Walker Ground, Southgate – Sunday 21 September 2014
The Tigers went down to another heavy defeat – their ninth reverse in 13 matches – to a strong Luton Royals outfit at a chilly Walker Ground in their final game of the season. This must have felt to the weary Tigers like deja vu all over again. For the second successive week their village opposition cried off at the last moment, forcing fixture secretary Matt Webster to scramble around for new opponents and a venue.
At least this time they were upgraded to the big Southgate pitch, beginning the game with two quick successes as Webster and Chris Wright put in an excellent shift with the new ball. Taking two early wickets is clearly not a problem for the Tigers; getting the third is a different tale. Last week they had to suffer a partnership of 209 as the Saracens’ colonial professional hit 124. On this occasion the 3rd wicket stand only finished just short of a double hundred when the Royals’ skipper Wajid retired himself after a chanceless century.
But it had not all been plain sailing. At the 20-over break the visitors had dug in hard to reach 71-2, then added an additional 156 in the last 20 as the pitch eased. The Tiger ground fielding held up well, boosted by some much-needed vigour from Andrew Phillips in a promising debut. Sadly, opener Shah was missed by a dozing ‘keeper and slip first ball, then dropped a further ten (10) times! – some hard chances, some not so hard – before finally being bowled by Wrighty in the final over for 92.
The Tigers’ reply never really got out of bed after the pacy Alpha bowled out Ian Porton (‘We never lose when I play’) and Chris Dane in the third over. Chris Wright was then bizarrely dismissed, run out jumping in the air in an attempt to avoid being hit by the fielder’s throw. The middle order all got starts but no one batter could go on to a big score. Mike Delanian hit a typically bold 26 and skipper Craig Murray (22) showed some determination at the death to reduce the arrears to less than a hundred, but it was a jaded end-of-season-let’s-get-it-over-with final effort in a difficult summer where commitment had tailed off badly following a promising start.