League round-up for Week 14 (Saturday 10 August)

1st XI

SNCC 1s (175 a/o in 47.5 overs) lost by 4 wickets against Tower Hamlets 1s (178-6 a/o in 44.1 overs)

The old enemy Tower Hamlets arrived at the Marshes last Saturday in typical style. Skipper Scott Doody won the toss and for once elected to bat much to everyone's surprise.

Stokey's top order again succumbed, as Doody and Rob Chadwick were outdone by straight balls (the former from the first ball of the match). Josh Harrison got just enough splice on a medium-pace long hop to send it to midwicket, and the 1s were suddenly reeling at 15-3... or 95-13 if you add in the previous week’s performance.

That brought the Hackney Boss Hodayne Bryce and Joel Bayley to the crease, both with different but very real motivating factors. Hoady had taken his mascot down with him to take photos for the gram, and Joel was still riding the wave of euphoria from a night of passion and whispered sweet nothings that almost guarantees runs were to follow.

Neither disappointed as they steadily rebuilt the innings with patience and the odd classy stroke (much like he had done the previous night Joel would later retell). Joel accidentally pushed a check drive six, and shortly after both men were bringing up their 50s. Shortly after that they were both out again, Joel using the back of the bat to send a drag-down from Tower Hamlets’ leg-spinner to slip, and Hoady using the middle to hit a knee-high pie to the fielder at deep square leg. The predictable collapse followed as Stokey's tail again refused to wag, and 175 was the final score. Honourable mention to Zabe Mohammad who did produce the shot of the season so far in dancing down the pitch to smoke TH’s medium-pacer for six over straight-ish extra cover. Worth 10, but still only got 6 though. 

The 1s set off like a train in the field with Zabe producing his customary first over middle stump inswinger to Tower Hamlets’ opener. A collector's item followed - a Josh Harrison run out from cover. When TH lost their third wicket, again to Zabe, they were looking in trouble at three down for not many. But Stokey were soon to reprive their early-season catching form with three or four drops going down in a crucial period.

The key moment of the chase came when Doody, Hussain and Abul all tried to rugby tackle each other going for a catch off TH's in-form batter. Nobody emerged with the ball, but the batter did emerge unscathed and went on to make a crucial 70-odd.

The TH skipper and gun bat had hidden himself down at six as he clearly didn't fancy facing the new ball - something for which he got plenty of chat when he arrived at the crease with the game still in the balance. Ultimately, it proved to be a smart move as he shepherded the innings along and finished not out on 60-ish at the end.  All the Stokey bowlers toiled hard, with Zabe excellent again, Abul spinning it big, James Davies looking threatening but with no reward for once and Zazai throwing up his usual blend of cheap and spenny overs.

But ultimately the Bears managed to take only six wickets between them including two run outs.  Crucially, It was TH's middle order who gave ours a lesson in converting starts to match-winning ones as they walked off victors. No matter, Hoady got the bat raise captured for the gram, gaining at least 20 likes minimum, so it's clear who the real winners were.

WARM-UP RATING: 6.5 

The Bears were broadly dived into two packs:  those who lacked enthusiasm and those with enthusiasm who were unable to catch anything.

2nd XI

SNCC 2s (131-9 in 45 overs) secured a losing draw against Chiswick 2s (232-9 declared in 54.1 overs)

The 2s came back to earth from the previous week’s table-topping victory over South Hampstead, but clung on for a losing draw and a vital point that may be crucial in the promotion run-in.

Chiswick racked up an imposing 232-9 declared as Stokey’s bowlers (with the exception of outstanding leg-spinner Kartik Khatri) unsurprisingly struggled in the high winds.  However, by batting on until the 55th over, had Chiswick left themselves enough time to bowl Stokey out?

In response, the 2s’ top-order cracked under the pressure and a desperate rear-guard action ensued.  Fortunately, middle-order batters Imran Ali and Uzair Muhammad managed to stabilise the innings, but still tail-enders Ramiz Khan and veteran Sardar Rashid were faced with having to survive the final nine overs for the draw.  And despite the suffocating attentions of the Chiswick close-fielders (pictured surrounding the unperturbable Sardar), survive they did!  Just one point for the resilient Stokey boys, but it could make all the difference at the end of the season…

3rd XI

SNCC 3s (210-9 declared in 48 overs) won by 71 runs against North London 5s (139 a/o in 39 overs)

The match began with SNCC winning the toss and deciding to bat first, with the pitch looking dry and true despite all the rain the previous day. The skies were overcast and the wind howling as the 3s’ openers marched out to the crease, not that conditions fazed opener Stuart Caughlin, who composed an untroubled 28, which included serene shots through third-man evoking the great Kane Williamson himself. Despite the early loss of his opening partner Jonas, Stuart was calm and collected, and his wicket, caught behind off the pick of the North London attack, was certainly against the run of play. It was then up to the young guns of the 3s to turn a strong start of 69-2 into a formidable total.

