Sunday 18 April 2021 Paulin Ground, Winchmore Hill
The Tigers opened the new season, as they ended the last, with a convincing victory, thanks to a great bowling performance by Campbell Lloyd-Barnes (posting his best Tiger figures of 5-22) and a second wicket batting partnership of 123 between Bruce Forrester and Emile Nawagumuwa.
What a pleasant change for everyone to be out at the weekend, engaging in much long missed lively banter and fellowship, followed by some quaffing of ale, instead of stuck in front of the telly, coach potato mode, watching grossly overpaid footballers, entitled and unaccountable, performing badly in empty stadiums, a kind of addictive though gentle madness, though one could safely take a nap during Chelsea’s matches.
The usefulness of pre-match netting was put into sharp focus, where all of today’s major Tiger players could be seen going through their paces, whilst the Whalers’ innings never really made it out of harbour, although there was little indication of anything out of the ordinary as they began with a safe opening stand of 25 before the carnage began.
Campbell arrived looking leaner and meaner, having lost some bulk, bowling a steady line from over the wicket, with none of his usual frenetic mixture of delivery, and soon reaped his reward, bowling three victims (including ace batsman Fraser, who made 99 not out against the Tigers last September), trapping a fourth leg before, and having opener Al brilliantly taken low down at cover by Mark Hodges, to finish his spell with a first Michelle for the Tigers.
25-0 had become 28-4 for the visitors, though Fraser’s brisk 28 progressed them to 63 and the tail wagged to some effect to elevate the eventual total to 135, which seemed well under par for the lower pitch in near-perfect conditions. Simon Warren finished off the innings with 3-28, including four maidens in his eight overs, Matt Webster weighed in with an unusually profligate 2-60 and Rishi Gautam also bowled steadily without any luck or reward.
Tigers needed only 3.4 an over to win but began badly when Jon Ranger was deceived in the fourth over. Bruce and Emile then batted steadily, pacing the innings perfectly without too many dramas (33-1 after ten overs, 65 at the drinks break). This was a rare opportunity for Bruce to outshine his more illustrious offspring, supporting Emile’s near faultless 81 not out (113 balls, 11 fours) with his own 45 (90 balls, 8 fours), a partnership of 123 in 29 overs. It was unfortunate that not more batters and bowlers were engaged on the day, but their chance will come.
However, underpinning the whole weekend was the long-awaited return for grass roots sport. The landscape is very different now and likely to be for some time. Hopefully, if everyone behaves sensibly, there seems no reason why we cannot have a full summer schedule. Winchmore Hill’s efforts to put nine teams in the field over the two days was perhaps slightly over-ambitious, given that some winter sports are still impacting on selection, but getting seven sides out, with an excess of 70 players involved, was still highly impressive.
After some early club politics, the ‘Panthers’ fixture against Wealdstone Corinthians took place on the front pitch, after the Lions’ game had been cancelled, the visitors making 195 all out (Marcello de Cresenzo 3-33 – two wickets each for David Marion and Rohan Daryanani).
In reply, the ‘Panthers’ cruised to a comfortable 8-wicket win with 10 overs to spare, Sanjay Shah hitting 93, and Jacob Bowen unbeaten on 75, adding to his 104 not out in the inter-club match on Saturday!