Sunday 23rd April
The 2017 season got off to an enthralling start, as a quite Sunday afternoon fixture boiled down to a nailbiting close, with Matiullah Haidar holding his nerve and avoid Corinthians crashing to an early season defeat that felt unthinkable a couple of hours before.
All credit must go to the Woldingham groundsman, whose surface saw nearly 500 runs scored for the loss of only 7 wickets (albeit the wicket column would’ve been rather higher were it not for some charitable Corinthian fielding!). First use was given to Corinthians whose innings was built around the mid-2000s doctrine of keeping wickets in hand and then exploding at the end. Ben Priest (60 from 56 balls), Sushant Lall (18 from 13) and George Furber (29 off 10) were those in charge of the Semtex, making sure the rather more restrained (in comparison) opening salvos from Brian Clifford (49) and Chris Hooper (60 on debut) did not go to waste. Congratulations to Gusty Iyer for Woldingham, the (pre?)teenage tyro whose wicket of Sushant Lall was celebrated with equal delight by both sets of players.
It was hoped that 237 would be plenty enough to win, so the Corinthians decided all out attack was the plan in order to keep Woldingham interested in the chase and avoid fading into the night with a quiet draw unfolding. This started rather well, with wickets being picked up at regular intervals by the assortment of bowling options at our disposal, then suddenly having thought we’d exposed the vulnerable middle order, the ball kept disappearing into the tennis courts. Over, and over, and over again. The run rate which was above 10 at one point, lurched well below a run a ball. Thankfully Rodrigo was bowled by Priest, attempting to send the ball somewhere into an entirely different tennis court, possibly the other side of Croydon. Even then though, Malinda continued to take the fight to us before perishing to a fine catch in the deep by Hooper on 64. Corinthians wrested a modicum of control now, and pushed the rate back up beyond 7 an over and although Yoga Thiyagarajah gave us a late heart attack with two sixes into the damned tennis court (both celebrated with some sort out souped up Jadeja sword twirling, bat wobbling conga dance), it wasn’t enough and Matiullah and Geoff bowled fine overs at the death to close out a remarkable game of cricket.
Many thanks to our hosts at the wonderful Woldingham Village Club for yet another fine afternoon.