Report: Phil Dorsett
Executive summary: We won the league on Saturday, in the final game of the season. How? We got 198, they didn’t.
Now in a little more detail...
This time last year, after a tough season, we needed to win to stay in Div 2. I remember it vividly and have had nightmares since, heavily featuring a 9th wicket stand that kept Mitcham up and sent us down. The stage for the last game of 2019 couldn’t have been any more different; having secured promotion last week, on Saturday we travelled to Wallington who were top by 2 points: the winner would take the trophy and be crowned champions.
We were missing our leading run scorer, as were they, but what we had was a committed group of guys who have been enjoying their cricket, playing well and each other’s company this year.
We had more support for the occasion than normal. Bushy (Liam Symons) - a huge contributor to the club on and off the field (mostly off) - a couple of years ago had shown tremendous commitment and flown over from Melbourne to watch us. We were also joined by the growing Mowatt family for the afternoon, much to the delight of Umer. JP (Mr Pantling, our league-leading run scorer) had shown slightly less commitment by booking a holiday in Croatia. I can only assume accidentally.
Dharmesh won the toss and decided to bat. A few of us were just having a chat about how we should bowl first when he came back with a big smile on his face to give us the good news. So we went out to bat and I came back in shortly after to give Sticky and Kish a chance to set up a platform for victory. My plan was working until Kish nicked off for a useful 26 with the score on 41. Sticky, Dan and Max all got starts but the Wallington bowlers stuck to their task and at 136-6 I was holding off buying my ticket for the league dinner.
Meanwhile, however, Purnell Snr. was beautifully going about his business while others fell around him, and crafted an exceptional 68. What an innings, just when we needed it - a nice blend of defence and aggression - demonstrating almost as much self control as Bushy holding off having a beer until after tea.
A very long straight six easily the pick from JP’s innings, but the full highlights package would seriously be worth a look. Ron played a blinder with a very assured 23 at number 9, and at half time 198 seemed a very competitive score.
In reply, Wallington struggled to stamp much authority early on, as Mo and Umer continued their good form with the new ball. We picked up wickets regularly enough and at 86-5 I was just beginning to think about which suit I’d wear to the dinner.
We still hadn’t got their opener out, however, who was frustratingly making life look quite easy...correction, making batting look quite easy...
But the pressure increased on him as we kept bowling well and others fell. He was always going to struggle to do it on his own and when Dharmesh caught him behind during a tidy spell from Dan with the score on 100, we all knew that was probably it. We didn’t really know how to celebrate so we each decided to run off in different directions like idiots.
3 years of losing can do that to you.
A late rally from their annoyingly competent tail got them to 146 but Umer eventually cleaned them up and I’m not going to lie, I had a lump in my throat. It’s never easy to win a league, even very average ones, and I’m honoured to be a part of a great bunch who stuck to the task all season. I’m proud of, and for, each and every one of them.
The best part of this season? The fact that everyone has contributed at some point to seeing us over the line, helping get us those 20 points. Not an overseas, not one player all the time. Our catching wasn’t bad either.
Despite that, I’d like to doff my cap to a few...
Croatian JP, you’ve been immense this year. Top of the league in terms of runs (over 750) by some margin and deservingly so. Your sunny disposition has lifted the mood without fail, and your modesty knows no bounds.
Big Mo, top of the bowling with 34 wickets. Tremendous. Not bad for the 38th best batsman in English LMS.
Umer...Ron... marvellously dependable all year. Hopefully worth the travelling from so far away!
Max. Stellar. Timely brilliance with both bat and ball, and an unwavering drive rallying the troops on the field. May the groundsmen of Surrey be eternally grateful for your commitment to not ruin the business end of the wicket.
Dharmesh. Everything you put into making Saturdays happen certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. I just might not show it that much. But thank you, and well kept - it’s not just your contribution off the field that’s appreciated.
Other JP. We simply wouldn’t have gotten over the line without what you did on Saturday.
Incidentally we rounded things off with a pretty late session in the bar Saturday including a failed attempt to play a game out on the square at about midnight.
Turns out it’s a bit too dark then.
I look forward to seeing some superstars collect all the silverware at both the league and Roehampton CC dinners.
And on that we sign off for 2019. Just the Reverse lottery and a well earned tour to look forward to.
I can still taste the snakebite from Saturday though.