Weak Philanderers bowling line-up comes up short at Chippenham Park!
The chance to renew Cambridge school hostilities with an Old Persean heavy Philanderers team and The Old Leysians had been hotly anticipated for many months, so it was with much sadness that The Leysians proved predictably dishonourable and incompetent and failed to raise a side for the fixture. This forced Phil into SOS mode to find a fixture with just a week’s notice. These are of course the situations for which he is made and sure enough Phil established our good friends at Chippenham Park has been left in a similar boat by their opposition and so were able to host us at their delightful ground, for what I am sure resulted in a better game of cricket being played against a better and more educated bunch of blokes.
In preparation for the original high stakes match Phil had tried to assemble the strongest possible team he had available, however, although the batting was strong, Phil admitted the bowling attack was “quite weak”. Said bowling attack featured: Henry Campbell, East Anglia Premier League opening bowler for Granta (33 wickets at 14.03 in 2017); Mihir Chandraker, the precocious young Saffron Walden leg-spinner (33 wickets at 17.73 in 2017); Tom Sherwin, fast bowling former Perse first XI and Edinburgh University captain and owner of best Philanderers figures in 2016 and Ed Pearson, a Cambridge Blue who had taken six wickets against the same opposition earlier in the season. Was this a reflection of the strength of The Philanderers these days, or has Phil finally lost all sense of context in assembling a social Sunday cricket XI?
Presumably Ed Pearson had Phil’s words ringing in his ears when he won the toss and, fearing his weak bowling attack being carted for 400, selected to have a bat on a damp green wicket. In tricky conditions The Philanderers promptly slumped to 18-3 with Dean, Rogers and Samson all departing cheaply. Leary and Wright then set about rebuilding the innings, Wright played with his usual high elbow and technical correctness, straight driving and working the field and scoring a fine 58. His innings was however completely overshadowed by an outstanding knock from Paul Leary. Facing some good bowling early in his innings he defended and left well, before starting to dominate the bowling attack. On a pitch where no other batsmen ever looked comfortable, Leary played with a languid ease, driving on the up through the covers and hitting good length balls over mid-off to reach a richly deserved 108, as good as any this reporter has seen for the club. After Leary and Wright had both fallen there was just enough time for Pimmers to hit a glorious straight six before Ed declared on 232 for 7 wickets - Ed himself batting at number XI as all good Sunday captains do.
As the weather worsened and we digested our Pork Pies there was a sense of trepidation as to whether we had anywhere near enough when our weak bowling attack was further decimated by ‘bang-average’ Campbell unexpectedly announcing that he wasn’t fit to bowl due to a side strain. A lot then rested on the shoulders of opening bowlers Heathcote and Sherwin, who both stepped up with fine performances. Unfortunately, the Philanderers failed to support their bowlers in the field. First Dean dropped a low chance at second slip off Sherwin before, in the next over from Heathcote, the bowler failed to react to a caught and bowled, Pearson dropped a rocket in the gully, and Sherwin, still seething from Dean’s clanger, dropped an absolute rotter of his own at third slip. With plan A not working Pearson turned to Chandraker’s spin, and promptly Henry Campbell dropped the opposition star batsmen at second slip just as he passed 50.
Amidst this fielding carnage Chippenham had fallen some way behind the required run rate, and going into the last hour needed either to accelerate rapidly, or merely bat 20 overs without losing their remaining eight wickets to secure a draw - Sherwin having managed to take two without help from the field.
With the 100% win record on the line in Sunday cricket in 2017 things were growing tense and Pearson reacted by repeatedly shuffling and reshuffling his pack, in the hope of turning up an ace. Eventually he threw up a joker in the form of the left-arm all-sorts of Matt Samson, which took two quick wickets to give The Philanderers a chance. Returning to his two best bowlers it was up to Chandraker and Sherwin to win the game. Chandraker got three wickets and Sherwin two more to leave Chippenham eight down with an over to go. Sherwin, into his twelfth over and fourth spell, summoned all his energy (fortunately he had once again brought his own Tupperware of tea to supplement the excellent spread provided and so had a modicum of energy left) and charged in. A wicket with his third ball gave him three shots at glory… but alas the number 11 proved up to the task and Chippenham escaped with a draw with the score on 153 at close of play. And so, with the benefit of hindsight, Phil was, as usual, proven to be correct - The Philanderers bowling did come up short, if only through the incompetence of the fielders.
Writing this a week late allows me the knowledge that our schedule final game was rained off, and therefore the draw with Chippenham marked the end of season 2017, in which we came within one wicket of securing the perfect Sunday record. This now of course gives Phil justification in finding an easier fixture list and recruiting an even more needlessly strong team over the winter…
Overall another excellent season with the above draw against Chippenham supplemented by victories over Clavering, Holkham (twice), Highgate Taveners, The Flycatchers (a first victory for many years), Barrow and Chippenham, in the first game of the season. Most notable has perhaps been a transition from those early-acadamites, with the honourable exception of Davidson, with injury and other commitments limiting Dean, Gimson, Pearson C, Hammond, Hesketh, Coe and Cassels to just a meagre handful of appearances between them. Whilst the exciting new generation (Development Squad?) of Chandraker, Gill, Leary, Sherwin, Wright et al. have proven to be more than capable replacements, this reporter hopes for a return to the ranks of these stalwarts of yesteryear in 2018 - a year with rumours of a non-North Norfolk tour and some exciting new fixtures.
Thanks as ever to Phil for his hard work in putting together the fixture list, raising teams and myriad other tasks we don’t get to see.
From the Bunker – Thanks very much George for your excellent Match Report, as usual I am publishing his short story version, and to the other worthies who have contributed Reports throughout the season. However, I must take modest exception to George’s assertion that I described our bowling attack as weak. I merely informed Captain Ed that he may be required to turn his arm over. Should this have inferred a weakness amongst the rest of the attack I can only apologise. Having got my tiny seasonal dose of humility out of the way may I congratulate the Sunday XI on another great season with the Development Squad (I like that George) keeping the Academy Elders on their toes. Also, the Midweekers comprising a significant element of genuine Elders must be congratulated on a mere 3 defeats from 9 matches. Well done everybody - you are all my favourites!
Century maker Paul Leary returning languidly to the Pavilion