by Michal Tavlaridis
Once again our team was summoned by captain Vojta for what turned out to be a glorious day of cricket. Our last match of the 40-over league brought us a battle against our first traditional rivals PCC - the only unbeaten team this season, which already secured their place in this year's ﬁnal. Although our own fate was also already decided, in that we couldn't reach the ﬁnals; matches against PCC never lack motivation and excitement from those bearing VCC colours.
From early morning, the weather looked almost perfect for cricket: sunny and rather warm, but with a gentle breeze. After a quick warm up, and short chat about the quality of olive oil, the captains Vojta and Sudhir were ready for the toss. It was our captain who won and decided to bat, much to our delight. This decision proved to be a good one and Vojta did not forget to remind us of that throughout the match. Tarique and Mik opened the batting and were welcomed by fast and accurate bowling from Raj and Rohit. The score wasn’t rising much in ﬁrst 8 overs, as our openers - in an effort Boycott would have surely endorsed - dug their heels in and neutralised the initial PCC attack. The initial onslaught overcome, next up to test our batsmen was Prakash and in his ﬁrst over, succeeded in getting Mik out LBW. The stoical (or crapulent, you never know) Rob came in at number 3 and continued the good work, as the PCC bowling was slowly starting to loosen their grip and in doing so allowed Mr X. Tras to lead the scoring tally.
When Rob tried to punish one of the slower balls, he was recklessly dropped by Sudhir at mid-on - a situation that in a way announced PCC's fielding form on the day (with the honourable exceptions of Honza and Rohit). Soon after that though, Rob tried to pull a full toss from Prakash and was safely caught out by Honza at covers. The next over Tarique - after bravely withstanding initial attack and seeing off the openers - unfortunately fell to a mightily impressive one-hand catch by Rohit at midwicket.
Suddenly Lukas and Vojta appeared on the pitch with plenty of overs to come and they very quickly deﬁned how the rest of the inning would look like. They accumulated a great partnership of 117, consisting mainly of Lukas’s 4s, extras and also some runs from Vojta, who even played some defensive shots (I am kidding, check the scorecard). PCC bowlers couldn't ﬁnd a cure for our deadly batting and their ﬁelders did not help them much either. Vojta was dropped once by Mohit and Lukas was dropped three times(!) by Prakash at gully (tough catches though). Eventually Vojta got caught by another good catch from Rohit, but our batting order was still full of eager batsmen ready to join the show.
Next up was Brigham who scored a couple of singles but soon picked the wrong ball from Rohit. Rahul was next in line and his entrée was equally impressive as Lukas’s. Unfortunately one of the victims of Rahul’s plundering was Lukas when Rahul’s beautiful drive helped on to the stumps on the return by Roy and run Lukas out. After this misfortune, Rahul unleashed hell by hitting boundaries with ferocious strength, joined by Chris who added some textbook running between wickets only to be bowled later by Rahj. That was when I came in having the only task to help Rahul get his rapid half-century. Although it seemed as a pretty easy thing to cope with, I got too excited and inadvertently robbed Rahul of one delivery, that could possibly get him there. Nevertheless, we ended up with a beautiful score of 222 (which is one third of 666 for those of you who believe in conspiracy theories).
PCC started with Sudhir and Hilal aka Rahul. Sudhir soon fell to Rahul’s surgically accurate bowling, but Hilal decided to chase our score right from the beginning. Mohit coming first drop, soon proved to be his efﬁcient sidekick. Our morale was only slightly dwindling when a massive blow was struck to our team; after the day’s physical exertion Rahul was affected by cramps in both of his calves after bowling 2 great overs. He had to take some rest and we had to call on Hugo as a substitute ﬁelder. Meanwhile Hilal and Mohit continued to pile up the score. The situation was becoming quite serious when our captain Vojta carried out yet another outstanding piece of ﬁelding: running out Mohit by a fast accurate throw from a pretty big distance. It was the right thing in the right time to rebuild our morale.
Prakash was the next batsman coming to the crease. We all knew his batting qualities and he was indeed slowly settling down whilst Hilal went on with his slogfest. This said, Prakash must also have been aware that there were still a lot of runs to be scored for PCC, so it came as no great surprise when, as he tried to hit one hard for six, the ball didn’t quite make it over the boundary and was superbly caught by Will somewhere around deep extra cover. A great running catch into Wills solid hands - reinforced by several cans of beer during drinks - and another crucial wicket.
Hilal was still threatening us and although we knew that sooner or later his risky batting would bring his demise, with thoughts of his century earlier in the year and with our main strike bowler off the field, we just couldn’t make that happen. Then all of a sudden – akin to a scene from Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf arrived at ‘first light, on the fifth day’ – we slowly turned our heads towards the boundary, where we saw Rahul ready to re-join the battle - his eyes full of determination. Rahul completed this Hollywood-esque comeback by bowling Hilal with the first ball of his next spell.
We knew then that we couldn’t let the victory slip through our hands. The next component in our ‘perfectly oiled machine’ as we Czechs say, was Brigham. His bowling spell was simply splendid, claiming the wickets of Rohit and Honza and ﬁnishing with a great statistic of 2-25 from 8 overs. Although the Sri Lankan duo Raj and Roy managed to slow down the rate at which wickets were tumbling, for a while, their run rate could hardly threaten our score. A batsman of Roy’s quality, scoring just 1 from 19 deliveries is testament to the quality of our bowling at that point.
Their defiant efforts were eventually ended when Raj was bowled by Will (although on a 2nd attempt since knocking down the bails in Vinoř ﬁeld is a pretty difﬁcult task) and Roy was caught behind. The match was symbolically ended by another impressive catch by Will at silly cover. This was a great, sweet victory for our team and a perfect all round performance. After a match like this, I have to at least sum up the highlights that I unfortunately, couldn’t decorate with an award:
MoM (Man of the Match) - for his all round performance, 48 of 26 balls not out, 2 crucial wickets dismissing dangerous batsmen, and great will and determination throughout the match - Rahul
PoM (Play of the Match) - for his outstanding 84 runs of 77 balls that completely frustrated PCC bowlers - Lukáš
ToM (Tw*t of the Match) - myself for robbing Rahul of his half-century