Sunday XI v Kensington 27th May 2019
M & B's Sunday X1 got back to winning ways, albeit on Bank Holiday Monday, against their long standing visitors, Kensington. Skipper Armstrong was taken unaware when he looked at the Met Office app, which was showing a 70% chance of heavy rain between 2 -4 ! Having arrived at the ground under leaden sky and it started to spit as he put the stumps in the ground, things looked grim. At the toss it was agreed to reduce the game to 35 overs to factor in any rain, albeit Kensington's skipper's BBC weather app only showed light rain. Armstrong also advised the oppo that there would be live music on in the clubhouse in the early evening. Having lost the toss M & B were asked to bowl for the first time this season.
With Moorthy back the old combo of Gun & Ambar took the new cherry. Probably with no cricket for a fortnight Moorthy was a little rusty early on as he bowled on the short side initially. Some width allowed the batsmen to guide the ball through the gully region for a single and boundary and he was pulled over midwicket to give Kensington 10 from the first over. Gunbarul hit his straps from ball one though as he found his line and length immediately. Moorthy continued to drop the odd ball short and was punished. Both batsmen pushed the fielders and picked up singles easily. Gunbarul made the breakthrough though in the 6th over as he got Ghosh fencing at one which bounced outside the off stump and was well taken head high by keeper King. Opener Chaturvedi continued to be aggressive as he drove Gunbarul down the ground for a couple of boundaries. He was given life as Swapnil Manchanda dropped a relatively simple chance at extra cover off a drive from Moorthy, which probably summed up his day. Gunbarul finished with the very tidy figures of 7/1/25/1, and highlighted his good off side line, with virtually nothing going down leg side, which has characterised his previous spells so far this season. Skipper Armstrong and spinner Manchanda were the first change bowlers. Armstong made an inauspicious start in his first over with a misfield going for four and a sharp chance going a begging at third slip. Armstrong re-grouped and made a breakthrough in his second over as Russell inexplicably swung across the line and was bowled top of off, with Armstrong's pace splitting the bail! Armstrong struck again in his next over as he got lucky as a short of a length ball shot along the ground and hit the base of leg stump to bring Chaturvedi's innings to a halt at 41 in the 19th over leaving Kensington on 90 for 3. Manchanda kept the scoring relatively quiet although the slightly shorter ball again proved costly. In at 5 was Kensington's skipper and in form batsmen, Tim Keleher. With two quick wickets Kensington had to consolidate and the strike was rotated on a regular basis with only the odd boundary struck .Singh tried to break the shackles and was caught by Gunbarul at mid off to give Manchanda a wicket. Skipper Armstrong made an early play for the whiskey with analysis of 7/1/25/2, well backed up by Manchanda's figures of 7/0/34/1. Armstrong tasked Ethan Walker and Cam Jacobsen with the task of bowling the remaining seven overs, with the Kensington batsmen looking to tee off, with six wickets in hand. Walker's first over was on the short side and Mohammed pulled him for two boundaries. The batsmen couldn't fathom Jacobsen's flight in his first over as they continually swung and missed. Walker recovered to bowl a fuller length in his second over but Keleher managed to collar Jacobsen in his second over playing his off the back foot through leg for a mighty six and a further four. Jacobsen snaffled Mohammed in his last over, stumped by King as Kensington finished on a round 200 for 5 off their allotted 35 overs, with skipper Keleher undefeated on 65. With Kensington only 5 down and on the shortened 35 over format 200 was not a bad score to chase, less than 6 an over. As always for M & B the bowlers weren't generally supported in the field by the fielders.
Cameron Jacobsen and Ethan Walker opened proceedings for M & B. Jacobsen making a welcome return to the Sunday X1 and in fact playing his first game and net of the season, due to his work commitments as an estate agent, silly boy. Despite no net Jacobsen had no problem in locating the middle of the bat as he hit a cover drive and lofted drive over mid-on in the first over, which eventually matched Kensington's first over of 10. The start set the tempo of the innings which never really stopped. The 5th ball of the second over, a full toss on leg peg was flicked over square leg for 6, ending up in the adjoined garden, as presumably it went through the fence beyond the ditch. One of the youngsters from the oppo managed to climb over the fence and retrieve the brand new nut. Walker got in on the boundary hitting in the 3rd over courtesy of a drive. At the end of the 3rd over the score stood at an impressive 28. Further boundaries followed aided by some wides, one of which went to the boundary, meaning M & B posted their 50 in the 6th over and ended it on 54. Van Vuuren delivered a tidy 6th over, only going for a single, but this was to be the only respite for Kensington during the opening stand. Indeed a run out or stumping looked the most likely mode of dismissal. Indeed Walker was close to be being run out when he didn't run through properly and the stumps were smashed by a direct throw from midwicket from Keleher. From the boundary it looked out but was given the benefit of the doubt by the umpire, who wasn't in the best place to judge. The openers went on their merry way with both strong on the drive and pull. After hitting new bowler Singh for two boundaries Jacobsen was then dismissed as he tried to hit a full toss over extra cover but unfortunately found Kensington's gun fielder, Keleher, who took a super catch running back to dismiss Jacobsen for 40 in the 12th over with 93 on the board, his innings including 5 4's and a 6. The impetus meant the original asking rate of just under 6 was now down to under 5. A few relatively quiet overs passed whilst new bat Benny Ward snr got his eye in. Thereafter Walker began to tee off, going aerial over long on for 6 and dispatching a Ghosh short ball high over midwicket for 6 to the long midwicket boundary on the Church side. Ward got in of the act hitting Singh for a 6 over mid in whilst also taking 3 2's in the same over, meaning another 13 were conceded. In P Singh's first over Ward swept and pulled two boundaries to leg and then hit the bowler over mid on and off to bring four boundaries in the over and score another 17 runs towards M & B ever decreasing target. M & B now 165 for 1 after 19 overs. With the game really up Keleher looked for new bowlers and unfortunately he plumped for El Presidenti, Sunil Amar. Presumably with Walker on 72 he thought if the opportunity was there he would need to go big now if he was to get a century, before Ward purloined the runs. No doubt a little stiff and with a couple of wides Amar was pulled and driven for three 6's and 2 further boundaries in an over which yielded 28 and catapulted Walker to 98no. Allegedly, according to Kensington historian San Gore, 28 is the most runs conceded by a Kensington bowler in an over. With Ward hitting a 2 early in the 21st over his teammates shouted for him to block it and give the strike to Walker, which he duly did. Walker then scored a single off the final delivery of the over to move to 99 and then promptly hit the first ball off the 22nd over to the boundary to finish on 103no(containing 5 6's and 12 4's) and Benny Ward snr on 36 no(1 6 and 5 4's), leaving an undefeated partnership of 108 and M & B victory by 9 wickets with almost 13 overs to spare. In the process Ward walked off having taken his Sunday average in three innings to a mere 122!
As is the way with Kensington, they were happy to chat and drink after the game in defeat or victory, whilst consuming the chilled Cobra beers. As is traditional Kensington presented M & B with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Whiskey for hosting the game and a bottle to the M & B man of the match, no surprise Ethan Walker. Skipper Armstrong presented the large bottle of Cobra to Kensington's man of the match Tim Keleher, the skipper, for his fine innings and excellent fielding. As always it was a pleasure hosting Kensington and we look forward to playing them next year, when no doubt they will be looking for revenge.