Jonathan Hammond, captain of the Old Nottinghamians' cricket team, reports on the Phoenix v Bingham 2020 match...
"Is it on, Skip?"
Thursday 6th August 2020. The match was due to start at 6.00pm and the downpour arrived at 5.07pm as I drove to Adbolton Lane. The thought of having to call off the match, during a mini heatwave, was heavy on my mind. Text messages were coming in from those about to set off. “Is it on, Skip?” - “It’s always on!” was the reply. Within ten minutes, the skies cleared and all was well. With a damp out-field, the scene was set for the youngsters to act out their best Ben Stokes fielding slides.
The toss took place and Bingham Cricket Club chose to bat in the glorious sunshine of another picturesque scene at the Home of Old Nottinghamians’ Cricket. An unusual, but essential, part of the team kit in the 2020 Battle against covid-19, the hand sanitiser and wipes were strategically placed near the stumps, to enable both a fair and, more importantly, a clean tussle between the two teams.
A Captain's Life
The Phoenix XI took to the field. Yes, eleven. At stages throughout the last 48 hours it had been nine players, soon ten. To the delight of the Selection Committee we then had a full XI, but in true mid-week social cricket style it had dropped back to 8 again. Then up stepped the reliable Robin Fisher to help make up the numbers. Amarni Saunders also volunteered with hours to go, earning his first cap for the Phoenix.
A much-appreciated appearance from a 'Hamians loanee, T J Broderick, completed the full XI. Henry Dilley had kindly offered to be the scorer, having relinquished his place in the team due to an early morning injury. The Selection Panel duly noted his generous gesture, helping the evening to run smoothly (with the offer of free post-match pizza for his efforts).
Bingham CC Innings
Eduardo Martin took the new ball for the first over from the Trent End. His quick pace and tight line restricted the experienced openers of Bingham to only five runs. Sacheth Menon ably followed, yielding only another five runs. Things were going well: 100 off 20 overs should be achievable. Harry Ashdown joined the attack with two dot balls and then the wicket of opener Hartland, pace and accuracy removing the leg stump.
Chris Padwick took his turn with the ball; Rohil Shah followed with his familiar run up and delivery, which the Adbolton faithful had eagerly awaited. But they were eagerly awaiting the second wicket of the evening as well. Matt Taberham's pace and line could not break the Bingham pair, who rattled the runs on with some ease. Collins retired, having achieved his 25 runs. His replacement, Utterly, hit four boundaries, including a well-timed six, before retiring too.
What Breed Of Duck?
Amarni Saunders’ inaugural over for the Phoenix XI resulted in only seven runs being added to the visitors' score. Next, Joshua Nissim was keen to put the nightmare of the previous week to the back of his mind. There had been some debate regarding Josh’s mishap. Having your bails nipped off by the first ball of your own innings is obviously a Golden Duck. But if it is the first ball of the match, is it still a Golden Duck or something more akin to a Platinum Duck? And when it is the first ball, of the first over, of the first match of the season, should it not have another name? I await your suggestions. Anyway, I am sure we will soon forget about it. Back to the match…
Josh impressed the Selector, conceding only two runs from his over. T J Broderick bowled his first over for the Phoenix. A leaner Robin Fisher followed, trimmed by his recent sterling and successful performances in the saddle. His deceptive pace forced a mistake and the ball went to Chris Padwick for a simple catch at cover point. Chris ‘The Juggler’ Padwick proceeded to entertain his teammates and the crowd with his sleight of hand. One moment the ball was in his hands, and the next… it disappeared! Magic! No, wait, there it is, unexpectedly, two feet above him! The amateur juggler had only attended one lesson at Juggling School: 'How to throw a ball up in the air' was the topic. Alas, 'How to catch it again' is next week. Hence the ball dropped to the pitch. If only it were all happening a week later!
10 Overs Bowled
The next shot cleared the boundary ropes; the runs were totting up. The first ten overs had resulted in 80 runs. Things were looking bleak. Eduardo Martin was more generous with his second over. More disappointment followed when a delivery was snicked to the waiting hands of Rohil Shah at second slip. Ah, they weren’t waiting, and an opportunity was missed.
