Jesters 225-5 (Montgomerie 85*, Chak 41*, Mohammed 41)
Won by 5 wkts
We had what looks a convincing victory at Eastcote, winning by 5 wickets in the 29th over of a 40 over game. But it had been a rollercoaster ride. Andrew Short reports on behalf of match manager Alex Smith...
The holiday season took its toll on regular Jesters and our side included four members of Bedouin CC, Josh Montgomerie from Hornsey CC and Jesters debutant James Travers. The final piece of this jigsaw only fell into place on the Friday before the game.
We arrived at the ground to find we were playing on Eastcote's second pitch - round the side of the pavilion and up quite a steep slope. In fact there were several slopes, the outfield falling away on three sides of the square. It looked a fast scoring ground.
Skipper Alex Smith duly lost the toss and we were condemned to field on a sweltering afternoon.
Forty overs later we were really pleased to have restricted Eastcote to 224-5. 300 had seemed perfectly possible on that quick outfield. It was a disciplined bowling performance all round. The young and well coached Eastcote side batted nicely but were rarely able to cut loose. Stars of the show Adnan Mohammed and Dan Hayes went for only 24 and 27 respectively in their eight over spells - and it was good to see James Travers take his first Jesters wicket.
The sloping outfield had turned out to be incredibly uneven and baked rock hard by weeks of hot weather. It made fielding just as much a nightmare as recruiting the side. Perfectly respectable 'long-barriers' were frequently defeated by erratic and potentially dangerous bounce. It made for some comedic moments but generally our fielding held up well on the corrugated surface.
Alex pulled the strings adroitly - and kept us amused for several overs by skippering at the top of his voice while fielding at cow corner. Also amusing - some of us felt - was the bright blue zinc cream liberally plastered over Adnan's face!
Eight overs in to our reply we were 40 without loss and well placed. Rob Harrison and Mike Palmer looked set and Mike had just launched a magnificent six over extra cover. Unfortunately two overs later we were 48-4, three wickets falling on 48 including the skipper for a duck. From this perilous position we were treated to a wonderful counter-attacking partnership from Josh Montgomerie and Adnan Mohammed. Adnan's second scoring shot was a thunderous hooked six high into the trees beyond square leg. This set the tone and the pair added 104 in just 12 overs - Josh stroking boundaries with calm authority and Adnan batting with a flourish for a well made 41.
On 152 DJ Chak joined in the fun after Adnan was caught behind trying to cut the leg spinner. There was no thought of retrenchment and the scoring rate accelerated still further. DJ and Josh added another 73 in only 7 overs, taking us home with more than 11 overs to spare. DJ finished 41* and Josh 85* (16 fours, 1 six). It had been a fine innings from our guest Australian and a worthy follow up to his hundred on tour at Bryanston.
Many thanks to Eastcote for their first class hospitality. The tea was one of the best and several of us propped up the bar well into the evening with their skipper. We look forward to returning next year.