By Gary Norman

People often (never) ask me why I love playing cricket. Well, the answer is days like Saturday 9th of May 2015. After a resounding victory last week, the C’s welcomed Old Bradwell for their second game of the season, on a day where showers were forecast but never materialised. Omar was again stand in skipper and there were three changes from the previous week with Carter, Raj and Irshad (the latter two making their league debuts) replacing Simmo, Aftab and Kyle.

Omar lost the toss and the C’s were put in on a green Caddington strip, which had received some criticism last week from the first team due to it’s unpredictable nature. Omar and Umar opened again with the emphasis on making as solid start and setting a platform for the middle order. It wasn’t to be this time though as Umar flashed at a wide one which was taken one handed by the gully fielder for one and the C’s were 7 for 1 after 4 overs. This brought Gary to the crease at three and he and Omar set about seeing off the openers and rebuilding. The outfield was slow and boundaries were hard to come by but the pair battled on for the next 15 overs and as drinks approached their partnership passed 50 with some resolute defending and the occasional boundary. Omar fell just before drinks for 21 when shuffled across the crease and was bowled around his legs by Ray. Gary followed him back to the pavilion the very next over, also for 21, when he played around a straight one from Iqbal and at drinks the C’s were 68 for 3.

This brought Shahbaz and Irshad to the crease and as with last week, the run rate started to climb with both of them upping the boundary count and bringing up another 50 partnership, forcing Bradwell to bring their opening bowler, Moore, back on. It paid dividends he first trapped Shahbaz LBW for 15 and then Irshad in the same manner for an excellent 32, and with Carter (1) going cheaply in the middle, chipping the ball to Moore in the covers from the bowling of Salim the C’s found themselves on 129 for 6 with 8 overs remaining. Usman and Farhan then brought some impetus back to the innings with some big hitting and good running, and by the time that Usman fell for 25, caught somewhat fortuitously in the deep at the second attempt, the C’s were approaching a commanding score at 165 for 7. Steve (1) and Farhan (15 not out) added a further eleven, with the former falling to the final ball of the innings and the C’s had posted 176, which was an excellent score and probably worth and extra twenty or thirty runs due to the slow outfield.

After tea the C’s set about their task of bowling out Bradwell knowing that it was unlikely to be as easy as the previous week and it turned out to be an epic contest. Early wickets were the order of the day and when Jim got Iqbal caught in the covers for 1, things were looking good from the off. This however, brought the veteran Patel to the crease and he, alongside Salim, started to make batting look easy with the former hitting some nice leg-side blows and the latter resolute in defence. Wickets were looking hard to come by and Farhan and Jim were replaced by Usman and Raj. The pace was slow, but as with their opponents, Bradwell were building a platform and with 18 overs gone they passed 50 and the match was well balanced. Patel was playing the sweep and flick off the pads very well, forcing Omar into a fielding change by putting Irshad at deep backward square and the move paid off as he went for one big shot too many and was caught on the boundary – 56 for 2. The next over 2 became 3 when Thakkar tried to boom a Raj delivery over mid off, but mistimed it leaving Umar with a simple catch (which he made look harder for the cameras by not stepping forward and taking it about 6 inches about the turf). Usman then got Mohanti for 4 in the next over when he slapped one to Omar in the covers and by drinks it was 63 for 4 and the pendulum had swung back in Caddington’s favour.

With the opener Salim still at the crease, joined by big hitting Ray, Bradwell would have thought that they were still in the match. Omar replaced Raj from the bottom end, and finally ousted Salim with Usman taking a great catch at gully to remove him. Jones then joined Ray at the crease and the run rate started to climb again. The C’s knew that chances were coming though as the ball was smashed into the air repeatedly but generally just out of the reach of the fielders. It was Usman who again got the breakthrough when Ray’s habit of swinging for everything finally got the better of him and he was bowled for 12. Steve came on for Usman and after difficult first over, tempted Jones to nick one to slip in his second and Bradwell were looking down the barrel at 102 for 7.

Javid, who had obviously been instructed to bat out for the draw, was then joined by Ismail who obviously wasn’t listening and there was a clash of styles as the former was blocking and leaving everything and the latter was smashing absolutely everything. With 7 overs to go, just over 40 runs were required, and with Ismail scoring boundaries at will, all three outcomes were still very possible. Omar brought Farhan Jim back on for the final overs, but Ismail wasn’t concerned as he smashed Farhan over mid-on for what looked like a maximum. Shahbaz had other ideas, however, as he backpedalled a good fifteen yards and took a brilliant catch falling back just inside the ropes to remove the last Bradwell threat.

The only question remaining with just four overs left was would the C’s get the wickets, or would Bradwell hold out for a draw. Farhan bowled the 41st and his last over without success, and with both batsmen now defending for their lives a draw looked inevitable. Three overs left and Jim, along with the rest of the team was praying for something to happen. Haroon, the new batsman swept Jim for 4, and then tried to repeat the dose on the final ball of the over only to find the leading edge of his bat and chip it straight to the grateful Raj, and the C’s were just one wicket away. Usman bowled the penultimate over with Javid blocking and leaving everything, meaning that Jim would have the final over against the number eleven. Bradwell were six balls away from their goal and the C’s were one wicket away from another 30 points.

Ball one; Jim sends it down and Moore has a prod, there’s an edge, but it’s a bottom edge and Carter can’t quite get to it. So close for the C’s. Ball two; Jim bowls a fuller one and Moore takes a huge stride down the wicket to block it, four to go… Ball three; Jim pulls it back a little and Moore goes for it. It’s in the air and Umar is under it to take a simple catch at mid-off. The game is over and it’s 30 points for the C’s…

It was an amazing finish to an enthralling game of cricket.

There were some excellent performances again this week from the C’s, notably from Jim with the ball and Irshad with the bat, and every player from one to eleven contributed, but man of the match this week goes to Usman for his 25 runs, three wickets and brilliant catch at gully.

The C’s travel the top of the table Thurleigh, and with the returning Robbie added to the excellent all round team performances of the past two weeks, they’ll no doubt be looking for another win to continue their great start to the season.