Report: Palmer & Chak star at Bray
Jesters 248-7 (Chak 61*, Palmer 54)
Maidenhead & Bray 201-6 (Harris 2-28, Chak 2-26)
Jesters won by 47 runs
News has reached Jesters HQ of a convincing win at Maidenhead & Bray in a 40 over contest. Our 248 contained two quick 50s by Mike Palmer and DJ Chak and two late sixes by Santosh Verma.
The home side fell 47 runs short chasing. In the absence of a match report from match manager Adnan Mohammed's cricketing mind palace, Andrew Short has contributed the account below.
Not wanting his players to suffer from over-preparation, skipper Adnan Mohammed left his team selection late for our annual expedition up the Thames to Bray. Four players the previous Monday finally became eleven the day before the game when Santosh Verma said his friend Vinod could play.
We duly arrived at Bray for the usual 40-over game, eight overs maximum per bowler. Adnan called correctly and we batted.
After the early departure of Olly Norgrove, Mike Palmer and Louis Harris set about the opening attack with gusto. Mike in particular was swift to pounce on any errors in line or length, taking ten from the first over of the innings, and racing to a quick half century (eight 4s, one 6). He was out soon afterwards for 54. But in the 14th over the total was already 91-2 and we were well ahead of the game.
In strode the skipper at no.4 looking to carry on the good work. However, the Bray first change bowlers turned out to be their best pair and a more measured approach was required. Louis (29) departed soon after the drinks break, Alex Smith reacted in impeccable fashion to a tight stumping decision, and at 118-4 in the 23rd over our good start was in danger of unravelling.
As so often it was DJ Chak who calmed nerves. His partnership with Adnan passed the half century mark and when the skipper finally departed for 24 in the 32nd over we were well set for the final assault. Adnan will be the first to admit this wasn't his most fluent knock. But by sticking at it and allowing others to play around him it had helped put the team in a good position.
The final assault duly arrived in the form of Santosh Verma who smashed his third and sixth balls for six over long-on! After he went for a rapid 21, Jesters debutant James Jean continued with a brisk 16 that included another six.
The innings finally closed on 248-7 which seemed competitive. Maidenhead & Bray can put out a strong side but we felt they would need to bat well to win. Our lynchpin had been DJ, undefeated on a 61 that included some big shots and much good sense.
Here you should know that much of the Maidenhead & Bray reply was played out to retro-disco sounds blaring out from a kids party in the pavilion. Boogie-on-down and all that. It made for a convivial atmosphere, but some Jesters should perhaps know better than to strut their stuff in broad daylight...
Phil Berman glided in to bowl the first over of the innings with DJ opening at the other end. The first four overs produced only 8 runs. But then the acceleration came, with Ward, a left-hander, looking particularly dangerous. In the eighth over, with the score now on 39, he mistimed a drive off DJ towards new boy Vinod Kumar at mid-off who completed a nonchalant, one-handed catch. Game on.
DJ took another, Phil dismissed the other opener, and James Jean snared the dangerous looking Qureshi. 85-4 in the 17th over - with Phil and DJ (2-26) each having completed their eight over allocations.
There then followed a curious passage of play as Amin and Appavoo - the big left-hander who blasted a century against us two years ago - rebuilt the innings. Neither seemed keen to really take on our slower bowlers and the total fell steadily behind the asking rate. Perhaps they were baffled by Mohammed's turn (rediscovered, we were informed, via a change in his run up) and Short's lack of pace (or turn). Both bowled straight through their eight overs - 0-46 and 0-23 respectively - and owed a big debt to some spectacular boundary fielding from Mike Palmer.
Appavoo began to find his range towards the end of Andrew and Adnan's spells and there were some entertaining 'big hits'. But it wasn't until the introduction of Louis Harris, in the 34th over, that the fun really began. It was shoot-out time. Louis whipping down brisk leg-breaks and the left-hander trying to smash each one. Two did disappear vast distances - "my best two deliveries!" the bowler exclaimed - but Louis had the immense satisfaction of dismissing both Amin and, finally, Appavoo.
The game had one last twist. Before the 37th over Adnan realised Vinod hadn't had much of a game and needed to be slipped on for a couple of overs. Quite right too. But with Appavoo in full flow mightn't this be an off-putting experience for the debutant Jester? We needn't have worried. After two overs of flat, fizzing off-spin one thing was clear, Vinod should have been bowling much earlier in the innings.
Maidenhead & Bray finally closed on 201-6. A 47-run margin of victory looks convincing, but while Appavoo was blasting away it seemed a much closer game than that. Many thanks to Matt Armstrong and everyone at Bray - for their hospitality and for playing Sunday cricket in just the right spirit. We look forward to returning next year.
Finally, as a special bonus, here is a glimpse of Adnan in action...