Octopus CC vs Highgate CC - June 6th 2010
A battling display from a determined Octopus side ultimately came up 45 runs short on a humid day at HQ. Winter captaining the side for the first time won the toss and as planned inserted the oppo on the 'variable' St Aloyiuos pitch. The plan had been hatched with the prospect of having the twin fast bowling talents of Dempsey and Reid to rough up the oppo and keep the runs down. However, when a hangover got the best of Dempsey and he failed to show it didn't look good. However, in the end three part-timers in the shape of Gopi, Ingram and Hayward stepped up to bowl their full compliment in support of Sam and Graham as the usual front-liners. Tight bowling in the most part from all five bowlers coupled with energetic fielding from the Octopus contingent restricted the opposition despite having some very talented batsmen to 216/5. Rob Hayward (upgraded from spectator status at the last minute), Charlie Rix and Pete Hilton (who took a great catch) turned in excellent displays patrolling the boundaries to turn potential 4s into singles while Andy James patrolled the infield. A key moment was Gopi removing the hard hitting Solomon LBW with 5 overs of the Highgate innings remaining and some tight bowling at the death from Sam.
Over a delicious classic Andy James roll dominated tea the team contemplated the prospect of chasing down 216 off 35 overs in the late evening sunshine. With the pitch freshly 'watered' from a tea-time shower Octopus knew that at least couple batsmen would need to produce serious runs with some solid support from the rest of the team to get us close. In the end we got another fantastic innings from Pete Hayward, supporting knocks from Rix and Winter and an electrifying cameo from Hilton down the order but not quite enough to really be in it.
The innings began in promising fashion with Gopi dispatching an early ball to the fence. However, it was not to be as Gopi got a good ball and the promoted Ingram misjudged a swinging delivery to quickly have us two down. Rix and Pete rebuilt the innings before Charlie on 18 tried to work a ball that was too straight when looking promising - 3/34. The fourth wicket partnership of 56 between Hayward and Winter proved to be the best of the day and briefly threatened to turn the match our way. Pete with a combination of watchful defence and a number of scampered twos into the outfield kept the score ticking over while Winter looked to hit down the ground for boundaries. After hoisting a huge six over midwicket to move the score to 3/99 with one ball to go until drinks Winter told himself to stay calm and work a single - of course he didn't and was out caught trying to slog a boundary.
Following drinks James, Marsh and Reid came and went in swift succession - Sam taking the cautious approach for once and getting a great ball first up for successive golden ducks on English soil. At 7/108 the match was looking like it would finish quickly and with a wide margin. However, the lower order provided three memorable highlights and runs to boot. Firstly the Hayward brothers batted together for the first time and posed for a celebratory family photograph in the middle leaving the oppo somewhat puzzled. This was followed by a form, logic and expectation defying innings of 23 off 14 balls from Pete Hilton. The two Petes put on 49 in double quick time with both parties hitting fours at will - brilliant stuff to lift the Octopus spirits. The final memorable moment came when Stew Satterly bravely batted with despite a pulled hamstring to give Pete the chance of a few extra runs. Rob Hayward was acting as Stew's and despite a few nervous moments and miscommunications (including Pete telling Rob to 'back up' when Stew was facing a spinner) they carried the score through to a respectable 170.
In the end there was no victory for the Octopus but a performance to take away several positives from - Roll on Sunday and Hoopers at home!!
Octopus CC vs Hoopers - June 13th 2010
A fantastic match yesterday and a great advert for cricket as Octopus and our perennial friendly rivals Hoopers scored precisely 206 runs each from their 40 overs to leave the match tied and the trophy shared. Few thought that yesterday's game would match the drama of last season's epic - that saw a boundary catch in the last over secure a 7 run victory for Octopus - but we were all wrong: it surpassed it.
