This Sundays U21 MDL fixture at home to North Middlesex started in controversy after a rogue tweet on Saturday night sparked a media frenzy. Disgraced opening batsman Robert Chadwick was forced to issue an official apology for the offensive tweet which appeared to encourage bodyline tactics. In his statement he said; “sorry about that.” From that point on it was clear that a new dimension had been added to a traditionally hotly contested fixture.
The day got off to an interesting start as team manager Simon attempted to wrestle a 90 kilogram pitch cover out of a darkened cupboard whilst the rest of the team almost got run over by a parked car. After a brief warm up and stretch captain Zabehullah Mohammad lost the toss and Stoke Newington found themselves batting first for the second time in two weeks. After an inspirational team talk and a couple of token throw downs Stoke Newingtons opening pair Abul M Nalla and Robert Chadwick strode to the middle looking to better there 50 run opening stand of the week before. There was a healthy amount of cloud cover and the new ball moved about making life difficult for the opening pair. Nonetheless they picked up frequent boundaries, aided by the lightning fast outfield. Abul lead the way magnificently hitting five consecutive fours including what some people (me) have described as the second best cover drive in the history of cricket (see match report for Stoke Newington First XI vs Kay Plus). Robert then paid the price for his tweets the night before, coping a nasty blow to the wrist and fending away a few others from around his ears. Then, with the score on 77, Abul slapped a pull shot back to the bowler and was out for a breezy 38. Skipper Zabeh then joined Robert at the crease, smashing a six and a four before getting caught at Mid-on, a mode of dismissal that was copied by a further two Stoke Newington batsman. Dilnawaz Ali then came to the crease and played a measured innings, allowing others to play around him. Batsman at the other end came and went and by the time D Ali had reached his 50 it was time for Stoke Newington to declare on an impressive 207-7.
Robert Chadwick- 57
Abul M Nalla- 38
Zabehullah Mohammad – 12
Dilnawaz Ali – 51*
Khpalwak Zazai- 10
After an exceptional tea of fine breads and baked goods the two teams took to the field again. Unfortunately the rain which had threatened to raise its ugly head all day, did so, meaning the players were forced to exit the pitch. Somehow, and against all the odds, the Stoke Newington boys oozed efficiency as they put the covers on the pitch, aided by the tactical brilliance of Zabeh. After an hour of on and off rain it finally looked as though play could recommence. Some hasty calculations from team cheerleader/ backseat skipper Scott Doody showed that restricting the visitors to 78 off 16 overs (at least sixteen overs were required to constitute a game) would lead to a winning draw for the Stokey boys should the game eventually be rained off (whilst not raining at this point the clouds hinted at a second water based assault.) So Stokey took to the field and immediately rattled through the overs with spin at both ends. There were a number of tough chances to the keeper before eventually there was a cluster of wickets with Zabeh and golden arm Khpalwak Zazai both proving too good for the opposition.
All of a sudden Stoke Newington were in the ascendency, North Mid caught out- the rabbit in the headlights. Fearing the worst, they decided to bloke out for a draw just as the sun burst through the clouds. The game then turned pretty boring pretty quickly. Gus Walsh bounded in but wasn’t helped by a pitch that had quickly turned into a pudding. It wasn’t until Robert dropped a regulation catch at short midwicket that the game came to life again. Irfan Mohmand came on and bowled a really good line, skidding the ball past the batsman, keeping the ball low and jagging it about off the seam. He took the wicket of the resolute opener before bowling another- suddenly the match was back on. With three overs to go Stoke Newington needed just three wickets. The fielding side, sensing victory, ramped up the pressure. Zazai, tradition fine leg fielder, was brought into the slips and wasted no time in exhibiting his own unique brand of ‘Sledging.’ However try as they might the boys in black just couldn’t find a way through the resolute defence of the baby faced opposition skipper who was able, despite the best efforts of the fielding side, to farm the strike.
The game ended with Stoke Newington claiming a winning draw and North Mid travelling back home with their tails between their legs. They had tasted life down at Hackney Marsh and couldn’t handle it, opting to play a negative form of cricket that the punters watching from the side-line found deplorable. The end result means that Stoke Newington are still in with a shout of qualification, they now need two wins from their last two games. Next week sees the boys take on bastions of lad culture, Southgate CC at Hackney Marsh, it promises to be a real nail biter.
Zabehullah Mohammad 16. 1. 4.30
Gus Walsh 18.104.22.168
Abul M Nalla 22.214.171.124
Khpalwak Zazai 126.96.36.199
Irfan Mohmand 188.8.131.52