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The Invincibles

The 2015 midweek team recorded the stunning record of:

Played 12 Won 12

Thanks to all those who made it possible by rushing from work for the 6pm starts. The main honours should go to Richie Stubbs and John Gibson, who mustered the sides and made sure that everyone knew where to go.

Here are the batsmen and bowlers - all 39 of them - who made history along with full match reports from a campaign which the Duke of Wellington himself would have envied:

Batsman

Ms

Is

Runs

HS

Average

Mike Loan

5

5

191

82*

191.00

Spencer Leach

5

6

142

50*

47.33

John Low

8

8

135

46*

27.00

Aidan Selby

9

6

130

27*

65.00

Sam Ferrick

2

2

122

103*

122.00

Piers Ovenden

5

4

75

30*

75.00

Tom Wood

7

6

74

29

14.80

Raj Herath

7

5

57

27*

...

Eric Swale

3

3

51

34*

...

Glen Oliver

6

5

43

27*

...

Tom Salvesen

3

2

43

35*

...

Niall McNevin

3

3

38

35*

19.00

Stephen Tjasink

4

2

34

26*

34.00

David Rice

2

2

30

26*

30.00

Dan Thanushan

3

1

28

28*

...

Kim Ross

1

1

28

28*

...

Amar Mahadeva

2

2

27

25*

27.00

Tom Garside

1

1

25

25*

...

Matt Hilton-Dennis

2

2

22

20*

22.00

Christian Troughton

2

2

22

22

22.00

Naeman Symonds-Baig

1

1

17

17

17.00

John Gibson

3

3

16

10

5.33

Hakeem Rauf

2

1

16

16

16.00

Vipu Namasevayam

1

1

13

13

13.00

Nick Waring

2

2

11

7*

11.00

Ryan Duff

2

1

10

10

10.00

James Howsam

1

1

10

10

10.00

Sudip Ray

2

2

10

7

5.00

Keith Shannon

4

4

9

5

2.25

Stephan Joseph

1

1

9

9

9.00

Mike Knowles

3

2

8

5

4.00

Rory Wood

4

3

7

6

2.33

Richie Stubbs

10

2

6

5*

6.00

Jeff Ball

1

1

5

5

5.00

Alastair Macaulay

1

1

4

4

4.00

Laurie Allsopp

3

2

3

2*

3.00

James Stubbs

2

2

1

1

0.50

Nick Logan

1

0

 

 

 

Sean Held

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowler

Overs

Runs

Wkts

Av

Raj Herath

25

146

10

14.60

Glen Oliver

18.2

43

9

4.77

Aidan Selby

22

135

7

19.28

Richie Stubbs

31.3

195

7

27.85

Piers Ovenden

12

59

7

8.42

Dan Thanushan

6

43

4

10.75

Hakeem Rauf

8

43

4

10.75

Laurie Allsopp

7

55

4

13.75

Rory Wood

10

75

4

18.75

Tom Salvesen

11

80

4

20.00

David Rice

6

27

3

9.00

James Howsam

4

13

2

6.50

Sudip Ray

4

16

2

8.00

Alastair Macaulay

4

20

2

10.00

Stephen Tjasink

9

70

2

35.00

James Stubbs

3

13

1

13.00

Naeman-Symonds-Baig

2

16

1

16.00

Sean Held

3

16

1

16.00

Vipu Namasevayam

4

31

1

31.00

Christian Troughton

6

34

1

34.00

Nick Logan

1

3

0

 

Nick Waring

3

6

0

 

Mike Knowles

1

7

0

 

Amar Mahadeva

3

17

0

 

Stephan Joseph

2

19

0

 

Niall McNevin

3

21

0

 

Arun Thanushan

3

22

0

 

Matt Hilton-Dennis

5

34

0

 

Ryan Duff

6

45

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thames Valley

Thursday May 28 in Sunbury

Strollers won by 29 runs

Strollers 152-5  
(20 overs; Salvesen 35no, Swale 34no, Selby 26no, Leach 21, Oliver 11no)
Thames Valley 123-5
(20 overs; Herath 2-19, Oliver 1-13, Selby 1-13, Salvesen 1-40)

The midweek Strollers emerged from their winter hibernation for the traditional season opener against Thames Valley at the Spelthorne Sports Club in Sunbury. Following the even more traditional game of "find the man with the key to the gate to the ground", skipper Richie Stubbs elected to bat.