Batting second in pursuit of 207 for victory Hoopers had started briskly, but slowed to lose their top 3 before the score had reached 50 and at drinks had only 65 on the board. Hodge had claimed two of those wickets with a fine spell of seam and swing bowling, first knocking over Nash through the gate and then taking the priceless wicket of dangerman Nabarro, last year's centurion, lbw for 16. A fine catch off the inside edge from Winter saw Lamplough strike in his first over to remove Hedges and 30 minutes later the Octopi were taking their refreshments in good spirits, a wicket or two from exposing the tail. Straight from the restart however Hoopers took control as Willis at 4 and in particular Couldrey at 5 began dispatching the ball mightily and frequently to the boundary. They passed 100 within 4 overs of drinks and kicked on from there to bring victory comfortably within reach. Yet Octopus clung on. With their partnership on 117, Willis fell to a classic case of Sh1t Ball Took Wicket as Hayward's full toss found a way through. New comer Avery went second ball but with Couldrey still at the crease a target of 22 runs from the final 30 balls appeared a racing certainty, as a nervous watching pack willed Hoopers on from the sideline.
First ball of 36th over. All change. For once Couldrey's immaculate timing deserted him and a lofted drive went high to mid off where Webber held on comfortably. Two new batsman at the crease and the tension ratcheted up a notch. As Reid rejoined the attack with a superb maiden and MaCardie and Curtis scuttled 1s and 2s elsewhere, the target dropped to 18 from 18, then 13 from 12 and then 10 from 6 for victory as Winter lined up the final over. An inside edge off the first ball for 2 built momentum and bat hit ball thereafter as Octopus marshalled their field placings best they could. Another two to deep midwicket and three scampered singles made it 7 from the over with a ball to go. Three to win, two to tie. Winter bowled it nicely on a full length but MaCardie - the final wicket to fall in last year's memorable denouement - kept his nerve and banished any lingering disappointment with a solid strike to long off and a sprinted double that tied the game.
For their part, Octopus had batted extremely well earlier in the day with a magnificent unbeaten Joshi/Winter partnership of 140 providing the meat of the total. Excellent line and length, and on occasions a bit of swing, had kept openers Hayward and Lamplough down to a solid if unspectacular start but with the pressure building in the 9th over a Lamplough cover drive looked a certain boundary. Yet with the ball stopped just inside, a fraction's hesitation to go for a third run came with a heavy price and Miles was on his way to bring the skipper to the crease. Nabarro came on first change and was initially expensive as he found his range. Some quick runs for Hayward followed before the bowler upped his game to force a quicker ball through some shoddy defence and two overs later dismiss Hodge cheaply leg before. 66-3 as drinks approached and Hoopers rightly pleased with a sharp session's fielding. Their one regret? A difficult chance put down in the covers that would have seen Joshi depart in single figures.
It would prove costly, and indeed another chance was spilt at slip before the skipper truly shifted into gear. With Joshi determined to bat the innings and with Winter in confident form and buoyant from the joys of fatherhood, the runs began to flow. Despite an fiendishly quick and accurate spell from 2nd change Willis, the rest of the support bowling was plundered and after the ton came up in the 29th over the next 11 reaped a hundred more as Harsh finished on a run-a-ball 94 and Winter passed 50 with a six in the final over. 206-3 an excellent effort and the two batsman well deserving of the warm applause that greeted their return.
With a competitive total on the board the Octopi munched through Miles' excellent tea with some relish and jogged on to the field confident, but not complacent, of victory. Wise that, too, for Hoopers splendid response was about to start and lead us all to a nail-biting climax.
Honours even then. Cricket the winner.
Hendon St. Marys CC vs Octopus CC - July 4th 2010
Octopus made it two wins in a row on Sunday with an ultimately comfortable win over Hendon St. Marys C.C at their home ground in wilds of North London. Hendon won the toss and perhaps unwisely decided to have a bat on a rock hard green top - The octopus opening pair of Will and Sam like nothing better than a bouncy wicket and soon had the home side reduced to 9/3. Mike Nicholas in his second match for the tentacled ones should have had an early reward his fine spell but the Hendon number for inexplicably failed to walk after a gloving a snorter through to Bett behind the stumps. Hendon middle order men Mitcheson and Hague took advantage of this 'reprieve' to add 83 valuable runs for the 4th wicket - helped by the usual Octopus generosity in the extras column - 43 this week! The partnership was finally broken with the score on 92 when Gopi snared Mitcheson caught in the outfield by Winter and the same combo accounted for Hauge a few overs later. The end was fairly swift with Nicholas, Hodge and Reid proving too accurate for the Hendon lower order. Nicholas grabbed a deserved wicket and Hodge finished with outstanding figures of 4-15 of 6.5 overs. A fine performance in the field from Octopus was capped off with Bett's 'one for the cameras' diving catch to finish the innings on 154.
