.WW… .1(W)W… WW
Thirds get their ducks in a row at Warboys
St Ives & Warboys II (20pts) 134 beat Camden (7pts) 119 by 15 runs
As the ten men of Camden arrived in dribs and drabs at a rather bleak Forge Way, hosts St Ives & Warboys II – going through a vigorous warm-up – might have expected to mark their return to Division 1 North action with a win. Seventy runs from the first thirteen overs would have done little to dissuade the home side, but Tarun Narwani – Camden’s sole seamer – had bowled beautifully in picking up three wickets. It would later become clear that the near end was the one to bowl from – not that anybody could tell while, at the other end, Redders and Krishna were offering up a series of juicy full-tosses. After Krishna’s first three overs went for thirty, however, the Bulusu upgrade – getting wonderful dip – began to exert some control. And Tarun (8-2-17-4) wasn’t finished, claiming another wicket in the last over of an outstanding spell that accounted for the top four – all bowled. Captain Redders could reflect that Karan wouldn’t be wasted on the top order, and ‘Deadly’ Derekar (1-12) soon began to turn the screw. And the ball, bowling five maidens on the bounce at one point. At the other end, Krishna (2-42) bagged a couple of wickets, and could have had more had Baker not forgotten how to catch – or if Nick Harrison, byeless in a first Thirds’ appearance behind the stumps, had clung on to a sharp chance. 82-7 at drinks, and the visiting batsmen could anticipate chasing less than three figures. Any such dreams were put to bed by an eighth wicket partnership of forty-one – ended when overlooked fifth-choice spinner Sutton held a catch in the deep off the bowling of Baker (2-25). The pair combined again, before Prathyush (1-15) wrapped things up with the hosts having amassed 134 in 38.5 overs. Time for tea. A proper cricket tea, no less. A rare sight, in this post-Covid world.
Redders’ decision to bat second may have been based on the hope of the light improving or the pitch drying – on it being any easier to bat. It hadn’t panned out that way. Not if the way Sutton was playing was any guide. The veteran opener has recently found gainful employment as a teaching assistant at a special needs school, finding a useful outlet for his patience. Here, 7 (seven) from his first fifty-one balls felt less virtuous, but it didn’t matter too much while Robinson (35) was prepared to live by the ‘if it’s up, it’s off’ mantra – hitting three fours and one sumptuous six over mid-wicket, making sure the required run-rate didn’t get out of hand. The opening pair had added fifty when, in the twentieth over, the ex-former-ex-all-rounder chipped one up to extra cover. Pratyush (7) struck one glorious four before being bowled, bringing Redders to the middle. The arrival of the skipper appeared to have a catalysing effect on Sutton, or maybe – after twenty-four overs at the crease – he had finally warmed up and got the measure of the conditions. Either way, runs started to flow, and the Thirds were in serious danger of winning this match. A partnership of forty took the score to 100, before Redders (14) was bowled in the thirty-second over. If it was a sign of what was to come, nobody could have guessed it. Not while Sutton and Harrison were taking the visitors to the brink of victory. At 118-3, the equation was seventeen runs needed from thirty balls.
In the event, only fourteen balls were needed. Fourteen balls that saw six – six! – wickets, including three golden ducks and a run out. From 118-3 to 119-9. Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint the moment when the momentum shifted irrevocably away from Redders’ men. Was it Sutton being hit amidships by the first of those fourteen balls? Or was it Sutton (45) being bowled by the second? Maybe it was the third ball, when President Mitchell was yorked for a TFC. Perhaps it was the eighth – the only one of the fourteen balls that Camden added a run from, but the one when Krishna, calling for a second, was run out by a direct hit from the deep. It could have been the ninth ball, when Harrison – the last recognised batsman – was plumb LBW. Equally, the tide might have begun to turn in the over previous to the fateful fourteen-ball spell beginning, with the controversy surrounding umpire Tarun’s not out call (despite appearing to raise his finger). For all that, the most likely explanation is that this collapse began long ago, that it’s just the latest chapter in a story that began as recently as 1881. Whatever, the game was truly up when the thirteenth and fourteenth balls bowled Karan and Tarun. If first ballers were harsh on those two, who had earlier bowled so well, spare a thought for Sutton. Having crawled to seven from his first fifty-one balls, the next thirty-eight runs came at a run a ball. The opener would have been forgiven for thinking that he was going to enjoy the rare pleasure of seeing it through to the end of a successful run chase. One beamer to the nuts and one outrageous off-cutter later, and he was off to watch helplessly as defeat was grasped from the jaws of victory.
Still, don’t let anyone tell you that there’s nothing to do in Warboys. This match was worth seeing. In time, the Camden boys might come to think of it as worth playing in.
Man of the Match: Tarun Narwani