A new season brings a new scribe, albeit one with a familiar name to long-time readers. It remains to be seen if your new correspondent has inherited anything more than the genetic leg-glance from the original Thirds’ match reporter, but it doesn’t take the pessimism of an East Midlander to conclude that, after last year’s glorious – but cricketless – spring, it was somewhat inevitable that the 2021 season should kick off in sub-optimal temperatures. Still, a bumper crowd – perhaps buoyed by the prospect of heckling Camden opening bowler Ryan Kelsall – were not to be deterred.
Any such heckling was to be deferred, however, as Camden were asked to bat first. Will Sutton, with just a solitary run to his name, slapped a half-tracker straight to mid-wicket, thus continuing an exploration, that began in the previous week’s pre-season friendly, of all the ways to be out in such a manner. Jon Adler added 11 before also perishing to a mis-timed pull shot, the Big Aussie Unit playing as early as a supermarket’s run-up to Christmas. The perils of cross- batted shots on a grassy two-paced pitch were of no concern to new captain Andrew Redfern, however, as he struck 32 of 39 in boundaries before falling to a smart catch in the covers. The soon to be retired Mr Nutt was inexplicably run-out for a duck, and when Nutty’s ex-student, the ex-former-ex-all-rounder Steve Robinson, in a rare appearance in front of his parents, top-edged to the keeper for 10, Camden were in trouble at 72-5. The salvage job was left to Fahim and Vish, who, understandably circumspect at first, added 45 for the sixth wicket before the latter fell for a useful 23. That brought Liam Wallman to the crease, and Camden’s one-man youth policy struck an impressive 24 not out from just 26 balls in a stand of 48 with Fahim, run-out at the end for an innings-anchoring 48. All of which meant that Camden had racked up 165-7. Less than might have been expected before a ball was bowled, more than might have been hoped for when the traditional Camden collapse was in full swing – but something to bowl at, nonetheless.
It was soon to look like a decent score, with Kelsall and Nutty each bagging a wicket, and wildlife supremo Martin Baker bowling a tidy spell. Justin Lee held a terrific catch off Vish, who sealed the coveted man of the match award with excellent figures of 8-3-12-2, but Camden, despite Nutty returning to trap the opener LBW for a patient 64, were yet to seal victory. Not while the home captain was hitting Liam over the wall, man! Meanwhile, Camden’s own skipper wasn’t skipping anywhere after fielding one with a knee. Asked by concerned and, let’s face it, amused teammates if he needed anything – ice, painkillers, etc – the reply, through gritted teeth, was “time.” Miraculously, there was enough time for Redders to recover enough to conjure up what looked like a match-defining 3-fer, including the prized scalp of his opposite number. The equation, then, with two overs to bowl: the home side, nine down, requiring 13 runs. Kelsall, boasting (surely not) figures of 7-2-17-2, to bowl. Make that 8-2-29-2. Oh dear. 1 to win. One Redfern over. 6 balls … 5 balls … 4 balls … 3 balls … 2 balls … the final ball of the match … 1 run to win. 1 run, indeed, as the ball flew agonisingly passed Nutty’s outstretched hand at mid-off.
“What a thriller!” gushed top TV numberwanger Rachel Riley. “I’ll be sure to delve into the numbers to find a particularly niche stat that Redders is top of. Career boundary percentage, something like that. It’ll take his mind off that knee.”
Man of the Match: Vish Chandrasekeran
Score Card: https://camden.play-cricket.com/website/results/4160624
Will Sutton (May 20, 2021)