Jeff Ball, Keith Shannon and John Gibson all fell to variable bounce at the Water Treatment Works end and Sudip Ray was out to a fine catch low down at mid-off. But Tom Salvesen, Eric Swale, Aidan Selby, Spencer Leach and Glen Oliver held the middle order together and the Strollers reached a competitive 152-5 at the end of their 20 overs.

 

Graham Doggett opened Thames Valley's innings in his usual swashbuckling fashion, smashing good balls to all corners of the ground, with one enormous six even landing on the central reservation of the A308 Staines Road West. But tight bowling from Salvesen, Selby, Raj Herath, Oliver and Stubbs, some neat keeping by Leach, and sharp fielding by all Strollers limited the batting side's scoring opportunities.

 

The later-than-planned start to the match meant that Thames Valley’s innings closed in darkening and increasingly chilly conditions on 123-5, 29 runs short of the target. The victorious Strollers were glad of the warm hospitality offered by their generous Thames Valley hosts in the shelter of the clubhouse patio. Special mention must be made of the Battenberg cake...which must surely be the reason why some of Thames Valley's younger players appear to have grown about six inches since last season.

 

The midweek Strollers look forward to facing Thames Valley again at Spelthorne on Tuesday 14 July.

 

Capt and match fees: Richie Stubbs. Wkt: Spencer Leach.

 

Bricklayers Arms

Thursday June 4 in Wandsworth Park

Strollers won by 111 runs

Strollers 210-0  
(20 overs; Ferrick 103no, Loan 82no)
Bricklayers Arms 99-6
(20 overs; Stubbs 2-9, Troughton 1-7, Held 1-16, Thanushan 1-16, Selby 1-22)

The midweek Strollers played their second fixture of the season against old friends from the Bricklayer’s Arms in Putney. Eight changes were made from the previous week with Sean Held and Nick Waring making their Strollers debut. Unlike the other midweek matches, the retirement rule was not played in this fixture.

On a glorious, sunny evening next to the Thames in Putney, captain Tom Wood won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat. Sam Ferrick and Mike Loan opened the batting and quickly set to work. Bart Fine, guesting for the Bricklayers, opened the bowling with a good spell but was despatched to the boundary by Ferrick and Loan at a rate of eight runs per over. His colleagues, also bowling from the Wandsworth end due to the low sun at the Putney end of the ground, went for even more. The bowlers changed but the punishment did not and the 100 came up in the eleventh over. Ferrick continued to smash the ball to the boundary with three sixes and 14 fours while Loan hit some graceful late cuts that raced away across a very dry outfield, eventually scoring 11 fours.

 

Nasser Kiyingi, the pick of the Bricklayers bowlers, thought he had made a breakthrough by clipping Loan's off stump but it was declared a no-ball. Ferrick retired on 103, allowing Waring to come in for the last two overs, while Loan finished on 82 not out.

 

Facing a massive target of 211, the Bricklayers’ openers tried some aggressive stroke-making against the tight opening bowling of Sean Held and Aidan Selby. Yogi Patel hit three boundaries before being bowled by Held. Dan Thanushan came on and bowled Lewis Caley before Selby picked up his wicket by bowling Greg Tremain.

 

Fine, next in for the Bricklayers, thumped a couple of boundaries before lofting the ball to Selby at mid-on to give Christian Troughton a wicket. Mike Knowles bowled an over before Richie Stubbs (a last minute call-up for the game) came on with a double wicket maiden, picking up Bricklayers opener Lewis Blunn, well caught by Troughton at point, and Mike Grant, caught by Held at extra cover. A very tidy spell from Waring wrapped up the Bricklayers' innings and the players retired to the pub. It didn't take many beers to convince our old friend Chris Locke to play the retirement rule in future, starting with the return fixture on 4th August!

 

Capt and match fees: Tom Wood. Wkt: Spencer Leach.

 

Wandsworth Planners

Wednesday June 10 in Wandsworth Park

Strollers won by five wickets

Wandsworth Planners 130-8  
(20 overs; Stubbs 2-12, Rice 2-15, Allsopp 1-8, Tjasink 1-11, Herath 1-28)
Strollers 134-5
(17.4 overs; Ovenden 30no, Leach 24, Loan 23, Hilton-Dennis 20no)

We arrived at Wandsworth Park for our midweek game against Wandsworth Planners to find the sun shining, but also the wind blowing strongly off the river.  The outfield was populated by sunbathers, picnickers and a fly-fisherman but they soon dispersed when it became obvious that we were about to start a game.  Wandsworth Planners won the toss and chose to bat first on a wicket that had more than a hint of green to it.  Given the sun's position near the horizon and the pitch's east-west orientation, all overs were to be bowled from one end to prevent the batsmen having to stare directly into the setting sun.

