collapse. Adnan Mohammad played across a straight ball and Louis Harris elegantly holed out to long off. Hudson and Andrew Short then steadied the ship, taking us home with five wickets and almost five overs to spare.
“Thanks as always to Middleton Stoney for their hospitality”.
1st August - Cuckfield game cancelled
Unfortunately we have had to cancel the game at Cuckfield as we were unable to get a side together.
26th July - Bishop’s Stortford game cancelled
Sadly Bishop's Stortford have had to cancel the game on 31 July. They've reached the quarter finals in a T20 competition, a match which has been scheduled for the same date. This has ripped the heart out of their team and their U16s also have an important Essex Matchplay game at the same time so their skipper can't plug the gaps with enough youngsters to make up an eleven.
25th July - Roehampton
We beat Roehampton by 127 runs in a 35 over game on Putney Heath. DJ Chak was the star of the show with an innings of 134. Match manager Robbie Hudson’s observations follow the scores.
Jesters 270-4 (Chak 134, Doward 43*, A.Smith 40)
Roehampton 143 (Short 4-29, Berman 2-22, Sareen 2-38, Murphy 1-26, Doward 1-27)
“T Patel, opening for Roehampton, has reached a brisk 30. Andrew Short is coming in off his long run. Patel casts his hawkish eye once more upon the disconcertingly well-set field, with four men in the arc from straight cow to square cow. And now Short has taken another two steps and Patel, quite possibly, feels a drip of sweat and panic flick the brow above his hawkish eye. He glances again at the field. Who is that small figure, prowling in the deep?
“It is future Jesters great, Thomas Williamson, catching a Pokemon.
“Patel glimpses another figure at shortish extra-cover, a direction in which he has not considered hitting a ball and never wood, and he double takes. It is like a version of the Pokemon-hunter but on a gigantic scale. If the two had been reversed in their distances from him, you might have thought them twins.
“Does this double-take cost him the ultimate price? No, he is not killed. Does it cost him the penultimate price, his wicket? We will never know.
“As Short passes between the bowler and the stumps, Patel reflects on all that has been and ever will be. He is a philosophical fellow. He thinks of Dhananjaya Chak, whose mighty 134 will be talked of as long as Jesters are prepared to bore each other, which is for all the time there ever will be in my experience.
“He thinks of Oliver Doward's selfless 43*, who had earlier hit consecutive straight sixes but whose last six runs were scored in singles from the first ball of overs during which other players hit many boundaries. He thinks fondly of the quiche he had for tea and the tickle of a smile plays upon his lips.
“He thinks less fondly of the miserly bowling of Phil Berman and Dr Murphy, the mysterious opening bowler they have learned to call El Gato. No one knows why they have learned to do this. It seems a purposeless exercise. But many and various are the ways of men.
“Short's arm begins to turn over. Like a great machine, Patel's mind surveys the possibilities. Will it be the quicker one? No. Will it turn? No. Will it rumble towards him on a slightly annoying wobbly inswinging line that he feels he should be able to smash but somehow won't quite be able to? Possibly.
“He steps back and the world becomes clear for a moment. He recalls the burly figure of Ben Sareen and a vision comes to him, almost religious, of the right arm of Sareen's whites lit as by a shaft of gold. He will take wickets, thinks Patel. He just will. Some men are made for this thing as the sparks fly up to heaven.
“He thinks also of Doward. That is a tall man, he muses. If such a tall man can be persuaded to crouch in his delivery stride and release the ball at about the same height as future Jesters great Thomas Williamson, then I bet he would be awkward to get away, and he would probably take the last wicket in a match like this one, with the total on 143 or thereabouts.
“Maybe this thought gives Patel a sense of futility as the ball idles gently towards him. He rocks back. He knows he mustn't swing, but all his body is calling upon him to swing.
“He swings. He prays to connect and he connects. But the ball rises into the air, it soars like a vision and he follows that vision with an urgent prayer.
