OCC vs Hackney Marshes: on numbers and moments and time - 17th July 2016
2016, the year when ever more news seems to squeeze into ever less time. Octopus CC v Hackney Marshes CC on 17 July was a game of its time, which could be remembered for more in 80 overs than some seasons pack into 20 weeks. A six run win which came down to the last ball of the last over is as good a place to start as it was to end. A number, a moment, but not a story full story. Not even close.
More numbers, more moments. An opening partnership reconvened from 2010 puts on 77 against a high quality attack. A 43 ball hundred. A last ball golden duck. Both sides use runners. A Hackney opener twice ignores edges so clear they would have caused snicko to report an earthquake. Drops that look costly and wickets that seem final prove neither. A mid innings Octopus huddle to straighten brains and mouths.
And still that cannot tell the story. That, too, is a moment. 3:18pm. Hayward nudging a ball into the covers. A single. Moments need context to have meaning. Hayward knew, of course he knew, that this run had taken him from 49 to 50. But he paused, whether through disbelief or superstition, knowing too that this moment was more than another number, more than a thin line of pencil in a book. More than a 50, more than a game.
Hindle is scoring. Recording the numbers, the dots and the ones and the byes and the fours and not the meaning. Hayward taught him this, taught him to numerate, annotate, communicate. In that order. The moment paused and stretched, then the pavilion responded to Hayward's inquisition. Arms aloft, celebrating a score which came not so much from batting against an opposition as from battling against life.
Pete Hayward @haywardinho11 Jul 17
66* today for @OctopusCC. First inns of the summer, first 50 for 6 yrs & my 5th highest score ever in 106 caps. For my son and for my wife.
He went on to carry his bat, holding an innings together and holding a world together. 66 not out from 91 balls in 150 minutes. The first opener unbeaten in a completed Octopus innings since the same batsman in 2010, the first in a 40 over game since the same batsman again in 2009. Numbers have meaning with context.
An opening partnership born of Octopus 2010 had delivered in 2016. Lamplough and Hayward saw off some of the best opening bowling faced this year, the seamer from the Palace End finding consistent away movement in five tight overs; his partner threatening the stumps but never finding them.
Patience the virtue for the batsmen, protecting the middle order and finding a way to score, too. The first ten overs yielded 23 runs, the next ten 53. But that was nothing on the acceleration to come.
First over after drinks, Lamplough edged a good ball in the channel through to the keeper. Bisht scored busily, ones and twos making 15 in a partnership of 20 before a mishit found mid on.
Murthy in at four, the bowlers in for it. Twice he’d faced Marshes in 2015, twice he’d scored 99. There would be no flaking this time. The third ball he faced hit for six, the fifth too. His 50 came just two minutes after Hayward’s, from 23 balls. From 73 to 100 in 9 balls, the ton from 43 in total. Power but true cricket shots, a masterclass ended three balls later but only by his own retirement. 112 from 46 balls in 46 minutes, Octopus from 76-0 at drinks to 249-6 at the close of the innings. The Marshes opening bowler from 5-2-10-0 to 8-2-49-0. In that time ‘Canadian’ Dave Robertson made his cricketing debut, and was clean bowled fourth ball. Shiv Kumar had two before departing the same way, and Josh Grant had two duck points when he selflessly hit the final ball of the innings straight up in the air.
250 a tough target. But on a good pitch Marshes punished width and their opening partnership stood at 87 when Sam Grant, on as first change, found a way through to off stump. He and Francies, though, had both had appeals – celebrations, really – turned down from clear edges behind. No one likes to see an angry Octopus, and it took a Hayward-led huddle to calm feelings and refocus.
The wickets were regular but the partnerships substantial enough to keep Marshes in the game. Two key moments: a hamstrung Lamplough somehow making ground at deep point to lunge and catch the other opener on 84. And as the momentum fluctuated in a tense finish, Grant and Davies found the perfect yorkers, the former to remove the dangerous wicketkeeper batsman, who would have won the game had his 40 become 50 and more. Davies' death deliveries deserved more than 8-1-38-1, Grant’s penultimate over of the game too. Numbers have meaning with context. The game still in touch, Davies still finding his yorker. The final ball would have tied the game if hit for six, it passed the edge for an Octopus win. Whatever else happens in 2016, this one will be remembered.
OCC vs Judd St Tigers (h) - 31st July 2016
The Octopus XI showed off a mix of experienced shoulders and youthful exuberance. And a servery hungover Grant, back from a stag do in Brighton. Kamiston and Chris lined up for their first Sunday games for the club and Tom (Francies Jnr) for his second. 8 players in their twenties (I think) shows that the youth policy is doing wonders, well done all.
Gokul tossed and, as he usually does, lost. The oppo had no hesitation to bat. No troubles, knowing that the Alexandra Park pitch might offer up a bit of variable bounce, but slightly worrying that we were still missing a fair whack of our team.