Amar Mahadeva opened the bowling for the Strollers and the nature of the pitch soon became obvious, with a couple of balls rearing up sharply off the surface. Landsberg and Gruppen-Hall opened for the Planners and survived the first over, but Gruppen-Hall fell without scoring in the second over, caught at mid-on off the bowling of David Rice.  Matt Hilton-Dennis took the catch and was the only fielder without a cap or sun-hat, which made it a difficult catch to take in the circumstances.  Landsberg eventually fell bowled by Rice for 18.

The Planners brought some stability to their innings with Shaw and Drummond at the crease.  The outfield was surprisingly quick given its unkempt appearance in parts, which gave good value for any well-struck shots.  Once Shaw and Drummond had had to retire at 30, wickets started to fall at regular intervals, starting when Raj Herath had Dodgson caught by Rice.  Captain Tom Wood rotated his bowlers in two-over spells through the middle period, with Stephen Tjasink bowling Canning and Piers Ovenden and Hilton-Dennis bowling tidy spells but unlucky not to pick up wickets.  Richie Stubbs and Laurie Allsopp both bowled some very miserly overs at the death, with Stubbs picking up the wickets of Spurgen and the returning Shaw during his three overs for only 12 runs and Allsopp having Oates caught. With a run-out to complete the innings, Planners posted 130.

Aware of the demons in the wicket, Wood and Mike Loan opened for the Strollers.  Wood fell for five early on, caught off the bowling of Canning.  This brought Spencer Leach to the crease and he kept up with the scoring rate required until trapped leg before by Indy for 24.  Ovenden picked up where he had left off and he and Loan almost compiled a 50 partnership before Loan was bowled by Oates for 23. 

Rice fell shortly after for four, leg before to a ball that did not bounce at all and shot through, and Mahaveda added two before being bowled by Jamie.  When Ovenden's very well compiled innings came to an end with his compulsory retirement at 30, the Strollers were well within striking range of the total.  With Herath not out on eight and Hilton-Dennis not out on 20 having struck a number of boundaries, they kept up the scoring pace and brought the Strollers over the line with more than four overs and five wickets to spare.

In the end, it was a good all-round performance by the Strollers whose batsmen coped with the variations of the pitch better than the Planners and never let the run-rate get ahead of them, overhauling the total with plenty of time to spare.

Capt and match fees: Tom Wood. Wkt: Spencer Leach.

 

The Chelsea Cobblers

Wednesday June 17 in Tooting

Strollers won by nine wickets

The Chelsea Cobblers 64  
(15.3 overs; Ovenden 3-14, Stubbs 2-2, Salvesen 1-12, Oliver 1-8)
Strollers 65-1
(13.1 overs; Ross 28no, Low 26no)

The midweek Strollers maintained their 100% winning record for this season by overcoming the Chelsea Cobblers at Tooting's delightfully named Fishponds Road Playing Fields.

Shortish boundaries posed no problem for the Strollers in the field, as fine bowling from Tom Salvesen, Piers Ovenden, Aidan Selby, Glen Oliver, Nick Logan, and skipper Richie Stubbs, plus good catches from Ovenden, Stubbs and the Strollers' tallest ever wicket keeper Eric Swale saw the Cobblers fall to 64 all out.

 

In reply, Keith Shannon's eagerness to push the score on to ensure that adequate time would be available for everyone to enjoy the beer garden of the excellent local gastropub The Selkirk saw him somehow run himself out for a single that was never ever there. But firm hitting of the pink ball from John Low and Kim Ross, even against some high quality guest bowling by Dan Thanushan, saw the Strollers home by nine wickets and with more than six overs to spare.

 

And so to the pub with our convivial opponents to discuss today's popular Tooting agenda of gentrification, craft beers, and ODI par scores. What on earth would Wolfie Smith have thought of it all?

 

Capt and match fees: Richie Stubbs. Wkt: Eric Swale

 

Tilburg Regents

Thursday June 25 in Dulwich

Strollers won by three wickets

Tilburg Regents 130-7  
(20 overs; Macaulay 2-20, Ovenden 1-9, Tjasink 1-14, Herath 1-17, Allsopp 1-22)
Strollers 132-7
(19.3 overs; Herath 27no, Tjasink 26no, Troughton 22, Leach 20no)

A new fixture, a new ground on a sunny Thursday evening.  What more could a Stroller want?  Perhaps more entry points into the Dulwich Sports Ground would be the answer.  Reminiscent of a leaky faucet, Strollers arrived at the venue with a collective knowledge of the surrounding area that could make Google quiver: Belair House, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich College...

