LMS 2011 Round Up
I think we all enjoyed the season overall, albeit we came up against some exceptionally strong sides with very few weak links – typically full of super-sized antipodeans with biceps bigger than their bats and brains (not like our freindly antipodeans). I like to think that Octopus are steeped in the traditions of a more refined style of cricket, and certainly is took us a while (the whole season) to become more accustomed to the format and the very physical brand of cricket it engendered. That said there were some terrific performances, both individual and collective, which have provided some of the highlights of my season so far – in any form of the game.
Our delight at being handed 8 perfect Octopus-green shirts before the second game
A magical five-fer from Si Ingram against Cunning Stunts, dragging us back into the game
Will moonlighting for Sands End Swordsmen, being deliberately distracted by our team on the boundary, and dropping a catch which went straight down his throat.
Ed and I sharing a 100 opening stand (50 apiece) from the first 10 overs versus Chuckle Brothers
Knowlsie’s outstanding one handed catch against Cunning Stunts
Felix’s exceptional death-bowling with only 7 or so required from the final over of the game versus Warner Brothers, bagging us our only win of the season.
A total of 6 half-centuries from Knowlsie (x2), Me (x2), Ed and Ian.
Excellent Keeping from Alex, including I think at least 3 stumpings
For gallantry - Me calling back the opening batsman in our first game having run him out at the non-striker’s end, after we already caught the striker out (a quirk in the LMS laws) as he wasn’t aware of the law
Post-match pub attendance was excellent, as were the plans hatched and Knowlsie & Alex’s cricket-related stories from back home in NZ
Knowlsie getting cracked in the head with a bouncer and promptly smashing the next ball for an enormous straight six.
And some low points:
Realising that someone would have to wash the octopus- green shirts each week
Our bowling figures (you’ll note that no one went for less than 9 an over)
Alex running out Miles and Felix in consecutive balls
For foolishness - Me calling back the opening batsman in our first game having run him out at the non-striker’s end, after we already caught the striker out (a quirk in the LMS laws) as he wasn’t aware of the law. He went on to play a match-winning innings, spanking us all over the park
The hidings dished out by Dominate and Penetrate and Flat Track Bullies (I am told the latter didn’t actually happen, in any case it looks like a score they make up for a no-result).
Trudging to/from Regents Park in the driving rain, when you know the game will be called off, but the LMS (money-hungry) organisers refuse to do so.
Captaincy: rarely have I felt as impotent as captain of the team in the field, watching ball after ball bullied over the ropes.
The pressure on our wallets and relationships brought on by mid-week cricket with all the trappings.
OCC v The Chuckle Brothers
The Last Man Stands Octopus outfit entered last nights game looking good, with a welcomed return to the fold for some regular Last Man Stands players, Ed, Ogilvie and Felix. With the team in good spirits, we were given the opportunity to bat first without tossing a coin, a great start to the evening avoiding the fading evening light batting second.
Jo and Ed opened up on an unusually warm and sunny evening at Regents Park, and straight away set about a useful bowling attack. A short leg side boundary was enticing, and both batsman peppered it to good effect with some meaty blows to and over the boundary. Long grass on the offside prevented more boundaries being scored as some delightful drives and cuts ticked the scoring rate along and with the run rate quickly up to 9 per over, Jo unleashed a couple of well timed sixes, and notched his second 50 of the year to retire with the score at 100 or so off 10 overs. This brought Knowles to the crease, who's first task was to help Ed to his 50 which was raised with a massive six over long on from a juicy full toss. The boys were looking good at just after the mid point of the innings, and a score of 200 beckoned. However Winter in at 4 was unluckily bowled off his pads, then Knowles after a few well struck 4s got deceived by a slower ball and was caught and bowled, which saw the brakes applied to a stellar beginning. The 3rd and 4th change bowlers for the opposition were proving handy, and a lull ensued, Ogilvie being well caught in the outfield with the score 130 in the 15th. Gokul provided a brief cameo hitting his customary first ball for six however was dismissed soon after but Shark managed to then kickstart the innings, a beautiful leg side flick for 6 followed by a well timed cover drive giving the innings impetus over the last few overs, and despite a slightly disappointing second 10 overs, the Octopi had notched a very handy total of 173.
