Words: Stu Turner
On Saturday the 27th the 2nd XI pulled together fine team performance to defeat Whiteley Village by 41 runs.
Skipper Josh Willmott realised that he was going to have to expend a serious amount of his cricketing acumen to win this match. So he wasted no energy at the coin toss and duly lost, which saw the Deers inserted on a surprisingly dry, yet soft, wicket.
Again, (presumably) in an effort to preserve his mental strength the skipper handed his wicket away sensibly to the opening bowler, Painter, to make way for his teammates to do the dirty work. Hattea (32) and Turner (30) put together a neat partnership that wrestled the advantage to visiting team in the first 10 overs. However, the introduction of the wily and accurate Weeden (3 for 25) and Best (1 for 30) put the skids on the two robust batters, who decided they would depart in the same over. The remainder of the innings was overseen by Allen (38 not out) who mixed timing, power, pugnacious aggression and dexterous skill to manoeuvre the bowling around the oval and tease the Whiteley faithful (We won't mention the 'shot' Stu played with the top of the handle of his bat - Ed.) There were perky contributions from Babar Mahmood (20) and Fahad Hasan (13) which allowed Wilmott to exercise his Brearley-like tactics and pull the chain on the innings with overs in hand to see off the prospect of winning draw for the home team. Roes declared at 161/7 from 41.5 overs.
Back in the safety of the nursery, over a selection of well-made corporate sandwiches, there was bright optimism amongst the chaps as they prepared for the fielding effort.
Uncharacteristically, they were the first out onto the field of play and almost looked eager to play cricket.
The next hour was quite frankly woeful despite some sharp and incisive bowling from Babar, who suffered most from the mass apathy; although Yasir Ahmed had every right to be cheesed off with his teammates too. The ground fielding was poor, the catching miserable and the chat disastrous as the opening batsmen Ayers (40), (who was literally begging for us to dismiss him after being called up to play despite being injured and was clearly in some discomfort by the end) and Jones (26), enjoyed themselves immensely in compiling a half century opening partnership. A particular low point occurred when the most gentle of catches was offered to mid-wicket where the fielder was asked to move about 30 cm and open his breadbasket to complete the simple catch. However, he refused to do this and instead ended up with his face in the dirt. Willmott chose this moment to remain silent before waiting some more moments to deliver a Churchillian speech that PM Bo Jo would be proud of. His words must remain amongst the team, but quite often it is what is not said that said most clearly!
On a totally unrelated note, and what turned out to be another deft move, Paul Fuchs was introduced to the bowling attack in the ninth over. He went on to take 6 wickets for 31 runs in a little over 13 overs. The African southpaw mesmerised the Whitely batters with his guile, subtle changes of speed, flight, and the odd pie thrown in for good measure. From 65 without loss the home team collapsed as Roehampton's record wicket taker struck.
Fuchs was initially well supported by Shahid Mahmood (1 for 29) who deserved much better in a tidy spell that asked questions of all the batters, as well as the wicket-keeper and slips. Babar (3 for 33) was re-introduced into the attack, with the new nut at his disposal, and did not let his teammates down by dismissing the latter Whiteley batsmen despite some defence and jolly banter.
All in all it was 20 points well secured for this fine set of men who now find themselves in the upper half of the 1st division of this pleasant and jovial league.