Paulin Ground, Winchmore Hill Sunday 24 May 2015
The Tigers finally got a win on the board after five attempts in a tense finish at a gloomy, damp Winchmore Hill. It was a match of four quarters; the visitors winning the first half of each innings with the Tigers roaring back in the second, indebted to a club record unbroken eighth wicket stand of 88 between Chris Dane (40*) and Matt Webster (34*) and some excellent bowling and fielding in the last overs of Graces’ reply.
Bank Holiday weekends are notoriously difficult for team selection, exacerbated by this one coinciding with the last day of the football season. Matt Webster’s last-minute inclusion boosted his team’s chances but they still took the field a man short.
Invited to bat first, the Tigers’ innings limped along like a lumbering Pink Floyd track until finally enlivened by a blistering David Gilmour guitar solo. In trouble at 1-2 in the 3rd over after a rare Barnaby Pinfield golden duck, the batsmen struggled against some accurate bowling and strong fielding on a worn pitch. Mike Herlihy’s 22 was the best effort in the early stages, but when Chris Wright was dismissed in the 26th over the innings stood at a precarious 74-7, effectively eight down with only ten batsmen.
Webster, affectionately known as ‘Buttocks’ to his teammates, is best known for his parsimonious bowling, but he can be an accomplished lower-order batsman and this was indeed a day when buttocks opened up to telling effect, as he and Chris Dane rescued the situation, the visitors becoming increasingly hampered by the drizzle and wet ball, conceding a number of needless extras and buzzers**. Their partnership turned the game around, 56 coming in the last 10 overs as the fielders slithered and fumbled.
Thankfully the rain ceased during oranges and the fixture was to go its full course. Matt bagged Scott caught behind in the third over and Wright bowled Martin at 37, but Mendis was batting superbly and found a willing partner in Newton. At 20-over drinks Graces seemed well in charge at 98-2, needing just 65 from the final 20 overs with 8 wickets in hand, but the ball was becoming out of shape and the consistency of a wet cheese and excellent spells by Dane (2-18) and Steve Bignell (2-12) slowed the runs to a trickle, yielding just 30 in their combined 16 overs. It was Daney who achieved the vital breakthrough, bowling Mendis for 66, with Bignell combining with Pinfield to dismiss Newton. Skipper Richard Burgess held his nerve with some brave bowling changes and it paid off.
International gastronome Chris Wright came back for a second helping, having Sherwood caught by Rowan Allerton at mid-off, both players bagging another catch each as the screw tightened. Graces needed 13 from the final over and it proved too much. ‘It was a great team effort’, commented Director of Cricket Bignell. ‘The boys left everything out there on the pitch. Hopefully we can now move onwards and upwards’.
* The opening track on the second Pink Floyd album A saucerful of secrets