6th August 2022, Johnstone Reserve, Revesby

By El Presidente

“I don’t think i’ve ever seen this many Apaches at the ground this early before a game”. – A slightly surprised Isaac.

Clearly, we were keen for the game. After sitting through another wide ranging, rambling, Gazi TEDx on the way to Revesby, both Dinesh and I tumbled out of the car and surveyed the pitch. “Small” was the consensus.

Vague recollections of previous matches, and amusing anecdotes of the same venue were discussed and shared by the older heads, and there was much puzzling and scratching of beards and stubble at what seemed to be a pitch that was not quite the same orientation as the last time any of us had played there. The umpire eventually confirmed that we weren’t suffering a group delusion, because he’d looked at the pitch on google maps, and it had definitely been rotated by about 20 degrees. This was presumably to stop people from hitting straight drives into my boss’s house, and those of his neighbours. One of the previous games there had seen a ball smashed over the first house and into the yard of the next one along. I seem to recall that the small collection of children’s play equipment had also come under fire from some agricultural slogs to cow corner, but now required a front foot pull through mid-wicket. At the other end it was now a dead straight lofted drive that would be required to make it to the road, to watch the ball head off merrily rolling away down the street away from the park.

The Harris Park team arrived and set up under the trees not far from where we had claimed the bench, and the umpire tossed, and their captain called correctly, and asked us to bat. My attendance at this ceremony seemed entirely unnecessary. Daneesh, the opposition skipper, looked slightly worried at my apparent disinterest “You wanted to bat first anyway, didn’t you.” In all my years playing for this club, batting first has been little more than the fastest way to the pub. Given that we currently don’t have a home pub, and if we did it would be about an hour away, and we had a junior in the side, going to the pub was never a consideration, but bat we did, well, everybody else did.

After a desperate ploy last game to actually get some time in the middle after avoiding batting for almost the entire season thus far, this week i failed to get bat on the first ball that slid down leg, and then flicked at the second delivery that was outside off stump, looking to run it through the mostly empty cordon – my “zone”. Instead i got a faint, but clearly audible underedge straight into the keeper’s glove. I was walking off in disgust before the umpire had even taken his hands out of his pocket. Celebrations from Harris Park. Little did they know that i was only a decoy! 1/1.

Gazi joined Isaac (1) at the crease, and they immediately went to work, taking sixteen of the next two overs, then had a break letting two overs go by for four, before getting back to work with 23 from the next two. Gazi was delighting in the small ground, and was in full stand and deliver mode, which ended up being a bit unfortunate, because standing in front of your stumps means the umpire gets to give you out lbw. Gazi rejoined us on the sidelines after a fairly spectacular 23. The score 2/53 after eight overs.

While the opening bowlers changed after five overs each, the score continued to tick along, Vipul contributing to a 20 run partnership with Isaac, before also being trapped in front of his stumps by another lbw decision. Isaac crawled his way to forty, finishing with eight singles, while Dinesh came and went fairly quickly, without troubling the scorers too much. Which was nice because Gazi was scoring with me, and i get easily distracted.

Chinmaya and Bryan brought us to the drinks break with the total 4/87. A few people were asking what a reasonable total was, and i thought 160 was defendable given our bowling line up, but i thought we’d end up around the 200 mark, because their change bowlers didn’t look all that dangerous, and we can bat pretty deep. I’m not sure what kind of “tail” Bryan, Mal, and Arjun would be, a scorpion perhaps? Plus we still had the thrice-dropped (?) Isaac cooling his heels awaiting a second go at the bowling. There was derision from some quarters at my bold prediction.

We resumed the innings, and kept up a fairly healthy five runs an over despite Bryan losing a stump, and Mal falling for the Harris Park skipper’s wily bowling. The Dad-mobile had arrived not long before, and Arjun had hastily padded up before having to scurry out to replace Mal. Chinmaya continued his good form with the bat, following up on his last two 40s with a handy 23 before becoming another victim of the lbw, this one probably too high to hit the stumps but the umpire was on a roll. Isaac returned to the crease with ten overs to go, Arjun still settling in, and the score 121.

Some had suggested, and Isaac later agreed, that the first forty wasn’t his best and he hadn’t really middled anything (despite the 4 boundaries and the 6). With Arjun patiently working the ball around, Isaac seemed to find his groove. There was a 14 run over, two 11 run overs, and the second last over went for 17! When Isaac was caught on the boundary on the last ball of the innings, his last six scoring shots were 6,1,6,1,6, and 6. Arjun finished 24 not out, and Isaac’s innings was the perfect 100. The total 205. Captain Nostrodamus quietly gloated.

