Played at Lower Bury Lane, Epping
Report by Steve Hamilton
This was our first encounter against Epping, established as a
club in 1865 but with their first reported game dating back as far
The weather and setting were perfect. It was a
pleasant summer's day with a marvellous neatly rolled green wicket,
freshly watered by the pre-match sprinklers.
I won the toss
and elected to bat, confident that with our powerful batting line-up
we would post a competitive total. A special mention at this point
for Fallopian legend Peter Frisby who came to support us and umpired
for 20-odd overs.
Our openers Sam Shahid and Jakeria Ahmed
settled in nicely. Shahid was soon hitting the boundaries and
landing some meaty booming blows until he was trapped leg before
half-way down the crease. Our ever so neutral umpire (Mr Frisby) in
a theatrical manner waved his finger in the air and sadly our number
one opener departed.
Soon to follow was our stylish and
in-form batsman Jakeria who scored 70 not out last game.
Unfortunately hit the ball straight to long-on's awaiting hands.
Next up was our top scorer of the season Junaid - definitely not a
shrinking violet and oozing presence every time he approaches the
crease. His partner in crime was Laurie Roberts, who is actually
looking younger as each year passes by!
This pair put on 53
for the third wicket, displaying a contrast in styles, with Junaid
using his brute strength and power, including a massive six driven
straight into side screen; while Laurie - more a touch player - used
his finesse and constant rotation of the strike to make the most of
every slight error from the bowler. All good things come to pass and
first to go was Junaid after he mistimed his stroke, hitting the
ball with the toe end of his bat straight to first slip for 34.
Next to arrive at the crease was the mild mannered yet
unpredictable Azaz Khalil, who started well with two boundaries. But
then Azaz struggled a bit and never quite clicked into gear, hitting
fresh air at times. This was despite unthreatening deliveries which
were more like defused hand grenades thrown over the barracks and
climbing 10 to 15 feet before they landed. But with a defensive
field spread around the boundary it was difficult to score.
Eventually Azaz, unbeaten with his wicket never in danger, kindly
retired on 36, not out of frustration but in order to give other
players an opportunity to bat.
In came Graham McGee, hungry
as ever and he didn't disappoint! He scored freely, ran hard and
accelerated our score to a competitive total of 213-5 off 40 overs
and was undefeated on 33.
After the interval and some
delicious pukka homemade parathas from Jakeria and some freshly
brewed old-fashioned Pakistan-style tea from Junaid we were ready
for the challenge.
Our opening bowlers Asad Mushtaq and
Anthony Banks worked hard but were out of luck, missing the outside
edge numerous times and definitely deserving some reward. Banks
disguised some lovely slower balls which bamboozled the openers.
had control and venom! In hindsight I wished I kept him on, but I
wanted to rotate our bowling as we had decent strike force!
Our first change bowlers didn't fail and bowled a tight line. Umair
Shahzad provided laser-beam accuracy with in- and outswingers,
landing the ball on a sixpence. This was just what we needed to keep
the run rate down as Umair went for a measly nine runs off his four
overs. At the other end Junaid continued his turn to the dark side,
disdaining his former threatening pace to instead flick in his leg
spinners (hopefully he will see the light!).
remained absent from the scorecard as the Epping openers dominated
the game, looking at ease and fully in control. At 98 for no loss
after 17 overs we were in deep trouble ... until the entry of a
cunning wise old fox [who might that be, we wonder? - Ed]
took the wicket of the Epping captain Sayed Hasan off my third ball.
I knew he had a dodgy back so I bowled a full delivery to where one
might place a 5th or 6th stump and had Hasan over-reaching for the
ball which took an eternity to come to ground. He was already midway
through his stroke by then and just nicked the ball with the outside
edge of his bat straight into keeper's hands. Finally, a
breakthrough! Maybe a glimmer of hope. Were we back in the game?
The answer was yes! One stroke of luck brings another and a few
overs later I tempted the new batsman with a flighted delivery. He
came charging down the wicket and he middled it well. But
unfortunately for him he hit it straight to long off and probably
the safest hands in the business - Azaz - who took the catch
nonchalantly about 10 yards inside the boundary rope.
other I was well supported by Fahim Pathan. Playing in his second
weekend fixture for OF and looking fitter this season, Fahim bowled
with control and accuracy and only went for 11 off his three overs.
I'm definitely looking forward to what's to come from him in the
Finally our talented allrounder Jakeria came on and
changed the game in our favour, with a devastating spell of fire
which clean bowled Raj Rejender with a full ball yorker and trapping
two more batters lbw. Jakeria was unlucky not to get a hat-trick and
ended up with figures of 3 for 37 off nine overs. Junaid at the
other head was finally rewarded with a wicket, taking a brilliant
one-handed catch off his bowling.
With tensions rising, Umair
came back on with devastating mini spell, including a wicket maiden
in his last over and only going for 16 runs from his seven overs.
Umair also bowled Epping's young opening bat Stan for 107, who
almost won the game single-handed. Stan played brilliantly but was
also very fortunate, as I nearly had him three or maybe four times
earlier on, and I'm not bitter at all!
At 210 for 7 off 39
overs Epping needed three off the final over. Any thoughts we had of
victory being within our grasp were quickly blown away by Kranthi -
incidentally, the most annoying batsman I've ever come across,
consistently shuffling back and forth when the bowler is about to
deliver the ball. This very same Kranthi clipped the ball to deep
midwicket for four and that was that, they think it's all over - it
was then and it is now!
We lost a well-fought game and it was
a privilege to play at such beautiful venue with its history and
welcoming hospitality and - best of all - we are invited back next