Greeting the Strollers were the Tilburg Regents (TR).  A interesting name you say. Thankfully the Strollers' historical archivist in tenure, Simon Brodbeck, discovered that TR is in actual fact a football team, who bought their first strip from Tilburg FC in the Netherlands.  They then played their first season in Regents Park.

Taking the field with eight Strollers (and two TR) at the start of the match meant that Captain Tom Wood was stretched for resources from the get go. Against the opening attack of Christian Troughton and Stephen Tjasink, TR put the pedal to the floor with some 'new style' cricket.  Taking full advantage of the lightning fast outfield and giving very few chances the Strollers were soon on the end of 42-1 after five overs. 

Wood then introduced Raj Herath, who nailed down one end with three tidy overs with the game at 71-2 after 10 - a platform that worried some Strollers, but not Captain Wood.  Richie Stubbs, Alastair Macaulay and Laurie Allsopp expertly pulled matters back, bowling 10 overs between them for a miserly 21 runs.  They were backed up well by the 10-man Strollers, who walked off facing 131 to win.  It should also be noted that three golden ducks were taken by the Strollers during a spirited bowling effort.

Piers Ovenden and Captain Wood walked out to the middle, but walked almost as quickly back, followed by Spencer Leach and Rory Wood, leaving the Strollers’ batting in disarray at 33-4 after five overs.  Despair was aplenty but, seemingly oblivious to this, Troughton and Herath found the boundary regularly as the bowling started to lose its quality. When Troughton departed for a resilient 22, Tjasink quickly picked up where he left off, finding the boundary at will.  With Herath retiring for 25 the lower order was exposed, but it managed to hang around long enough to see Tjasink get to 25 and retire. So all 10 Strollers had gone, no more batting...

...until a previous conversation between the two captains was remembered. With only 10 men the Strollers were invited to field their lowest-scoring batsmen.  This (to the glee of the Strollers) was Leach, who had left for a golden duck.  A new hope! 

With the best TR bowlers having filled their allotment of overs, Leach was able to knock up a quickfire 20 off a few overs and was supported by a steadfast Allsopp.  The two were able to see the Strollers home with four balls to spare.  A great match - that featured more emotions than the New Zealand tourists’ series - was had by all, and will surely be well enjoyed next year.

Capt: Tom Wood. Wkt: Spencer Leach. Match fees: Richie Stubbs.

 

Parrys Whippets

Thursday July 2 in Teddington

Strollers won by 19 runs

Strollers 154-4  
(20 overs; Leach 50no, Low 46, Swale 17no, Vipu 13no, Tom Wood 10)
Parrys Whippets 135-8
(20 overs; Selby 3-26, Rauf 2-19, Stubbs 1-33, Vipu 1-39)

Our long-time midweek opponents play on the old Imperial College grounds at Teddington, a large acreage sadly threatened with being sold off for housing following various college amalgamations and accompanying internecine academic warfare. However this dire prospect did not deter the teams as they gathered for what was to be an incident-packed match on a classic summer evening.

Strollers skipper Tom Wood having duly done his duty by winning the toss and electing to bat, openers Justin Fredrickson and John Low got off to a steady start but it was with the advent of Spencer Leach after the first wicket that the run rate began to accelerate as he took advantage of the bounce to dispatch the ball to all parts of the boundary, involving fielders in many lengthy ball retrievals from the nether regions of the various outlying pitches. The highlight came from a hit which neatly hurdled the hedge defending the multi-windowed pavilion and produced the highly satisfying tinkle of broken glass from the kitchen window.

Low, in contrasting style, flicked and nudged the ball away, his boundaries mainly coming from balls that, equally frustratingly for the fielders, rolled gently just over the perimeter rope. With 84 coming off the first 10 overs, the pair kept pace with each other until Leach’s compulsory retirement at 50 - 44 of which had come from boundaries - and Low’ s dismissal when a thumping off-drive that looked like achieving a rare 50 was plucked out of mid-air by a leaping mid-off.

Eric Swale continued the fine work with a couple of boundaries and a good few of his customary long-legged singles and with contributions from Nick Waring, Wood and young recruited-on-the-day Vipu, (who bats beautifully despite a disabling and disfiguring cricket injury to his left hand), the Strollers had a competitive total of 154.

