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Bill Owen Vs Venturers, Sunday August 13th

Bill Owen 107, Venturers 108-5

Ave atque vale: twenty-three people assembled for this, the very last Bill Owen versus Venturers match. They have been faithful and occasionally infuriating opponents for close on twenty years, but Bill Owen himself is retiring from cricket at the end of the season, and the team ceases with him. One reason is that many of his players are also retiring or have already done so. He had nine non-Venturers this time but Sunny and Kapil have played for him this year and did so again. The twenty-third player was Simon, who kept wicket for us but fielded and bowled for them, so that there was an extra fieldsman at all times.

This naturally kept the scores low, and the shaggy outfield kept them lower. Some of the catching put them back up again. Only a few people got chances and they all caught or stumped at least one. Only Imran, who caught his unique chance, didn’t drop anything. Jack caught three out of four, Venkat two out of three, Sajid one out of three. For them, the startlingly named Rommel (southern Indian atheism can have odd effects) caught one out of three and their wicket-keeper scored two out of four, with two drops and two stumpings.

Jack’s one drop, though, was very difficult and cost little, and his three good catches removed three of their best batsmen and were a large part of the cause of their getting bowled out for just over a hundred. One of those batsman was Sunny, who walloped a very bad ball from Faisal to a vast height. He does do that sometimes: the real surprise was Faisal’s bad ball, as he had bowled well otherwise. They had made a slow but wicketless start against Jamie and Ejaz, but after Jack had caught one the openers the new batsman had been completely taken in by Faisal’s third ball. Either that or he had been watching South Africa. He left it alone, which people don’t usually do, and it bowled him. Jack’s third catch, off Mushtaque, removed the last really aggressive batsman and Gregory, Faisal and Bruce shut the scoring down. Bill Owen’s grandson, whose largely defensive style resembles Bill’s, made his third score of sixteen in his third appearance for the side. Faisal got the yips and had to be taken off but Bruce was a more than adequate substitute. Then Jamie returned and ended the innings with a spectacular inswinger that flattened Bill’s off stump and a Imran’s remarkable catch at point. Imran wasn’t actually looking. He was just chatting to the umpire, who probably wasn’t looking either, when he saw out of the corner of his eye the left-hander’s square cut speeding towards him. He stooped and grabbed it, and hurled the ball away so as to wring his hands.

Venkat looked competent for an over and then unaccountably missed. Charlie and Jack concentrated on survival. Jack occasionally attacked: Charlie mostly limited himself to rotating the strike. Chasing a small score, there was no need for more. Bill Owen needed wickets and got one when they tried their bowler of extravagantly spun chinamen, one of which Charlie miscued to mid-on. Jack, though, hit them further. He did give a chance to the wicket-keeper but it was a big edge and hit him on the shoulder. We worried that it might drop down the back of e keeper’s shirt, but it would almost certainly have been invalidated by hitting the helmet on the way. Jamie lived more dangerously, playing and missing a lot and nearly running himself out. A second chance from Jack went straight up, not very high, and landed not quite on the stumps just before the wicket-keeper could get there. Jack couldn’t have defended his stumps from the falling ball without obstructing the keeper, in which case Bruce would have gleefully given him out (that happened to Leonard Hutton, no less, in a Test match). A bit later he ran himself out. By then we needed onky ten, but first Sajid, narrowly, and then Ejaz, by a distance, got stumped swiping at Simon. Then Faisal arrived and ended the nonsense by hitting the ball into the cornfield again.

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