In the Neep of time

Sunday 6 August 2017   Paulin Ground, Winchmore Hill
Judd Street Tigers 145-8 beat Acme CC 144 all out by 2 wickets

And so, the rain finally went away, the sun came out, and the Tigers won a cricket match for the first time in almost three months. The glass is half full again.

This fixture marked the return of former West XI legendary all-rounder Neepam Bhatt, who has been plying his trade for Shepherds Bush in the Middlesex League. There is a little more flesh on his bones these days, but he is still the deft cricketer of old, taking a wicket with only his second ball and keeping a cool head during the Tigers’ modest run chase, when all around him were losing theirs.

It was another fine bowling performance by the home side, who welcomed not only Neep, but young Danesh Jani, the 34th and 35th players for the Tigers this season, with many members working, on summer holidays or enjoying other sporting venues. Acme began their innings quite brightly after Sarma played on to Stewart Taylor for a blob. Goel (39), Haris (26) and D’Silva (16) all showed early enterprise, but Chris Wright produced a Jaffa to tickle Haris’s stumps, Jani bowled the dangerous Goel, then Ali Sikandar, unfazed by seeing his first two deliveries hit for ten, accounted for D’Silva before going on to take 4-26. There was a brief flurry lower down the order, but a total of 144 looked well below par.

It should have been fairly straightforward for the Tigers, with what on paper seemed a very strong batting line-up and the visitors a man short, but things are never simple for the Tigers in 2017 and they were soon in trouble at 36-4, despite a steady start by Richard Burgess and Garret O’Brien of 27 from the first ten overs. Four wickets disappeared in ten balls from Goel, spinning out Taylor, Rowan Allerton and Wright. O’Brien (36) and Chris Boden (37) turned the game back to the home side with a sensible stand of 56 in 13 overs, until the former was needlessly run out. Then at 116 Boden carved a long hop to cover point. With Skip and Sausage nervously prowling around the boundary it was left to Neep (19*), with his wristy cuts and glances, and Sikandar to get the Tigers safe with nine balls to spare, something of a relief all round.

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Skip and his new “batting coach”

It should be reported that two bizarre incidents occurred in this game. During the Acme innings the batsmen changed ends on the completion of one over. Although spotted by the eagle-eyed Tiger vice-captain, the umpires declined to act on this odd attempt to farm the strike, though the batsmen were thwarted when they attempted the same trick at the beginning on the following over.

Then, during the second innings, no umpire was seen at the bowler’s end, although there was one at point and another at square leg!

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