by Tarique Choudhury
Waking up to a sunny Sunday morning was a Godsend after a hectic week of e-mails and team selection dilemmas. As a Co-Vice Captain was it worth it?... of course it was, as it hopefully marked a turning point in having a choice in picking 11 players from a squad of 17 for our opening game against PCC, who should never be underestimated even if it was their second team. In past years when we've had a strong 10-11 players we've always been competitive and could beat anyone on the day but in those games when we were only able to field 8 or 9 players it was a struggle. Those days are hopefully now behind us. Do we have a clear criteria for selection....no? and it does need to be discussed formally at our next AGM whatever your personal thoughts are on the subject, so bear with us as this is new ground for Royal Vinohrady CC.
The weather forecast was promising for the day with sun and cloud but it didn't quite prepare me for the windchill factor at the ground. Congratulations should first go to Hugo as the pitch and wicket looked great as well as to everyone for turning up on time in readiness for a relaxed warm-up of frisbee and ball catching.
I had planned on winning the toss and opting to bowl first but having lost the toss we were asked to bat, which I think actually worked in our favour in the end as we had batting all the way through to number 11 pairing aggressive batters with 'stroke players' as well as left-handers with right-handers in the top order. In addition I don't think PCC enjoyed fielding in the cold and windy light of day.
Arshad and Mik opened and it was clear Arshad meant business as he was crossing and clearing the boundary rope with ease and the score reached a credible 46 before Mik was dismissed. Rob went in and came back again soon after which was the signal for last week's MOM, Hugo to join Arshad. The fireworks started after Hugo had got his eye in and after scoring a swift 16 he mistimed one up in the air to a fielder with the score on 94. That was my cue and having not played on the new wicket and a change of bowlers I wasn't really sure what to expect. The first ball I timed went too close to the fielder at mid-on and he got a hand to it, which fortunately for me he dropped and unfortunately for him dislocated his finger... a stroke of luck... Thereafter, I got into the role of rotating the strike with the big hitting Arshad who couldn't stop scoring and at 123 we had the break at 20 overs. After the break we continued in the same fashion and with the score at 165, Arshad finally missed one and was bowled on a club record score of 105!
After that dismissal the pattern was set with Brigham coming in and hitting a quick fire 30 mainly thanks to one unfortunate bowler who kept bowling 'pies' which were dispatched for 4s and 6s into the farmer's field, which frustrated PCC no end especially as they had to search and retrieve it from the long crop. You could sense their will to fight draining from them after that particular over.
At the score of 207 Chris came in and continued where Brigham left off with the added intention to run and run and run which added a different sort of excitement as the fielders were really put under pressure in the field and with misfields their hope was continuing to fade whilst our score kept rising. In between the mad dash 1s and 2s he was also dispatching 4s and 6s until he got to 35 when he finally missed one with our score by then a handsome 256. Lukas and Leigh followed with only 10 or so balls left and we ended up with a final total of 262 for 8.
After the break, Arshad and Leigh started work on their top order and at 37 for 3 dismissing their number 2 and 3 for scores of 0, it wasn't looking good for them. We decided to bowl them through as it was so cold and after Arshad's efforts with the bat, it seemed the best thing to do. He finished with 3 for 30 which again was outstanding. Lukas and Brigham continued in the same vein and PCC had reached 66 for the loss of 5 wickets at the 20 over break. The fielding was solid enough but our catching was a little woeful and definitely an area for improvement. Our bowling was pretty good with pace, line and length especially Brigham and Lukas's first 3 overs and apart from the odd full toss which got dispatched it was all PCC had to try and get close to our score with their running between the wickets leaving a lot to be desired and the eventual and expected run out.
A couple of strange instances occurred where Mik caught and stumped the wicket but the bails refused to come off and another where the bowler hit the stumps with a clear sound but again the bails were intact which left us all a little bemused. Later on the catch of the day was definitely Mik behind the stumps off a fast ball and edge off the batsman. Jody came on and his first 2 overs of spin were excellent only going for 4 runs. With everyone including Rob taking a wicket it was a real team bowling effort which PCC couldn't live with and they were finally all skittled out in the 37th over for a flattering 174 runs.
A handsome 88 run win in our first 40 over game league game was well deserved.
MoM (Man of the Match): I don't think that anyone can argue that for his record 105 runs with the bat and 3 for 30 with the ball, Arshad is without a doubt our MoM this week!
POM (Play of the Match): A noteable mention for Brigham for smashing a 4 then three 6s on the trot. However, this has to go to Mik for his fantastic catch behind the stumps, spinning and twirling as he pouched the ball as if he were auditioning for 'Swann' Lake.
TOM (Twat of the Match): Must go to all that played (except Mik) for our numerous 'attempts' to catch the ball, without much success(!)