The Whippets’ openers responded solidly but the scoring rate was kept contained by nagging bowling from Rauf (also a late recruit on the day) and Aidan Selby. Wickets fell steadily with five between the two of them, aided by a rather un-Stroller-like four catches in a row, including a headlong diving grass-high one from Waring. However his departure from the field with a hand injury from a subsequent cover drive meant there were gaps in the field and the sixth-wicket partnership of Sumo and JC profited with a surge of runs that threatened to take the game away from the Strollers.

Things were looking grim with the deposition by JC of a short delivery from Richie Stubbs onto the pavilion roof but the very next ball, an even shorter one which was due the same treatment, somehow evaded the bat and got the wicket.

This started the turnaround, with Vipu adding to his all-round performance; having held one of the aforementioned catches, he also bowled top scorer Sumo (37) and then, ignoring universal shouts of ‘wicketkeeper!’, ran out the bamboozled Whippets’ No 8 Taylor, with a direct hit at the bowler’s end all the way from fine leg. This pretty much ended any realistic run chase for the Whippets, who ended on 138-8.

As a footnote, this was the second Strollers’ evening match attended by John Low’s neighbour Len Jewell, who was 100 in April and has a rich fund of stories about Tooting life over that time. He was a keen batsman and wicket keeper until giving up the game at the early age (by Strollers standards) of 59 and wants to come and watch as many games as possible (“It gets me out of the house of an evening”). He has watched two good victories so let’s hope we can do the hat-trick for him this Thursday on his old stomping ground at Wandsworth Common.

Capt and match fees: Tom Wood. Wkt: Spencer Leach.

 

L J Clark

Thursday July 9 on Wandsworth Common

Strollers won by three wickets

L J Clark 127-8  
(20 overs; Oliver 3-7, Ray 2-16, Rauf 2-24, Selby 1-31)
Strollers 128-7
(16.5 overs; Low 31no, Selby 21, Rauf 16)

This is what midweek Strolling is all about.  Perfect summer evening weather. Friendly and familiar opposition accompanied by a sizeable supporters club. Chairman Kimball Bailey in attendance. A close match in which everyone contributed. Followed by refreshments in The County Arms, one of the best pubs in south London.

LJ Clark won the toss and chose to bat, declining Richie Stubbs' pink ball in favour of the traditional red.  Their two openers got off to a blistering start, scoring 47 runs off the first four overs before a change of bowling saw Glen Oliver send the middle stump flying high with his first ball.

 

The run rate slowed after that, with skipper Tom Wood mixing up the attack with pace and spin to unsettle the LJ Clark middle order. Wickets fell too, with Oliver, Aidan Selby, Hakeem Rauf, and Sudip Ray all having success with the ball. A fine catch by John Gibson and an extraordinary diving stop and run-out by Ray were also highlights of what was an impressive Strollers fielding performance.

 

LJ Clark closed on 127-8. A competitive total, but perhaps 20-or-so runs less that they might have hoped.

 

The Strollers began the chase with Wood opening with in-form John Low. Debutant Niall McNevin came in for Wood sooner than expected and did well against some quickish bowling in fading light, but it was not until Keith Shannon came in to partner Low that the runs really began to flow, with 23 (albeit most of them extras) coming off the ninth over and putting the Strollers in command. Low eventually retired on 31 not out, pushing his midweek average for the season to over 100. A series of boundaries from Steven Tjasink, Rauf and Ray saw the Strollers home with three and a bit overs and three wickets to spare.

 

So the midweek Strollers retain their 100% record for the season, unbeaten even by the striking London Underground workers.

 

Capt: Tom Wood,.Wkt: Hakim Rauf/Aidan Selby.

Substitute Fielder and Scorer: Harry Ray. Match fees: Tom Wood.

 

Thames Valley

Tuesday July 14 in Spelthorne

Strollers won by 68 runs

Strollers 163-4  
(18 overs; Selby 27no, Oliver 27no, Tom Wood 25no, McNevin 25no, Herath 15no, Gibson 10)
Thames Valley 95-6
(18 overs; Salvesen 2-28, Oliver 1-2, Herath 1-4, James Stubbs 1-6)

The eighth Strollers midweek match of the season saw a return to Sunbury to play Thames Valley for a second time. After a 20-minute delay due to a set of locked gates at the ground, the captains agreed to an 18-over-a-side game with retirements at 25 and a pink ball. Tom Wood won the toss and chose to bat.

