Friendly Match vs Whitstable CC, Sun 1st July 2018, Whitstable

LFCC Get Kentish

by Hugh McNaughtan

Utterly spent and a disgrace to our cricket club, East London and our long- suffering mothers.

Such was the state we anticipated with rueful resignation, when we looked at our sole, Sunday, fixture of the 2018 domestic tour. Unconvincing bleats about moderation and maturity provided only the most risible figleaf to our bulging problem: 13 adults of notorious appetites on tour in famously sybaritic Whitstable, set to enjoy 2 nights and 1.5 days of once-in-a- lifetime summer gorgeousness and merciless self-abuse before our solitary game of cricket, against the totally unknown quantity of Whitstable CC. We knew we’d be hollow-eyed husks come Sunday morning, the end of the fun bit of tour, longing for an open-ended lie-in and some of those soporifics Michael Jackson seemed so fond of. Straining at the traces, tackling a team of whippet-fit youngsters athirst for higher honours and bolstered by two ultra-competitive professionals keen to show these queer London types the quality of spunk in Kent, was not how we felt the Sabbath should be honoured.

As it happened, we somehow managed to retain the cake of capability and tear into it over two ravenous extended nights - cracking Whitstable’s bones for every last fatty gobbet of fun, yet finding ourselves ultimately in the best Sunday-tour condition I’ve seen. Must have been the oysters. Or the horse tranquiliser. Low key but genuine welcomes from the locals performed, we began sniffing around the facilities: (lovely, if oddly shaped and understandably parched ground; dry, used pitch, sightboards, nets and other fal de lals) and the oppo (lots of kids, lots of kids who clearly lived and breathed cricket, several rising through the age groups with Kent. Clearly no mugs: I’m sure I wasn’t the only one blessing the few hours of sleep snatched).

Ruprecht won the toss (?) and chose to bowl, thinking our slight shortage of batsmen would be outweighed by sheer murderous energy in the afternoon’s chase. Murph and I opened - he bowling tightly and rapidly; me mislaying rhythm and serving up too many long hops. The younger of the very organised opening bats obligingly spooned a half-tracker to Alex at point, and we were away. And so were they – propelled by their club pro in at number 3, a lavishly bearded and tattooed ox of a man from Newcastle (Australia). His name, Jonty, seemed at best three notches below his starting point on the testosterone scale. Anyway, he was a talented and violent dispatcher of cricket balls, giving change bowlers T-bagger and Big Bird problems whenever they erred (which wasn’t often). The not out opener (also Aussie) played serenely, sportingly declaring at 50. When George did Jonty with overspin, popping up a sweep to square, we had them 2 for 109.

Now the spin twins (George and a surprisingly coherent Oli) were in harness and salivating at the prospect of tormenting a middle order of varying stages of youth. Sadly the youth were neither callow nor cowed, playing correctly and dismissing loose balls across the fast dry outfield. Perhaps the best of them was Whitstable’s 14 y/o female player, Alexa. It should have been no surprise that she handled her bat like a pro, a worrying sign of what she might do with the ball, her favoured tool. But she didn’t hurt us too badly, and was dismissed (off Oli?) for 15, having not yet developed the muscle to loft a technically beautiful off drive over the infield.

We’d pinched the momentum back tho, as the 40 overs were disappearing, and 200 some way off for Whitstable. Enter Kai, recently contracted to Kent and a damn handy cricketer. Larruping it from ball one, he twice hit it out of the ground, and was on 31 from 10 balls when Laurie held a superb steepling chance just in from the long on boundary. Kai’s (first) cameo was complete and Murph had a much deserved wicket. A few more good shots from their tail took them to 207, but things looked better than they might have for the Fields.

A lavish tea in their pleasant club house soon dispatched, we had to face up to the skinniness of our batting. With Lordy’s impish back playing silly buggers, and PA and Veej unable to make it, we had half the specialists normally considered crucial: Alex, Teas and Al is a fantastic top 3, but we’d be leaning pretty heavily on them. Some below could claim all rounder status (Utzler obvs, but Chris, Oli and George on their day) but there’s a lot of wishful thinking behind a line up like ours that day.

Anyway: shades of Vermeulen were on show as the big-hitting Novocastrian pro also opened the bowling. He got it bending, he was quick enough, he was canny, and he gave away no shit balls. Well supported from the other end by a line-and-length youngster, he caused the Als problems on both sides of the bat before inducing an inside-edged drive onto Alex’s off stump. 1 for 12 in the 4th. Resurrection began immediately, as Al(ec) and Teas put together a bright 66 run stand in 11 overs notable for Alexa’s quality left arm seam, Als brutalisation of anything off length and Teaser’s Nijinsky-footed class.

Sadly drinks was a watershed. Kai Appleby – skipper, hard-hitting number 6, keeper, chief motivator and, it seems, dangerous dart bowler - removed the gloves and brought himself on to bowl, beating Teaser’s sweep and messing up his stumps (22), Rupert made half his number (4) batting slot before also falling bowled to Appleby and Al didn’t kick on after an excellent 50 (also bowled, but not by the Kaiser). Oli and Troy came to the crease, and Fields’ hearts swelled, but Kai was not yet through his game-changing spell: getting one to scuttle low, he hit Troy’s stumps to snatch 3 for 9 in three overs, including our last batsmen. Oli was gone playing his trademark tour shot - a lavish, excitingly mobile, pre determined swish which should be captured in resin, titled ‘Lost Shape’ and installed somewhere arty.

But! Next in was our main man for the day, Gorgeous George Sargent. Not content with his bowling heroics, he took a liking to the leg side boundary, pulling and sweeping to get us comfortably up with the rate. I just about managed to keep up with his frenetic terrier-like scampering and we added 31 before he tried one big shot too many and was caught in the deep for a great counter attacking 32. Murph and I kept things moving, courtesy of some savage pulls in front of square (from him) before he too gave up his stumps, on 13. I followed lamely for 15, swishing across a super slow (but straight) one, and we looked wobbly. 9 down, Ty and Loz at the crease and 26 to get, with overs in hand. Ty struck two handsome 4s to shift the pressure immediately, but with the target within 20, Kai had seen enough, removed the gloves again, brought himself on and bowled Ty first ball. Thirty-one from 10 balls, 4 for 9, keeping and captaining, it’s fair to say Kai took a lot on himself, and proved the difference between two surprisingly well matched sides.

Overall Whitstable, town and CC, were a delight to visit. The tea, oppo, game and post-match beers were all we could ask for, and the tour was a great, happy success.

Whitstable CC Batting

207 for 4 in 40 overs

London Fields Bowling

No Details

London Fields Batting

190 all out in 30 overs

Whitstable CC Bowling

No Details

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