“For several moments, the prayer seems well placed. Matthew Williamson charges towards Patel, face twisted in barbaric triumph, but Patel has bought his bat in the last five years, something Williamson still isn't used to, and the ball loops far beyond him, far beyond the reach of any normal man.
“But Williamson isn't normal, and not just because of his barbarically twisted face. Stopping and reversing on what perhaps feels to him like a sixpence but is actually a 6 foot by for foot doormat, he throws back his right arm in a manner once made briefly popular by periodic Adnan Mohammed protectee John Emburey, and the ball collides with his hand with the same incredible sense of rightness and certainty that a man or woman feels in that moment he knows he has found his mate.
“Apart from this, the game was without incident”
11th July - Dramatic tie at Bray
A great afternoon’s cricket at Maidenhead & Bray ended in a tie. We chased their 211 and couldn’t quite manage two from the final delivery of the game. That run out was one of three in the final over as we went all out for victory.
Our standout players were Totteridge CC’s two Australians, Mark Turner - who bowled like the wind - and Adam Gummer who opened our innings with an assured 75-odd.
Champagne moment was the first ball of John Murphy’s knock. Coming to the crease with overs running out and run-rate mounting he smote a slightly over-pitched delivery high into the netting beyond the long-off boundary. Six! The next delivery was dispatched for four through square leg and we were back on course.
4th July - Hogs game canceled
Sadly our game at Warnford with the Hampshire Hogs was called off after heavy rain the day before. The early morning inspection suggested the square would dry so we traveled. But at 12 o’clock there was still a large muddy patch at one end of the wicket and other parts of the square were very damp so we called it a day.
3rd July - Hurlingham
Hurlingham CC 240/9 dec (O'Halloran 4/59, Smyth 3/48) beat the Jesters 187 all out (Clapp 85 off 34 balls) by 53 runs
Asked to field first on a typically batting-friendly Hurlingham wicket, the Jesters opening bowlers exerted some early pressure on their hosts, containing them to 27/1 after the first 10 overs, with Jake Smyth finding the early break through. Phil Berman came on first change and continued to restrict the flow of runs with an excellent, though unrewarded, spell of 7-2-22-0.
An early lunch was taken after the inevitable summer shower, following which the Jesters got their just deserts as Richard O'Halloran's leg spin bamboozled the opposition to 145/5, with a clear opportunity to dismiss them for a total significantly under par.
However, the hosts' lower order struck some lusty blows in an effort to increase their run rate, and before long they were able to declare on 240/9, after further inroads by Richard (who finished with 4/59) and Jake (3/48). Shorbo Nag was as tidy as ever behind the sticks and took one especially noteworthy catch diving to his right off Jake.
241 was a very gettable target, provided we got a good start. After four balls we were 0/2. Suddenly 241 seemed a long way away.
Out strode the Jesters' MVP, DJ Chak, at number 4, desperate to make the position his own in the rare absence of Louis Harris. DJ's efforts to impersonate Bomber Harris were in fact so acute that he lofted a wide slash straight to point for just 12. Robbie Hudson fell to a jaffa from the on-song Cattermull and soon the Jesters were 42/5, staring a heavy defeat squarely in the face unless we could unearth a phenomenal rearguard action.
If ever attack was to be the best form of defence then Rowan Clapp personified it in astonishing style. After hitting four of his first six balls to the boundary, he reached his 50 within six overs of coming to the crease, off just 19 balls. Rowan smote five sixes in all, one of which flew into an unsuspecting conifer over deep-midwicket about 100 yards from the crease. Rowan and his accomplice, Shorbo Nag (33 off 38 balls), put on 92 in 10 overs to reignite our run chase.
Unfortunately the fun was destined to come to an end as Rowan, attempting to plunder a third six in one over, fell on his sword for a swashbuckling 85 off just 34 balls (74 of which came in boundaries). Having borrowed the skipper's bat for the knock, it was a rare opportunity for that fine piece of willow to fulfil its potential.
