Teddington 4s lost a good-natured and entertaining game against top of the table side Middlesex Tamils.
Having lost the toss, Teddington were asked to bat on a warmish day with drizzle threatening. Continuing my long-term policy of showing faith in our talented young group of colts, I asked Oliver Khan and Bobby Woodcock to open the batting and they got us off to a flyer, both employing good use of a straight bat and showing the rest of us how you can comfortably run 3s on the second team ground when the ball is almost at the rope. They'd put on 60 for no loss after about 11 overs, before the Tamils changed their attack to an all-spin option and Bobby popped one in the air. Oliver was then unlucky to get caught trapped in front to a half-tracker that hit him on the shin (I'd blame the light rain, rather than his technique for that one) and we were 77-2. Still, not that bad. However, we then entered a period where we couldn't seem to get the ball off the square to the Tamils' spinners, as we only added 5 runs during a seven over spell. This was a crucial turning point in the game and credit has to go to the Tamils for making use of two spinners intelligently when the ball was hardly turning. After Hasan Aziz (19) departed, Dave Pearce decided to charge for a quick single towards an immobile Faz, only to see Faz hopelessly jog down to the bowler's end for an inevitable run out. Dave was then beaten for pace and we were 117-5. However, we bat deep in this team (all the way to 11) and had Jag Sanghera (30) at 6 and Tauseef Khan (60) at 7 and those two formed a useful partnership to shoot us back up to 202 before Jag was out. TK followed soon after and Shaz also quickly followed. By that time, we'd nearly used up our 50 overs and whilst Hamza Abbasi and I added what we could, setting the Tamils a target of 215 to win off 42 was going to be a modest total. I'd deliberately had us bat all 50 overs, simply because I knew the Tamils wouldn't risk not going for a win, considering their league position and we hadn't got enough after 46.
It was during our innings that we then had the '#ballgate' controversy. I'd umpired for around 35 overs at both ends and was off the pitch for a few minutes before I was called back on by their captain and one of their players. The drizzle had got the ball quite wet (they'd been complaining about it for much of our innings that it hadn't been 'doing anything' as a result) and the seam was raised, so it now resembled a small flying saucer. They wanted me to replace it. Er, ok. Not had this situation before, lads. You realise this isn't a 5 day Test match, right? The Tamils were rather bizarrely claiming that the raised seam made it dangerous to play with as it might cut their hands and one of their players provided evidence of this by showing me his completely unharmed hands! Er, yeah, ok. It's soft leather, lads. I'm sure you'll be fine. So I refused to change it, but said I'd check the league rules and asked for some second opinions. Second opinions were obtained from Reesy and Josh, both of whom thought I should tell them they were being ridiculous. Stan, however, said I should probably let them change it, it was out of shape. Well, yes, it did look like something you could use in a fake video of an alien landing in Bushy Park, so I relented and found them a ball which looked it had been knocked about for 35 overs. Then TK hit their effort with this new cherry back over the bowler's head and continued in this vein, so much so that some of their team started asking for the leather UFO back! Some people are never happy!
The other controversy was that their keeper appeared to be a little too excited whilst we were batting, so much so that he was prone to a verbal outburst if the ball appeared to be travelling towards the stumps. So I warned them (doing an umpire's course does come in handy sometimes) and told their captain that if he did it again, we'd get 5 penalty runs.
Back to the cricket... Batting-wise, it looked like the Tamils only had a few players capable of scoring runs. The issue with sides like this, though, is you have to ensure you get those players out or keep them off the strike. Their top 4 all proved quite capable of punishing any bad balls and after about 15 overs, they were already at the halfway mark towards their target. It was not looking good for us, but I followed the Tamils' lead and introduced an all-spin attack in Jag and Bobby. We had to try something as their batsmen were looking quite comfortable against our pace attack of Khan x 2 + Saunders.
This had some effect as we managed to finally get rid of a few of their decent batsmen. (Their number 3 made a very credible 85 and two others chipped in with 42 a piece). Jag produced a Shane-Warne-esque ball to get rid of the Tamils left hander (it turned a mile out of some rough!) Hasan Aziz bowled a tight spell and Bobby started picking up some wickets. We suddenly had them 7 down and then in came their excited little keeper from before, who proceeded to tell all our fielders to keep quiet and that it was our final warning! Funny guy. At the other end to his was the MTSCC batsman we just couldn't dislodge and they finally got to their total, 7 down, after using up 36.2 of their 42 overs.
Pick of our bowlers was Bobby Woodcock who returned very respectable figures of 9.2-1-44-4. So we lost a tight, eventful and on the whole good-natured game, but I think if we'd managed to get another 20-30 runs out of that middle 7 over spell I mentioned earlier, it might have been a different outcome.
Author: Matt O'Toole