13 August 2017 Paulin Ground Winchmore Hill
The world teeters on the brink of nuclear extinction, Chelsea are in chaos again and the Tigers are still struggling for players. This fixture saw the return of former West XI occasional Tom Aylott, the 37th different cricketer to represent the club this summer. Notwithstanding, the home side pulled off their second successive victory against a strong side, albeit one that was reduced to 9 men. The glass is still half full and the nights are drawing in.
It is now something of a puzzle that the Paulin Ground wickets, which had been producing 400 plus runfests up to a few weeks ago, should suddenly become so difficult to score on. A total of 175 were made in this game, 30 of which were extras, in 55 overs, which included 13 maidens. Batting first, Potter Street seemed to be on the way to a big total, despite their lack of numbers. Asad (10), Mashood (13), Hakiuri (11) and the excellent Zeeshan (26) all got starts, but the Tiger bowlers were locked and loaded. Rehman, who made a daddy hundred against JST back in 2012, stupidly ran himself out for one, and the rest were hunted down by Chris Dane (3-26), Ali Sikandar (2-24), Chris Wright (1-4) and Stewart Taylor (1-31), either side of a pitch invasion by Wrighty’s batting coach. It was a great bowling effort against some very good batters, aided by four excellent catches behind the wicket by Garret O’Brien, becoming the second Tiger to take four in a game this season.
Rejigging the batting order is an often necessary, though sometimes risky, strategy, though on this occasion it probably made little difference. Zeeshan opened with six consecutive maidens, dismissing Richard Burgess, Jimmy Carter and Ian Porton for a combined total of 2 runs as the Tigers stumbled to 8-4 in the 10th over, with only the whirling and nurdling blade of Steve Rennie giving the early part of the run chase any impetus, his 13 being the third highest individual score of the day. The innings was like a house of cards, blown over by the slightest puff of wind, and not helped when Ali Sikandar was run out without facing a ball, as the Tigers stumbled to 30-6 at the drinks break.
Fortunately, man of the day O’Brien proved the glue that held the innings together, just as he had done in the previous week’s bumsqueaker, hitting a measured 36 not out in 21 overs, assisted by a lower order that had enough meat on the bones to see the Tigers home by three wickets, despite another failure by the out of form Wright, Dane and O’Brien collecting an unbeaten 39 for the eighth wicket.
One can only speculate whether Potter Street could have won with 11 men. Probably not, as their top six were seen off by good bowling and catching and they were given an extra fielder for the whole of the Tiger innings – ‘North London’s finest social cricket club’ (Twitter), please note.