Chobham 189-8 (Harris 3-27)
Jesters 180 all out (Harris 66, Alluri 29)
Lost by 9 runs
A wonderful recovery at Chobham looked like delivering victory but an incredible catch to dismiss Louis Harris in full flight turned the game in the home side’s favour. Match manager Andrew Short elaborates…
Catches win matches is one of the most enduring cricketing clichés. But rarely has it been more appropriate than at Chobham after Louis Harris had rescued the Jesters innings and appeared to be taking us to an unlikely victory.
With 66 elegant runs Louis was well and truly in the 'zone' when he drilled a straight drive for, seemingly, another boundary. It flew off the bat. But with game-changing reflexes the bowler plucked the ball from the air as it whistled by. Everyone watching was astonished. No one more so than Louis, who stood for a moment in utter disbelief before walking down the wicket to shake the bowler's hand.
Earlier in the day skipper Andrew Short lost the toss and we were asked to field in the usual 40-over game at Chobham, eight overs per bowler. DJ Chak and Andy Mortimer were handed the new cherry.
At 2-2 it could scarcely have been a better start. Santosh Verma taking a nice, low catch behind the stumps off Andy and DJ pinning the no.3 lbw.
With the new batsmen consolidating, spin was introduced at both ends. Vinod Kumar, making his second Jesters appearance after a promising debut at Bray, bowled straight through his eight overs. He was unlucky to go wicketless and combined flight with fizzing quicker balls.
At the other end, the criminally underused bowling talents of Louis Harris were on display. And again it was a mix of flight and fizz - but also remarkable economy. 8-0-27-3 was the final analysis. Connoisseurs of the Harris Method smiled knowingly as he snared one of his victims immediately after the drinks break, so often the moment of peak vulnerability when he himself is at the crease.
At this point the score stood at 94-4 and the innings was in the balance. Chobham had done well to build a platform but could they press on after losing both set batsmen? They continued to bat sensibly and the skipper brought himself on to close out the innings at the village hall end with the returning seamers from the pavilion end.
With the fall of the fifth wicket, the Chobham skipper and best batsman entered the fray. He was quick between the wickets, itching to play big shots, and particularly keen to reverse sweep the skipper's pies. The remainder of the innings involved restricting the damage he could inflict and, if possible, keeping him off-strike.
By the end of the innings, honours were probably even with the score 189-8. We hadn't dismissed him but he'd only been able to cut loose occasionally. A decent fielding performance helped. We held up under pressure and it was one of those afternoons when the chances, mainly, avoided the fielders.
Santosh and Rupesh Alluri opened our innings against what turned out to be a useful new ball attack. Robinson, in particular, left arm over from the pavilion end, swinging it in to the right-hander at decent pace.
Santosh was bowled by a good one. Olly Norgrove went the same way after a couple of thundering drives. Jesters debutant Peer Ansari was unlucky to come to the crease at this point, departing lbw before he had a chance to show us what he could do. All three wickets to Robinson.
Rupesh, meanwhile, was playing some lovely shots all round the wicket. On 29 he looked set for a substantial score before becoming Robinson's fourth victim. Vasanth Padaki played a nice shot back over the bowlers head for four, but when he went we were 64-5 in the 18th over. Far from ideal.
However, the 'big guns' were now at the crease. Louis and DJ had been held back because of their earlier bowling efforts, coming in at 6 and 7. DJ was the initial aggressor, racing to 23 before he was bowled by a good ball from the left arm spinner that turned. 97-6 and we seemed out of the contest.
At this point James Williams entered to play a vital supporting innings. His reassuring defence gave Louis the freedom to move up through the gears, which he did in style. Pulls, drives, and remarkably little toying with boundary fielders. At 161-6 in the 34th we dared to dream. But then came that wonderful catch.
The eighth wicket fell almost immediately before James and Andy Mortimer put on 14 for the ninth, Andy unfurling one particularly sumptuous cover drive to loud cheers from his team mates. Then it was nine down. But with the veteran Short dreaming of last over glory at number 11 all results seemed possible. Two singles were scurried from the 38th over.
Sadly it was not to be. With two overs still remaining James was trapped lbw and we had lost by just 9 runs. It was a gallant chase and a really enjoyable afternoon's cricket.
Many thanks to Chobham for their excellent hospitality and we look forward to returning next year.