U15 Max Trowler scored 22 in an entertaining knock, one that was recorded for posterity so it could be used for the youngster’s PE GCSE. His innings was studded with a few majestic shots worthy of that highly coveted 9/A* (delete according to age), including one particularly brutal six into the gale which Max has likely re-watched countless times by now. However, his final shot, a disappointingly agricultural hoik across the line resulted in the rearrangement of his stumps; a shot to forget (or edit out of the final video). With the dismissal of Max, Stokey suffered another setback, with U13 Harley Gordon yorked by the same bowler. With the team under serious pressure for the first time in the match, U15s Remy Mitchell and William Holden knuckled down to rebuild.

Initially watchful, both batsmen then looked to punish the weaker change bowlers of North London. William was particularly unforgiving, playing with what impressed onlookers described as Caribbean flair and what his father erroneously described as reckless abandon. Highlights of his innings include an elegant, riskless lofted drive, which Duncan likely watched, needlessly anxious, through his fingers. Though he lost two batting partners, and was interrupted by a short rain delay, William top scored with 44, before being stumped when his foot dragged out of the crease. A mistake, but one he is unlikely to repeat anytime soon.

At 168-8 Stokey’s innings seemed to be petering out, much like the rain,  following a few tame dismissals, before U50 Duncan Holden strode to the crease. Duncan took the flagging North London attack to task, showing off his famed brawn in smashing 19 off 11, a strike-rate only bested by Richard Gordon’s outlandish 300% (scoring six off the two balls he faced). These two exemplars of experience (cheered to the rafters by Stokey’s Barmy Army) combined to push the total from around par to a highly competitive score as SNCC declared at 210-9 off 48 overs.  It was now over to the bowlers to finish the job.

Following a typically excellent Marshes tea, Stokey headed out to bowl. The innings began perfectly, with U15 Archie Parnum bowling NL’s opener with the final ball of the first over. Having scored six off the first five balls, the opener clearly fancied today was his day, but was undone by Archie’s pace. North London’s start then went from bad to worse, with Archie taking a wicket in each of his next two overs, one courtesy of an outrageous catch from keeper Remy Mitchell, standing up behind the stumps, the other thanks to the batsman missing a straight ball.

With North London 9-3 after six overs, Stokey smelled blood. A 45-run partnership between batsmen 3 and 5 delayed the procession, before William removed the number 3, and deadeye Archie ran out number 5 following pressure built up by spinner Harley. North London didn’t test Archie’s arm again.

Following drinks, wickets 6 and 7 were taken by Hollie Summerfield. The first was something of a burgle, with the ball staying low and sneaking through the batsman’s uncertain defence to clatter into the stumps. The second was tossed up and the batsmen could only sky  it back to Hollie, who took a fine return catch running around the stumps. The result: a double-wicket maiden and the end in sight.

The end was delayed by North London’s eighth-wicket pair, who put up stiff resistance, with balls flying inches hands of close catchers including Duncan, who has made short extra-cover his own this season, and stand-in skipper Ben Willis at short-leg. Despite this resistance, Stokey knew the pair were only delaying the inevitable, which came in fine fashion when spin-king Stuart ran through the final three batsmen in the space of one over. One batsman was excellently caught behind by Remy and the other two bowled, Stuart taking a well-earned victory lap after each dismissal.

When the dust left in Stuart’s wake had settled, Stokey had bowled North London out for 139, 71 runs adrift, with five overs to spare, and the team could travel home one step closer to promotion. 

Junior highlights

  • U15s fight hard but miss out to a very strong Harrow side in the County quarter-finals.

  • U17s beat North London in their Middlesex Youth Cup quarter-final and face North Enfield in the semi-final next Friday.

  • U21s play Hampton Hill in the Middlesex Development League semi-final this Sunday at the Marshes.

Veteran Sardar Rashid defies the attentions of Chiswick’s close fielders to survive the final nine overs of the match and secure a vital point for the 2s.

Veteran Sardar Rashid defies the attentions of Chiswick’s close fielders to survive the final nine overs of the match and secure a vital point for the 2s.