U12Bs go down fighting against North London in title decider
SNCC U12B v North London CC U12A
North London CC, Friday 3 July 2015, 20-20 league
NLCC U12A 141 – 3 off 20 overs
SNCC U12B 114 – 9 off 18 overs (all out)
NLCC U12 A win by 27 runs
This much anticipated game, and probable league decider, was played in idyllic cricketing conditions on Friday evening. Momentum swang more than the match ball. We were perhaps unlucky. But we lost, and can have no complaints.
Firstly, NLCC's innings. Up to the 16th over this was solid if unremarkable, with safe batting from their two best players. Even with the field pushed back however the now well-established pair produced about 40 from the last four overs, an increase that nonetheless produced a highly achievable 142 to win. Bowling, on an artificial pitch with a somewhat soft ball, was frustrating: a number of strong shouts for LBW not given. Fielding was, however, exceptionally good once again, with almost no overthrows and continuous support form team members for the many examples of fine stopping and throwing.
Secondly, our reply. The league's now legendary opening pair were known by reputation to the opposition before they took to the crease. We then witnessed an almost unprecedented event: Khairo White was out. For 3, given LBW high above the left knee-roll having taken guard on middle. That's cricket. It did not of course have to mean the end of our hopes, and did not. Debutant batsman Mujahid came in and he and Tom Davies dominated some excellent fast bowling to take the score to 31, and this ahead of the required run rate. Both were in their stride. If Khairo's dismissal was unlucky, Tom's was not. A powerfully-hit drive was flashing through cover destined for 4 only to be caught at full-stretch,one-handed at shoulder height, by a fielder diving to his left. Memorable. This was the game's non-alcoholic champagne moment and probably the catch of the season. Once again, that's cricket. Tom's 19 was welcome but he was out just as he was getting going. This pattern was the story of our innings. It needed an anchor and never quite found it. Mujahid, playing straight and hard and with his eye in, fell on 14; Layth Quereshi for 10; Daniel Johnson was bowled playing around one for 6; Matthew chased a wide and simply steered it to cover for a catch; and so on. From being ahead of the run rate at 60 – 3 we progressively fell behind and were ultimately all out (ten men) for 114. Jude Horspool and Archie Mount entertained the crowd but the game was lost.
And so it may be that we do not win the league. NLCC U12A have a game, possibly two games, left that they must win. We should however wish them well – after all, they beat us twice. Disappointing though that is there is nothing to disappoint about the memories of this season. We should remember that we are predominantly playing – as NLCC – other clubs' A teams. Sport is at its best when you are matched against equally strong opposition: that is what makes the win an achievement rather than just a victory. And we have won 9 of our 12 games and drawn one other.
More important still the season has seen every player develop visibly as cricketers: not simply the technical aspects of batting, bowling and fielding (some exceptional individual performances, and fielding unrecognisable from the opening games) but also the 'thinking parts' and as a team. Khairo White and and Tom Davies have learnt better to lead and motivate the team; tactics on the pitch are mature and increasingly determined without any adult input; the team spirit and unity has been exceptional and will carry on into next season.
So let there be no negative thinking. If results go our way and NLCC lose again we may yet win the league. Whatever happens, this is no time to rehearse Kipling's petition to treat the impostors of triumph and disaster "just the same", since this season was a triumph. This was sport, and no disaster for that.
Well done everyone.