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PPCC vs White Star 20th June - By Kunal Vasa

PPCC vs White Star 20th June - By Kunal Vasa

By Mehul JNR Patel
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Form is temporary, class is permanent

Ultimately rain prevented the Priory juggernaut from catching further speed on Saturday. After a revitalising victory over Pacific, the Caribbean flair of White Star from the other side of the world were in town for a much loved match between two sides who play the game in the right spirit. Competitive on the pitch but fun and playful off it

The game brought back fond memories of Priory’s historic chase last season and two of the three match winners that day, Dharmesh and Vasa were in the squad and eager for a repeat performance. However the day started with much anxiety for Priory, they lost the big hitting Gaurav and shortly afterwards their inspirational skipper Sandeep also had to pull out. For any normal team this would have constituted a crisis, not Priory Park CC
Modern technology allows tactics and strategy to be changed at pace and a simple message on Whatsapp allowed Sandeep to instigate a new skipper for the day, the ever reliable and experienced Hambo. Upon hearing this news the players in the Priory ranks were immediately reassured, safe in the knowledge that under Hambo’s stewardship Priory still had a great chance of winning.

Indeed experience was certainly a theme of Priory’s line up as the average age must have risen above 35 for this first time this season. Along with Hambo Priory brought back veterans Rajiv and Nitin to complete a solid but commanding batting line up. At the toss however Hambo used his experience and assessed the overhead conditions he was greeted with. Having won the toss, Priory inserted White Star into bat on a dark and wet day, ideal for swing and seam bowling

Hambo opened up with Priory’s pacey big allrounder Hitesh and combined him with the accurate and tricky Vasa. With White Star being typically laid back players were running late so they had to open up with big hitters normally reserved for the middle and late order. Vasa relished having the new ball and got a wicket in his first over with a bit of inswing that made the batsman edge onto his own stumps. Not wanting to be outdone H claimed a wicket in his next over with a beautiful piece of bowling after setting up the batsmen with some quick back of a length deliveries before following up with a full quicker ball

With something in the pitch at both ends the bounce from down the slope was providing Hitesh some added heat. Before the start of the game everyone was second guessing who would take the gloves for Priory, would it be the stand in skipper Hambo, the returning chatterbox Rahul or Priory’s Chairman Rajiv? Those who hadn’t seen Rajiv behind the stumps were in for a pleasant surprise. The experienced Chairman has reflexes faster than a young cat, he relies on nous and technique as opposed to agility and speed however these sets of skills proved equally effective. With the uneven bounce byes were limited as Rajiv caught everything at chest and head height. He then demonstrated a further quality that probably distinguishes why he is Chairman of such a great club, courage. After being hit on the head gallantly attempting to stop a frighteningly quick short of a length delivery from H, Rajiv composed himself, requested the services of a helmet and then strapped on his gloves and pads again in the full knowledge that Hitesh’s pace would be unrelenting. The experienced veteran would have had many a battle against quick West Indians over the years and it rekindled memories of an ageing Brian Close coming out to bat for a depleted England side to face Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith (you can tell this report is aimed at our more experienced members) brave until the end. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

The opening bowlers did not let up in pressurising the opposition. As H took a wicket a one end, Vasa responded with another at his end. The gunners fanatics seemed to be spurring each other on and after 7 action packed overs White Star were 5 wickets down to the guile of Vasa’s gentle swingers and the genuine pace and bounce of Priory’s big all rounder H. Thankfully with Priory’s premier spinner MP3 in the ranks H did not turn to his much maligned quick spinners. A man blessed with pace accuracy and movement off the pitch should certainly play to his strengths
Sensing that the game was moving on very quickly Hambo decided to utilise the full depth of the bowling resources at his disposal. Junior and MP3 were the first change bowlers and Junior continued his consistent form this season by finding a troubling line and length. Junior is one of those bowlers ideally suited to the seaming conditions of an overcast summers day in England. He bowls the traditional English line and length with the ability to combine it with sub continental cutters. Inspired by a magnificent one handed catch taken nonchalantly off Vasa which must go down as a contender for catch of the season, the favour was repaid as Vasa took a high catch off Junior’s persistent bowling. At the other end MP3 was trying to find his length or his tune as his team mates fondly pronounce. The twirler had not quite found the rhythms his normal sounds evoke and their middle order batsmen took a liking to this as they started building some partnerships for the beleaguered White Star

