The tale of Saturday 20th July began at precisely 11.35am as the heavens opened. With 1s and 2s players scrambling into the clubhouse for monsoon respite, conversations of golfing, swimming and squash echoed as potential replacement activities for the sport that we commit our summer to. With the opposition en route and the weather forecast set to improve, we sat tight, checked forecasts and waited for it to blow over.
20 minutes later, the storm had receded from view and the sun had finally made a late, ‘Umer-like’ appearance. However, Putney Heath more closely resembled the London Wetland Centre than a cricketing fortress. With countless sodden patches and the risk of the Roes slipping around the outfield like ‘Bambi on ice’, a 2pm inspection would determine whether the game would be played.
Warlingham were surprisingly reluctant to get started given that a win would provide the 3rd place side a strong shot at promotion. Nonetheless, as puddles outside the clubhouse evaporated like mist above an Icelandic thermal bath, a 2.30pm start time was agreed, and the game became a 33 over affair.
Although the weather had caught us all by surprise, the result of the toss did not; we lost. Warlingham sent us in to bat on a wicket that looked far from appetising and soon enough Phil and Harry were squelching their way to the middle.
Both batsmen started cautiously, extinguishing the threat of the new ball and assessing the track. By the 12th over both batsmen started poaching runs with elegant shotmaking. Phil fell first for an orderly 23, allowing JP to strut to the crease in usual fashion. With Harry riding his luck, the two started dining on some loose deliveries and runs started to flow comfortably. With some generous fielding and catching, the ‘Bambi on ice’ metaphor once again came to mind, despite the outfield now being drier than a Namib sand dune. Both batsmen picked up 50s in a distinctly expeditious manner, capitalising on anything loose. Harry used up the 9th of his lives with the score on 165, when he couldn’t must the energy to get back into his crease. JP fell shortly after for a well-polished 82. Late cameos from Max, Saqib and Mo propelled the score up to an impressive 217-5 off 35.5 overs.
Roes started the 2nd half with spin from both ends, despite JP and Fuchsy looking dangerous, it became apparent that Warlingham had little intention of attempting to win the game and set about frustrating RCC. It wasn’t until the new ball was taken that Roes took their first wicket, with JP pouching a knick at 2nd slip off a trademark Mo away swinger. Not for the first time this season, Mo and Umer bowled exceptionally, taking 6 wickets between them. With this, any glimmer of a Warlingham victory vanished as quickly as the puddles earlier in the day. Mo and Umer continued their industrious work, searching for another break through but began to struggle as Warlingham’s ‘reversed batting line up’ started to frustrate the team. WCC recognised the need to only bat 36 overs to acquire a losing draw and set about battening down the hatches further. Despite this intriguing tactical ploy, Warlingham only mustered 2 batting points and 4 points overall from the game.
However, this rear guard display exasperated RCC bowlers, with batsmen leaving the ball well and half chances going begging. Return spells from JP, Fuchsy and Mo along with late spells from Ron and Max couldn’t dislodge this resistance and the match concluded with WCC on 144-7.
The frustrating end to the game made the contest feel like a defeat despite Roes being thoroughly dominant from the outset. This attitude is testament to the standards that the side has set this season and the hunger of the players to win each game.
Despite not securing the full points this Saturday, the 9 points ensured that the 1st XI pulled further clear of the teams placed in 2nd, 3rd and 4th at the start of the day.
With just one final timed game against Worplesdon next week, many will be glad to return to limited overs matches at the start of August!
*Man of the match - JP, for a particularly effortless innings and some exceptional strokes on the way to 82.