Sunday 18 April –v- Woldingham at Croft Road
Crusaders embarked on a new season with a visit to the picturesque village of Woldingham. With the skipper 'missing in action' somewhere in Iran, responsibilities for team selection were entrusted to Pommie. Despite often having almost a full eleven at pre-season nets we seemed to struggle to raise a full side for the opening fixture. In the end Chand produced Ravi to take us to ten and we had the Icelandic Volcano to thank for eventually reaching eleven, as Jagdesh joined us mid-match following the cancellation of his flight to India.
With Wajih still missing, newly-expectant Daddy Pom was coerced as captain. Woldingham won the toss and elected to bat. The wicket looked a bit patchy, but played remarkably well, with only the odd ball keeping low.
Moysey had failed to attend any nets this year, preferring the early morning attentions of Fiona, rather than turning his arm over, but he was still thrown the new ball. After a fairly 'stiff couple of deliveries he was soon in his stride. Woldingham were soon ruing their decision to bat, as Pommie - off a short run-up - took two quick wickets. Spud took over from Pommie and immediately opened his account for the season and Darren got the wicket his spell deserved, removing the opening bat. At 16-4 Woldingham were teetering on the brink. Dhileepan and Tozer restored some order, with Tozer playing aggressively, whilst his skipper was content to lay anchor. Spud finally removed Tozer - not before he had been despatched to the leg-side boundary several times - bowled for 33.
Ravi and Upkar had spells from the top end and were unfortunate not to take any wickets. Ravi was a little erratic, but produced a few pearlers and Upkar beat the bat constantly without reward. The Woldingham tail was mopped up by Chand, much to the dismay of Danglers. Obviously fearing interference from Volcanic Ash Particles, Chand chose to keep his flight trajectory very low, with an action not dissimilar to a native throwing a spear. Woldingham closed on 116 all out, with Chand returning figures of 4-20.
The ladies of Woldingham produced a sumptuous spread which was tucked into heartily. I mistakenly thought Damon was helping to set up the tea, as he passed me with a plate groaning with cake and sandwiches, until I realised it was for his personal consumption - no wonder we had to employ Craig Gordon as back-stop to Flabbianski.
Jagdesh set about the Woldingham attack as only he can, bludgeoning some fine boundaries as we looked to make light work of the low target, while Don was content to play the supporting role. Jagdesh was first to go, playing over the top of a full delivery and he was followed by a disgruntled Don, run out by a static Nita.
Key had been a picture of serenity, padded-up lounging in a chair, browsing some extreme right-wing election propaganda - The Daily Mail - but all of a sudden, he was back in his chair looking slightly perplexed. A quick swish at a straight one and that was that.
Chand and Nita pushed the score along at a good rate and as we arrived at 20 overs, Chand had been the only additional casualty. At 88-4, requiring only another 28 runs, victory appeared a formality. That it took thirteen further overs to get the runs and made several of the watching crowd lose the will to live, cannot be ignored. Damon (23*) and Pommie eventually guided us home, much to Kev's relief.