Rowan's downfall came with the Jesters' recovery half-done at 163/7 (soon 163/8). With 78 still needed, victory was a possibility given the visitors' strength in depth. Some graceful cover drives from Richard O'Halloran, showing off his all-round game, and some typical dabs down to the vacant third man boundary from the skipper briefly threatened to achieve the impossible, though 163/8 soon became 187 all out and the Hurlingham won by a deserved 53 runs.
Many thanks to our hosts for another wonderful game and we look forward to returning next season.
27th June - Faire is the XI
We lost an enjoyable new fixture with Faire is the XI played at Chiswick House. The scores are below followed by a match report from skipper Nick Mumby.
Jesters: 140 all out (34.3 overs)
Mohammad 27, Nag 22, Murphy 22, Hunt 3-18, Kanagasooriam 3-38
Faire is the XI: 143 for 7 (34.1 overs)
Stobbs 29, Potter 26, Dass 24, Mohammad 2-9 (off 7 overs)
A new venue to the Jesters fixture card “Chiswick House” - or so we thought! Our President informed us that the Jesters of the second half of the 20th century played against Turnham Green CC who used to be based here. Nonetheless, a picturesque setting for our new opponents, Faire is the XI.
For those of you who do not know, Faire was established by Alex Stobbs as part of an effort to raise funds for research into cystic-fibrosis. The name is a play on the Edward Spenser text “Faire is the Heaven” which was set to music by William Harris as a motet much loved by choristers around the country.
On losing the toss (again), the Jesters were unexpectedly asked to have a bat. The recent weather had turned what is usually a firm and quick pitch into a slow and low pudding. Some serious graft would be required to post a defendable total.
Openers DJ Chak and Rob Dancey were up against some accurate medium pacers and made steady progress before both were undone by the variable pace of the pitch. Shorbo and Louis set about rebuilding, but no one managed to get properly set.
Adnan Mohammed negotiated the middle overs well and played some super shots in his 27 and John Murphy provided some excellent hitting at the end of the innings to score 22 in 23 balls (including two huge 6s). His partnership with Jonny Bridcut of 36 in as many balls got the Jesters to 140 with 5 balls of the innings unused.
Early wickets and a tight start were key to the Jesters defence of what now looked a reasonable total. New ball pair of Bridcut and Phil Berman showed promise, but the Faire openers found a way of scoring boundaries at regular intervals.
A consistent theme, sadly, was that the bowlers were not helped by some slightly lazy fielding and dropped catches. A catch was finally held to remove one opener and give Phil a well-deserved wicket. The introduction of the skipper also brought a wicket to remove the dangerous Christian Stobbs, but sadly one after a number of full-tosses had been dispatched to the boundary.
The scoring rate steadied briefly with Mumby and Murphy operating from either end, but still the boundaries came. A remarkable catch from the skipper (he was as surprised as anyone!) removed Bowen and, importantly, saved 6 runs!
More chances were spurned as the skipper turned to the reliable Mohammed. Adnan bowled an incredible spell in the circumstances, returning figures of 7 overs, 2 maidens, 2 wickets for 9 runs. Wickets continued to fall periodically, and a wicket maiden from Sutton and a maiden from Mohammed suddenly stopped the Faire charge in its tracks.
13 to win with 3 overs to go, became 8 to win from the last two. A wicket from Chak and 8 to win from 11 balls with 3 wickets to spare. Sadly, two well struck blows gave Faire the win by 3 wickets with 5 balls to spare.
Thanks to Faire for organising the game and we look forward to avenging the defeat next year.
22nd June - Barnes Common
An exciting run chase ended in a narrow nine run defeat for the Jesters at Barnes Common. Rob Dancey was crucially run out with four balls remaining after his big hitting had brought us back into contention.
Earlier we had struggled against their skipper’s innings of 66 which involved several sixes into the trees surrounding the ground. Adnan Mohammed and Rob Dancey bowled tightly towards the end of their innings restricting them to exactly 200 when many more had seemed likely.
