In what was perhaps the most hotly anticipated fixture in the history of the Middlesex championship 3rd division, Stoke Newington metaphorically hunted, shot and then made an elaborate and ostentatious rug out of the London Tigers.
The previous fixture between the two sides was as spicy as a *inset name of spicy curry here* and ended in a losing draw for Stoke Newington after Riyad ‘The Guyanese Wall’ Sattur blocked out 35 overs for 25 runs. Midway through that match a breakdown in communication led to an on field war of words which quickly descended in a big dick contest in which handbags were thrown in a variety of directions with the accuracy of one of Zazai’s wayward throws in from the boundary. The match ended in supreme animosity which bordered on outright hatred, a hatred that was slowly cemented as the two teams exchanged league positions in the weeks that followed. By the time the two sides met for the second time the Tigers were sat three points above Stoke Newington.
The board was set, the pieces were in motion – all that was left to do, was play cricket.
However cricket couldn’t be played until the Stoke Newington lads negotiated the traffic of the Euston road and fought their way over to the depths of North West London. Once this had been achieved and Simon had driven more miles in his car than he can bowl in an hour. The two teams started to warm up.
Such was the division between the two teams that even this sparked controversy. An inappropriately placed lofted cover drive from a Tiger batsman nearly hit Skipper Scott in the plums and words were exchanged in loud and disgruntled voices. To cap things off the Tigers then resorted to dirty tactics by claiming the toss on a technicality and demanded that they were the team that would bat first. On a pitch that looked like it had been air dropped in from the playing fields of Mumbai, this looked to be an astute decision.
No matter. The Stoke Newington boys put suncream on their faces and made their way onto the pitch safe in the knowledge that they had the leagues top bowler ready to send them down.
What happened next was arguably one of the all-time great sporting performances. Rivalling Botham in 81 and Gary Pratt in 2005, Zabehullah Mohammed put the London Tigers to the sword. Bowling with great speed and control he was simply a league above the Tigers batsman (and no doubt next year, he literally will be). The first two wickets were adjudged LBW with the ball swinging ferociously into the legs of the Tigers top order. His next were a combination of bowled and caught behind - I cant really remember, as they came in a blur of speed and swing.
Meanwhile at the other end Irfan Zakhel, fresh from not fully understanding the pre-match fielding drill, provided an excellent foil for the sharp edge of Zabehs blade (I thank you). He swung the ball about like a young Simon Hore and picked up a well-deserved wicket. After he was tired, Skipper Scott turned to his trusty ally, Abulkasim Mnalla, for a token over before drinks. Abul took his chance eagerly and promptly took two wickets off his first over, the second juggled by Northern Joel at first slip. D Ali then did some acrobatic fielding at backward point, dancing over his stylish sunglasses that had fallen to his feet as he swooped to collect a ball. Rumours circled that he was still hurting having recently found out he had lost his ‘Glamour Ali’ tag to his younger brother.
Back to the cricket and the London Tigers chose this point to score a few runs, partly aided by Zazai booting the ball for four in a bizarre moment of sympathetic sportsmanship. Eventually Abul took the last wicket to finish the London Tigers innings at a farcical 39. Zabe ended with the outrageous bowling figures of 6-16 and led the boys off the pitch, safe in the knowledge that he had just embarrassed the opposition on their home turf. Because their innings was over so quickly, the Tigers hadn’t had time to make any lunch and so the teams immediately went out for the second innings.
After a brief scare in which Skipper Squat almost got bounced out by the only player on the pitch with a bigger belly than him, the rest was plain sailing. Abul struck the ball around the pitch with characteristic elegance whilst Squat bunted it for the occasional boundary. In no time, the game was won and a historic victory was confirmed. The London Tigers left the field with sheepish looks on their faces and a new-found respect for left-arm swing bowling.
Lunch was a joyous occasion, a few Stokey players with suspiciously red eyes as they tucked into samosas and sandwiches, a few listening to inappropriately loud music. Either way no one cared, except for perhaps the London Tigers opening bowler, who proved to be a bit of an exhibitionist – strutting around the tea room with his shirt off.
Even an hour-long car journey in the searing heat couldn’t damped the spirits of the Stoke Newington boys. The smile only left Skipper Squat face 3 hours later when resident cool kid Tom Holden declared that the captain was the least cool bloke in the team and probably the country.
Stoke Newington now sit top of the table with three games to play. The dream of back-to-back league titles remains very much alive - all that is left for us to do is keep winning. Bring on Ealing Three Bridges next week!