Sunday 20 May 2018 Winchmore Hill CC
Shakespeare’s CC 208-2 (Hodayne 132*, Ali 43*)
The Tigers can now claim to be the Crystal Palace of Sunday cricket – played 6, lost 6 – one more still to go for the worst start to a season ever. Despite posting a reasonable total, they were overwhelmed by the opposition in less than 19 overs, Hodayne smashing 9 sixes and 9 fours in a blistering innings on the big boys’ pitch at the Paulin Ground.
This was a contest that almost didn’t happen, coming close to cancellation on the Friday before as once more the Tigers could only muster a measly seven bodies. Fortunately, Winchmore Hill’s Sunday friendly was called off, freeing up some of their colts and veterans to make up a Tiger Invitation XI, though it still constituted a half-fit skipper and a recycled septuagenarian ‘keeper, with a former West Eleven stalwart – who hadn’t worn white for seven years – on the bench.
Nevertheless, the afternoon began well, the home side’s aggregate built around a steady partnership of 105 in 21 overs between Chris Dane and Chris Wright, sadly terminated by an inevitable run out. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the innings had little substance, excepting a brisk 17 from Sikandar Ali.
Master Hodayne is the non-resident player from Middlesex minor league Division Two outfit Stoke Newington, a product of the Chris Gayle academy in the Caribbean. He gave an early indication of his intent with a 4 and 6 from the first over. The Tigers are encountering this type of batsman with greater frequency on a Sunday and must learn to deal with them (make them retire at 50! – HOCR). One way of dealing with them is catching them out when they make a mistake. He was badly dropped off a skier at 12, then twice more on the boundary, all by fielders who would normally snaffle such chances in their sleep. Satisfied as to his immunity, Hodayne then fed on a ripe harvest of full tosses, most of which ended up in the tennis courts or the New River, with one almost taking out a moving car in Firs Lane, another bouncing over the roof of the changing rooms, and yet another scattering the tennis section before clattering into their club house window!
There were some minor successes, Craig playing on to Sikandar before demolishing what was left of his wicket, and Ashman was perhaps unfortunate to be adjudged caught behind, but the Tiger bowling should have come with a health and safety warning, the individual analyses looking more like something from the IPL, taking the opposition just 116 balls to chase down the runs.
‘It was a chastening experience’, admitted former Director of Cricket now Head of Cricket Relations Steve Bignell. ‘Confidence is at an all-time low, with every mistake punished to the full. The club is in crisis – no two ways about it. We have lost almost half our squad, with several players having serious personal or work issues, and others having not been seen at all this year. The positives were that Daney and Wrighty looked back to their best form, but there was no one to back them up. Being unable to defend a total of over 200 even up to the drinks break is a humiliation. But we are where we are. The delicate financial situation means that we have to keep going and beg, borrow and steal players as best we can, keep buggering on and hope something turns up.’