Old Merchant Taylors' 131-5 (35 overs)
Jesters 132-5 (19.3 overs, O'Brien 81)
Jesters won by 5 wickets
We got off to a winning start with a comfortable five wicket win against Old Merchant Taylors'. OMT mustered only 131 from their allotted 35 overs thanks to mean spells from Phil Berman, debutant Ilija Krunic, Chris Smith and another debutant Sean O'Brien. There are also rumours of an Adnan Mohammed wonder catch at slip.
O'Brien then stroked a fine 81 to help steer us to victory in the 20th over. And after a season and a half out with injury it was fantastic to see Rowan Clapp make his Jesters comeback. Skipper DJ Chak recounts the opening day of the 2019 season...
The Jesters won the season opening toss and put the OMT in to bat on what looked like an incredibly hard pitch for April. With the Mercury hovering between six and eight degrees celsius all day, some Jesters’ beanies would have been welcome.
Phil Berman and Ilija Krujic opened the bowling for the Jesters and their excellent and miserly spells (7-2-14-1 and 7-1-22-0 respectively) saw the Jesters well on top at the drinks break. The opening bowlers went through their quota of seven overs on the trot and Krujic was particularly unlucky not to pick up some wickets. A special mention must go to Adnan Mohammed’s excellent one-legged-squat-one-handed-catch at first slip off Berman. The openers’ good work was backed up by the tight off spin of Chris Smith and the nagging cutters of Matt Berry.
With the score at drinks standing at 41-1 off 17 overs, the OMT skipper asked his batsman to get a move on (apparently the young opener thought it was 50 overs a side!) and they did so with the help of a number of lovely shots and a few dropped catches (the Jesters’ skipper being guilty of spilling one, maybe two, chances and a couple of mistimed dives). Berry eventually dismissed the young opener for a well made 72 and Shaun O’Brien and DJ Chak bowled through the slog to pick up a wicket each. The Jesters fielding held up well under pressure with Tom Lord taking another (ref: Barnes 2018) fabulous catch over his shoulder running backwards. The OMT ended on 131/5 off their 35 overs - a gettable target for a strong Jesters batting line-up.
The Jesters chase got off to a great start with Tom Lord and Shaun rattling the boundary boards regularly. We got to 47-0 in 5 overs and looked to be cruising to victory before the wily OMT left arm spinner got into the act. Lord was bowled playing for the turn, Louis Harris missed a straight one and Rowan Clapp on his return to the Jesters planted his foot confidently and firmly on the line, leaving the leg umpire Chris Smith no choice but to give him out stumped. 47-0 had become 93-3. Still, no need to panic. Yet.Shaun was unlucky to get out for a well-compiled 81 on debut and when James Richards returned to the pavilion in short order, the Jesters had slipped to 118-5. With 14 runs still required, this rapid turn of events combined with Chris Smith’s leg umpiring duties and other assorted issues to leave the Jesters scrambling to put a batsman out on the field!
In a moment of great calm, the Jesters skipper walked out to bat in six degrees celsius with no jumper and untied laces to join the stoic and immaculately attired Mohammed (14*). Needless to say, we were all pretty glad when the winning runs were scored with no further damage.
A solid five wicket win for the Jesters and a really nice start to the season at the lovely OMT cricket ground. Many thanks to them for their hospitality as well as to James Richards for stepping up to keep wicket at short notice (and doing so very, very well).
Jesters XI: Chak (c), Richards (wk), Lord, Harris, Clapp, Mohammed, Chak, Berry, C Smith, Krunic, Berman