We started the game with 8 in the field, Kevin and Perry having gone large, we presumed. With Chris. Kevin and Chris - with it being their first Sunday fixture, can be forgiven. Perry 'I thought it was a 2pm start. I left my breakfast on the hob' Pearce, less so. 14 overs in, and finally, we're up to our full compliment!
But who needs fielders anyway, and second ball, Francies (Snr) strikes, the batsman obliging by chasing one outside off and dragging on. We take a couple more wickets (including a sharp caught and bowled by Debutant Chris) but it's tough going, and Tigers reach 128-3. The aforementioned Pearce - making up for lost time - starts the ball rolling with two wickets in an over, both expertly taken by Jo behind the stumps. He would end with 4 dismissals (3 caught, 1 stumping). Tigers would collapse to 141-8, and finish on 160-8 from their 40. Great bowling, especially newcomers Chris and Kamiston ('Kevin from the internet'). 161 to win for the chasing Octopus batsmen.
Francies (2), Nair (2), Pearce (2), Eades (1), Jogathilaraja (1)
The chase started off...with difficulty. Experienced opening pair Jo and Pete were back in the hutch within 5 overs, leaving us 5-2. However, when one batman leaves, another enters (expect at the end of an innings) and these wickets left Vish and Gokul at the crease. Their 91-run partnership left us 94-2 at tea (20 overs), and in the driver's seat. At this point Gokul held the opinion that both batsmen should retire at 50. The scorer didn't take too kindly to this, and suggested that there was still a long way to go. Gokul decided not to retire, and instead, 2 balls after drinks, top one into the gloves of the keeper for 37. Vish (52) went on to take his 50, bringing it up with a swashbuckling maximum. However, he felt too, Taylor the dangerous Tiger, ending with 4 wickets. In and out went Tom Francies (an entertaining 14), Sam (ball kept low) and Perry (you miss, I hit). Debutant Chris fared slightly better, with a well-made 17 off 13, before being bowled by a good ball. His wicket brought the score 151-8. 10 runs to win, and overs in the bank, but not much batting in the tank. Kamiston and Sajeev out in the middle. Adam waiting calmly (potentially...) at the boundary's edge. Slowly by surely we worked our way up, seemingly at least 3 people updating twitter as we went.
35th over. 2 needed. Wide. Scores level. Swish. Swish. Connect. 4. And the game. Kamiston hitting the winning runs to take us over the line.
Again, another close encounter with our feline friends. But again, showing 4 paws have no answer to 8 tentacles in the field.
Beamers vs OCC - 3rd August 2016
Bloody Nora. Well I'm not going to forget that in a hurry. What an evening.
40 overs. 414 runs. 37 wides. 34 fours. 21 sixes. 15 batsmen. 14 bowlers. 3 wicketkeepers. 1 muddled Octopus captain still reeling the morning after.
1 Octopus victory.
The game started off in usual fashion. 6pm Crick-Off and only 5 Octopuses waiting; including new recruit Ben Wright. Captains agreed that - due to concerns over the light - we'd make a start and Octopus would bat first in the hope that the rest of the team would emerge before wickets started falling.
The innings started off well, Jo and Gokul scoring freely before Jo was bowled by the opposing skip. Frais joined Gokul out in the middle. Together, they put on 116 high-quality runs in a sparkling partnership. Gokul blasted his way to 90 including 7 fours, 7 sixes and 1 lost pink ball. Shiv played a nice little cameo before Vish came to the crease in the 17th over. In the last three and a half overs Octopus added 52 runs, including 25 off the last over, to reach a gargantuan 222-3 off of 20 overs.
Bigger bats. Batsman's game. No tight LBWs. It's a batman's game (copyright 'The Bowler's Union') but this was clean hitting at its best. As the umpire for three quarters of an innings, my arm was flagging just signalling the boundaries.
Onto Beamers' reply. With Kartik bowling spin, Francies took the first over. By the end of it, Beamers were 4-2 with both openers gone; and with it the game. That didn't stop some fine bowling from Octopus. Special mentions to Kartik and Perry who bowled in tandem beautifully. Matt and Ben Frais were also in the wickets and although Beamers managed to get up to 192-9 off of their 20 overs, they were always behind the rate and Octopus managed to find a tight over whenever it seemed needed.
It was great to have first bowling displays for Shiv, Francies Jnr and debutant Ben W, who was thrown the ball for the final over and did not disappoint.
In the fading light, Octopus trudged off the pitch dazed yet triumphant. I'm still not sure how I feel about it all. There's too much to take in. But it's another win and the juggernaut roles on. 5 in a row. Highgate on Sunday; bring it on!
Octopus beat Beamers by 30 runs.
Gokul: 90 (45 balls)
Vish: 44 (14)
Ben F: 35 (29)
A Francies: 2/12
Streatham & Marlborough CC vs OCC - Sunday 21st August 2016
Result: SMCC (273-7) beat OCC (264-9) by nine runs
A match of ebb and flow; flow and ebb. A bit more flow. Then far, far too much ebb. A defeat by nine runs chasing 274 looks like agony on paper, but the overwhelming feeling at the end was of pride and relief – at making a game of it and at the match being over. We batted for 189 long minutes all told, the last 12 overs taking an hour and played in constant cold drizzle. Lethargic fielders seemingly repositioned every ball; an on-off charade with the 12th man substitute; and a determination to use a specific replacement ball all adding to the clock. An epic Octopus effort in those circumstances fell just short, always half-a-run or so behind the demanding rate.
