League round-up for Week 13 (Saturday 3 August)

1st XI

SNCC 1s (83 a/o in 26.1 overs) lost by 120 runs against South Hampstead 1s (203 a/o in 43.2 overs)

Last Saturday saw the 1s take on South Hampstead in a top of the table “six-pointer” that was to either see Stoke Newington close the gap to just three points, or see South Hampstead open up a potentially unassailable lead at the top of the table. With this in mind the boys all got extremely early nights, with absolutely none of them falling asleep on the night tube and waking up in Walthamstow.

The nature of the fixture meant that Stokey had to travel to Hampstead in order to play, slightly worse than travelling to the Marshes, but a hell of a lot better than travelling to somewhere like Kenton which I’m not sure is actually in London. Regardless it was a jovial bunch that arrived at the ground and set up shop in the bar in the gleeful expectation of watching England extend their imperious first innings lead (sad reacts only). With the pitch being an absolute road and the sun poking furtively through the clouds the skipper, in a move reminiscent of Nasser at Brisbane, elected to have a bowl.

This meant that Big Cuddly Leroy was to have the first dig on a pitch that looked suspiciously like an actual cricket wicket. And so, despite the valiant efforts of the two best bowlers in the league, Big Cuddly Leroy was able to plunder runs at an alarming rate. For a man of such intimidating stature, he was surprisingly quick on anything full and unsurprisingly brutal when he decided a ball was going for six.  South Hampstead raced along to a score of 60 off eight overs.

Then, mercifully, Big Cuddly Leroy decided to get his best friend Hodayne Bryce into the game by smashing a ball to him at long off. Hodie dutifully got the buckets out and snaffled a difficult chance with admirable ease. With BCL out the South Hampstead score slowed somewhat but wickets were proving elusive. New recruit Jackson Hamilton was diving about the backward point region like a young Jamie Dalrymple, whilst Zazai was bowling with the subtlety and intelligence of an old Jeremy Snape…Still Stokey couldn’t find the breakthrough. Finally, in a rogue act of quiet desperation, Skipper Scott Doody turned to the remarkably handsome R Chadwick to help stop the rot. Filled to the brim with potentially toxic levels of cough medicine, young Coughwick bounded in with very little fuel left in the tank.  24 half-volleys later and a red-faced Coughwick was leading the team off the pitch, having burgled seven wickets for 15 runs.  He even managed to take a hat-trick without realising, each ball being smashed straight to Hodayne at long off, an act of self-sabotage from South Hampstead that could only be topped by a diminishing economy with extremely limited export potential voting to leave the world’s largest trading block…It was that silly!

The 1s tucked into an excellent lunch safe in the knowledge that momentum was well and truly in their favour, and confident that they had the firepower to chase down the 205 required.  This is where my notes turn to tragic. Hubris and despair are perfectly captured by the score – 18 for six.  I have not the heart nor the words to write about what happened in detail…  If it wasn’t for Zazai playing an extremely composed and determined innings (34) then it could have been a lot worse.

And there we have it. A terrible weekend for cricket in which the wrong team won twice (unless Kenton won as well), the sort of weekend that makes you question why you bother, and whether more people should get juiced up on cough medicine before big games.

Next week the Bears are back snuffling out honey at Hackney Marshes. 

2nd XI

SNCC 2s (253-7 in 50 overs) won by 42 runs against South Hampstead 2s (211 a/o in 48.5 overs)

Saturday saw the two big dogs at the top of the table go head-to-head, in what the pundits believed would go a long way in determining who was going to get promotion. 

It was South Hampstead’s turn to visit The Marshes fortress and despite manager Richard Greenleaf’s valiant, and might we say cunning, attempt to make out to the opposition that the pitch was a road, alas the South Hampstead captain called correctly and asked with a wink whether they could bowl.  Sarafat Ali and U16 Jameel Mulla went out to bat in overcast conditions and it was clear there was some spice in the wicket, South Hampstead’s opening bowling settling into their work straight away with some lovely swing bowling, which had both batsmen playing and missing. 

Sarafat, having smashed a few lusty blows to the boundary, got one that was probably too close to cut and so Kartik Khatricame in with Stokey only just into double figures.  With plenty of movement on offer the 2s had to build slowly - Kartik in particular watching everything like particularly watchful owl.  Jameel, having started to the look comfy, just like his favourite set of Spider-Man pyjamas - tried to be a bit too expansive and South Hampstead were buzzing.  In came U16 Stan Greenleaf who immediately settled into a nice rhythm - good defence and some classy pulls and flicks. 

