Otters snorkel to victory over frenemies Hampstead

3 May 2018

Some said "it couldn't be done".  
Others said it was "too experimental and fraught with danger".  
But yet there were a few believers....... Ranjit, Paul, Adam, Mabs and the rest of the dedicated PHCC coaching staff said it was "possible, but only if carefully planned and then executed in the exactly the right order".  
A long long time ago, back in the year 2017, and after their first taste of the big leagues, our little  fledgling Eagles and Falcons entered the Lord's Indoor Incubator to begin what would surely be one of their toughest missions since leaving the nest. No less than a transformation from birds to mammals. Something nature had taken millions of years to perfect the first time, now had to be delivered within a 9 month window! Tight to say the least.
I am not going to sugar coat it for you, the off-season wasn't easy, it was tough and testing, at times gruelling, and always filled to the brim with frantic fielding drills, intensive batting and bowling masterclasses and net sessions which either started or finished in the dark.   
But they did it!
On 28th April 2018, (at about 9.55 AM) the last of the OTTERS emerged from their winter training camp hungry to take on the world.
First up was the old frenemy, Hampstead CC, who in the off season transfer window had managed to secure the exclusive services of at least 1 Eagle for the duration of the 2018 season.  But not even the cold (8c), wind (steady) and rain (constant) would save them on this occasion.
What can only be interpreted as a sign of respect for the players of both teams rather than a reflection of the soggy conditions, the parents decided to stand (rather than sit) for the duration of the national anthem, toss and then the full 12 overs each way.   
J.T. and Ed A. led the troops out onto the field and although the toss was quickly won by Hampstead CC, the result was still the same, PHCC would bat first.
Neel and Alex P bravely strode to the centre wicket discussing the final details of the game plan, they both surveyed field, Alex did his final stretches, Neel took guard, tapped his bat, and then keenly focused his eyes in the direction of the bowler. An eerie silence then descended as the world turned its attention to Regents Park Pitch 1 and Hafi's outstretched left arm, now the only thing that stood in the way of ball and bat. Then, as if sensing the seriousness of the occasion, Hafidropped his arm and bellowed the word the players had been longing to hear for 9 months...... "PLAY".
It didn't take long until runs were flowing off the bat helping themselves to 14 off the first over..... leading some onlookers to remark "wow, look the OTTERS are flying again!"  Which I am sure you will agree is quite a challenge for a wingless, water loving mammal. Neel and Alex harvested 27 runs from their innings, a solid base platform for the team to now build on.
They were then followed by Oli H and Ed A who contributed 8 between them, in an action packed 2 overs which included fast running between the wickets, a couple of fours, a spectacular catch at cover point and a close run out.
Then came JT and ZK who added 23 to the total including a couple of 4s and some good calling but were largely frustrated by several wides and no balls from the bowlers.
Lucien and Aarav kept the pressure on the fielders by running the first run fast and thereby turning easy singles into twos.  The opposition bowlers had no answers.
In came Zach C and Raman and they kept the scorers very busy indeed. Some quick singles in the first over were then followed by some crisp boundary hitting in the second. By the time they had finished they had added 29 to the total.
Our final pairing of Arran and Kieran came to the crease and somehow managed to maintain the high tempo. Runs were flowing, fielders were diving, and boundaries were the order of the day.  28 added, and the total stood at 345/2! Surely a mammoth total.
The Otters then turned their attention to bowling and fielding. To say Arran was "steaming in" from the Lord's end was the understatement of the century.  He was fast, accurate and got results (2 wickets), putting the Hampstead top order under pressure from the very first ball.   
From then on the boys, one by one, rattled off over after over of relentless line and length, the likes of which have not been seen in St John's Wood since Glen McGrath last handed his baggy green cap to Umpire Erasmus and uttered the words "right arm over thanks mate". Zak R and Kieran were rewarded, picking up wickets in the 6th and 8th over.
In addition, the fielding was tight, the backing up the throws was brilliant and the Hampstead batsmen found it very difficult indeed. There were 3 run outs in total, 1 in each of the 4th, 9th and final overs.  Hampstead returned 238/7. 
Well done guys. Lots of positives. Let's keep that momentum going into game 2.
Thanks again to all the parents who helped out with set up and pack up, without you this is not possible. Tim (on-field) and Phil (scoring). 
Notes for next match:
- Everybody rug up, summer is not here yet!
- Parents bring a chair or rug if you don't want to sit on the wet ground.
- Bring a towel, umbrella and maybe a snorkel for the scorers
NEXT MATCH:  Otters v Finchley CC @ Brondesbury, Friday 4th May 2018, 6pm. Please arrive 20 mins before the match.