Abul Kasim Nalla 56
On the morning of Saturday 20th of June it appeared as though Stoke Newington’s first eleven were up against it. As they travelled to Green Dragon Lane to face up to New Calypsonians their situation was, at a glance, poor. Captain Scott Doody was to miss the encounter after an unfortunate accident at a tooth whitening clinic rendered him temporarily unavailable, whilst regular Keeper Toby Jenkinsons absence was put down to his love of 90s Britpop. This unfortunate situation was compounded by Zabehulah Mohammad being forced to play with a semi broken nose, Tom Ashman being forced to play with a sensational hangover, and the team consisting of only ten men, rather than the traditional eleven. Things were made more difficult by the fact that 70% of the side were fasting for Ramadan with Gus Walsh also unable to eat as it turns out he is allergic to everything.
Grey clouds covered the sky and there was a biting wind in the air as stand in captain Zabeh won the toss and stuck with the tried and tested plan, bowling first. With a token pre match warm up completed, Stoke Newington took to the pitch hoping that a few early wickets would abate the unspoken feeling that today might not be their day.
In front of a partisan crowd Gus Walsh bounded in from the rugby pitch end, going through the gears nicely in an over that hinted at the pace that was to come from him. Meanwhile at the other end Irfan Mohamand found his rhythm instantly and stubbornly refused to bowl anything other than a good length, just outside off stump. In his second over Gus got the breakthrough the red capped boys wanted, trapping New Calypsonians opening bat in front of the sticks. Moments later and the burly number three followed suit, he too being found unable to account for the pace and late movement of Stoke Newingtons longest serving bowler. The opposition’s captain then joined the 79 year old opening batsman in the middle and went about counter attacking against this early surge. They did this well and enjoyed the benefit of a helping hand from Tom Ashman who refused to catch the ball at short cover when it was hit at him. Luckily Irfan wasn’t deterred by these setbacks and simply straightened his lines a little, leading to the destruction of the timbers not just once, but twice, in quick succession.
At the other end golden arm Khpalwak Zazai replaced Gus and set about his business. After controversially claiming his first wicket LBW (the opposition umpire at square leg insisted it pitched outside the line) his second was irrefutably out, stumped thanks to some quick work from Zabeh behind the stumps. Robert Chadwick then took his obligatory weekly catch at long on leaving New Calypsonians 90-8. Whilst this was going on Irfan Zakhel replaced Irfan at the semi-detached houses end. Swinging the ball a great deal he proved too much for the opposition’s tail, taking two wickets in a spell which would have taken more, if only there were more left to be taken.
So Stoke Newington left the field having bowled out New Calypsonians for a measly 106 in just 26 overs with Zazai once again taking the most wickets, extending his lead as the club and leagues top wicket taker.
Gus Walsh – 07-03-19-02
Irfan Mohamand- 07-01-26-02
Khpalwak Zazai- 06-0 -24-04
Irfan Zakhel- 06-0-26-02
Lunch was a cagey affair as Robert and Tom attempted to politely eat enough food to make up for their fasting teammates. At the same time the opposition umpire/ coach / cricketing expert (apparently) loudly complained about everything from the fact that we had ten men, to the fact that he, at times, couldn’t understand our multilingual side.
Unperturbed by this Abulkasim M Nalla and Zabeh padded up knowing that they would have to score quickly as rainclouds were at this point prominent in the sky. Having taken 22 off the first over Abul didn’t stop there, scoring freely against an undercooked New Calpysonians bowling attack. Zabeh proved the perfect foil for this onslaught, taking singles where he could to allow Abul the lion’s share of the strike as he raced to his fifty in just the ninth over. He was then adjudged LBW by the opposition umpire who seemed inappropriately excited to give him out. Regardless, Abul left the field with 56 to his name, knowing that the game was essentially already won. Zabeh was then joined at the crease by Ijaz Mandjra who quickly got his eye in, playing some exquisitely wristy flicks to the square leg boundary in an innings that was ultimately cut short by the lack of runs the opposition had put on the board. Zabeh finished the game with a four down to third man and the chaps left the field with 33* and 18* respectively.
And so a day that threatened to be the undoing of Stokey and their unbeaten record merely proved the old adage true; that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. For the third week in a row number four batsman Sarafat Ali was surplus to requirements and this more than anything highlights just how easily the games are being won. There is now daylight between top of the league and the rest which is a nice position to be in, although skipper Scott Doody has demanded an invincible season, something that might prove a bridge too far as the season drags on.