155 off 35 overs did not immediately seem to pose a massive hurdle for the Octopus batting line-up with opening pair Will and Gopi moving swiftly to 26, but with Hodge departing for 24 (6 boundaries!) the brakes suddenly came on. Hendon opening bowler Lee found his line and proved metronomic with a spell of 7 overs, 5 maiden 1 for 7! He was well supported by the pacy Mitcheson who removed Octopus number three Hayward for 2. 35/2 and a famous Octopus collapso was looming on the horizon - however, on the this day it was not to be! Charlie Rix and Gopi watchfully saw off Hendon's openers and then set about the chase with some poise. After a scratchy beginning Charlie suddenly found his form with a series of brutal cover drives while Gopi dropped anchor with the aim of batting the innings - it's the perfect one day strategy for a chase and a partnership of 97 resulted! When Charlie departed for a well earned 56 (including ten boundaires!) only 35 were needed. Cameos from Hindle (10) and Sam (4no) combined with Gopi's watchfulness (46no) saw Octopus comfortably home with 3 overs to spare. A good day in the sun and another mark in the win column - well played fellas!
Octopus CC vs Crouch End CC - July 11th 2010
Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Octo-pus-pus-pus!
An early start was the order of the day as World Cup final fever gripped the nation. The opposition? Our near neighbours Crouch End, stepping into the breach after another no-show from the moribund fellows of Warners End. Bucking their trend, Octopus selection policy is slowly moving from arm twisting / emotional blackmail to head scratch pondering as to how to select XI from XII. Luckily, only eleven souls put their hands up for this one, so the slightly short sighted policy (lifted from the IRA) of maiming two players with a cheerful shotgun blast to the kneecaps was shelved. For this week at least.
It didn’t take Paul the prescient Octopus to predict that a successful coin toss from the opposition captain would result in Crouch End electing to bat, on clearly the hottest cricketing day we’ve seen for a year or two. A hung-over and slightly grumpy Sam took the new ball and the residual effects of the previous nights excesses were almost forgotten as the opening batsman was castled with only 5 on the board. Will provided the bullets from the other end as the CECC batsmen defended stoutly for the opening 8 overs. 1st change paid almost immediate dividends as the death rattle sounded for the other opener from Ogilvie’s 3rd ball. The medium pace of Hindle in tandem with the awkward bounce elicited from Ogilvie proved few scoring opportunities for the men-folk of Crouch End. With the run rate hovering at around 2 an over the pressure paid off. A bump ball casually lobbed towards Pete at mid-wicket. Looking up from his deckchair the Octopus opener sighed, placed his Pimms back on his mid-wicket-occasional-table, removed his spectacles and laboriously got to his feat. After changing out of his lounge suit, Pete ambled forward, collected the ball and with all the enthusiasm of the long term unemployed nonchalantly tossed the ball to gloveman Bett, who promptly ran out their number 4. In these hectic, modern times we live in, it was a delightful throw back to Victorian values! Drinks were taken at 20 overs with CECC on 53-3.
The next wicket fell to the Skipper. Not required behind the stumps, Alex turned his arm with miserly effect before sending one down with gravy on, to clean bowl their number 5. The veteran of 2,346* operations and #3 in BUPAs all time most expensive patient list, these days Alex is held together with titanium screws, elastoplasts, the love of a good woman and a gypsy curse – so it was with little surprise that his gravy-free slower balls were due to shoulder knack, as opposed to kiwi kunning. The gritty Youdale became the bedrock of the innings as wickets began to tumble at regular intervals at the other end. Sam was back into the attack, less hung-over but still grumpy - thudding pads with full length balls followed up with passable pre-pubescent petulant posturing, as a succession of umpires remained unmoved at the el-bee shouts. As the irritation increased, the pace followed suit; one hapless batsmen took evasive action, hoping over an exocet that rearranged the timbers, which must be preferable to rearranged tibia.
