Hackney Marshes, London, 4/21/2019
Strongroom won by 19 runs
Strongroom: 256-8 [Nisar 151*, S.Kharoo 42]
London Fields: 237-8 [A.Turner 61, V.Shah 84, S.Kharoo 5-41]
View the Scorecard
Bit of a nutty game this one. A fairly deserted Hackney Marshes on Easter Sunday. Lovely sunny day in late April, but a strong breeze. Artificial track, long grass outfield, short boundaries. We thought we had a full XI but turned up to discover we were only IX and that a couple of those would be late. London Fields kindly offered for us to bat first. Strongroom had a very early set back when Gwyn was bowled by a lovely inswinging yorker from left armer Perry and we were soon in early trouble when Vinay and Shaheed/Shahid also fell. Shishank played a very decent opener’s innings full of mostly effective and low risk straight bat shots (mixed with the odd aberration) and Nisar joined him to steady the ship. We were soon in deep trouble again when Shishank was caught and Grant was run out following a mix-up with Nisar, whose “no” in response to Grant’s “yes” might have got lost on the breeze. Dave and Nisar then shared an 80 run partnership to which Dave contributed 2. All Dave had to do was pick up runs and extras and not get out, while Nisar started crashing 10+ an over at the other end in a remarkable knock - his first innings for Strongroom. Plenty of downwind clearing of the short boundary and a mixture of watchful defence and calculated hitting. Dave’s concentration/patience faltered as he foolishly thought he too could loft over the infield but only chipped feebly into the breeze. Dave’s departure panicked Nisar as he approached his hundred and he almost got out several times in a short space of time, and two other quick wickets went at the other end. After passing 100 Nisar regained composure and got back into his hitting stride. It seemed that we might not bat out our 35 overs but LF kindly offered for up to two of us to bat again to make up for our only being IX (we did manage to repay this later in he game when an LF player had to leave early). Gwyn safely saw us through to 35 overs and Nisar to an unbeaten 149 - one of Strongroom’s great innings.
Strongroom decided not to ask for additional fielders - LF had already allowed us to bat first and to bat a couple of players twice. Though we hadn’t quite banked on Shishank and Shahid taking so long to return from the car park so Grant and Dave bowled the first few overs to only a keeper and five fielders. LF made a solid start but with some playing and missing as the ball swung extravagantly in the breeze. Gradually LF cranked up the pressure as their run rate increased and wickets kept intact. Everyone bowled pretty well but it was a difficult ground to defend (especially being two fielders short). LF’s Vijay played an especially classy innings that threatened to take the game away from us. He made great use of the short boundaries, plentiful gaps, and trustworthy surface and scored particularly heavily with late square drives/cuts and lofted punches down the ground. After drinks Shishank came on to bowl a superb spell of off spin that turned the game back in our favour - mixing flight and pace, and tempting batsmen to hit in the air towards short boundaries but against the stiffening wind. He took his fifth wicket to a fittingly excellent catch by Gwyn running in smartly from the deep midwicket boundary. At the other end, Ayon bowled a very handy spell, very straight, just back of a length and hitting the pitch he proved difficult to get away - allowing us to wrestle back some control as well as chip away at the wickets column. We were pretty confident when LF needed about 60 off 6 overs with only a few wickets in hand, but they stayed with the rate and we began to worry when they needed about 40 off 4 and 30 off 3. The end came as LF’s main remaining bat tried to retain the strike with a single off the last ball of the over only to see Vinay dive full length to his right, roll
over and run him out.
This was an enjoyable, rollicking game (that several times along the way seemed as though it would not get going as a contest or fizzle out). Plenty of good and less good cricket. Many thanks to LF for easing our shortfall in personnel. It had a bit of an early season feel to the match, and at times LF seemed to be intent on sharing the bowling out rather than maximising the overs delivered by their best bowlers. Though that’s not taking anything away from some superb SCC batting (Shishank, Nisar) and a really good effort by the bowlers and fielders - defending 250 on that track and ground with 9 was excellent.
Written By: D.Gower