With a decent attack on show for the Octopi, confidence was high we could defend 173, and this became apparent as Gokul and Ogilvie began the innings brilliantly, line and length from both tying the batsmen down. Gokul struck first crashing a ball into middle stump, and after 6 overs the score was only 30, meaning 10 an over needed for the last 14. However the remaining opener, who initially looked tail end-like then opened up his shoulders and got them back in the game with some lusty legside hitting. At the halfway point the score was at 78-1, still in Octopus favour but another big over saw the score jump to 120 from 14, 50 off last 6 overs and it was even stevens. Knowlesie managed to snaffle a key wicket with a good yorker, however with the opposition turning ones into twos at every opportunity, coupled with regular 6s, the game turned quickly and suddently only 22 then required off last 3 overs, a hard task to defend with gaps all over the field. A solid over from Ogilvie including a wicket meant 13 off the last 2, with the penultimate over to bowled by Knowlsie. Unluckily the first two balls were french cutted for a 4 then 2, then a dot ball followed by a bye meaning 6 needed off 6 balls, a yorker required to keep the pressure on….unfortunately the ball was in the slot and a massive six over long on, and despite a valiant effort with bat and ball, another defeat for the team.
A few despondent beers were downed in the regular post match pub Earl of Camden, a post mortem putting the loss down to being a few runs short on the board, and being unable to cut down a number of well run twos by the opposition. As has become the mantra this year, cricket is a cruel game, never more so than this season, but the Octopi will come back next week to turn around their losing streak!
Joint men of the match, Ed and Jo for blazing half tons.
OCC v Cunning Stunts
Another glorious London summer evening (I think second of the year) at Regents Park set the scene for the penultimate Octopus Last Man Stands match of season 2011, not to mention a lovely bag of dog s*** someone had politely placed right on the boundary edge where we made our camp for the evening. Welcomed into the fold for their LMS debuts were Simon Ingram and Matt Dempsey, adding some needed quality to the bowling attack and returning to the team was Miles, with regular LMS players Jo, Winter, Shark, Felix and Knowlsie making up the 8, the lads champing at the bit to end a run of 6 losses.
Losing the toss and being asked to field was not the worst outcome, batting first and defending totals had not proven a successful formula, so much intrigue awaited to see how the match would play out.
Knowlesie and Dempsey took the new ball, and early on it the openers were tied down, apart from a good length ball from Knowlesie in the first over that was dispatched over cover impressively, showing they were no mugs. Dempsey began magnificently, despite not bowling for a month finding a great length conceding only singles. However this early lull proved illusory as the two batsmen (later discovered to be last minute ring-ins, how dare they) found their straps and proceeded to find the boundary regularly, negating the lush outfield with some meaty 4s and 6s. This onslaught meant there was only way to stem the tide - both openers retiring at 50, but with the score 100 for none off 10 overs, Octopus staring down the barrel. In a situation like this in the past however, Octopus teams have turned to one man. Step up the golden arm of Simon Ingram. With two new batsmen at the crease, Si began to weave a Harry Potter-esque spell over Regents Park as the runs dried up, and some lovely flight coupled with some brilliant keeping by Alex saw two batsmen stumped in rapid succession, the bails whipped off in a flash as they were lured from the crease. Remarkably Si, after taking a wicket with his last ball of the over, then first ball of his next, was on a hat-trick, but was denied by the following batsman.
