If you've not got time to read this match repot, I've summarised my feelings in this simple Haiku:
Twenty two legs and eighteen
Is a gap and four
Saturday saw a top of the 1987 Div 2 table clash between Teddington 4s and Hampstead. Hampstead had won all 3 of their previous games, so were unbeaten, but so were we, even though we were 6 points behind them at the start.
The morning hadn't started so well, with one player injuring his finger and Fergs having to borrow Patrick Elway, so we started the game with 9 good men. Despite winning the toss, Hampstead's likeable captain, Andy, put us in. Maybe he thought he could bowl us out quite quickly.
Despite it being a lovely, warm summer afternoon, Hampstead's bowlers found the energy to keep steaming in for the first ten overs. They'd bowled Edmonton out for less than 40 the previous week, so we were aware that they might have a good bowling attack. Dilan Camball and 4s cap, Matt O'Toole got us off to a fairly solid start and after 14 overs, we were sitting on 37. It was an okay start, but then Hampstead brought on an off spinner and Dilan was trapped in front and O'Toole (25) joined him 'back in the hutch' after mishitting a full toss to Mid On. Then young Freddie Koppler came to the crease and played a classy little innings and this, coupled with Faz Ahmed who was playing his usual beligerent innings, helped to get us to 93, before Freddie was out for a very respectable 24. Shazum then joined Faz at the crease and together they managed to take the score to 163, before Shaz (36) skied one. Faz continued hitting boundaries, taking 25 off one over and we'd made it all the way to 219 before Stan was cleaned up. This was a very respectable total and gave us something to defend, albeit with 9 men. Faz finished on 107*, having hit six 6s along the way - one was so big, I'd asked the opposing captain if we could have 12 runs for it, but he wasn't obliging.
If you've ever tried fielding with 9 men, you'll understand how much of a difference not having those two extra pairs of legs has on the amount of gaps it creates in the field. Hampstead got off to a flier and were quickly up to around 10 an over, despite Taus' and Dilan's best efforts. Both their openers had reached 50 before O'Toole gave his quicker leg spin a shot and we managed to get one of them out. However, with gaps as wide as the current budget deficit, Hampstead continued to accumulate runs at pretty much the same rate, despite what bowling option we chose. The effort in the field was definitely not lacking, especially from Archie who ran his socks off and Freddie also looked very capable behind the stumps, but we were always facing an uphill task and so it proved, as Hampstead comfortably knocked off the remaining runs for the loss of only 4 wickets in just over 21 overs. We hadn't even had a chance to take drinks or get Stan to lob some balls at them. To be fair, they could have taken all afternoon in reaching that total, but some of them had said they'd been in a hurry to go watch the Champions League final.
We just need better availability and less unexpected injuries and I'm sure we'll still be in better shape to beat them at their place at the end of July.