Captain Redders was back, and in toss-winning form as Cottenham were invited to bat first at a verdant Queens’ – the damp pitch trumping any fears the skipper might have had about his side’s ability to win batting second.
Last week’s spin-heavy attack had been replaced by a battery of seamers, and the returning Kelsall took the new ball with debutant Tarun Narwani. The right-arm seamer – cap number 159 – chose to bowl around the wicket to the right-hander and was rewarded when the visiting opener cut straight to Karan at point. The same fielder was to take another catch in Kelsall’s next over, and when Vish grabbed another off Tarun (4-1-14-2), Cottenham were in all kinds of strife at 8-3 after four overs. It might have been even better for a rampant home side, had Sutton not shelled a regulation slip catch off Kelsall. The bustling education executive didn’t have to wait long to get his man, however – Clarke’s fine catch met with a sigh of relief from Sutton, and captured for posterity thanks to club photographer Sutton Sr, 73 earlier in the week. Kelsall was quick to add another wicket – cleaning up the visitor’s number five to leave the score at a remarkable 29-5 after nine overs. A quick game’s a good game, as they say. But where’s the fun in that? And besides, this is Camden.
Against Kelsall (3-27) and Batley, the visitors staged somewhat of a recovery – reaching 62-5 in the seventeenth over. It was soon to become 62-7 as Vish, in his first over, induced a mistimed drive to mid-off – where the skipper held a landmark 50th catch for the Thirds – and Karan picked up an LBW with his first ball. All the while, Cottenham’s number seven appeared to be batting on a different pitch. Such elegance was in contrast to the visitor’s number nine, the West Indian winding up – in the fine tradition – to give it some licks. Off the bowling of Karan (2-44), one such lick went high into the sky. So high. It’s still up there now. Sutton had all the time in the world, moving from square-leg to mid-wicket to get underneath it – until he had no time at all, that is, and realised he wasn’t quite underneath it. No record is to hand of how many catches the bearded greengrocer has taken over the years, but your correspondent – typing with a finger the colour of an aubergine – can attest to the velocity gathered by a cricket ball dropped from the moon, and can’t recall many better. 114-8, then, but the tail continued to wag. Having brought up a well-deserved half-century, the visitor’s number seven was run out by Tarun’s excellent direct hit. If it was a questionable decision, the Camden boys weren’t complaining – 83 runs having been added since the fall of the seventh wicket. Redders came on in the thirty-third over to wrap things up – the fourth bowler to take a wicket in his first over – and the home side would need 153 to win.
Amongst the bumper crowd enticed by the prospect of birthday cake and a repeat of the previous week’s drama, Ramesh Bulusu noted that some things never change – his namesake giving Fahim out LBW. Sutton joined Redders, and was greeted with a throat-high beamer from the opening left-armer. Re[a/d]ders will recall that Redders hit a fifty against the same opponents earlier in the season, and it looked like the skipper was in the mood for a repeat – smashing 14 runs from six balls from the visitors’ Jamaican paceman – until, on 18, he missed a straight one. Sutton and Batley had shared partnerships of 63 and 86 in the previous two matches, and any hopes of victory would surely depend on something similar. Alas, the pair could only advance the score by two before Batley dragged on for a ten ball duck – and when Krishna fell soon after, the home side were teetering on 37-4. Thanks to the skipper’s pinch-hitting, Hodders and Sutton could afford to see off the aforementioned Jamaican, and brought up the 50 in the fourteenth over. Rain brought about an early drinks/cake break, but didn’t make batting any easier. With the score on 76, Hodders (11) was caught and bowled trying to pull a short ball that stuck in the pitch. Sutton found another ally in Vish, the pair calmly adding 36 for the sixth wicket before disaster struck. Sutton flicked behind square and called Vish for a run. Hesitation. The carpet pulled out from under Sutton’s studless feet. Very nobly, Vish sacrificed himself and was run out for 12. As they’d say in The Hundred, 41 to win in 45 balls – but Kelsall’s first task was to safely negotiate the remaining three balls of Cottenham’s dangerous left-armer. Thereafter, Sutton went to a second successive 50 with a rare false shot, and the lifelong pals began to have some fun – most notably in plundering fourteen off the thirty-sixth over. 15 runs. 24 balls. Easy. Too easy, perhaps, as Sutton (58) and Kelsall (17 from 18 balls) chipped tamely to mid-off in identical fashion. Over to you, Karan and Tarun. Down to the last over again. 7 to win. One to Karan. Two to Tarun. Dot ball. 4 from 3. Two to Tarun, who was enjoying a memorable debut. 2 runs from 2 balls. WinViz had been swinging this way and that all afternoon, and such a dramatic match deserved a more satisfactory conclusion than the two wides conceded from the fifth ball of the final over – but Camden won’t mind.
Upon hearing news of the result, long-suffering fan Hilary Sutton was quick to take the credit for a cake-powered victory – a first successful chase in five this season, coming with two balls and two wickets to spare, and wrapped up in time to reach the Red Bull before the heavens opened. Back-to-back wins – another first this season – keeps Camden just four points above the drop zone with four to play.
Man of the match: Will Sutton
Score Card: https://camden.play-cricket.com/website/results/4160781
Will Sutton (July 31, 2021)