What makes a good day of Sunday cricket? How about sunshine, cheap beer, dreadful umpiring, a tense finish, a guy who doesn't own whites taking wickets and an electronic score board? This game had it all.
Octopus fielded first after a negotiated toss (oppo skipper "we're strong, how are you looking"? BR "very weak..." oppo "OK you field first and we'll hold back our 2nd team bowlers."). Holtwhites were soon 3 down after great opening spells from Dempsey and Max. One catch behind, one totally done for pace and an outrageous take at short extra cover from Khartik, holding onto the ball for (just about) long enough before hurling it to the ground in excited fury. The season had begun.
Bowling changes didn't stop the wickets falling. Max clung onto a great catch at slip off Khartik, and Edmund Curtis ("I think I'm a bowler") took the important wicket of their number 4, the owner of a lovely technique and matching G&M kit, who ballooned one up in the air when looking nicely set. His replacement also couldn't keep track of Ed's magic balls and missed a straight one. With 6 down at drinks, Holtwhites inevitably settled and steadied the ship, taking cautious singles against Graham's turn and Felix's bowling in a straight line. Felix did ultimately break the partnership off a fine catch from Ben at mid wicket and Dempsey and Khartik made short work of the tail, with the final wicket pouched by Graham in the 39th over. 191 to win.
With Octopus 50-0 in the 9th over, Holtwhites began to suspect they'd been had, bringing on their 2nd team bowlers and deciding that Harsh and Khartik had done quite enough damage. "He can bowl all day he's not getting me out," said Harsh, and he was right. Almost inevitably it was the 12 year old who did the damage. Soon we were 3 down, including an lbw given by their umpire against Ben that was high, wide and - let's be honest - only done to make the game interesting with Ben looking dangerously settled. Khartik then fell just short of a fine 50, Felix's innings was shorter than Javier Hernandez and suddenly the Octowobble was in full flight. Thankfully the Derbyshire Destroyer was in Test Match mode and Benjy blocked like he'd never blocked before (literally) and hit every bad ball to his well-known favourite part of the fence (editor's note - he did also score on the off side). Edmund was very unlucky to be well caught on the boundary, Dempsey also fell to a good catch in the outfield and with 7 down it was looking bleak. In walked Max to join a calm and defiant Benjy with 30 still needed. Further controlled Benjy biffing took the runs required down to 10, before Benjy and Graham both fell, having brought us agonisingly close to victory. I ambled in with time on our side and, most importantly, headed to the non-striker's end. With two superb strikes to the mid on fence Max brought the scores level at the end of the over. Max was seeing the ball so clearly that I decided the leave was our best strategy. I left everything, including one ball to the balls, and played out a maiden. Max finished it off with a single through the hands of the diving gully fielder. A tight Octowin to start the season. Cue wild polite celebrations led by Harsh, a memorable grainy video of the final overs and everyone making themselves available for the following weekend.