Sacheth Menon was keen to make his mark. Bingham’s number 2 batsman dollied his third ball to the waiting bucket hands of Josh Nissim at gully. Harry Ashdown took two wickets from his second over. For the first, a wayward slogged drive brought a diving catch from debutant Amarni Sanders at mid-off. The second was clean bowled. And only four runs were conceded from the over. The Selector’s decisions for the next match were deciding themselves. The younger generation were showing their skills and agility in the field; could they do the same with the bat?
Chris Padwick induced another possible catch to T J Broderick at mid-wicket, but it was not to be. However, Rohil Shah captured two more wickets for only two runs. The first ball of his over went down the 22 yards with three bounces, no pace at all, and beat a bat that the batsman had already swung. His fifth ball forced the batsman to dolly one up to Sacheth Menon at extra cover. The Phoenix XI were pegging back the opposition. The remaining overs might decide the match.
Matt Taberham showed a keen pace and line. Amarni Saunders, Josh Nissim, T J Broderick and Robin Fisher returned. With plenty of wickets in hand, Bingham hit some decisive boundaries and racked up a final total of 157. It was one of the biggest run chases the home team had faced. Could it be achieved?
Phoenix XI Innings
Rohil Shah and Josh Nissim padded up and wnt in first. Rohil took the first ball to relieve Josh of the responibility. In fact Rohil rattled off an impressive 28 from 24 balls. Josh faced only seven deliveries before being caught off a wayward drive for three. Sacheth Menon scored a creditable 24, including slogs over mid-wicket that appeared to be running towards the ropes before the outfield brought the ball to an unexpected stop. The expectant batsman were left celebrating a single run.
This spurred Sacheth into action. A six, then a four, and another four, and then a six, driven high whence the bowler came… and straight into the kit-bag of the opposition. There was applause from both on and off the pitch; Bingham CC were showing good sportsmanship. Eventually, Sacheth lost his bails to the slow spin of Uttley. Alex Podmore arrived at the crease to face a possible hat-trick ball. He coolly let it go with a confident raised bat as the Umpire watched it sail within two inches of the off stump. Confidence personified!
One swing at a well-pitched up and pacy delivery should have seen the ball sail over the boundary. Unfortunately, the mistimed shot resulted in a soft thud, a heart-wrenching squeal, a sharp intake of breath, a doubling up and... the moral of the story is, wear a box! After a few minutes of puffing and wheezing, Alex retired on 25 from only 20 balls received.
Chris Padwick only faced one ball before chipping up an easy catch with a pull to leg. Harry Ashdown raced to 10, but then, after what can only be described as the slowest conceivable version of Riverdance, the wicketkeeper removed the bails before the dainty footwork had taken Harry's size 11s back behind the popping crease.
Bad Luck, Duck
Amarni Saunders negotiated nine balls for his single. Eduardo Martin played his part with some flair and 13 runs before giving a catch, trying to raise a run rate that was slowly falling behind the necessary target. Matt Taberham went in at 104 for 5. The Bingham fielding was tight and runs were hard to come by. Despite his best efforts to find a gap, Matt added a duck to the scorebook. Teammates offered sympathy and understanding as he wandered back to the boundary ropes (well, the sounds of quacking ducks filled the air).
There was gentlemanly applause as Robin Fisher went in to put together, potentially, a winning last-wicket partnership with our guest for the evening, T J Broderick. T J retained the strike and rattled off a quick 15 runs. Only 24 more were needed for the win. Well, that’s what we hoped. Robin added a single run before the last ball of the match claimed his wicket. Bingham had secured their third win out of our three matches. We clearly need to up our game if we are to turn the tide when we next do battle.
The sides applauded each other as they left the pitch. The timing of the final wicket was perfect for those gathered at Adbolton Lane: 8.27pm. Not only was the light starting to fade, but the setting sun was slowly dipping below the Nottingham City skyline in the distance. Ducks were becoming silent as they began to settle down for the evening. The watersports fanatics were tying their kayaks to roof racks. The car park was slowly emptying. The sailing dinghies that had been twisting and turning earlier in the calm water of the Trent were all safely moored or stored away.
More importantly, it was nearly 8.30pm, and the post-match pizzas had just arrived.
The Phoenix XI: Rohil Shah, Josh Nissim, Sacheth Menon, Alex Podmore, Chris Padwick, Harry Ashdown, Amarni Saunders, Eduardo Martin, Matt Taberham, T J Broderick, Robin Fisher.