Nine runs, though. On another day, the match was ours. A day perhaps when the first-team batsman was caught for 4, a howitzer of a one-hander only fingered in the gully; a day when a full XI from ball one plugged an early gap or two in the field; a day when the home team kept to their stated directive of being generous on wides (28 given to our 14). The start of the match was punishing: Hassan forgetting his early flash to score steadily and heavily. Gurunathan and Russell snared his partner early on, but by the 10th over the score was in the 80s. The Black Day at Highgate was mentioned in the slips. Memories of 352 runs conceded at a similar rate.
But you can’t keep a good Octopus tethered for long. We are Kraken now, after all. Bowling changes brought a change of tempo, the sun came out and our chaotic arrival and late start faded from view. Three quick wickets got us back in the game. Catches for Kamiston and Jo; the latter one a blinder, diving forward and low, fingers protecting the ball. No referral needed. OUT. The next man plays on to Palav to leave the score 148-4 around drinks time. Some solid cricket thereafter, the rate slowing.
But Hassan was still there. In a cap now, no helmet needed. Speaking cheerfully of personal bests and morning hangovers. Relaxed and confident. Dangerous. He decided it was time. An hour later he was out, charging the bowling in the final over for a huge 175. 27 fours, 7 sixes. Not a PB though, he said, aghast at the question. The innings finished on 273-7; Mike and Karthik picking up wickets at the end.
A very nice tea interval. Filling. Spoilt only by Jo’s brooding at some very odd, uncalled for “banter” from their 12th man. He later apologised. (The 12th man, not Jo).
The Octopus reply commenced at 16:38 in warm evening sunshine. Though by the time the field was set, present and correct it was probably nearer 16:45. Pandya-Smith and Hayward faced up to two bowlers blessed with accuracy and swing, if not much pace. A nibble here and there; a tight length; some agile fielding. Frustration building as the score crept up to 33 in 9 overs. Time for some humpty? Jo made the call, picked the line but not the bounce as it jagged in through the gate.
Time for some Vish Vash Vosh.
60 runs off 29 balls for the mighty Selvaraj, twice taking 19 runs off an over, and the innings had its lift off: the score up to a healthy 117 as he joined Jo in the pavilion nine overs later. A fine return catch too – a plummeting leading edge well held by their skipper after the ball touched the clouds.
Kamiston arrived, enjoyed a prod and a chat, and departed for 1. Mike and Pete next then to tackle the rate, both gawping calmly as it approached 8 an over. Hayward playing more fluently now, having got bogged down for a spell after a solid start, and Wilkinson middling anything in his range. A brisk partnership of 50 in six overs kept Octopus on the edge of the hunt. One shot stood out. No, your eyes did not deceive you, Hayward hit a six. A clean hit down the ground for only his second maximum in over 3,000 balls faced for Octopus. A thwack into the sight screen to dream of.
Both batsman would depart attacking the wily slow-bowling of Reardon – placid but effective. Mike stumped for 27; Pete bowled for 56 to leave the chase 182-5 after 28. 93 needed off 72 balls.
It started to rain. Dark grey skies. A cold breeze. Bruss looked up the Duckworth-Lewis score. About par he thought. Prospects of a beer and a mutually beneficial “No result” were mentioned. But it was idle talk. In the field, seconds turned to minutes turned to hours as fielding changes continued in the gloom and thoughts turned to family, good food and a warm bath. Opposition wives arrived to ferry husbands home and joined a shivering Mrs. Hayward on the sidelines. The bar waited for orders that would never come. The left-over tea remained uneaten. The women’s match next door packed up and left, as the clock ticked on towards 7.30pm. The cricket continued.
Gurunathan and Palav pushed on at around a run a ball, looking for gaps in the field and rotating the strike, but the big hits were hard to find. The rate edged up. Reardon’s gentle dobblers struck twice more – bowling Karthik and confounding Ameya, who left his crease as the ball dribbled behind him. Run out. 222-7 after 34. 52 needed from 36.
Where there is Sajeev Nair in his red shoes, there is also hope. And where there is Bruss at the other end, there is always a single available and a second to find. Run Sajeev, run! 27 needed off 12 balls. The light fading. The ball properly and thoroughly dried for the umpteenth time. Ben’s race for another double leaves him just short. Final over, third ball, six from Sajeev! Smashed high over backward square leg. 13 from three balls! It couldn’t be, could it? Could it? COULD IT?!!
Sajeev caught two balls later for a wonderful 41. Hindle’s final single the prelude to the race to get home before dark.
A scorecard packed with beauty.
A game to remember.
A match to forget.