Bereft of skipper and focal point of the side Connor ‘Clobber’ Hobbs, the UWMCC VI that hopped onto the mini bus at the sports centre were keen to come back from the fortress that is the Coventry Indoor League Hall with all three points. A much changed team of Narayanan, Cook, Jewson, Davis, Afridi and Peters were propelled towards the fixture on a wave of optimism and the tantalising odour of Nish’s chicken sandwich.
The team strode out into the bright lights of the hall with ample time to loosen up and discuss the pedantic tactics that shape the form of the game which we know and love, the general consensus of protecting the distant promised land of the back wall was maintained, along with the strategic position of ‘gun fielders’ square on either side of the wicket.
For once, UWMCC won the toss and skipper Jack Jewson decided to bowl, indicating the result to us with an entertaining set of gestures which bore an uncanny resemblance to close hand magic. Galvanised by the inordinately aggressive battle cry of Lee Cattermole Senior on the parallel five a side pitch to ‘fight to the end’, the lads took to the field and set about their work in a thoroughly professional manner.
JP was denied his customary share of the warm up as the umpire lost and recovered the ball multiple times, leading to a very abrupt start. Sherbaz and Andy set the tone for what was an extremely impressive display in the field, bowling several tight overs between them which went for only a couple of delicate flicks by the opening pair. New boy Nish adapted to the six aside format extremely quickly, sending down his quota of overs in economical fashion, one of which cost just one run. During this period, Cook missed two difficult chances and Nish one, whilst Jewson refused to make us look bad, missing a couple of very gettable opportunities.
Despite the number of missed chances, UWMCC excelled in the field, the team to a man throwing themselves about and playing for the hypothetical crest on their miss matched shirts. The perpetual cat like state of the fielders allowed us to run three batsmen out, and stop a large number of quick singles which can easily sway a 6 aside game. JP kept it tight at his end, bowling the tricky leg brakes which ‘can’t be bad balls’ on the low bouncing track, and Andy stuck to his task dutifully. All in all, an excellent bowling and fielding performance which saw Warwick CC make 72 runs – a total which the lads were confident of chasing down.
However, it was perhaps this confidence that led to the downfall of the team, in arguably the biggest upset in the Coventry Indoor League’s illustrious history. Nish and Jono strode to the crease with not a care in the world. After all, 72 was the kind of target that should be a walk in the park. The first over went well enough, a couple of quick singles bringing the total up to a very healthy level.
Then came the bowling change that would sway the match. Warwick CC’s own Jacques Kallis, who had opened the batting came charging in and implemented his revolutionary tactic of smashing the ball into the hall’s floor, and tempting the batsmen to pull off the back foot. In a moment of narcissistic idiocy, Jono strode down the wicket to Kallis, and with an shot that will no doubt be put in the pantheon of disgusting shots, spooned the ball down mid on’s throat who gobbled it up like a grizzly bear with opposable thumbs.
Then came the next calamity. Nish missed a probing ball outside of his off stump, and ran afoul of the traditional run out and stumping laws when he misinterpreted the call of ‘wait’ from the ever ready Jewson at the non-strikers end to mean ‘yes’. 15/2 and UWMCC were in a spot of bother. The tried and tested partnership of Jewson and Davis steadied the ship with comparative ease, playing the ever important corners like the seasoned professionals that they are, bringing the team very much in with a shout of a fourth win a row.
The UWMCC revival didn’t last long though, with Jewson being removed as the result of a reckless shot which was in all fairness exactly caught off the ceiling by an opposition player. Andy was then extremely unlucky to be dismissed when his rasping cut was caught off the wall by the imperious Kallis.
That left just the brave duo of JP and Sherbaz to guide the team home, needing 21 runs off 4 overs. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Sherbaz was caught at guilty by Kallis who shows no sign of a dip in form after his international retirement, and JP was run out (extremely dubiously) leaving UWMCC 15 runs short.
Stupefied and slightly ashamed, the lads got back on the bus with the burden of knowing that they had let captain Clobber down, who remained reticent in responding to the news that his boys had lost for the first time this season. Onwards and upwards for this young team though, who will no doubt be thirsty to taste the sweet nectar of victory in next week’s crunch fixture.