A rare Octopus slip catch by Ogilvie after Morris slashed a Hodge snorter provided a bruised bottom and a shoe in for this weeks Kodak Moment (TM). Other moments of note in Highgate’s obdurate 142 for 9 included Matt Hindle’s pun-tastic “Most consistent Winter since Narnia” in reference to A.Winter’s bowling. He’d clearly been brewing it for a while (keep them coming chaps). Hands down fielding highlight followed a wild shy at stumps from C. Rix. An enraged Andy building into a sprint towards the loose return, head turned 90 degrees from the direction of travel, bellowing “YOU STUPID FU*KING IDIOT”. Que all 10 fielders suppressing giggles and this correspondent being taken back to a severe reprimand from my old geography teacher Mr Taylor, circa 1992. Ox-bow lakes are nothing to get worked up about – Octopus overthrows definitely are. You rock Andy James! It is unclear whether Charlie’s observation that “It was a good job no children were watching” was due to Andy’s agricultural language or the poor example it set, throwing to the bowlers end with no-one backing up.
143 to win with a stacked batting line up, a lightning outfield and no demons in the pitch? Surely, nothing can go wrong now? Of course it can. And don’t call me Shirley.
The Crouch End tails were up early doors, as Hodge shuffled back to the pavilion; yorked for one run. Gopi and Pete to the fore and a watchful spell of batting was peppered with outlandish aerial smites before a mid-over chat proved far from fruitful. I for one never really know what to say between overs. I imagine the serious batsmen talk of building innings, the disguised outswinger from the last bowler, critiquing his partners leg glance before tending to a spot of gardening. I would class Pete and Gopi as serious batsmen so it was with some shock that i subsequently learnt their chat extended to “If you hit it, we should take a single”. And so it unfolded thus: A tickle to an obscured short fine leg. An exchange of looks. A realisation a run could be accumulated. “YES”. Running.
The scorebook reads as follows
G. Ketineni run out (Youdale/Bell) 10
The writing was not yet on the wall. Although a stencil was being prepared and the masking tape primed.
Fresh from his maiden 50 the week before a confident Rix strode the crease. Ball 2 thundered into his pads as the fielders erupted in unison. Cool as a freshly frozen fonz Ogilvie was unmoved: “missing leg stump I’m afraid bowler, it did too much” (by a margin only the Hadron collider could calculate). Two balls later and Charlie’s toe prevents the inevitable clattering of stumps/dreams. The shoulders slump, the finger rises.....the batsman, incredulous, waves his bat, a look of anguish etched on his duck shaped face, his beak quacking “but i hit it” as he waddles back to the hutch.
A stroke of genius from the opposing Captain renders the Octopus middle order limper then Pele in a Sao Paolo whore house. What wizardry did these bowlers possess? Pace? Swing? Spin? Drift? bounce? None of the above: Glacial shift.
Q: How can you hit a ball that is going so slowly, your species evolves into a non-physical entity?
A: You can’t
The Octopus batsmen are in and out with the monotonous regularity of the ebbing tide. James, Winter, Ogilvie, Read and Hindle dashed against the rocks as a lone George Bett stands firm. Despite the revolving door the scoreboard is still ticking over as the modest 142 creeps ever closer...
96-9. Enter Shakey, our erstwhile Jack in the pack with a career spanning 45 summers and a lifetime batting average of 3*. Cut him and he bleeds ink**.
Shakey drops anchor and George marshals the strike with aplomb. The scoreboard ticks, top lips moisten on the boundary as hope builds with each passing run. A series of near boundaries result in a plethora of two’s – Shakey is all but honking on the square at the excursion, as the observation “We may win this but it will mean Shakey will probably die” is pondered by the team. Hmmm, tough call that one.
Still the runs come.
3 overs, 11 runs and one wicket are all the stats you need. George, his 50 up, is facing. A firmly struck drive to mid off looks like it’ll be a comfortable two but some sharp fielding sees our brave duo make do with a single. It proves a turning point in recent fortunes as Shakey lasts 3 more balls before being beaten through the gate to enable Crouch End to admirably defend 142. A brave fight to the end and no mistake. Onwards and upwards.
*No effort was made to substantiate these stats
**Yes, i’m well aware that it’s Squid that have the ink