The Supertest. The big one. Two full days of high emotion (if occasionally low action) cricket.
Matt Small won the toss and, with the forecast set to “scorchio", wasted no time in sending the Badgers out to field. Tall Paul and Jimbo opened the bowling, setting the ideal tone with miserly initial spells and, backed up by the rest of the pack, managed to keep the scoring rate down around the 2 runs/over mark for the first 20 overs. However, the Road's cautious approach slowly began to pay dividends as they built up a series of meaningful partnerships before hitting out in the afternoon session and finally declaring on 243/7 from 58 overs.
The Badgers took a different approach and looked to score quickly from the off. Thomas and Dollimore got the ball rolling, before Cornish got the bit between his teeth with a rampant 45. The runs were flowing but sadly the wickets were falling and in next to no time the Badgers were 4 down with only 88 on the board. Fitzpatrick and Jinks set about the tough task of stabilising the innings, and though the former fell just before the close of play, the Badgers were feeling much happier, having avoided the follow on, and still in the hunt on 130/5 overnight.
The next morning the two teams descended on Joseph Hood a little the worse for wear to find the pitch had seemingly moved further away from the car park overnight. Closer inspection reassuringly revealed the pitch to be in the same place but, confusingly, the people on it were much smaller than expected. It transpired that Merton council had double booked the pitch and a morning colts game was taking place.
The ever-reliable Pete Jinks and ever-hungry Jim Hamblin had clearly enjoyed their weetabix that morning, and when the game did finally resume they set about chasing down the Road’s total in earnest. Hamblin fell just shy of the fifty partnership leaving Jinks to marshal the tail through to 214 all out.
71 overs left in the day. Captain Shone handed the new cherry to Dollimore and he didn’t disappoint, snaring Patterson in the first over and inspiring mid-off to make up a short ditty:
When the ball starts to swing,
And the crowd starts to sing:
As it moves through the air,
The bat fends in despair:
At the other end Cole was in no mood for singing. He had clearly embraced the archetypal fast bowler’s mentality and was charging in like a man possessed. Ball after ball beat the edge, but sadly this was not to be his day. Hamblin joined in the fun picking up two and when Cade trapped Keating LBW the Road were on 75/5 and briefly looked in danger of collapsing. However, a strong partnership between Robinson and Shaboodien restored their confidence, and even though the latter was forced to retire hurt the runs kept flowing and the Road were able to declare for the second time in the match on 190/6.
A competitive declaration by the Orange caps set up the finale beautifully. The Badgers required 220 from the remaining 24 overs.
Was captain Shone going to go for it? Hell yes!
Warman and Fitzpatrick took to the crease and put in a solid initial stand of 52 to calm any initial nerves among the Badger ranks. Cornish strode out in the 10th over and proceeded to do what ‘Beno' likes best; a mere 5 overs later he was striding back to the sidelines having more than doubled the total on the board.
106 needed from the final 10 overs
became 95 from 9,
then 90 from 8.
85 from 7.
80 from 6.
Just as the game started to slip away.. BOOM - Six from Hamblin: 70 from 5.
Disaster struck - Hamblin out: 63 needed from 4.
57 from 3.
Jinks bowled - surely it was all over now? 54 needed from the final 2 overs.
Thomas, the new man at the crease, wasn’t beaten yet and proceeded to smash 19 off the penultimate over to leave the Badgers requiring an unlikely (though still mathematically possible) 35 from 6 balls.
Sadly the last over went for 9, leaving the Badgers 26 short of the target. An epic knock by Fitzpatrick (who finished undefeated on 80), and a blistering cameo from Thomas was’t quite enough to see the Badgers over the line.
Handshakes all round, and credit to the Road for their well-judged declarations that kept the game alive right to the last over. See you next year.