Wood opened the batting with John Low and found his old form with four boundaries on his way to a retirement at 25 off 12 balls. Low was unable to maintain his great run, being bowled for seven. Aidan Selby and John Gibson were next in and continued the high scoring rate with Selby retiring on 27 and Gibson being caught and bowled for 10 attempting his third boundary.

 

As it started to drizzle, Niall McNevin (25*) held up one end while Matthew Hilton-Dennis and 12-year-old James Stubbs were both bowled. This brought Glen Oliver to the crease and he too retired for 27 after facing 11 balls. Raj Herath (15*) and Tom Salvesen (8*) picked up some more useful runs to bring the Strollers up to 163-4 off their 18 overs.

 

It was still drizzling at the start of the Thames Valley innings. Salvesen and Richie Stubbs opened for the Strollers with Salvesen picking up two wickets (both bowled) including the key one of Ian Doggett for six. Sharp fielding by Herath saw the useful-looking Cieran Lewis run out for 14 before he picked up a wicket himself when Oliver took a catch at mid-on.

 

Hilton-Dennis and Oliver came on for the next few overs as the rain abated. Oliver bowled the next batsman to finish with very tidy figures of 3-1-2-1. Finally, captain Wood threw the ball to James Stubbs, who picked up his first Strollers wicket with the last ball of the 18th over to much celebration from the fielding side as Thames Valley finished on 95-6.

 

Capt: Tom Wood. Wkt: Aidan Selby. Match Fees: Richie Stubbs.

 

 

Westminster


 

Thursday July 23 on Wandsworth Common

Strollers won by 63 runs

Strollers 161-7  
(20 overs; Dan Thanushan 28no, Leach 27no, Rice 26no, Low 24)
Westminster 138
(20 overs; Dan Thanushan 3-27, Allsopp 2-23, Rice 1-12, Rory Wood 1-17)

Middlesex may have been playing Surrey at Lord’s, but the most entertaining Twenty20 match in London on Thursday night was undoubtedly on Wandsworth Common, where the Strollers midweek machine rolled on to make it nine from nine with a convincing 63-run victory over Westminster.

Skipper Rory Wood won the toss and batted, and Aidan Selby and David Rice opened up. Selby tucked in quickly with nine off the opening two overs before getting bowled by a swinging delivery from Clyde Besler, whose movement in the air and off the wicket made him by far the pick of the Westminster attack. He bowled Mike Knowles as well, and it was his removal from the attack that let the Strollers hit top gear.

 

Rice hit two fours and two sixes on his way to 26, making good use of the short legside boundary, while Spencer Leach played another exemplary innings to add to his 50 against Parry’s Whippets and match-winning golden duck against Tilburg Regents. Of his 27 runs, 26 came in boundaries as the Strollers passed 100 in only 10 overs.

 

Another Strollers batsman who was intent in dealing in boundaries was John Low, whose midweek average this season has at stages tickled three figures. With the green patches on the pitch causing the occasional delivery to leap up, Low was patient in waiting for the full ball to drive. He was eventually caught on 24, giving Besler a third wicket. Dan Thanushan, meanwhile, stroked his way to 28, getting off the mark with a single after Leach’s retirement then flicking the ball over midwicket for his first of five boundaries, including two sixes.

 

With 18 overs gone, the Strollers were on 148 as Westminster managed to put the brakes on the innings. Arun Thanushan, Dan’s brother and the answerer of a late SOS call from match manager John Gibson, was dismissed by an acrobatic slip catch, and skipper Rory Wood was unfortunate in picking out midwicket while thumping the ball to leg. Besler claimed his five-for by bowling Allsopp, and finished with 6-9 after getting James Stubbs out caught in the final over, leaving the Strollers on 161.

 

Richie Stubbs eagerly unwrapped a pink ball as the clouds darkened, attracting the attention of a few passing moths as it gleamed in the dusk. It also let the Westminster openers get off to a good start, with wickets and chances initially proving hard to come by. No 2 bat Sizeland retired on 25, then Rice finally made a breakthrough with the opener Powell on 24. From then on there was a regular fall of wickets as the run-rate climbed for Westminster.

 

Dan Thanushan calmly took a high catch off Wood’s bowling at long-off, then Allsopp claimed two in an over, one stumped and one bowled as the batsmen sallied forth on ill-fated forays down the track. Dan Thanushan’s left-arm spin took three wickets, with Leach making another stumping as the batsman was tricked by the flight.

