Greenwich Park Sunday 2 August 2015
In a week that saw the demise of Cecil the lion and Our Cilla, the ailing Tigers went down to another crushing defeat at the playground of South London’s fun-seekers in stifling conditions. Having struggled to 173-9 on a slowish pitch, they were blasted away with more than 18 overs to spare and are now looking for a glory-hunting dentist to finally put them out of their misery!
Correctly opting to bat first on a pitch known to deteriorate, the Tiger innings followed its predictably disappointing course. Mike Delanian, this time unleashing some stylish and authentic off-side strokes, cracked seven fours making 40 from the first 54 runs in 11 overs. Barnaby Pinfield (36) and Chris Dane (28) then put together a somewhat unconvincing partnership of 62 for the fifth wicket, after which the obligatory mid-innings subsidence ensued (116-3 to 139-8), with the usual exhibition of schoolboy dismissals, bemused by Carlin’s gentle leg spin. The standard tail-end recovery followed with some sensible batting from the two Steves, Rennie and Bignell (combined age 122) adding a cautious 34 for the ninth wicket in ten overs and lifting the total to a more creditable though under-par 173, Renster posting a measured 35 – his career best for the Tigers. After reaching a healthy 112-3 at the drinks break, a miserable 61 runs were accumulated in the final 20 overs.
Any hopes of making a contest of it disappeared within 11 overs of the Cincinnati reply as Saqib (41) and Shabaz (74) blasted a hundred partnership in less than 70 balls. Shabaz, who made a match-winning 72 batting at 6 in the corresponding fixture two years ago, opened his account with a six over mid-wicket. Several more followed and the prostrate sun-seekers around the boundary were in some physical danger from this barrage. There was some brief retaliation as Daney pinned Saqib leg before and some smart work from ‘keeper Pinfield accounted for Shabaz, but Abid (27*) and Majid (21*) had little trouble knocking off the runs required at their own pace.
This was one of those games where you wonder why you bother. What pleasure the rest of the home team gained by watching their clearly superior openers bashing a bunch of wheezing Sunday cricketers all around the park, no doubt limiting batting opportunities, can only be guessed at. One Tiger opined ‘This is the least enjoyable game I’ve played all season’ (or words to that effect), a sentiment to which most of his colleagues concurred. The heat prompted some mild griping between Captain Grumpy and Captain Grumpier over bottles of water, mobile phones and the like, but at least the post-match handshakes were genuinely sincere.
Where the Tigers go from here is up for speculation, possibly back to Winchmore Hill for five successive home fixtures. A number of key players were absent, as always seems to be the case, but confidence is at an all-time low for the club. The batting is so tentative that Mike Delanian is currently the leading run scorer despite not having made a fifty this season. Nine, Ten and Jack have better batting averages than many of the top order, so it is fortunate Tigers go up to eleven. The bowling has been so poor that Matt Webster is the only wicket-taker in double figures and an average of just 5.64 opposition batsmen have been dismissed per match. Short of recruiting a raft of young, fit and talented ex-colonial southern hemisphere and South Asian league players there seems little room for improvement. At least we retain our sense of humour