Plenty of Promise in Super Second’s Opener

JCL2 – Sharks 2nd XI vs MIB 2nd XI at Sano1
4th Apr 2021, by Anton Lloyd-Williams

The Super Seconds season got underway with an entertaining and promising loss to the MIB second string in intermittent drizzle at Sano 1 on Sunday.

I was joined in the grey and blue for this JCL2 match by new Captain Ajeet, Asala, Hamdan (W), Arman, Santosh, Ashley, Avnish. Joining us for their first matches were Afroz, Anil and Varad. Welcome gents. Umpires, impeccably dressed, were supplied by the Tigers.

MIB won the toss and elected to bat first. After the briefest of warm ups, which left a few of us shattered, we sauntered over to the pitch to admire the handiwork of the ….er….groundsman. The edges and run ups of Sano 1 had been returfed in areas, in a raised, loose patchwork of dead grass. It was not particularly easy to walk on, let alone run on, so bowlers, keepers and probably the umpire too would need to be careful.

Medium expressman Avnish opened up at the levee end and took a few balls to settle into a line and length. At the other end, the 190 cm tall Varad, seldom wavered from an excellent line through the corridor of uncertainty. A fairly decent start for both teams quickly turned dark when Varad, in only his second over, fell victim to the appalling run up at the river end. His foot hit one of the gaps in the turf twisting his ankle and sending him plummeting to the deck, writhing in agony. Play stopped. Fielders and batsmen all came over to offer what assistance they could but Varad could not even stand, let alone walk and had to be helped from the pitch as his ankle began to balloon. With flurries of light rain added to the mix, it was clear the ground was a danger. After a lengthy consultation between all interested parties, the umpires decided to carry on with play from both ends unless a 2nd incident occurred. At that point they would make another decision about whether to carry on from one end or…. who knows?

Ajeet finished off his over very tidily and replaced him with U19 gun Ashley. Ash sent down some muscle fueled offies, that had the batsmen playing safe. Fair dues to them though, they lashed out at the occasional bad ball and sent them over the ropes. Ash almost took the first scalp with a peach that darted past the dangling bat of Kumar, snagging a faint edge, but Hammy couldn’t keep it in the gloves.

With a man off the field, the openers clobbered the ball around with a little more abandon. There were miscued catches available but they fell in unpopulated areas. One whistled through the hands of Asala as deepish mid-wicket. It was getting a bit frustrating as the scoreboard ticked on.
Arman took over from Avnish and got instant dividends as Kumar misread a fine offspinning delivery, swatting it to the assured hands of Anil in the Gully. The very next ball was just as good. Vivek lashed out and sent the ball arcing high over to Afroz at 3rd Man. He bagged the type of catch we generally drop in the 2s and all of a sudden it was game on. MIB Skipper Vasanth negotiated the hatrick ball with a nervous prod forward. Arman didn’t let up though and had the ball leaping around off the pitch. Raj was soon in trouble, missing a straight one that was destined for middle and leg. The finger went up and drinks were taken with the scoreboard reading 63 for 3.

The middle session is always a tricky one for us. Today was no different as the wheels fell off the attack. A couple of catches went begging and the batsmen took heart from this to find the boundaries with increasing verve. I replaced Ashley at the river end and bowled the worst spell I can recall, over- adjusting every ball, and shipping a heap of wides. The batsmen were more than happy to take a breather and just soak them up.

Ajeet bowled a neat line and length but got hit. He was obstructed, accidentally, on his way to a fairly routine Caught & Bowled which only added to the growing frustration. MIB were taking boundaries seemingly at will with an uncanny ability to find the gaps. Another cause of furrowed brows was the realization that we were running out of bowlers. Varad was playing no further part and my spell was mercifully stopped simply to ensure we finish before nightfall. So Asala came out of retirement and proved a revelation, with his very accurate tweakers. He also showed great reactions to catch a furious drive coming back at his head and we had our 4th wicket with the scoreboard having leapt to 150 odd. No further wickets came by drinks with the score at 183/4.

MIB came back out with wickets to spare and breached the ropes once or twice an over. Wickets tumbled too. Afroz took another great catch out at 3rd man off Arman and Ajeet got a superb run out from Point. Ashley took catch of the day running from wide Long On to pouch the ball at Long Off. That would have been my season’s highlight. He was barely fussed about it. Avnish picked up the wicket his bowling deserved but MIB made it to the end at 273/8. The pick of the Sharks attack was Arman with superb control and intelligent lines from start to finish. Asala came a close second.

