Sunday 17 August 2014 – King’s House Sports Ground, Chiswick
The Tiger in the wild is an endangered species, with perhaps a little over 3,000 still to be found in the jungles of Asia. Fewer still are now being spotted on the cricket fields of England. Indeed, flocks of Canadian geese were more prolific last Sunday at the bleak, windswept and soulless meadow in Chiswick (formerly the Civil Service Sports Ground) where the Tigers, due to a misunderstanding in the team’s organisational machinery, took the field with only ten players yet again.
A heavy lunchtime shower delayed the match for 30 minutes and, with further rain forecast a 30-over contest was agreed by the captains. In the event, there was no more precipitation and the sun shone most of the afternoon. With so many bowlers missing (Chris Dane, Chris Wright and Matt Webster were all absent, not to mention Chris Boden and Simon Warren) the Tigers’ only hope was to win the toss, insert the opposition and attempt to restrict them to a reasonable total that could be chased down.
But the toss was lost and the visitors invited to bat on a pitch and outfield that was still damp. With huge boundaries, a good deal of running between the wickets would be required early on. Unfortunately, there was too much dawdling and only in the last few overs of the innings did the batsmen attempt to increase the tempo. Mike Delanian hit boldly for 26 and Barnaby Pinfield’s vigorous 51 put some meat on the score against some parsimonious fielding from the home side. In the end a total of 142 looked a reasonable effort, but with the field now drying out Whalers had an obvious advantage as the geese nested in the vast outfield or flew overhead in formation, just beneath the interminable jets descending towards Heathrow. Luckily none of the airborne birds deposited their business in anyone’s mouth, unlike the unfortunate Ashley Young at Old Trafford the day before!
The Tigers achieved a couple of early breakthroughs, Barnaby Pinfield (standing up to the wicket for the entire innings due to the lack of pace in the pitch and the bowling) pulled off a smart stumping off John McGirr to out Giles and Steve Bignell held on to a blistering drive from Nicoll at mid-off, but all the bowlers delivered at least one four-ball every over, and together with some much sharper running between the wickets, meant the Whalers were never under pressure to up the run rate. Skipper Craig Murray did his best marshalling the meagre bowling resources and creaking fielders, but it was a Sisyphean task. The leg-side full toss experiment, seemingly abandoned a few weeks earlier, was reintroduced, with the ball being deposited to the outer reaches of the leg boundary with much alacrity and frequency, a shuttle service being required to retrieve it. Opener Terrell benefited most from this generousity, hitting 70 from the first 98 runs before being caught behind chasing a leg-side wide. Bignell bowled the big-hitting Tippin but it was all too little, the Whalers sailing home with more than eight overs to spare.
Overall, a listless performance indicative of the current state of the team, which has now lost six of its last eight matches after winning seven of the first eight. Members’ commitment has fallen steadily as the season has progressed. A look at the attendance register shows only four players have appeared in more than 75% of the fixtures and the club is not currently sustainable at this level. Regular players carrying minor or more serious niggles are having no opportunity to rest or be rotated and this is only exacerbating the problem. The team will therefore have to muddle through its remaining fixtures as best it can when a reassessment of the future will have to be made to consider the following options:
a) Introduce a raft of new players who are prepared to play most weekends (preferably under the age of 50).
b) Merge once again with another club in a similar situation.
c) Wind up the club altogether.