Kartik was finding his fluency now too, and South Hampstead’s early dominance was starting to be eroded.  Just as Stan was looking odds-on for a fifty, he got one that stopped in the pitch and could only lob it up to a short extra cover.  With the run rate only around four,  it was clear the 2s needed to get a groove on and Dil Ali was up to the task.  Kartik had got the message too and the laughs that had been coming from the opposition were now turning to grimaces. Between them they plundered the South Hampstead attack at will, bringing up the 100-run partnership, and soon Khartik was celebrating a well-earned century. A flurry of late blows and Stokey had set a decent total of 253-5 from 50 overs.  Kartik finished with an outstanding unbeaten 134!

U16s Joe Kingsley-Smith and Jameel opened for Stokey, with Skipper Sarafat opting for a mixture of pace, spin and you. Don’t let those smooth chins fool you though, Joe in particular keeping things super-tight with two opening maidens. The pressure eventually got to one of South Hampstead’s openers who tried once too often to launch spinner Jameel and only managed to lob it to second slip.  After that early setback South Hampstead settled into the task and were making good progress, having passed 50 without any further losses although their No.3 was using some of that famed Irish luck - one ball stopping dead on the stumps without knocking off the bails! 

When you need a wicket who you gonna call? Not the Ghostbusters, but Zain of course! Bowling his typical stump to stump line, he got the big prize of the other opener LBW.  You couldn’t keep Kartik out of the game - the luck of the Irish finally ran dry, when the number 3 was bowled, not picking the leg-spinner’s wrong-un. 120-3.  Although still up with the run-rate the 2s could sense the pressure was starting to build. Who better than leggie Sardar Rashid to exploit that nerviness? Bowling at a pace which seemed to fit the conditions like a Saville Row suit, he got the batsmen to start playing and missing regularly and one of these, to the dismay of their big fish No.4, found the edge to the keeper - 135-4. Sardar got another wicket and, even though the run rate was similar, the wickets column for South Hampstead was starting to be a concern at 150-5 

The runs were starting to dry up and Kartik was giving nothing away at the other end too. After a superb spell of 2-15 from five overs, Dil Ali replaced Sardar and was just as miserly. Run-rate pressure told eventually and a double-wicket over from Dil really knocked the wind out of South Hampstead’s chase. 177-7 meant that the chase had become survival - could South Hampstead eek out a losing draw? It looked that way until a slower, slow ball from Dil had the batter scrambling in vain to reverse his dance down the wicket. Could Stokey take the last two wickets? Kartik seemed to think so and demanded the ball as Joe was being blocked out. 

A big front pad offering no shot to another unpicked googly got the ninth wicket and with six men around the bat it was going to be tough to hold out.   So it proved - with one ball left in the 49th over, Kartik’s quicker ball smashed into off-stump and the 2s were back at the top of the league! 

3rd XI

Friendly: SNCC 3s (206-9 in 40 overs) lost by 23 runs to Millwall Stars (229-9 in 40 overs)

With their league opponents having forfeited, the 3s hastily arranged a friendly against strong opposition from the Essex League, Millwall Stars.  Having lost the toss, the 3s were asked to bowl and stuck to their task well against a formidable top-order batting line-up.  Tight bowling from spin-twins U13 Harley Gordon (two wickets) and skipper Sudheep Karumarathodi (three wickets) kept the run-rate in check and only a late flurry of runs at the death took the Stars to 229-9 off their allotted 40 overs. 

After an excellent Marshes tea, Millwall’s opening bowlers immediately put the brakes on the 3s’ response.  Despite determined batting from the top-order, Stokey were always behind the run-rate and struggled to accelerate as the innings progressed.  Despite a flourish of shots from U17 Michael Tucker and keeper Badar Khan, the 3s’ middle-order needed to score at ten an over off the last ten overs and this proved too much to ask and it was left to some dynamic pinch-hitting at the death by debutant Richard Gordon to move the score to a very respectable 206 for 9 and a loss by 23 runs.  An excellent match played in a very good spirit and ideal preparation for the 3s’ league run-in. 

Junior highlights

  • At County Semi-Finals Day, the U10As win two matches out of four and finish second in their qualifying group.

  • U12As make the long away trip to Teddington and go down fighting in the County quarter-finals.

  • U13As tie with Totteridge at the Marshes but qualify for County Finals Day on a count-back!

  • U15s beat Crouch End (Will Holden 71*) and London Tigers to reach the County quarter-finals.

  • U17s qualify for the Middlesex Youth Cup quarter-finals – to be played next Monday away at North London.

  • U21s beat Highgate to top their qualifying group before defeating Wycombe House in the quarter-final (with an unbeaten fifty for Muhammad Uzair).