Ajeet and “Specialist Opener” Anil began the reply for the Sharks. Both looked solid and clearly comfortable in this role, watching the ball well and avoiding any trouble. The MIB attack was largely pace and with the shoddy run ups and damp ball, wides were coming at a cracking pace keeping the required run rate well within reach. MIB shipped 16 wides in the first 5 overs and things looked pretty rosy. A light drizzle was falling, temperature was nice, scoreboard ticking along … From out of nowhere, Nimish whipped out a beast of an inswinging Yorker that accounted for Anil’s leg stump. A shame as he was looking accomplished up until that point. Ash came in and I was hoping for a repeat of his epic demolition of the Adore attack that I had seen the last time I turned out for the Sharkies some 18 months before. Alas, he never got settled, gifting a dolly to Short Mid Wicket after barely a handful of balls. Santosh in next. He had spent his time up on the levee practicing his pulls and booming drives for the best part of half an hour so was already pretty set. He started fairly conservatively but soon showed intent, punching a massive 6 straight down the ground, well into the still untrampled reeds.

He was well supported by Ajeet who continued his diligent approach, keeping out the good balls and moving the wayward ones around for 1s and 2s. He perished to a slightly contentious decision, caught behind. He was adamant he’d got nothing on it but the umpires disagreed and sent him back to the hutch. It was a very impressive knock from the skipper. 60 / 2 after 15. Exactly the same rate as MIB. After drinks, Asala came in, cracked a decent 4 but then missed a straight one and came back.

New man Afroz in next. He has a wristy, swashbuckling look about him and I was looking forward to some fireworks. The show never started though as he was caught out behind off a ball that seemed to have reared up and skimmed his chest. I assume the umpires thought he’d got a glove on it. He wasn’t happy about it and fair dues to the MIB skipper who commiserated with him after the game.


The incoming batsmen recognized their roles as support to Santosh who was looking fluent and finding the boundaries well, moving into the 30s and lifting the tent with the occasional booming drive for a maximum. Arman in was out in bizarre style. He’d fended a few off but then took a mighty swing at one which looped up high. The man at extra cover didn’t have to move. Arman trudged off up the pitch to cross over before the inevitable and watched as the ball came down into the hands, then out, then in, then out again! Arman, couldn’t believe his luck and moved into 2nd gear to make up his ground. So did the fielder and threw in the run out before Arman could get his bat down.

I entered the fray, hoping to get Santosh on strike as much as possible. I was feeling comfortable actually, leaving the good balls, keeping the straight ones out and taking sneaky singles. I pushed a sure single into the leg side and set off. I was amazed to see the bowler, off balance, somehow regain his composure and spring gazelle-like toward the ball. “Good luck with that”, thought I. In one fluid movement he gathered the ball, span around and released it back up the pitch. I was not subtle in my attempt to negate any such shenanigans by running into the path between ball and stumps. Somehow the ball missed my sizeable form and clattered the wordwork before I was home. Bloody hell! You can’t do that in JCL2!


Hammy in next and fair to say, hopes were not high. I think the last time I saw him bat he was opening or #3 on a tricky Sammu wicket and didn’t get up to much. Fast forward to today and it’s all change. He took a couple of sighters and was then timing the ball superbly, sending both bowlers around the ground. He matched Santosh shot for shot, the pick of which was a swaggering pull around the corner for 2, off the opening bowler. Clearly buoyed, Santosh put his put down and reached the half century with another enormous drive over the top for 6. He didn’t last much longer, being caught on the ropes attempting another. Great knock Santosh.

Avnish was determined not to get out wondering and went after the bowling, scurrying 4 well taken singles before being caught behind. Hammy finished unbeaten on 14. A very impressive afternoon’s work young man!

So we lost. But we lost well if it’s possible to say that. We were competitive throughout the game. We never rolled over or slouched and the noise in the field was good. Everyone had their moment of quality. There are definitely possibilities for this team.

Many thanks to MIB for the gentlemanly spirit in which they played the game and also to the Tigers umpires who ran the game well.