Crusaders returned to winning ways with a solid display at Tugmutton Common, comfortably chasing down Locksbottom’s target of 155, in a game reduced to 35 overs. Transport difficulties necessitated Damon detouring via Sidcup and Orpington Train Stations to collect players, which led to the inevitable question – How many Singhs can you get in the rear of a Range Rover? And thus the proposed start time came and went.
With all the transport shenanigans even Wajih was at the ground before the heavily laden White mobile rolled up to the pavilion and with the toss lost and a reduced format agreed, we found ourselves in the field. Sam had shaken off the Immigration Authorities as well as a Ball and Chain and partnered Gajinder with the cherry. Whilst Gajinder was a measure of consistency, maintaining a good line outside off stump, Sam tended to spray the odd ball about, although he did advise me that he could supply me with false documents and plenty of narcotics if I ever had the need; amazing what you can learn whilst at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
Openers Lambourne and Crawford were a ‘Chalk and Cheese’ partnership, with the former strong on the front foot and the latter frustrating Gajinder with an unerring ability to play a Chinese Cut down to fine leg. Gajinder eventually got his man, yorking Crawford (26) with the final ball of a five over spell to reduce Locksbottom to 51-1. Upkar produced some very slow loopy leg-spin as replacement for Sam and on a couple of occasions probably had time to beat the arrival of his own delivery and make a far cleaner gather than Cymbals White.
At the drinks break Locksbottom were handily placed on 93-1, with Lambourne looking in ominous form and the projected target appearing likely to exceed the two hundred mark. Results often hinge on a game changing moment and this came shortly after, with Damon taking a smart catch to remove Lambourne as he chased a wider delivery from Spud. This exposed a middle order of Crusader brittleness. After a long period of recuperation some may have suggested that Damon would struggle to return to the peak of his form, but as a bowler who has had a perfect view of his fumbling and floundering I am glad to confirm he has lost none of his sharpness and agility. Indeed his form is only likely to improve after he enrolled for Full On Pilates, having misread the advert believing it to be an All You Can Eat Buffet.
All of a sudden the impetus swung to the bowling side, with Locksbottom’s lower order struggling to cope with accurate spells from Chand and IPL Jony. More particularly it was Loepreet’s slow turn from the top end that did the damage, returning fine figures of 3-21 from his six over spell. Hollands guided the Locksbottom tail through to 35 overs, but the final score of 155-7 appeared several runs light.
An excellent tea, supplemented by a Free Ice Cream Van was taken, with some of the more Junior members of the home side partaking rather too freely. Wajih set his stall out immediately by pulling the first two almost identical deliveries for boundaries to take advantage of any ’99 Lethargy’ that remained. Jagdesh, following on from last week’s maiden century did all he could to get out, surviving two straight forward chances offered to Mid-On, before finally launching a huge straight six. His innings was curtailed when Locksbottom made their first bowling change, with Hollands disturbing the timber to make the breakthrough. Gajinder joined The Skip and the score ticked along to 86 with few alarms, before Wajih decided he ought to spend some time with the family and spooned up a simple chance. With Chand and Lucky falling in quick succession and Sam next to bat, Locksbottom sensed the game was still very much alive; indeed former Crusaders Paine and Moyse were licking their lips in expectation of the classic collapse. It was not to be. Sam began with a trademark baseball home run and the watching Crusaders happily predicted the number of further balls he would survive, but there was to be no dismissal. Gajinder raced past fifty, playing some meaty straight drives and Sam connected with anything that was bound for the stumps and managed to keep anything airborne away from the fielders. Victory was achieved with three overs unused, with Gajinder unbeaten on 73 and Sam a steady 11.