When i handed over the scorebooks, Harris Park seemed pretty resigned. The steady flow of wickets after the break had probably filled them with hope, but facing the Williams onslaught, and the inpenetrable wall of Arjun for the last ten overs had clearly brought them down to earth. They came out to bat with clear intent, and targeted Dnes who was struggling to get his length right after having to ascend a small hill from his end. He did catch the edge in his second over, deftly taken by Mal, claiming our first wicket of the day, but still gave away 12, and after 3 overs HP were 1/29. At the other end, Ajeet recovered from a wild full toss on his first ball which was put over the fence, and bowled out the rest of his spell with great control frustrating the batters. Wunderkind opener Arsh was looking for every opportunity and savaged Dinesh, but there was very little he could do against Ajeet, who drew a poor shot from the first drop that skied to Mal for 10. He was a little unlucky not to pick up more wickets, finishing his 6 overs 1/22. Meanwhile, Chinmaya had come on from the hill-side, to take some of the pace off the ball to try to stifle the young opener, but wasn’t able to entirely keep him out of the runs. Harris Park were well in the game at 1/68 after ten overs. Their young gun retired, bringing the opposition captain to the crease, who was met by the “dangerous bowler” (their words according to Mal, not mine) Captain Smokey.

It was lucky over number 14 that saw the game shift. Smokey kept them to just one, and then Chinmaya delivered in his next over claiming two wickets, and in response Smoke took two of his own, including his “bunny” the ‘keeper who got the extra life last game (costing me my first 5/ since 2014), to leave Harris park wondering what had happened.

In the space of two overs, they’d gone from 2/78 to 6/86, and their run-chase was in disarray. Vipul replaced his captain, who despite suggestions that he was protecting his figures of 2/8 after 3, was actually saving himself for the yet-to-return big hitting teen, who was still a chance of taking the game away from us. The dogged HP skipper who had seen his side crumble from the non-strikers end also remained at the crease.

Vipul, like Ajeet, bowled with superb control, and a desperate attempt to change the momentum was lofted back over his head. Smokey raced across from mid-off, at full pace (relative) to intercept the ball and take it at full stretch, ending his five dropped-catch streak. Isaac replaced Chinmaya to try to counter the young gun, who had returned to the crease to join his captain in what would have to be a heroic recovery. Isaac’s pace seemed to be just what this kid was looking for, and he was dispatched a couple of times, although there were plenty hit in the air, just not near enough to the fielders. Chinmaya was brought back on, and produced an absolute ripper of a delivery, that jagged back in at almost 90 degrees leaving the big hitting kid, Arsh (60) foundering as his middle and leg stump were knocked back. Captain Daneesh was prepared to go down fighting with just over a dozen overs to go and about 70 runs to get. He took a four off the next ball before launching one into the air to find the safe hands of Isaac. A fourth wicket for Chinmaya, and Harris Park all out 128 in the 25th over.

Overall, i thought it was a really good effort in the field, both Isaac and Mal taking two catches each, meaning i think we stuck all our catches (although i couldn’t quite get to an almost carbon copy of my earlier catch). The line and length from both Vipul (1/6 from 3) and Ajeet (1/22 from 6) put HP under huge pressure when they really needed to be getting on with it, and meant that they really had to take their chances when a change of bowler was brought on. A really good effort from all, especially a well deserved hundred for Isaac, and another bag for that absolute weapon with the ball, Chinmaya.

Special thanks to Rohit for the assistance in the field as well as with the photos, they are greatly appreciated. Let’s do it again this weekend, and next weekend, and the weekend after, and the week after that!

Epilogue: For those wondering, after another attempt to jump start Ajeet’s car, a call to a dodgy mechanic charging and arm and a leg just for a call out, calling my boss who seriously lives in the house next to the ground – who said he didn’t know anything about cars, but did see my two wickets from his lounge room, we settled on the far more reputable NRMA. They sent out one of their “patrols” who was genuinely one of the nicest blokes i’ve met in a while. A near-dead battery was the verdict, and after a quick replacement Ajeet was on his way. Again, thanks to Rohit for helping out, and sticking around to wait.

Post-script. If you make me do match reports, you will get these epic long tales. Without all the literary allusions (Sorry, Kal )
Post-post script: Still waiting on match reports from Vipul, Chinmaya, and Gazi 😛 (They don’t have to be rambling epics btw)

Selected comments:
Gazi: Wow wow theses group of Apaches are very fortunate to have a president like you this match report tells how passionate you are about cricket club and us. Thank you
Govind: Awesome Match report. Better than espncrinfo commentry