In reply, we started slowly but built a solid platform for a late charge. Adnan, Richard O’Halloran, Andrew Short and Louis Harris all made contributions before Rob nearly tool us over the line.
Hopefully a full report will appear here soon..
12th June - Sutton game cancelled
Our game with Sutton CC has been called off with the ground very wet and the rain still falling at 11.30 on the morning of the match.
8th June - Winning draw at Jesus
We had by far the better of a drawn game at Jesus College, Cambridge. Our 224-3 played their 101-8 as they hung on with a long rearguard throughout the final 20 overs.
Highlights were 5 wickets for Noah Hillyard, 80 for Robbie Hudson and 59 for Sachin Rawson, his maiden half-century for the club, including his first ever six, celebrated with an discreet fist pump.
30th May - Great win at Amersham
We recorded a great victory at Amersham, winning by five wickets with just two balls to spare in a 40 over game. The scores:
Amersham: 260 for 4 (40 overs)
A. Viney 108*, A. Ali 84
Jesters: 261 for 5 (39.4 overs)
S. Kher 76, S. Butler 71, J. Smith 56
Jonny Bridcut tells the story:
“Not since the heyday of the late, great Roger Greenslade have the Jesters emerged victorious from this Buckinghamshire cricketing oasis. Ever since Roger stroked his cathartic 48* off just 31 balls to squeeze us home in a thrilling run chase in September 2007, we have struggled to compete with Amersham's considerable class and limited overs guile. Not this year.
“Simon Butler began his first game as Jesters' skipper in customary fashion, losing the toss and being told to take the field.
“The Jesters' opening bowlers started promisingly, with young Kiwi Jeremy Smith striking early to remove the home captain caught at the wicket by the impressive Shorbo Nag. Jonny Bridcut and the Right Honourable Dr John Murphy soon caused further inroads, leaving the home side on a potentially perilous 48/3 after 13 overs.
“However, Amersham's middle order slowly took control and it was not long before they started to exploit the short straight boundaries, peppering sixes into the neighbouring cornfields. With some strikes cleaner than others, they took unjust toll on the visitors' spinners in particular (who between them recorded 11 wicketless overs at a cost of 90 runs).
“Captain Butler returned to his seamers in an attempt to stem the tide. Jeremy soon removed the dangerous opener, A Ali, for an impressive 84, though the onslaught continued to the very end as the home side racked up an imposing 260/4 in their 40 overs, with their number 5, A Viney, easing his way to an effortless 108*.
“Such a target would be beyond most Jesters' line-ups, especially in the face of what was an extremely threatening opening attack, though on this rare occasion our top order was arguably one of the finest the club had fielded in many years.
“Captain Butler and his young protege Jeremy Smith set about the stiff chase with relish. The 50 partnership came up in the fifth over as Simon raced to 40* off 18 balls. Combining thunderous straight drives with nimble dances down the track, the captain passed 50 off just 29 balls. When on 67, arguably the decisive moment in the game occurred.
“Stuart Rodgers, the home captain and 1st XI opening bowler, dug one in short only for Simon to top edge a swivel pull straight to deep fine leg. Not only did the obliging fielder drop the chance, he also fumbled the ball over the boundary. Although Simon fell with the very next ball, edging a precarious waft outside his off stump, how the home side would have wished for those four runs back come the final over of the game.
“The skipper's dismissal for 71, out of a score of 103/1 in the 14th over, briefly contained the flow of runs. However, time was on the Jesters' side and this enabled Sahil Kher to spend a few overs playing himself in before unleashing a powerful array of sweeps and cover drives.
“Sahil and Jeremy added 90 for the second wicket, with Sahil contributing 60 of them, before Jeremy lofted the home side's off spinner into the grateful arms of long on, falling for a composed 56 (off 74 balls) on Jesters debut.
“As the last 10 overs approached, the visitors needed 56 runs with 8 wickets in hand; by modern standards almost a given, though any Jester will tell you otherwise.