With the Octopus now back in the match, the fielding lifted a notch, and soon after a lofted shot to long on found Dempsey, who nonchantly cupped the ball, somehow perched it on his shoulder for a split second, then snaffled the catch. A nifty trick to accomplish at the best of times, and Octopus back in the match. In an Octopus season where the oldest cricket adage "catches win matches" has never been more apparent (or more correctly, "dropped catches lose matches"), a well hit cover drive was snaffled by Knowlsie, the team with their hearts in their mouth though as he went for it one handed, but plucked it from the air. Just the fillip Octopus needed, 2 stumpings, 2 catches, Ingram with 4 wickets, game back on. Ingram, sniffing his first ever 5-fer was not finished however, and in his last over managed to sneak a delivery round the legs of the new lefthanded batsmen - cue delirium and a nailed on LMS Kodak moment of the year. Figures not confirmed but from 4 overs of crafty bowling had taken a memorable five wicket haul to drag the Octopus back from the brink. The spurt of quick wickets brought one of the openers back to the crease for the last few overs, who despite managing a few more lusty blows never got going, and innings closed with the Octopus bowling the last 10 overs 75 runs and taking 6 wickets, the target to break the losing streak a not unachievable 180.
A required run rate of 9 per over in LMS means that with 5 ball overs, nearly 2 runs a ball are needed from the outset. To sustain this throughout the innings is a big ask, and with Jo and Miles opening up for the team there was confidence in the ranks. From the outset Jo replicated his latest Sunday effort, and despite a handy looking bowling attack, a rapid start ensued as Jo begain dispatching any full balls like a rocket to and over the boundary. The score was moving along well, however another powerfully struck off drive from Jo unfortunately found a fielder right on the long off boundary, with the score at 36. This brought Knowlsie to the crease, who struggled early against some decent seam bowling, though managed a few boundaries (off the edge) to keep the score ticking along. Miles was playing well, hitting well through midwicket with aplomb, and with the opposition bowling not giving much to hit, at the half way stage Octopus were doing ok at 74/1,needing a a not insurmountable 106 off the last ten.
A big over was needed to get the team back in the match, and a change of bowler saw a great over as Knowlsie deposited two balls over midwicket for 6, retiring soon after at 50 with the score at 100 off 13 overs. 80 needed off 7 overs. Shark entered the fray, and some great running between wickts kept things moving. However a full straight ball saw him bowled, and then next ball a sharply taken attempted single by new batsman Alex saw Miles run out. Dempsey strode to the crease however was undone by the pace and bowled soon after, leaving Felix and Alex with a now herculean task of 60 off 4 overs…3 runs a ball. Winter was timing the ball beautifully and well needed boundaries were scored, with Felix a delicate cut for 4 also keeping things moving. However another run out saw Felix depart, bringing the man of the moment Si Ingram to the crease. However with 39 now needed off 10 balls, an impossible task loomed. Winter was unlucky to spoon a ball to cover, bringing Knowles back to the crease and with another quirk of LMS being that a possible 12 can be scored off the last ball of the innings (any runs being doubled), the chase was still on (however deluded that notion might have been). Attempting to hoick his first ball through midwicket, Knowlesie misjudged the ball in the fading light, and a blow to the side of the head saw him dropped like a stone. Spewing invective to the bowler accusing him of dropping it short, his anger was soon allayed by the captain as he realised he had ducked into a regulation length ball. Despite some claret on the ear, and a head ringing like Big Ben, the match was still to be won, and batting on, the next ball saw swift revenge as the ball was smashed a mile over the straight boundary. Game back on, and Octopus cheering loudly from the sideline as an unlikely victory was not dead. 28 off the last over, 5 6s needed. With the evening now very dark, a useful left armer bowled a great last over and despite the two Simon's swinging with all their might, the Octopus fell valiantly 22 runs short.
Despite the 7th loss on the trot, a great performance, the best of the season other than the win, with the two Simon's performing well with bat and ball, and a great fielding effort, especially with Winter proving his class behind the stumps effecting two brilliant stumpings. Retiring to the regular Octopus post match boozer Earl of Camden the lads reflected on another gallant performance. With next week being the final match, a win is desperately wanted to finish off a great season of LMS.