– M.Gumpert – 54 runs
– M.Hickson – 102 runs (retired not out)
– A.Paul – 2/26 off 8 overs
– S.Carson – 2/24 off 4 overs
– T.Cantazaritti – 3/16 off 5 overs
– G.Singh – 2/40 off 8 overs including 1 maiden
– S.Britto – 38 runs
– A.Barraclough – 42 runs
– G.Wolledge – 33 runs
– T.Lonnen – 25 runs
It is fair to say that Saturday July the 11th will go down in history as a watershed moment for the United Kingdom as it was 8 days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson performed a remarkable reverse sweep to allow recreational cricket in UK to finally get up and running on the back of evidence-based medicine which up until now was allowed to go ‘straight through to the keeper’.
It was on this day after circa 4 months of lockdown hardship that PCC could finally descend on Dulwich Sports Ground a.k.a. DSG for the long awaited 1st match of 2020. Acknowledgements to all and sundry for pulling together to make this happen as the season opener saw Carson’s XI (PCC Kings) take on Lonnen’s XI (PCC Queens) on the astro turf not too far off from the iconic clubroom which could be noted as the crown jewel of SE21 7JH.
The Kings went into bat and were up against the young prodigy from Middlesex a.k.a. Rohan Paul, the son of the ever-so-reliable league fast bowler Ashish Paul. Across a stretch of 6 overs, Rohan was unlucky not to be rewarded for effort as many of his deliveries missed the edge of the willows by not very much or nearly clean bowled the opening batters who were keen to open up the account nicely for the Kings.
A 1st over early wicket for the Queens sent tremors through the Kings camp until Hickson strode out to the middle like a man on a mission in his debut game for PCC. Hickson has looked very promising during the Thursday PM net sessions with bat and ball considering that he has been out of the limited overs arena for a considerable period of time. Like a comfortable crossing across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Hickson carried his form onto the ground with a wonderful wagon wheel with lusty blows beyond deep mid wicket combined with a good defence response to lethal pace bowling of the ilk of Ishant Sharma in prime time at the fast and bouncy W.A.C.A ground. His century was a sight to behold as he gracefully retired on 102*.
Meanwhile, Max the co-pilot went skyward over the course of 23 overs after initially navigating through some very good economic and threatening opening bowling. Along the way, he continued his good deeds from that smashing September game last year when he made a ton playing for the MCC and provided our Sunday bowlers with no shortage of roast carvery treatment. Max is a delightful addition to the side and offers another dimension particularly to the top order batting with no shortage of confidence as soon as he crosses onto the field. With blistering strokeplay through the leg side and down the ground, he certainly makes batting look easy and allows the subsequent batters on the boundary to relax and smell the roses over an early afternoon liquid convivial not
having to worry too much about establishing a competitive total.
Much like cometh the hour cometh the man, Cantazaritti provided the breakthrough wickets for the Queens to turn the game on its head particularly after the middle of the innings bowlers struggled to get established with expensive spells above 6 runs an over. No doubt the hard work and swing bowling pep talk over the Thursday night net sessions across recent weeks yielded dividends for the colourful character. In an amazing 5 over spell, Cantazaritti well and truly ignited Lonnen’s XI into action with scintillating bowling like Sri Lankan great Nuwan Kulasekara in the prime of his career. 3 wickets certainly very well deserved and no doubt with a bit more fortune with the cherry the hat trick would have sent the ground into a round of applause on a glorious Saturday afternoon.
Lockhart, Parish and O.Lonsdale provided healthy contributions at the tail end of the innings when the Kings were looking very shaky and scrambling to get to 200 runs on a largely batter friendly wicket. Parish and Lockhart, in particular played excellent keeper-batsman cameos with plenty of quick singles and shots down town to fire the Kings past the 250 mark.
With BYO arrangements in place under the current climate, PCC congregated on the boundary line for innings break refreshments, banter etc. in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Moving into the 2nd half, a required run rate of just over a run a ball meant the Queens’ strong timber headlined by Britto, Barraclough and Lonnen had to produce the goods on a wicket which looked relatively easier to navigate compared to neighbouring challenging wickets where batsmen
have had to work hard for their runs.
After a shaky start to the innings, the second wicket pair of Britto and Polebonia put on a solid 72 run partnership in a show which could be described as Master and the Apprentice. With Gumpert called up as 2nd change bowler, the partnership was curtailed as Britto was undone through the gates by a penetrating inswinger which had the inklings of a young Jimmy Anderson arriving on the international cricket scene.
Along came Barraclough who has looked in fine fettle over recent weeks down at MV nets and keen as mustard to get back out on the park. The subdued first few overs could be described as the calm before the storm as he helped himself to a few maximums mainly between long off and long on when the change of pacers came on. The long and strong wagon wheel was unfortunately cut short of 50 by a mixup during running between wickets. No doubt the disappointment would have paved the way for a very long walk back to the ‘shed’ much like ‘pins and needles’.
Hamilton, on debut, provided a handy 14 runs in a healthy partnership with Barraclough and worked his way through clinical pace and spin bowling in the middle of the innings; a very good prospect in terms of keeper-batsman for PCC as we head into a brand new season.
As the run rate was starting to gather tailwinds for the queens, Carson brought himself on for economic medium pace bowling. He didn’t disappoint taking 2 for 24 and was unlucky not to get a couple more wickets across 4 overs particularly heading into the business end of the game. With the asking rate going above 8 an over, Carson was very strategic in his field settings and selection for bowling at the death not allowing too many boundaries to be hit. Point and deep mid wicket fielders just to name a few certainly earned their salt with a few knee and elbow grazes as the Kookaburra went flying in desperate times for the Queens XI.
As the innings got deeper and run rate kept creeping up, Lonnen and Wolledge couldn’t quite provide the fast finish despite valiant knocks past quarter of a century. Having said that, it was great to see Wolledge back in PCC apparel and providing late order entertainment to a run chase which was starting to run off the smell of an oily rag.
In the end, the mountain proved too big to climb for the Queens XI as Carson’s troops proved victorious in the season opener for 2020. The final scoreline best described by the gentle giant from the city of churches in Terra Australis – James Tisato…”Kings win today by 18/5 runs, depending on how you choose to score”