Hasan, Richards & Howie sting Chingford
Chingford 205 all out (Hasan 5-26, Mumby 3-33)
Jesters CC 208-3 (Howie 65*, Richards 63)
Won by 7 wickets
In a remarkable feat of luck and organisation, the Jesters managed to get 11 players together to take on Chingford. It has always been tricky to put a full side together, but it certainly seems to be getting more difficult! Anyway, after a change in the cycle of the moon had shifted Eid Mubarak from Sunday to Monday, the Noori brothers (both 2nd XI players at Chingford) found that they were available and Chingford's skipper, Mike Blake, kindly offered them to us. That made 10… and then on the morning, Mike found another player – Sayed Hasan – whose game for Epping had been cancelled and he was casting around for a late call-up.
So, step one complete. Now to work out what everyone did and, for many of us, to remind ourselves how to play cricket!
Chingford won the toss and elected to bat. The wicket was green and there was a gentle drizzle in the air, but the ground was rock hard after several weeks of little or no rain. We started reasonably well, with Andy Mortimer and DJ Chak settling into a nice rhythm. For those who have played there before, you will know that Chingford is a very quick scoring ground. We had the lower end of the ground on the short side and so anything that was a yard either side of the fielder quickly ran away for 4. So, no one was too concerned when a few boundaries slipped through. A sharp catch from Nihal Noovi off the bowling of Andy Mortimer and good pace from DJ lulled the Jesters into a false sense of security. We quickly discovered that the scratchy new batsman was actually the Chingford 1st team overseas player. Through his first few deliveries he was made to look quite average, but we later found out that was probably due to the excesses of the night before. He then clicked into gear and a sweetly timed straight drive which whistled to the boundary started an almost chanceless knock which threatened to take the game away from us.
Skipper Mumby introduced himself into the attack to try and settle the run rate… but this failed dramatically and having leaked 33 runs from 4 overs he turned to new boy Sayed Hasan. DJ was still wheeling away at the other end, but had no luck in a decent 9 over opening spell. Sayed's gentle offies (interspersed with an incredible quicker delivery which had DJ, at slip, running for cover each time it was unleashed) were a perfect foil on the pitch. With Nadir Noovi coming on to relieve DJ at the other end, we finally got on top of the run rate (which had been racketing along at nearly 8 an over).
Sayed combined with Oscar Howie to remove the other opener (for a well made 71) and this broke the partnership of 144 that had come in a little under 20 overs. 164 for 2 then became 186 for 3 as Sayed took his second wicket. Chingford were, however, still very much in control and the Aussie was still at the crease. Sayed and Nadir had, however, dried up his boundaries and he was now dealing pretty much only in singles. Another wicket fell at 195 and the double digit runs per over had been replaced by 3s and 4s. All good and the Jesters were gradually clawing our way back into the game.
A moment of magic changed everything. Shorbo Nag's lovely hands came to the fore and he moved incredibly quickly to whip off the bails with the Aussie out of his ground. Chingford were now at 195 for 5 and Sayed had collected 4 of them.
No one could have predicted what would happen next. Ten runs came from Nadir's next two overs, but Sayed was just bowling maidens. Those ten runs would be Chingford's last. The skipper partially redeemed himself with three consecutive wicket maidens, but Sayed's 5 consecutive maidens with two wickets was the starring achievement. Chingford had lost all 5 of their last wickets for 0 runs with the score stuck on 205. The Jesters had persevered well in the field, with Dave Hancock (in particular) saving numerous runs patrolling the short boundary and Oscar Howie taking two good catches. Seven catches held in total and only one (difficult) drop.
The Jesters response started in characteristically positive fashion. Chasing this sort of total my experience is usually that we get ourselves to around 140 for 2 and then subside to 170 all out. The sentiment was shared by my teammates and no one was going to get carried away. Opening pair James Richards and Nihal Noovi put on 61 for the first wicket across the first 12 overs. James was in a particularly belligerent mood, sporting a stylish gentleman's moustache and wielding his blade to tremendous effect. Taking advantage of the hard out-field he struck 13 fours in an elegant 63. He fell in the 19th over with the score at 107 and having shared another fruitful partnership, this time of 46, with Oscar Howie.
Alex Smith strode to the crease following James' demise and looked to impose himself on the bowlers immediately. His first three scoring shots were all to the long part of the ground and with the ball coming to rest just inside the rope each time resulted in energy-sapping 3s. In an attempt to hit the ball a little harder and to get it to the boundary he swung himself off his feet and ended up in an unceremonious heap (taking much of the force on his thumb, but fortunately not doing any lasting damage). He played nicely with Oscar who was, by now, well into his sizeable stride.
Heading into the 20 overs, the Jesters were sitting comfortably at 121 for 2. 85 needed and the Jesters were cruising. Especially given that Nadir and Sayed (both opening batsmen for their regular teams), Shorbo, Dave Hancock and DJ (not to mention the fearsome tailenders Mortimer and Mumby) were still waiting in the wings.
Alex got a terrific delivery from their leg-spinner whose entry into the attack had started to cause a little concern among those in the clubhouse. Especially as it was now so dark that neither the scorer nor the fielders could see the ball (apparently, this was the darkest cherry Mike had ever seen!). Fortunately, spin specialist Shorbo came into the action and immediately looked at home facing the slow bowlers. Some trade-mark searing cuts and pulls and the target was diminishing rapidly.
At the other end, Oscar Howie was making serene progress to a well-crafted 50. He played a super knock, picking the gaps, taking singles and then finishing it off with a 6/4 combo. The Jesters had won with 7 overs (and 7 wickets) to spare.
Always a pleasure to play at Chingford. A huge thanks to Mike for all of his help in ensuring the game went ahead, albeit I suspect he will be more careful about which players he gives us next time!
Jesters XI: Mumby (c), Nihal Noori, Richards, Howie, A Smith, Nag (wk), Hancock, Chak, Mortimer, Hasan, Nadir Noori