“Wickets soon tumbled: the dashing Kher fell in his prime for a wonderful 76 (off 55 balls); Louis Harris added a useful 17 before falling in an unfamiliar fashion, without troubling any fieldsmen; and James Haggie, entering the fray needing a run a ball from the off, soon succumbed to the impressive home skipper for a paltry 2.
“As the last over began, the Jesters required 8 for victory. The graceful Nag (whose previous two Jesters' innings had been 110* and 85*) and the bludgeoning Andy Wigmore were at the crease.
“The returning opening bowler Tilbury poised at the end of his run-up. The first ball struck Nag's pads; a scrambled leg bye; a side-foot shy at the stumps missed and went down to the fine leg boundary, resulting in an added run.
“The second ball was dug out into the leg side; another hairy single; another overthrow as the shy at the non-striker's end went out to deep cover. 4 needed off 4 balls.
“Nag deposited the third ball deep over mid-wicket and sprinted through for an unlikely three. 1 needed from 3 balls. Wigmore on strike, drenched in sweat from a long afternoon's toil.
“With the field up, Wigmore tried to scoop the ball over the leg side, only to see a leading edge loop tantalisingly over short cover. Victory was ours, at last, with the comfort of 2 balls to spare.
“Armed with a well-earned post-match beer, a toast was made to Roger, who would have been proud of the Jesters XI today.
“Many thanks to Amersham for a wonderful game of cricket. We look forward to another close contest next year.”
16th May - Drama at Sawbridgeworth
We almost burgled an unlikely victory at Sawbridgeworth after reeling from a 67 ball knock of 129 by their 1st XI league captain. It was an eventful game.
Winning the toss, the Jesters elected to bat on the usual pluperfect surface. This year we played on a strip more of less in the middle of the square, which was a real pleasure as it meant no tiny boundary on one side, a major feature of the game in recent seasons.
We made 253-9 in our 40 overs (it was a limited overs game), a competitive total but no more than par on what is always a fast scoring ground. DJ Chak batted beautifully (for 84) as did the skipper Alex Smith. Sadly Alex was dismissed for 94 from the final delivery of the penultimate over with a century beckoning.
The 67 ball blitz duly followed. It was an incredible innings of controlled power with nothing remotely wild about any of the 16 fours and seven sixes. Two sixes over extra cover and another over the hedge at long-on linger particularly in the memory. At 186-2 and barely half the overs gone we were staring down the barrel of the proverbial gun.
At which point the opener launched Richard O’Halloran for what seemed destined to be his eighth six, only for Alex Smith to cling on to a great catch on the distant long-on boundary. We all smiled at his perfectly justified yelp of joy.
Or was it joy? Perhaps that was the first impulse - but almost immediately it became a yelp of agony as he realised he’d injured himself taking the catch. And quite badly too, He ran from the field with blood dripping from his hand and was whisked off to A&E in Harlow.
Inspired by their skipper’s blood sacrifice the Jesters rallied. Richard O’Halloran completed what was in the circumstances a very brave eight over spell, Ed Hart bowled his offies nicely and, in pursuit of wicket taking deliveries, Louis Harris came on for a short but entertaining spell that snared two victims.
The second of these was a stumping by Mike Palmer valiantly doing keeping duties after our expected keeper dropped out in the days before the game. Thanks Mike. .
We had been taking wickets but the score had also been mounting. With three to win and three wickets to fall the game seemed gone.
A change of bowling brought DJ into the attack, steaming downhill with men round the bat. A last throw of the dice.
A wicket! The stumps rearranged by an inswinging yorker. Indeed, a wicket maiden. Could we pull off the unlikliest of victories? Hope briefly flickered.
As you know, it didn’t happen (in the end we lost by two wickets). But it had been a good fight back after being so comprehensively under the cosh and a spirited display all round. Thanks to Sawbridgeworth for their excellent hospitality - really superb tea - and for the way they play their Sunday cricket.
Medical bulletin on the skipper: it’s a broken finger that will require surgery. Hope to see you back in the team soon Alex.
