25th May -v- Hayes at Barnet Wood Road
Persistent rain during the week and a heavy downpour on the Saturday put our first meeting with Hayes in some doubt. Fortunately the excellent facilities at Barnet Wood Road featured good covers and an outfield that dried quickly. Mike took charge of team affairs in the absence of Wajih, captaining the side for the first time. For much of the week we were scratching around at 8-9 players, before Jabs came up trumps with two players and the Silver Fox completed our line-up. Making their debuts was Alex Hayter (neighbour/ builder) and Aftab Ahmed, who is apparently related to Jabir in several different ways, some of which i am not sure are healthy. Chand and Don had their usual eventful journey, but we arrived with a full eleven more or less on time.
Hayes won the toss and chose to bat, on a wicket that looked conducive to run-scoring. Moysey and the skip had other ideas, putting Hayes under immediate pressure, with accurate spells. Dangler got the initial breakthrough and was then replaced by Alex. A few looseners later and Alex began to find a rhythm, getting his desserts with a fine slower ball that nipped back to hit off stump. The Silver Fox needed no looseners and was soon dropping it on a length and despite being a little expensive got a deserved wicket. Aftab replaced Alex, completing a good bowling display from the debutante, with a wicket.
Jones batting at 3, was the mainstay of Hayes innings, trading mainly in boundaries, he had a simple technique that was to hit it hard. Although we appeared to be on top, his ability to pierce the infield meant that Hayes recovered from a position of some precariousness. He was joined by Hutchinson, who launched a few lusty blows down the ground, enabling Hayes to post a decent score. Spud finally removed the dangerous Jones and then skittled the tail, taking a hat-trick of sorts in the process, with Darren running out the last batsman after the previous two had been bowled. Pick of the attack was probably Mike whose seven overs cost a miserly 9 runs. Hayes innings ended two balls short of 40 overs for 172.
Hayes had done their prematch homework, scanning our website for signs of weakness. They had obviously noticed the portly nature of certain individuals in the team photo and produced a very worthy feast for tea. Good to see Onion Bhajis and Samosas on the menu for the English, but not sure what the pizza slices were all about - we've got no Italians. Crusaders response was a very solid opening partnership between Jabs and Teacher's Pet Danglers (opening batting and bowling - tut tut). With Jabs playing the aggressive role, making a maiden fifty at just under a run a ball, Moysey was happy to pick off singles. Compared with some of Darren's efforts this one bordered on entertaining, with some of the credit surely going to Wajih for supplying the dubious Kashmiri Villow which allegedly has a middle. There was no sign of the infamous Charlatans Cake Lag as Jabs and Darren happily scampered between the wickets. Jabs finally hoisted one straight up in the air and was caught on the juggle by the bowler, which brought the 'irritating little man' to the crease. Chand played his usual array of shots, unusually the ball actually connected with bat. Hayes stuck to their guns and despite not taking wickets, they managed to slow the scoring rate.
Chand, not surprisingly failed to see the job to a conclusion, caught behind for 28 and was followed quickly back to the pavilion by Don. Thoughts of the famous Crusader folding deck of cards collapse were dispelled by a now rampant Danglers, who finished unbeaten on 88, with victory achieved by 7 wickets with just under 4 overs to spare. Even after two hours at the crease Darren still had the energy to lap Johnny GRRR in scoring the final 3 runs of the match.
It is not often that The Silver Fox graces us with his presence these days, but the prospect of new facilities to road-test was too good an opportunity for him to miss. Hayes must have been dismayed to see his late inclusion on the team sheet, because all was not well in the domestic area. The old dodgy boiler excuse was offered - dear dear !!
Showers apart, Hayes were impeccable hosts, playing the game in the right spirit and we look forward to a return visit next year.