There are certain games of cricket you play in that you will always remember, and its safe to say this was one of them. Sunbury welcomed the arrival of Banstead for what was to turn out to be one of the most thrilling finishes we have seen for a long time in the 4’s.
The day started serenely enough, the Banstead skipper winning the toss and deciding to put us in, we faced the different challenge of bowling a side out if we were to be successful, having won all our all day games chasing. However as the two openers (Mugsy and Anoop) swatted away the first 10 overs for 55 with very little alarm, the think tank confidently predicting “Bat 38 overs or so for 250…..that’ll do”
All of a sudden there were pads and bats going everywhere, as we lost several very quick wickets, we were 60/5 and right in trouble. Absolute Chaos. Scott Napier strode to the middle to join Anoop, who must have been wondering what was going on, and small targets were set to try to give us a fighting total. Unfortunately Anoop fell shortly after our best laid plans were set down. However Napier, along with very valuable contributions from Shyam Patel, Sathi Lowmie and Micky O Sullivan, got the score up to a healthy 183. O Sullivan in particular, soldiering on despite dislocating/breaking/pulling/had cramp in some sort of muscle/bone in his leg, in one of the more entertaining moments of season, appeared to try to pole vault his bat whilst deciding whether a risky single was “on” or not, and spent the rest of his innings with a runner, and hovering somewhere between square leg, cover, and the popping crease. Joking aside however, his bravery and the fact he allowed us to bat another 3 or 4 overs and add valuable runs cannot be underestimated.
So a target of 184 for the visitors was set, in 48 overs. A fine opening spell by both Neral Gunawardene and Shyam Patel brought little reward, but kept the scoring in check, and with the last ball of Patel’s spell he deservedly picked up the left handed opener that he had been threatening to do for the previous 4 overs. The bowling remained tight, Banstead always needing around the 4.5 an over mark, and rising (as we frequently reminded them of course, just trying to help!) Mark Ventham bowled a hostile, tight spell before Shiv “The ROOP” Swaroop bowled excellently on debut claiming 1-12 off his first 4 overs. It was however the introduction of the superb Jerry Smith that really started to swing the game in the 24th over. 0-10 off 5 overs….the pressure was building….1-25 off 9 and we knew we were well on top. We brought Neral back for a further 4 overs and his spell was amazing, the run rate rose as they just could not get bat on his deliveries at all. A real winning spell. When Jerry then took two wickets with 2 balls the tide had really turned.
Lowmie then picked up their big fish, the real danger man, superbly, excellently, unbelievably well held at cow by Mugsy, the roar of the 2’s and 3’s looking on evident to the importance of the wicket…..or was it just shock? Either way at this point we were confident.
Still Banstead would not go away. The bowling was mixed up and changed around as the final overs approached, Neral bowled out, Micky O doing some sort of yoga practice on the side in a vain attempt to walk again, Swaroop returned to pick up another wicket….before firing one past second slip for 5 wides….it was all happening. Momentum was swinging one way then the other, tail enders were getting enough on the ball now to agonisingly beat the field to send the 45th over for 9 runs and Banstead were right back in it. In situations like this, when Mark Ventham puts his hand up and says “I want this, i fancy this, bring me on” you don’t argue. Roaring encouragement came from the sidelines as he steamed in, twice was a mm away from the outside edge. One sailed agonisingly over middle stump. 2 overs to go, 11 needed, 9 down. Jerry bowling, if anyone deserves the winning wicket it’s him (4-44 off 13 is as an important and match winning spell as i’ve ever seen) and he keeps the penultimate over to just 3. What a superb effort from him. 8 needed off the last.
They take 5 off the first 4 balls. 3 needed off 2, the field comes up, the batsman just gets his bat on a searing Yorker and sets off for a single….Mark sprints to the ball in his follow through, picks it up cleanly, needs to be a direct hit….time slowed down as the ball began its journey….never in doubt as the batsmen is a good 3 feet short of his ground. The place erupts as people run everywhere to hug anyone they can find, a pitch invasion ensued and finally a fantastic game of cricket ended. Superbly played by both teams and the old cliché “Cricket was the winner” can definitely be applied to this. Thoroughly enjoyed by both teams as an honest contest was superbly fought out.
24 more valuable points as we stay within touching distance of the leaders.