Report by Daniel Mortlock:
This cricket match never should have happened. It was meant to be a wash-out. All week the BBC's weather site had drowned Saturday in big predictive raindrops, and it was hard not to start making alternative plans for the afternoon. Indeed, such was the certainty of the mid-week forecasts that the opposition had become convinced that the fixture actually had been called off - apparently somebody had rung one of their players to say that some match had been cancelled, and that eventually got translated into a team-wide order to "stand down" for this particular match. In the end it was only Andy's diligence in re-confirming that avoided a debacle - although by day's end he might well have been wishing that we'd left this misconception in place. Anyway, the net result of all this confusion was a flotilla of Helions players zooming through the lunch-time traffic towards Trinity; and, while they weren't all present by the appointed start time of 1:30pm, we were bowling first anyway, so their late arrivals made little difference in the end. (Much like the rain - other than a five-minute delay mid-way through the first innings, we played all the way through. The fact that it was cold and extremely windy meant lots of players hiding to avoid umpiring duties, but the game itself was never seriously under threat.)
Once the match actually started it wasn't about the efforts of the twenty-two assembled players, but rather it was the Robin Eddington show: he started proceedings with a run out; then he snaffled a well-judged catch off a big top-edge; later on he took 1/10 with the ball; later still made an assured half century; and in between times he fielded more balls than the rest of us combined. If we could have cloned Robin ten times over then we could easily have had Helions out for double figures, but sadly the rest of us couldn't quite match his exploits. That said, Roy Page and Andy Owen also took good catches, Nick Clarke made some great stops close-in, Rod Dennis and Arnie Garside chased tirelessly, and Girish Lakhwani was solid at mid-on, but overall there was never a sense of exerting consistent scoreboard pressure on the batsmen. The story was much the same on the bowling front: Daniel Mortlock (1/34) beat the edge a lot but then had a bit of a blow-out when he came back towards the end; Faruk Kara (1/30) was generally tight, perhaps earning the good fortune of a wicket off a half-tracker; Girish (1/31) was unlucky to go unrewarded when he got some early movement; and Andy (2/35) seemed somewhat out of sorts (maybe unsurprising since he'd kept wicket for the first half of the innings).
What we really needed was the sort of incisive spell that, say, Steve Shelley seemed to produce at will back in the late '80s: during this time he took seven 4-fors, and while half a dozen others have managed this, they all took upwards of 90 matches - Steve took 21. And, as luck would have it, Steve was visiting Cambridge and was playing his first league game for us since July 1993. It was easy to imagine that combination of accuracy and movement getting it's just reward today . . . but, some close LBW shouts and a few misses aside, it wasn't his day today, and he had to be content with solid figures of 0/27, much like the rest of our bowlers.
The end result of what was, really, a rather dull few hours in the field was that we were faced with a Helions Bumpstead total that was similarly middling: 181/7 was probably a bit sub-par for Trinity; but on the other hand no total that high can ever be trivial to chase . . .
. . . or at least that's what we thought until our top order of Rod Dennis (25), Nick Clarke (37) and Cameron Petrie (36) all batted beautifully to take us to 104/1 in the 17th over.
With 78 runs needed from 140 balls and 9 wickets in hand, we were winning easily.
The Helions players could have easily dropped their heads, but instead they upped their games, the change bowlers in particular finding the tight line and length that their openers (one of whom had had a no ball meltdown, combining back foot transgressions with beamers) couldn't. Over the next 10 overs we scored just 25 runs, while Helions took four wickets, albeit largely gifted by our batsmen missing straight balls (as opposed to, say, being beaten for pace or movement).
With 53 runs needed from 80 balls and 5 wickets in hand, we were still winning easily.
That was even more true now that Robin had gotten his eye in and hit some big boundaries. We did lose one more wicket in this period, but the runs tally was increasing at a much greater rate, and after 35 overs we were 168/6.
With 14 runs needed from 30 balls and 4 wickets in hand, we were winning even more easily than before.
But then we start throwing away our wickets in the most insane way imaginable. We could have won just by nudging singles, but instead we started going for big drives - and even that would have been okay if we'd committed to the shots, but instead they were gentle chips to the delighted mid-off fielder.
With 3 runs needed from 12 balls and 2 wickets in hand, we were still winning.
That was especially true given that Robin, having just gotten his half-century, was now on strike. The smart money seemed to be that he'd flick another elegant boundary past square-leg, but instead the ball was full and straight, so he went for a drive . . . only to be miss, and be bowled (for 52). That certainly wasn't in the script, and one presumes that number eleven Steve Shelley wasn't expecting to have to bat - who would have blamed him if he'd changed out of his whites an hour ago?
With 3 runs needed from 11 balls and 1 wicket in hand, we were still winning - just.
That might seem a strange claim, but even last-wicket partnerships average more comfortably more than 3.00. Whether the runs would come from a good shot or a lucky inside edge, the odds were still that they would come. They almost came all at once when the third ball of the penultimate over was a waist-high full toss - it was saved from being a no ball only by the fact that it was a slow bowler, and if Steve had connected with his pull then it would have been the match-winning boundary. The next ball was outside off and Steve played a nice late-cut, piercing the ring of fielders around the bat. Steve and Girish completed an easy run, and there was even the possibility of a second, which would have tied the game.
With 2 runs needed from 8 balls and 1 wicket in hand, we wer-
But hang on, what's going on? The batsmen belatedly decided to go for the second run! The temptation was obvious, as the ball still wasn't in hand, but Steve was struggling to build up speed and the the throw was good - and the Helions 'keeper completed the easiest of run outs.
We were no longer winning.