After a poor start to the 2017 LMS season, CTCCCC found themselves bleary-eyed and slightly chilly at the LMS champions league knockout stages Barnes at 9am on a Sunday morning. Even the most hyperbolic and over-optimistic members of the club (sit down Jamie Rutt) could hardly have seen this coming. The reason? Aside from Will Hammond’s 100 in the league final, very few star performers could be picked out. This was a true squad season.
Game 1 of the Champions League saw us pitted against “Book Boys”. CtCCCC had assembled a very decent side at short notice (special thanks to Ish and Hesk for their early morning travels), sending the Homecoming King Hammond and Ben Cassels out to open. Cassels predictably hit a few lusty blows before being caught, but Hammond along with subsequent partner Hesketh (37) scored a quick 46, with Ed Pearson next to the crease. On a pitch set up perfectly for the blond alien’s high left elbow and hatred of the leg side, he plundered the short off-side boundary while Pemberton at the other end did the heavy lifting. A big partnership of the physically mismatched pair took CtCCCC towards an eminently defendable total. Ed retired on 51 and Hugh had scored an invaluable 31
In reply, Book Boys needed to score at 8 an over but tight bowling from Ish (4 overs for 29), Hammond (4 overs, 2 wickets for 23), in addition to a sharp stumping from Hammond off Pearson’s bouncy off-breaks meant that the opposition needed to properly hit out. And hit out they did, with some sloppy fielding from Cassels, Davidson and Ish allowing their big guns to fire for a while. However the early miserly spell from Ish and later from Hammond ensured that CtCCCC got over the line.
Nevertheless, sticking to a winning formula, CtCCCC won the toss and batted. This time, however, the going was a bit harder. Gun fielding and tight seam bowling kept Hammond’s strike rate at the top of the order to 107, although he contributed a valuable 43. Cassels hit a few more lusty blows but was predictably caught at long on for the umpteenth time. Hesk went for 6, caught again on the point boundary going for a maximum, leaving Ed and Ish to structure a decent partnership. Ed scored briskly this time, amassing 45 from 26, the standout performance with the bat, taking CtCCCC to a potentially under par 145-7 from their 20. The Budgies bowling was the most disciplined we had faced potentially in the club’s LMS career – next to no extras, all catches held. 7 an over required for The Budgies – could CtCCCC’s reply in kind?
The Budgies played a risk free innings, scoring in 1s and 2s and rarely hitting the ball in the air. CtCCCC became increasingly desperate for wickets – the only way to get back in to the game – employing some unconventional fielding positions, to no avail. Jamie Rutt was the pick of the bowlers with 4 overs for 30, but the target was never in doubt. The Budgies chased down the total for the loss of 3 wickets and with 9 balls to spare.
In short, CtCCCC were beaten by a better side that eventually went on almost to the National Finals. On a different pitch, on a different day, perhaps batting second, maybe the result might swing the other way. But that sort of second-guessing and what-if dissection of CtCCCC’s final game of the season will surely provide excellent fodder over the winter for the appropriate WhatsApp threads and darkened corners of Chairman Dean’s mind.
2017 was a highly successful LMS season by any measure, and thanks must go to George for organising and agonisingly not playing – an unenviable combination of circumstances, executed with no signs of jealousy or complaint, and Will Hammond, for arguably being the standout player of the season.
Cambridge to Casablanca Cycling Cricket Club