Match Report RTCC v Bohemians 2021
Sunday 18th April 2021
at North London
Railway Taverners won by 57 runs
Oh cricket, how we've missed you! After a long Winter marooned at home, we finally readied ourselves to take on Bohemians in the radiant April sunshine. This season marks the 40th anniversary of the club, so it felt right to start this momentous summer on the front foot. Well, we were in for a real humdinger of a match...
The first success of the day came when skipper Dom won the toss and chose to unleash a strong batting line on a bone-dry North London pitch. Luke and I hence strode out to open our account for the season. Going at six an over from the start, it was soon apparent that the pitch was as good as it was arid and the outfield lightning fast. Unfortunately, I got a bit too excited by all this and had to trudge off after hearing the death rattle in the 4th over.
Nish joined Luke and the two kept the rate up with a slew of boundaries as the opening bowlers went for 71 runs. Bohemians skipper Rob Archdale decided that enough was enough and brought himself on to bowl with the eternal words "Right, let's see if I can still do this". Lesser cricketers would perhaps consider a net session to regain their rhythm before a match, but the bouffant-haired master's command over the sphere of cork and leather doesn't rely on trivial matters such as practice. His first ball was looped up with tantalising flight and dutifully landed on a sixpence, as ever. Nish was keen to take the fight back to the bowler though and clattered the one ball that deigned to miss its target for 6. Not to be outdone, our tormentor got his man two balls later, Nish out stumped for 30 off just 20 deliveries. When Luke guided a leading edge into Rob's hands at Square Leg in the next over after compiling a handy 25, dread set in. Was this the first Tavs batting collapse of the season? How would we go from here, knowing that Rob still had 36 deliveries up his sleeves and thus 36 opportunities to chuckle at our ineptitude?
We should not have feared. With 23 overs left in the innings, Greg joined his compatriot Ben at the crease, and the two started going about their business. Their first task was to see off Rob and both showed remarkable restraint to play him perfectly, blocking the straight ones, rotating the strike when possible, and crashing anything off length to the boundary. Ben's superb footwork to drive straight and Greg's ability to punish the loose ball set the tone for a partnership that our esteemed opposition found impossible to contain. Despite their judicious approach, the pair were already going at a decent lick and drinks were taken on 107-3. The duo upped the tempo step by step, now going at better than a run a ball to edge the team total towards 200. Both soon passed their half centuries to applause from a throng of Taverners on the boundary.
With ten overs to go and the score on 165-3, the pedal was then very much applied to the metal. Ben repeatedly dropped to one knee to drive with impeccable timing, while Greg smashed one of shots of the day into the groundsman's shed for 6. The scoring rate was up to ten an over now, but the best was yet to come. With the innings drawing to a close, Greg defied tradition by demanding to know what score he was on. Fully aware of the equation needed to reach three figures, he started to play like a man possessed and raced into the 90s.
Having run fantastically well all game, the pair then contrived to run too well on the last ball of the penultimate over, leaving Greg stranded at the non-striker's end with six balls to go. A quick single was needed, and it came via the pads. The appeal went up, but I decided Ben was too far down the pitch to give the LBW. Dom later confirmed that it looked not out from 60 yards away, which surely vindicates the decision. Vitally, it meant Greg was back on strike with five balls available to bring up his ton. More hard running was required. A two was followed by a dot. And another. With two balls left, Greg was still six runs short. He hit the next ball hard, but the boundary remained elusive - another brace of runs had been added, and Greg took time out to catch his breath, while everyone else held theirs.
The final ball of the innings was good, full on middle and leg. Crack went the bat. "WHERE DID IT GO?!", shouted Greg. As a huge cheer erupted from the boundary and the ball hit the tennis courts, the Llanelli Lara realised he had done it and leapt in the air. What a knock, and what a partnership, to propel us to 271-3 off our 35 overs. As we settled down for tea, we knew that we had witnessed a Champagne moment that will be very hard to top this season.
Bohemians' reply was ably anchored by their opener Spratt, but never really threatened to take full flight. Guy, opening the bowling in partnership with Ime, got the first breakthrough, as he smartly diverted a drive onto the stumps to run out the non-striker with the score on 32. The second wicket partnership showed some promise, but Nish affected a quick stumping off my bowling to see off their number 3 just before drinks. Bohemians were 99-2 and needed ten an over from there on in. Dom shuffled his bowlers astutely and protected the boundaries to make sure that this was never on the cards. Chris was luckless but frugal bowling down the hill, and numerous chances went a-begging off his and Tom's bowling as forty runs were added for the third wicket.
Enter Lachlan Keen on his debut for the Tavs. His tight lines from around the wicket brought quick rewards, first bowling their number 4 in the 25th, before he added two more scalps to his collection in the 29th. When Lachlan then took a fourth wicket, it briefly looked like we'd be able to celebrate a five-for to go with Greg's heroics. Alas, their number 9 blocked out his last over to deny him.
The final flourish to a remarkable game came in the penultimate over. Confusion in the middle had the batsmen scrambling back to their respective ends, and Luke sent in a bullet of a throw from Long-off. The direct hit crashed into the stumps and left their dogged opener well short of his ground. A marvellous piece of cricket that added gloss to our efforts in the field.
A marvellous win by 57 runs then, dominated by Greg and Ben's superb batting display. A maiden century for the former, while the latter added 70 of the best himself. The two put on an astonishing 193* for the fourth wicket in 23.3 overs and have surely set a new Tavs record that may well take another 40 years to break.
Railway Taverners 271-3 off 35 overs
Ben Dixon 70* (48 balls, 9 fours and 1 six)
R Meier 7-0-34-1
Lachlan Keen 7-1-20-4