 

More than 30 runs were required off the final two overs. James Stubbs, rapidly gaining a reputation as a death-bowler, sent down some perfect line and length during the 19th and would not have conceded any fours had it not been for a fielding error on the boundary. We shan’t name the culprit, but sources said that James was allowed to stay up late that night and got an extra helping of pudding. Arun Thanushan’s pace proved unplayable in the final over and the Strollers skipped off the field with two more fixtures to go in pursuit of the clean sweep. 

 

Capt and match fees: Rory Wood. Wkt: Spencer Leach.

 

 

Commons Old Boys

Wednesday July 29 on Wandsworth Common

Strollers won by six wickets

Common Old Boys 135-4  
(18 overs; Ovenden 2-22, Herath 1-24)
Strollers 138-4
(17.4 overs; Loan 27no, Garside 25no, Mahadeva 25no ,Ovnden 17no, Duff 10)

The delayed arrival of one set of stumps meant the game was reduced from 20 overs to 18 per side. Colourful umbrellas and a fence paling were used at the non-striker's end.

Parsimonious Ryan Duff (3-0-12-0) and Rajan Herath (4-0-24-1) kept a lid on the COBs' scoring. Piers Ovenden picked up a couple of lbw decisions courtesy of our gracious hosts... their hospitality repaid by a smart run-out effected by Rory Wood and Mike Loan, keeping wicket.  

Loan, Amar Mahadeva and Tom Garside all retired on passing 25 in a thrilling chase. John Low was run out in bizarre circumstances for 1. The QE was politely deployed in the direction of umpire Herath.

Duff cleared long-off and Stephan Joseph and Herath punched boundaries to bring the scores level after 17 overs.  Ovenden built the tension a little but finally made contact with the ball to win the match.

One midweek game to go, on August 4, for a crack at becoming The Invincibles. Bring on the Bricklayers!

 

Cpt: Piers Ovenden. Wkt: Mike Loan. Match fees: XXX.

 

Bricklayers Arms

Tuesday August 4 in Wandsworth Park

Strollers won by seven wickets

Bricklayers Arms 112
(19.2 overs; Oliver 3-13, Rory Wood 3-21, Herath 1-19)
Strollers 114-3
(17.1 overs; Tom Wood 29, Loan 32no, Selby 21no)

The midweek Strollers assembled at Wandsworth Park in  Putney for the 11th and final scheduled fixture of the season, having won the previous 10 games. For the second time this season the opposition was old friend Chris Locke and his team from the Bricklayer’s Arms. Captains Tom Wood and Mike Ottley agreed to bowl all 40 overs from the Wandsworth end with retirements at 30 and a pink ball.

Ottley won the toss and elected to bat. which looked like a good choice as Bricklayers' openers Lewis Caley and (special guest) Bart Fine set off at a fine pace reaching 26 in the fourth over before a moment's hesitation, a fine throw from Glen Oliver and smart keeping from Mike Loan saw Caley run out.

 

Fine continued to punish the Strollers opening bowlers of Ryan Duff and Raj Herath before retiring, at which point wickets started falling at a regular pace. Glen Oliver came on for Duff and bowled the new batsman Lee Kazeem. while Herath bowled Carty, the Bricklayers' No 3. Rory Wood came on and picked up three wickets courtesy of a ball that Bricklayers' No 6, Grant, could only play onto his stumps and two fine catches by keeper Loan and Tom Wood at mid-on.

 

Two more run-outs followed due to a direct hit from Oliver and quick work from Richie Stubbs and Rory Wood. Stubbs bowled four tight overs and Aidan Selby one before Oliver came back for the last over as Fine returned to the middle with the idea of swinging the bat. After one four, the next ball went vertical and Oliver ran and dived to take the catch for his third wicket as the Bricklayers were dismissed for 112.

 

The Bricklayers' openers, the pacey Kazeem and Fine, bowled well and the Strollers reply started at a old fashioned pace with byes outscoring Tom Wood and John Low for the first few overs. Low was run out by a good throw from Fine, which brought Loan to the crease (continuing on from his

82* in the previous match this season).

 

After eight overs the score had moved to 42 but as the bowlers changed, the scoring increased. Loan soon retired on 32, having hit many graceful fours and Tom Wood increased his strike rate before being caught for 29 as he tried to hit a retirement boundary. Mike Knowles and Aiden Selby came in and almost saw the Strollers home but Knowles played around a straight slower ball in the fading light. Oliver came in to see Selby hit the winning boundary with 17 balls to spare.

