The week leading up to the match saw temperatures hitting record highs for a number of years, and the thunder and lightning on the Friday night before the game gave a small insight of what was to come on game day.... fiery heat followed by thunder and bolts of lightning.
Waxlow won the toss and decided to bat on what was a very dry pitch. Hitesh and KB took the new ball, with Wahab and Dhandu opening up for Waxlow. Hitesh as usual was very economical, and tight on his line and length, with the openers struggling to get him away. KB, who is up there on the leading wicket takers list, was a bit wayward, and Wahab liked what was on offer and played some expansive pull shots to the leg boundary. However, he played one stroke too many, and what should have been another bad ball dispatched to the boundary, he managed to hit the ball straight in to the waiting hands of Hitesh at fine leg who did not have to move an inch.
Ali and the Sohail fell in quick succession, both not having any response to Hitesh's quick and accurate bowling, and the pair both losing their stumps to some interesting shot selections.
Saleem now joined Dhandu at the crease. A big hitting guy who wasn't afraid to give his opinion to the opposition, his own team or the umpires. The loss of three quick wickets saw the pair make a cautious start to their partnership and the longer they batted the more confident they became in the latter stages of their innings, though he survived two tough chances early, one dropping short of Sandeep, and the other a tough low catch to Hitesh at point.
The ever reliable Junior came in to the attack, and even though he was accurate and tight as usual, he was unable to get the much needed break through.
Numerous close LBW and run out chances were turned down and the temperature on the field started to slowly simmer. The most controversial decision coming when Saleem hooked a delivery from Tejas straight Junior at the square boundary, only for the standing umpire to call it a no ball for a full toss above waist height, but the leg umpire whose decision it should have been, did not call it. In the end the batsman remained and went on to score a powerful 77 before eventually succumbing to Tejas, having him caught behind. Tejas earlier made the break through in getting out the dogged Dhandu for 50.
Thinking that the run rate was manageable, in came Nick with the score at 135 with a little over 10 overs to go. By the time he left, he had scored 82, lost a couple of balls in the gardens at the top end of the ground and got Waxlow to a more than healthy 285 for 7 of their 40 overs. Hitesh being the pick of the bowlers for an expected and much respected 2 for 24 of his 8.
Just like the weather, the tea did not disappoint either. A huge spread put on by Hitesh (with a little help from home), was demolished by all, and complimented on by the opposition who claimed it to be the best tea they had had. The standard of tea unlike the fielding seems to be getting better week by week, and whoever is next to do tea has a big task on their hands to match the efforts of Dharmesh, Punit and Hitesh before them.
On to the chase. What should have been an exciting afternoon chase turned out to be anything but. Some close decisions were turned down for LBW's and a run out. What was already a simmering situation was starting to boil.
Tejas played some glorious shots to get to 27, and opened with Sandeep, who lost his off stump early to a delivery from Wahab that did not bounce as much as expected.
Vijay the next man in gloved one to the keeper, but neither batsmen nor the umpire moved to the vociferous appeals from the Waxlow players. The temperature now getting as hot as the surface of the sun.
A few overs later, Tejas survived a very close LBW decision, which was turned down by the umpire. What happened next was unprecedented, sad and not inline with the spirit of the game. The bowler incensed by the decision, walked down to the batsmen's end and kicked down the stumps. This was followed by the Waxlow's captain’s decision to take his players of the field in what he perceived to be bad umpiring. Waxlow were given every opportunity to resume the game, however Waxlow did not heed our pleas and refused to continue with the game. The game was eventually abandoned.
There are no winners and losers when such incidents happen. Cricket is a game that is different from others. It is played by gentlemen who adhere to the strictest and most stringent laws of spirit.
The events of Saturday will be a one off incident and will never happen again where PPCC are concerned. No one individual is to blame, and both clubs will accept they were both at fault for letting the unsavoury moments get out of hand. What ever we say about any of the opposition we play against, PPCC have always and from here on in will continue to play the game in line with the spirit of the game, and by the code of ethics as described in the PPCC code of conduct as described below:
All Members and Guests of Priory Park Cricket Club will:
• Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person within the context of Cricket and in the context of Priory Park CC.
• Treat everyone equally and not discriminate on the grounds of age, gender, disability, race, ethnic origin, nationality, colour, parental or marital status, religious belief, class or social background, sexual preference or political belief.
• Not condone, or allow to go unchallenged, any form of discrimination if witnessed.
• Display high standards of behaviour.
• Promote the positive aspects of Cricket e.g. fair play.
• Encourage all participants to learn the Laws and rules and play within them, respecting the decisions of match officials.
• Actively discourage unfair play, rule violations and arguing with match officials.
• Recognise good performance not just match results.
• Place the well-being and safety of Young People at the club above the development of performance.
• Ensure that activities are appropriate for the age, maturity, experience and ability of the individual.
• Respect Young People’s opinions when making decisions about their participation in Cricket.
• Be inclusive and participate in all aspects of club life - on and off the field.
On that note, I will finish with this quote from the MCC Spirit of the game website:
"Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this Spirit causes injury to the game itself".