The sun is out, the grass is mown and as families enjoy a serene South London park, cries of “Sham is a c***” ring out.
It must be the start of another King’s Road cricket season.
Saturday’s long-awaited Intra-Club Challenge match produced a brilliant nail-biting finish as new skip Mark Isham’s team edged out departing skip Matt Cocken’s men by a whisker.
After both sides finished their 35 overs with the scores level, The Road’s traditional pre-season warm-up was eventually decided by a super over.
Mark’s side, with Mark at the crease, had narrowly failed to knock off the 128 they needed to win as the regular 35-over match went to a nervy final ball.
Needing two to win, newboy Lewis Robinson played a shot to point and the ninth-wicket pair ran a single but could not scamper back for the second.
It meant the score at Battersea Park was tied on 127.
After some discussion, both captains agreed that for the first time in King’s Road history a match would go to a super over to decide the outcome.
Mark’s side batted first and hit 11 in their six balls, and then had Matt’s team on the ropes with a series of dot balls.
Mark’s first four bowlers kept Matt’s score down to one single and one wide.
Then with two balls left and needing an unlikely nine, Matt’s team needed one thing: a six.
And they got it as the other newboy Vishal Mathew bludgeoned a ball from Lewis over and beyond cow corner.
It left them needing three off the final ball – but unfortunately for Matt it was not to be as Mark’s side kept Vishal down to a single.
The match had looked like it wouldn’t take place at all following a week of rain.
But the day of the Intra-Club was largely dry despite an ominous forecast. The wicket, in the shadow of Battersea Power Station, dried out noticeably and in the end played surprisingly well.
However, at the start of play the unpredictable weather meant the captains were faced with a difficult decision about whether to bat or bowl.
Mark won the toss, and chose to bowl. And it didn’t take long to become clear that it was the right thing to do.
Wickets tumbled as Matt’s men fell apart early on.
Jack Caesar trapped Sham de Silva lbw for 2 with the score on 10 and then five more wickets went down for 20 runs.
Dave Hughes, Giles Fagan, Lomas Persad and Matt fell for single figures before Dan Howard, who had opened up, was caught by Jon Malsingh off Dan Sherman for 16 with the score on 30.
A mini recovery then took place as Matt Glover and newboy Vishal Mathew put on 31, until Glove was caught by Smally off Mark.
Kevin Pittaway came in to bash the ball around with Vishal showing some class to reached the retirement score of 30 and push the score past 100.
Three balls after Vishal retired, Michael Rossi fell for a duck and after Harris had scored 13 Vishal was briefly back in before being caught by James off Will Gledhill.
Kev finished not out with a vital 25 off 28 balls with the score on 127.
Top of the bowling figures were Sherm and Will, described by Mark as “impact” bowlers, who both bagged two wickets for 5.
At least that was a total though, and as it happened it turned out to be more difficult to reach than Mark’s team thought.
Despite a good, aggressive, start from Raju Mazumder and Jon ‘Mally’ the storing rate throughout the innings never crept above ‘steady’.
Lomas Giles accounted for Raju on 8, caught behind by Giles. Leon and Jon then put on 26 before Jon was lbw to Vishal for 16.
Sherman went for 3, caught by Matt C off Giles and Leon went on to hit four fours in his score of 26 before he was bowled by Dan H.
The innings continued to creep along but despite having looked comfortable with wickets in hand, Mark’s team began to crumble.
In true King’s Road style, a series of wickets went down as Matt’s men fought back.
After Leon went, Jack went for 11, Will for 6 and Jamie Keats for 6.
With 7 down for 85, and Mark’s team running out of overs, it was getting close.
The final few overs of the chase were played out by Lewes and Mark who put on the final 45 runs.
On the final ball, two were needed to win and the pair only managed one leaving the scores equal until the super over was played.
Over the 35 overs, Matt’s side bowled a tight line and length with very few extras. That bodes well for the coming season.
There was the odd slip in the field on both sides though as Giles Fagan will remember.
Fielding at deep extra cover he inexplicably booted a ball over the boundary after Leon clipped one in the air outside off-stump.
That was voted the most embarrassing moment of the match.
The champagne moment went to Lewes, who was also named man of the match after key contributions with both bat and ball.
But despite bowing out with a loss, Matt C was perhaps the day’s biggest winner.
The former skip served up a mouth-watering pulled beef extravaganza that puts him firmly in the running to win this season’s coveted Teasmaker of the Year award.
Anyone hoping to beat him is going to really pull out the stops this year.