9th May - Great game at Chingford
Match manager DJ Chak reports on a terrific afternoon’s cricket.
“The Jesters turned up at the rather lovely ground in Chingford, hoping to bat first and escape the hottest part of the hottest day of the year so far.
“The Chingford skipper, however, won the toss and had no hesitation in inviting the Jesters to field. Our bowling effort started well, with the opposition captain trapped lbw in the second over.
“We had no idea what was about to hit us.
“The IPL is currently on in India and it appears the Chingford opening bat and number 3 have been watching. Once they got their eye in, they began smiting sixes and fours to rocket along at more than 10 an over. None of the bowlers were spared and the ball was flying to all parts, tantalising close to the fielders on the boundary but never quite within grasp.
“We tried spin, we tried pace. Nothing seemed to work. The ball just kept disappearing and only Adnan (who picked up the opening bat in the 80s) and Andrew Short were able to exercise some measure of control over the run rate.
“On another day, we might have had more wickets but as it turned out, Chingford were soon sitting pretty at 276/2 off just 31 overs!
“With their number 3 having completed his ton and the fielding team wilting in the afternoon heat the Chingford skipper, in what was a move of great generosity and sportsmanship, called his marauding batsmen back in. We had been set 277 to win in what turned out to be 48 overs.
“The Jesters innings started cautiously and Chingford soon had a couple of early wickets, both Andrew and Rob Dancey being caught behind off the opening bowlers.
“In walked Louis Harris, Jesters' man for a crisis, and began the repair job with Oscar Howie. Both soon found their touch and began to unleash a few fierce pulls and cuts. Oscar fell to a straighter one from the Chingford leggie but the Jesters innings was in good hands with Alex Smith carrying on his excellent form from last year.
“Soon both Alex and Louis had completed excellent fifties and the Jesters were in a great position to push for the win. We needed 125 from the last 120 balls on a quick scoring outfield, with two batsmen well set and a short leg side boundary.
“Time for a twist.
“For those of you who have been Harris watchers over the years, his mode of dismissal might come as a bit of a surprise. Slow long hop, a fierce pull shot, caught by the sole fielder patrolling the deep mid-wicket boundary. Most unusual. He had played his hand though, a sparkling half century - his third in a row.
“Alex fell soon afterwards and when the Jesters skipper ballooned a catch to mid-wicket, it was up to Adnan and Karim Sutton to keep us in the hunt. Adnan in particular played some eye-catching strokes but fell four short of a well-deserved fifty while looking to accelerate for the team's cause.
“Karim was left with the job of getting us across the line but when he fell in the final over with 12 runs still to get, we had perhaps left too much for the end.
“We ended with 265 for 8 and the game was drawn. A fair result and one that showed that getting the timing of a declaration right remains an art.
“Many thanks to Chingford for their excellent hospitality and sportsmanship and we look forward to returning to Forest Side next year.”
3rd May - High scoring draw at HAC
A flat pitch defeated both bowling attacks as we drew with the Honourable Artillery Company.
They scored 319-5 and we replied with 263-6. Ian Bartholomew and Robbie Hudson put on 60-odd for the first wicket, Shorbo continued his fine form of last season with 81 and Louis Harris scored 59. A full report of the run-fest should follow soon.
27th April - Second best at St John’s
The 2016 season began on a bitterly cold afternoon at St John’s College, Cambridge. Thermals, beanies and extra sweaters were the order of the day but it was still good to be playing again.
We lost by five wickets and were more than a little rusty in all departments. It was one of those games where the side batting second stood much the better chance of victory, with an unusually hard pitch for April and short boundaries.
Skipper Andrew Short lost the toss and we were inserted, ruining his plan to do the same. We had little bowling and only ten players after a late drop-out meaning defending a total could be tricky.
With a talented batting line up - the top eight could easily have batted in reverse order - 183 all out was a little disappointing as a total. The students bowled tightly, though, and fielded well, so it