Fast bowling is a joy to watch. I don’t mean medium fast but genuine fast bowling. Seeing a bowler charge in and have the batsmen hopping around in the crease, stumps flying out the ground and an echo of sweet chin music resonating after every over is sport at its best
Priory Park was presented with a different type of challenge against Pacific in the not so exotic location of Finsbury Park. An artificial pitch and an opposition who had a chap called Sheldon in their ranks, a man talked about at length in team meetings, a man feared by opponents who fills batsmen with nervous trepidation before they start their innings
When Sandeep Nair won the toss for Priory he looked around and saw Ritesh, Dharmesh and Hitesh. He could fight fire with more ammunition and fire. With overcast conditions he went against the norm for Priory and elected to bowl
Ritesh and Kuni opened the bowling for Priory and whilst Kuni struggled to find the perfect length Ritesh stormed in. He utilised his two key weapons, pace and bounce.
One thing to add to these weapons was cricketing nous. Ritesh varied his lengths beautifully challenging the batsmen with balls flying around their ears followed up by excellently executed Yorkers. Ritesh was spurred on by seeing each batsmen walk out without a helmet which resulted in him simply being more motivated. It reminded me of watching a world cup match back in 96 when Sultan Zarawani of the not so mighty UAE came out to bat in a sun hut against Allan Donald in his prime. You can guess what happened next
In an era where batsmen dominate and audiences love boundaries by the dozen for some of the purists watching a fast bowler dominate as just as enticing. Every ball seemed like an event and every ball had a batsmen’s name on it. Ritesh’s 6 over burst provided 3 quick and key wickets and the game had already opened up for Priory to take full advantage
The captain opted for a double change and there was no let up for Pacific’s batsmen who must have been thinking an afternoon at home with the wife would be better than facing this barrage of fast and furious bowling. Dharmesh and Hitesh are different type of bowlers and Pacific now had to get used to the slingy full pitched bowling of Dharmesh and the angle and variety of Hitesh’s left arm pace mixed with occasional fast spin. Hitesh certainly has batsmen, captains and umpires on their toes as he moved from over the wicket to around the wicket and to through the umpire every over.
Dharmesh wanted to show his team mates that he too could bowl at a serious rate of knots and he surprised the batsmen with genuine pace off his 4 step run up. His two wickets were clean bowled with the batsmen beaten for pure speed. In this period Priory’s most consistent fielder Vijay Jani took a nonchalant catch off Hitesh, almost strolling in it seemed the world stopped for a minute before Vijay moved in gracefully to take the tough opportunity. Clearly the man has a good eye on and off the field and Specsavers are alleged to have contacted his agent for sponsorship possibilities.
Wickets continued to tumble but they were not as frequent as Pacific finally decided to show some fight and tried to build a respectable total. As Hitesh and Dharmesh’s fantastic spells came to an end the captain caught a glance at several hungry Priory stomach’s and decided to go for the kill and bring back Priory’s speedster Ritesh. He was unlucky in his second spell and as Pacific started to get towards something Sheldon could bowl at the captain initiated another masterstroke
Buoyed by performances in the LMS this season Sabs has been added to the ever growing list of PPCC all-rounder’s. Sandeep turned to him to finish off the tail with some fast moving full deliveries. As per his form this season, Sabs did not disappoint and blasted out the tail who were fast becoming an annoyance to Priory’s hungry batsmen. After a few weeks of dropped catches and failures in the field, Priory’s bowlers took matters into their own hands and decided the only way to get wickets was by destroying all three stumps. This feat took place seven times in the bowling performance of the season so far.
Faced with a small but tricky target of 137 Priory came out to bat with a plan. Chasing has been a novel concept so far this year but Sheldon was quickly identified as the man to be cautious against, the runs will come against the rest said an excited Priory skipper knowing he was 137 runs away from a win against his old team mates. To set the tone for the innings an aggressive approach was employed with Tejas and Gaurav used to open the innings
There were a few by plays at hand at the start of Priory’s innings. During Pacific’s middle overs Sheldon walked in as a late middle order dasher, he was greeted at slip by the courageous Tejas who stated that we were now bowling to tail Enders. This did not go down well with the tall and muscular Sheldon who at twice the size of Priory’s pocket rocket quickly found his tormentor and wanted swift revenge. Psychologically this was a great move on Tejas behalf, not only did Sheldon fail in his brief innings he now had other things on his mind as opposed to trying to put the ball in the right areas. He was targeting Priory’s superstar
The first ball of Priory’s innings brought great anticipation; the tremendous Sheldon for whom we had heard so much about was fired up ready to bowl against Priory’s man for all seasons. Sheldon charged in bowled a full half volley which was smashed over cover’s head for four first ball. The impact of this shot reverberated around the ground, Sheldon knew he was in for a fight and it gave Priory’s middle order great hope. In that split second the myth around Sheldon was shattered and Priory and Tejas had won the key battle of the day
At the other end Gaurav decided he too wanted to attack Sheldon. He did not have the same success as the great bowler showed that it was not just Ritesh who could mix pace with a cricket brain as he bowled a well disguised slower ball to deceive Priory’s pinch hitter. Sandeep joined Tejas and was immediately greeted by his former team mates with some verbals. He was perhaps too determined to get on top of them as he perished to a quick low full toss. A mini crisis needed a calm head
Vijay Jani entered at number four and normality was restored from the chaos of those first few overs. He and Tejas built a solid partnership until Sheldon finally got his man with a quick short ball fired in at the body. Vijay was lucky not to be given out LBW and when joined by Hambo they played out another crucial period of play. They took it upon themselves as the recognised batsmen to play out the last of Sheldon’s overs using great technique and temperament before Vijay finally perished for 16
Priory’s aggressive approach continued needing around 50 still to win. Vasa came in needing some time at the crease, smashed two fours and then perished to a close LBW decision. No matter, Priory bat exceptionally deep and at seven it was the big all-rounder who had the smell of beer in his nostrils after seeing his team mate Vijay crack open a can of fosters. The aggressive approach continued and along with the ever reliable Hambo they smashed their way to victory pummelling Pacific’s second string bowlers to all parts of the ground to race to victory at a canter. The strategy of playing off Sheldon clearly paid off
After a small lapse Priory were back to winning ways. This time all credit has to be given to Priory’s fearsome foursome of a bowling attack led by Ritesh and followed up by impressive performances from Dharmesh, Hitesh and Sabs
Men of the match: Hitesh Priory’s big allrounder finding form with both bat and ball and Ritesh for an epic spell of fast bowling that had batsmen whispering death at every ball