 

The Strollers celebrated their 100% midweek season in the usual style with their hosts in the Brick.

 

Capt and match fees: Tom Wood. Wkt: Mike Loan.

 

Wandsworth Planners

Wednesday August 12 at the Fishponds Playing Field

Strollers won by 58 runs

Strollers 180-5
(18 overs; Loan 27no + 11, Ovenden 26no, Selby 26no, Ferrick 19, Symonds-Baig 17, Howsam 10)
Wandsworth Planners 122-8
(18 overs; Herath 3-35, Howsam 2-13, Ovenden 1-5, Symonds-Baig 1-16, Selby 1-20)

The midweek superstars, proclaimed The Invincibles only a week before on completion of their published fixture list, had their honorific title withdrawn by the hyper-active Joint Series Manager, John Gibson.  The Wandsworth Planners, last met at a sunny Wandsworth Park on 10 June, were keen for a re-match.  Gibson was keen to oblige.  Only with a twelfth victory would the midweek men enter the sporting annals of perfection next to Preston North End (1888-89), the 1924 All Blacks (not to mention 2013) and Arsenal (2003-04). 

Unfortunately Wandsworth Park and the sun were unavailable on 12 August.  Instead the Strollers made their way to an overcast and blustery Fishponds Playing Field in the gentrifying surrounds of Tooting. With fears of rapidly diminishing light, an 18-over match was negotiated, yet with the usual maximum of four overs per bowler and retirements upon reaching 25. 

Burdened with the weight of this potentially epoch and career-defining match was Captain Piers Ovenden.  Fortunately he called correctly, won the toss, and set in motion the ineluctable triumphal march towards victory and sporting immortality.  Were it ever so simple.  Before the first over was complete Keith Shannon was back by the locked brick hutch (“that swung a mile”) and John Low was on his way to St George’s Hospital for an x-ray on his wrist.  The sickening crack of ball on bone made everyone on the boundary, including superfan Len Jewell, wince. 

With scant regard for both the historical implications and the uneven bounce of the Fishponds surface, Sam Ferrick and Mike Loan launched a jaunty riposte, raising the run rate to ten an over, a rate that would be maintained for the rest of the innings.  The only pauses in the action were to replace the pink ball Ferrick dispatched over the fence and for Glen Oliver to hobble off the field after a quick single.  There being no physio to call on, Ovenden was spared discovering whether he would have the Mourinho-esque urge to sack him/her on the spot for interrupting the game's flow.  Oliver’s self-diagnosis alternated, depending on the audience, between "it's cramp due to my epic maiden century on Sunday" and, in slightly more hushed tones, “me hammy’s totally f[inishe]d skip”. 

With five wickets falling (the last to a run-out involving Raj Herath), three batsmen retiring on reaching 25 and two batsmen retiring hurt, Mike Loan was invited to return to the crease for the last five balls of the innings, which he dispatched for 11 bonus runs. 

181 was an imposing target.  However, the Strollers were now shorn of their three-step bowling tornado, Oliver, and were down to nine fit fielders, Oliver gamely playing statues at short cover/midwicket.  On top of that, the rumour was that Drummond, the Planners’ opener, was a David Willey type.  

In Aidan Selby’s first over Drummond duly belted the ball out of the ground.  But on attempting to repeat the feat from the next ball, Ferrick took a miraculous catch tumbling backwards at long-on.  At the other end James Howsam increased the scoreboard pressure by bowling fast and straight, hitting the stumps twice to finish with figures of 4-1-13-2. 

Herath took a wicket first ball, bowled, and high stepped and twirled his way through his allotment unchanged into the wind.  Ferrick held another catch in the outfield, as did Aidan Selby, to give Herath two more victims.  Niall McNevin reeled off three overs, frustrating the batsmen with a tight line.  Ovenden and Naeman Symonds-Baig shared the last four overs, bowling with the luxury of 80 runs to defend. 

Victory completed, title and laurels restored, text message proclamations dispatched to keen (but not so eager as to attend) audiences, the Strollers retired to the nearest Tooting gastro pub with their gracious and engaging hosts.  News would trickle through that John's wrist was in a cast due to a broken ulna.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

At 8.30pm the sun finally and definitively set on the midweek season for 2015.  Dare anyone say…2016 repeat? 

Capt: Piers Ovenden. Wkt: Mike Loan. Match fees: Glen Oliver.

 

 

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