MARK Isham’s Intra-Club team came out on top in another tightly-contested season opener at Wandsworth Common.
The 2014 captain’s side narrowly beat Matt Small’s team with only eight balls left and one wicket to spare.
It had looked like the wicket would be the winner on a chilly Sunday when Mark won the toss and put Smally into bat.
The pitch was a classic April green-top but Team Small managed to put in a solid batting performance to finish their 30 over innings on 135 for 6.
With the obdurate Raju Mazumder, and the flamboyant Jon Malsingh, Smalley’s team got off to a slow start, tormented by some tight bowling from Kevin Pittaway and Lewis Robinson, before Raju fell to the latter, caught at mid-off by Joe Conway.
This brought in Lomas Persad, now staying in the country for an extra year, who treated the spectators to a classic hitting display scoring 27 off just 24 balls before having to retire.
At the other end Mally had been replaced by James Couldrey, following an impressive caught and bowled from Chris MacNicol.
Couldrey fell for just two, going for a quick single when Daniel Sherman threw his stumps down.
But Team Small were still accumulating runs, in the unlikely form of Chris Beckett.
Beckett showed that anything Lomas can do, he can do better, with an brutal display, smashing 26 off 22 balls, including his first ever six.
His retirement might have been welcomed by Team Isham, but for the fact it brought in big-hitting Matt Glover.
Glover showed keen intent but was pinned down by Mark’s bowlers, before being bowled by new-boy Chris Brown for two.
— Joanne Waller (@JoJoWaller9) April 26, 2015
Elliott Small built a patient innings of 14, before being caught at mid-on off Sham de Silva.
Michael Rossi soon followed, hitting a single boundary before being bowled by Lewis on 4.
The skipper himself finished the innings as he often does – not out – with another newcomer Sam Lavender, who finished on an unbeaten 22.
First game of the season! Just looked out the window…. May have to wait. #damp
— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown303) April 26, 2015
The total of 136 looked reasonable, but Team Isham had every reason to be confident on a pitch that was holding up remarkably well.
Disaster struck early however, with Sham falling for a duck, caught at slip by Rossi, after a cracker of a delivery from Matt Glover.
But that started a 90 run partnership involving four batsmen with Chris MacNicol and Sherman both retiring while batting with Sam Bilson.
— Rossi (@RealRossi) April 26, 2015
Chris looked composed and Sherman batted aggressively, as Team Small’s bowlers could not find a way through.
The second wicket finally fell at the hands of the all-rounder Beckett, who had Joe caught at square leg by Lavender for 5.
At that stage, Team Isham were 91 for 2, and victory seemed assured.
But a collapse ensued: Adam Zabel run-out by Lavender on one, followed by Dr Bilson, caught and bowled on 13 by Elliott.
The score had slipped to 94 for 4.
But with big hitters Brown and Lewis at the crease, the score progressed at a good pace to 115, before Brown was bowled by Lomas.
Isham soon followed, given out lbw off Glover for a duck, claiming he got an inside edge.
Pittaway went in the same over, lasting just two balls.
— Mark Isham (@MIsham1985) April 26, 2015
That brought MacNicol back to the crease, but he struggled to continue the form that he showed earlier in the innings, falling quickly to Lavender, whose all-round credentials were clear for all to see.
With one wicket left, Isham’s side needed 12 to win.
And in the fading light, Lewis and Sherman saw them home, finishing not out on 15 and 29 respectively.
This is the second year in a row that the Intra-Club has been tight, with last year’s affair being decided by a Super-Over.
The Kings Road play their first competitive match against the Antares on Saturday, May 2.
— King's Road Cricket (@KRCSC) April 26, 2015