DJ 143* but clobbered by Chobham
Jesters 257-4 (Chak 143*, Mohammed 46*)
Lost by 4 wickets
Our 257-4 off 40 overs looked like a fine total, but with nine men defending a large, fast outfield, it proved well below par. Andrew Short tells the story of the day an another commanding DJ Chak century...
The Jesters have had some notable victories at Chobham over the years. In 2005 when Ollie Doward bagged 7-22; in 2006 when we took the last eight Chobham wickets for no runs; and perhaps best of all in 2011 when a nine-man Jesters side triumphed after a thrilling run chase built around a 150-run partnership between John Murphy and Adnan Mohammed.
So skipper Andrew Short wasn't entirely downhearted when he realised he would be leading another nine-man side at Chobham in 2019. Our dismal availability this year combined with the holiday season had defeated all his efforts to find eleven players. The plan was to chase as in 2011.
Arriving at the ground this seemed vindicated by the fast looking outfield and two short boundaries. Defending almost any total would be challenging with nine fielders.
However, from that moment onwards the plan unravelled. Only six Jesters were on the ground at the toss with three of our batsmen stuck in traffic on the M25. We would have to bat. Chief beneficiary of the traffic jam was DJ Chak promoted to open in the absence of others. He faced the first ball of our innings and was still batting 40 overs later at the end - it was a 40-over game - carrying his bat for a magnificent 143*. There were powerful shots all round the wicket and a really lovely use of the hands to find the gaps, but what stood out most was the calm authority of the whole performance. There seemed little risk as boundary followed boundary and he clinically filleted the home attack. The good balls were blocked and the bad balls dismissed. Well batted DJ!
With our motorway laggards, early wickets would have been a calamity so Robbie Hudson played a vital role putting on 87 for the first wicket with DJ. After that we wobbled and 138-4 didn't look too healthy. James Richards had been particularly unlucky, suffering such a poor LBW decision that the keeper apologised [the offending umpire went by the name A Mohammed - Ed.].
By coincidence, the dismissal accelerated the arrival of Adnan to the crease, a largely remodelled (and re-equipped) batsman since his 2011 triumph. Then there was bludgeon, now there was silky driving as he persuaded the ball past the fielders to the boundary. Adnan was still there at the close of our innings on 46*, having put on 119 with DJ. 257 was a good total but with the fast outfield and only nine Jesters fielders it certainly didn't feel too many.
The Chobham reply quickly demonstrated it wasn't too many and from the start they were well ahead of the rate. Connor McLean who often scores runs against an 11-man Jesters side found the many gaps with ease and was more than proficient at smashing the bad ball to the boundary. None of the Jesters attack bowled especially badly. Andy Mortimer battled manfully uphill and into the wind. The skipper's pies were a little undercooked but the bad balls often found boundary fielders. Louis Harris provoked a boundary catch at an important time [taken at long on by the author of this report, who performed a memorable jig of delight - Ed.]. DJ and Adnan bowled well in short spells as we tried to spread their impact through the innings.
James Travers bowled what was possibly the ball of the day. The wicket had been blameless all afternoon until, at gentle medium pace, James got one to rear off a full length and hit our keeper, who was standing up, just above the left eye. James Richards, for it was he, really wasn't having a good day! Fortunately the damage was limited to a little blood and moderate swelling, but James has promised to invest in a face mask before he plays for us again.
When DJ bowled McLean for 95 with the score on 151 the contest became a little more even. The other batsmen looked containable with a full complement of fielders but unfortunately they were wise to the situation and used the gaps sensibly to keep the scoreboard moving. We took wickets but never quite soon enough. Finally, two late dismissals brought a young lad to the crease and we sniffed an unlikely victory with fewer than ten runs to get. But he dealt calmly with a ring of close fielders and DJ storming in, taking them home to win by three wickets.
Many thanks to Chobham for their excellent hospitality. We looked forward to returning next year with a full side of eleven players!
Jesters IX: Short (c), Richards (wk), Chak, Hudson, Harris, Doward, Mohammed, Travers, Mortimer