Last Saturday was a fixture between Twickenham and Teddington at Broom Road Recreation Ground. If you've ever tried to play cricket on this ground, you'll understand why I wasn't particularly pleased losing the toss and being stuck in. Why? Well, let me put it this way - there are mattresses dumped in laybys that have more bounce than this pitch. It was characteristically awful, which essentially meant that back foot shots were pretty much impossible to play.
There was some team management to sort out before we started as one player hadn't got the message that he was playing and Taus and Shaz breezed in about 1/2 hour late. However, Nigel Owen was good enough to dust off his whites and turn up at short notice, so we had 11.
Garry Meredith and I (Matt O'Toole) opened for Teddington. We were quickly 1-1 as a low one trapped Garry in front and whilst I managed to hit a few 4s, I'm not exaggerating when I say that I then got a good ball which started on leg and then swung around to clip my off stump (if you don't believe me, ask Phil who was umpiring at the time). To be fair, I was lucky I got the runs I did (13), because Phil was later to admit that I was probably LBW in a previous over, but he was reluctant to give me out simply because it would have meant giving me out for a duck and he didn't feel he could do that after my ton the previous week. I don't think those are the rules, Phil! ;) At this point we were 13-2. Neil D'Mello and Faz Ahmed got us to 43-3 when Neil was out and young Oliver Khan was playing quite sensibly until he also departed and we found ourselves 55-4. However, we were then to rely on the old heads of Phil Eastland and Faz Ahmed to get us to a more comfortable position, as they sensibly knocked the ball around and managed to add a partnership of 102, before Phil was out for a very credible 32. Faz eventually departed for 68 (3 x 4s and 2 x 6s), whilst the only other notable thing to happen during our innings was that Stan Nicholson was umpiring in the final over when he needed to have been putting his pads on. We could have declared there and then and foregone a couple of balls but Nigel had just come out to face, so Stan agreed to bat without pads, faced one ball and was duly run out. Still, brave to face any bowler without pads - cricket balls against shins tend to hurt! We finished on 187ao off exactly 50 overs, a credible effort on that ground and perfectly defendable.
The opposition then decided that tea was going to be a 'make your own sandwich' affair. Fair enough, I suppose, but the first time I'd seen an opposition do that.
To say their reply was slow would be an understatement. They were crawling along for just over a run an over for at least the first 20 overs and we should have had their burly opener out a few times. He was eventually to part for 24 (top scoring for them) as they pitifully blocked almost from the outset. Faz returned the best figures of 6-2-17-3, but Archie Talman also bowled very well to pick up figures of 6-2-13-2. In truth, none of our bowlers bowled particularly badly and all of them returned very economical figures, but it was definitely helped by Twickenham's defensive mindset. We persevered anyway and I even got Nigel to get out some of his leg spin to try and get the last few wickets, as I'd heard he once bowled for our first team. However, after 41 overs, they were 97 for 6 when I told Nigel that Phil Eastland was nicking his last one. Phil then hobbled in to bowl left arm around and their batsman was calmly knocking the ball back to Phil, when Phil announced to the batsman what he was going to do the very next ball. The batsman, for whatever reason, then popped the ball straight back into Phil's hands, so the innings ended on a wicket maiden for Phil, in what must have been his first over in some years.
So we picked up another 4 points and stayed third in the league. Not a bad effort all round.