As the Caribbean outfit found some momentum with what looked like a combination of Jamaican and Guyanese (Indian) influence a competitive score was on the cards. Hambo had to shuffle his pack of lions and had the luxury of bringing on Sabs and Dharmesh into the attack. Dharmesh is a strike bowler and strike bowlers can leak runs as initially he sprayed the ball around the pitch strenuously searching for that perfect Yorker or magic ball. Advice to slow down was rewarded with a couple of key wickets but runs were now flowing for batting side. Sabs did not quite hit his straps of previous weeks and the in now in form batsmen were using the pace of both bowlers to milk ones and twos at will

Priory always turn to their big all rounder when in need of something special, whether it be fast runs or quick wickets and the man who often lives his life as fast as he bowls his outswinger was treated with utmost respect by White Star. For the first time they went into their shell and played the type of sensible cricket that is now alien to most sides representing the Caribbean Islands.

There was a reason why whatsapp sent by Sandeep landed at Hambo’s feet as his quickly acknowledged that taking pace off the ball may be a better strategy to reduce the run flow and calm Priory nerves. White Star took the score beyond 150 having been sat at a precarious 20-5 at the early stages of proceedings. Sid was brought into the attack to bowl what best can be described as his dibbly, dobbly wobblers. These balls have taken years to perfect and they are actually very effective. Sid bowls wicket to wicket not providing any width outside the off stump, he did bowl a few looseners that were despatched to the short leg side boundary. Hambo’s confidence in him paid off as Sid collected the final wicket just as the skipper was giving Vasa and Junior the signal to try and desperately finish off White Star’s wagging tail
White Star finally bowled out for 174

This was a tricky target, a par score on this ground and with conditions forever changing the chase could be deemed a hazardous one without captain Sandeep to marshall the line up. Autonomy was given to Priory’s Mr reliable Hambo and he created a Jekyll and Hyde opening partnership of Dharmesh and Rahul. I don’t know whether it was the fact that he needed to go home early or whether he was fuelled by Junior’s delightful deli bar of a tea but Dharmesh looked strong and like a man with a point to prove

Within a few balls Dharmesh had his eye in and was smashing the ball to all parts with his unique bottom hand grip combined with sheer power to strike a cricket ball. The sound of willow hitting leather was never truer than when Dharmesh was middling everything the opening bowlers had to throw at him. With timing as sweet as the chocolate chip cakes served up for tea Dharmesh was into the twenties within no time and Priory were well above the required run rate without losing a wicket. Dharmesh has not had much time at the crease this season and his single figure scores meant he needed time out in the middle. The way he scored runs at a canter proved that the old adage, form is temporary, class is permanent was once again apparent.

At the other end the now part time cricketer Rahul was playing the sort of anchor innings much needed by a Priory side without their sheet anchor in chief Vijay Jani who was absent without leave (rumours have been strife around the media centre that he has indeed fallen into a mid season crisis and decided to get married)
Rahul’s forward defence was just as rewarding as Dharmesh’s leg side flicks to the boundary and as the man himself would say, this Jekyll and Hyde partnership was becoming ‘a pleasure to watch’. Despite missing several matches, Rahul looked as if he had never left the wicket. Form is temporary, class is permanent

The partnership reached 60 and beyond and it never really looked like White Star were going to get either batsmen out. They were comfortable with each other’s role, playing to their strengths, closing in on victory.
There was only one thing that was going to halt Priory’s march towards another well deserved victory and that was the elements. Only the English weather at the height of summer can be as unreliable as an Indian fast bowler on a green top and so it was that the rain came to White Star’s rescue denying Priory what was sure to be an inevitable victory. Dharmesh was left stranded on 46 not out cursing his misfortune as the sun decided to make a belated appearance at 7pm

Man of the match: Dharmesh played an innings in tune with the modern day opening batsmen. This was an innings Brendan McCullum would have been proud of. Priory and White Star played the game with a smile on their faces in the true spirit of cricket, the very reason why the Kiwis are now everyone’s second favourite team. The experienced pros of Priory present today have clearly helped nurture this culture of playing fairly and with class.

Form is temporary, class is permanent

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Match date

Sat 20, Jun 2015



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