Mustering for the first Saturday match on the fixture card this year, the band of CICC players knew that there was something different in the air – the added piquant nature of a cup match. Specifically, May 16th 2015 marked the third time that The Boa Cup would be fought for between The Village CC and CICC – named by Matt Boa who played for both sides during his time in London before moving back to New Zealand last year.
Let’s be fair, it was not with any sort of hope, at least for the Clapham players, when both skippers strode to the middle for the toss. Once again I called wrong (1 for 4 now! Shocking!) and Village elected to bat first.
Following a quick warm up, Gareth Morgan (1/26) and Salman Hasan (2/36) set about limiting the scoring opportunities for the Village openers excellently. Change ups were in order pretty soon though and Justin Wildman (0/30) did just that – bowling very cleverly and being incredibly unfortunate to end up wicketless. On what was an unpredictable pitch, CICC needed to be patient and work hard at all times to ensure that when chances came, we didn’t miss out. Cressey (38) and de Mellow (39) batted very nicely however and were in the process of building an exceptional platform when Jan-Hendrik Rossouw (3/37) removed the former castling his off stump (the first of his three wickets – all bowled) and a chink of light looked to have emerged for Clapham. Village number 3 Pontin joined de Mellow and both batsmen saw it through to drinks. The score was not racing away by any means, but all of Clapham knew that quick wickets would be the order of the day following the resumption in order to keep the pressure on and restrict the runs as far as possible.
This is exactly what happened. De Mellow fell in the first over after drinks to a well worked wicket by Rid Hollands (1/28), his first of the season and when Riaan Ferreira (2/11) started bowing his box of tricks, out thinking the Village middle order, backed up by some excellent work in the field (a great catch on the boundary by Hollands for instance) what could have been a very sizeable score started to look a little more limited. Hasan, Morgan and Rossouw all came back for fruitful and penetrating second spells and by the end of the 40 overs, Village had made their way to 199/9 and the match looked firmly in the balance.
Before we move onto our innings, just a word about our performance in the field – it was great! The bowling was accurate and very well judged and the standard of fielding was definitely the best of the season to date. Each member of the team should feel very happy with their efforts – great stuff.
Following a quick tea (read beer and whatever each of us had brought) Simon Marais (1) and Joel Plaja approached the wicket knowing that a solid opening partnership would keep the momentum going in our favour and Plaja especially played with a fluency as if he were knocking up in the back garden – one highlight being a majestic straight 6 that will live in all our memories for a long time to come.
When Marais departed though, it triggered a bit of a mini-collapse with first Plaja heading back for an excellent 26 having been picked off LBW by Village spinner Gupte (2/21) and then Riaan Ferreira playing his first match of the season followed soon after for 6. This brought together current Club President and Club Captain to try to build another partnership from which to launch another assault on the Village score. Jim Clack started to find the middle of the bat more regularly and with James Frecknall (30) chancing his arm somewhat at the other end, drinks came and went with no further casualties. Clack finally fell for a well-crafted 22 which, in turn, brought Jan-Hendrik Rossouw to the crease and when he struck a brutal 6 and 4 in the first over he faced, the match looked firmly back in the balance.
When the Captain played down the completely wrong line to become Cressey’s first victim fresh off the back of his 49 vs Sunbury, Josh Shinner was next to the crease. A leading edge accounted for Rossouw falling to the Village Skipper Troja who by now was in a bit of a game-changing spell of 3/6, also accounting for Shinner (5) and Justin Wildman (9).
This latter flurry of wickets was alas the straw that broke the camel’s back and despite batting all the way down, the CICC lower order was sadly left with just too much to do. When Morgan fell to Thompson’s third ball of his return spell, that marked the end of the match and CICC will have to wait another year to battle for, and hopefully emerge victorious in their quest to raise The Boa Cup aloft.
Both teams then decamped to a local public house and in the true spirit of friendly cricket, many a story was shared and received by both teams in what we hope will also very much become a tradition.
Although the margin of victory does look like a big one, it was roundly agreed that this was very much one of those occasions when the result does not truly reflect the state of the game. It ebbed, it flowed, during both innings and there were, on both sides, some real moments of inspiration.
Well played Village – until next year.
James Frecknall – May 2015
Champagne Moment Nominations:
Rid Hollands – Catch on the Boundary, Rid Hollands – 1st wicket of the season, Joel Plaja – Straight 6 (resulting in a lost ball), Jan-Hendrik Rossouw – Knocking off stump out of the ground
CICC Champagne Moment vs The Village CC – Joel Plaja – what a shot that was!