20 September 2020 Paulin Ground
In one of the most exciting climaxes to a Tiger fixture ever, Mark Hodges (needing 3 from the final delivery of the match) bludgeoned the ball through mid-on to pull off what appeared to be a most unlikely victory a few minutes earlier.
Chasing 226, the home side, needing exactly 100 from the last ten overs, 62 from the last five and 22 from the final two, finally broke free from the shackles of the visitors’ bowlers and fielders, who had played an almost perfect hand to that point, defending the boundaries to great effect.
There had been drama earlier when Whalers’ Fraser, having held his team’s innings together and cut loose in the final few overs, was stranded at the non-strikers’ end on 98 not out as the last over was called. He finally got up the right end to face the final ball, only for Simon Warren’s right boot to deny him a second run and a well deserved century! Such is cricket.
Whalers had been pegged back at the outset by tight spells from Sikander Ali (9 runs conceded from 6 overs) and Simon (1-29 from 8). 64-2 at drinks, Fraser and co. raised the ante briefly before Matt Webster ripped out the middle order with 4-39. The archetypal accurate trundler (on the village green he would be a farmer or local blacksmith) Matthew has 22 victims already this restricted year from just 60 overs in eight matches.
Some bold hitting added 65 for the seventh wicket, helped by a large bag of extras, and 225 looked about par on a good wicket and a fast outfield.
In reply, Jon Ranger hit the first three deliveries of the Tiger innings for four and continued to make exactly 50 out of 79 in as many balls by the 21st over before being bowled.
If Andy Ward bats like a man running for a bus, then Mitchell Greenham bats like a man waiting for a bus, showing infinite patience early on with just 11 runs from his first 53 balls. When joined by Mark the pair put up 110 in 13 overs for the 4th wicket, before Mitch was caught on the boundary for 80 in the last over (5 fours, 3 sixes, 103 balls), but the run rate required had been accelerating with every over.
It needed something special and it came in the 37th over with Mark striking four 4s and a six. Suddenly a winning post was within sight, 11 more runs coming from the 38th and 13 from the 39th as Whalers visibly wilted, Mark finishing on 69 not out from just 50 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes.
If this was to be the final weekend of the season (government intervention possibly pending) then it could not have finished on a better note, with a hot, cloudless late summer’s day, the exhibition runfest on the front pitch between a WH XI and London New Zealand, and the Lions and Panthers scrapping for feeding rights on the back pitch, Captain Campbell blowing fuses all over the park as the Lions gained revenge for last week by posting 210 and winning easily: the players later quaffing and reminiscing on the field long into the darkness (keeping a respectful metre apart, unlike the revellers on the pavilion verandah!).
No, we’re the Sunday 2nd XI!