Paulin Ground, Winchmore Hill Sunday 21 August 2016
In the week that Machali – the world’s most famous tiger (after Chris Wright) – died in India, the London Tigers suffered another disappointing reverse at the hands of Cincinnati at a dreek, windswept Winchmore Hill.
First, the glass-half-full news: the Tigers rediscovered their batting mojo with a fine effort of 218-4 on a dead, flat pitch as the sun briefly shone, with Chris Wright hitting a majestic, though not chanceless, 121 not out (a record individual score for the club and bringing his season aggregate to 705 runs at an average of over 54). Mike Herlihy (37) and Chris Dane (25) also looked back to form, Mike assisting in a steady third wicket partnership of 119 and Daney 68 for the fourth in 9 overs, after Mike Delanian and Usman Dar had perished cheaply. The club also gave debuts to Winchmore Hill and Middlesex under-13 stars Joe Webster and Ash Fowkes (more of whom later). Herlihy and Wright had batted sensibly against some good bowling to reach a satisfactory position of 69-2 at the 20 over drinks break (yes, I know), before breaking loose with 159 from the second twenty.
Now, the glass-half-empty report: the visitors chased down the runs with little difficulty and five overs to spare, openers Jackson (82*) and Hassan (52) sharing a century stand as the Tigers employed no less than nine bowlers to little effect. Jackson was dropped behind and survived a loud lbw shout early doors but anchored the innings perfectly, the bowlers endlessly feeding his signature leg-side pull shot all afternoon.
It wasn’t until Matt Webster came on sixth change that things began to happen, as son Joe gathered an astonishing running catch on the long leg boundary, an endeavour totally out of context with the rest of the team’s fielding performance, which was as lame and laboured as Steve Rennie’s scabby knee updates. Joe also bowled a fine spell, and was unlucky not to get a wicket, as did Ash Fowkes, bowling Bruce for a duck. Ali struck a brutal 42 and Asim finished the game with a six over long-on, but not before a dolly catch had gone begging in the drizzly gloom, which just about summed things up.
Matt did a fine job as stand-in captain, in the absence of Stewart Taylor with an injured back – the second high profile DIY victim after Chris Boden had gone AWOL house painting earlier in the summer – and vice-captain Richard Burgess. Managing the team whilst trying to integrate new players, with the dichotomy of attempting to win the match, was no easy task. The Tigers have now used 23 different players in the last four games and a total of 38 in the season so far as the old stalwarts begin to fade away.
The crocodile-fighting Machali sadly died alone of old age at 19, the inevitable cricketing fate of some of the present team as the club begins its reconstitution, as it surely must in the coming months.