Liveblog from The London Sentinel
Season 3 Final
Archbishops of Canterbury Saints vs The Great Composers
Good morning from Lord’s where a round of tea is brewing and a packet of bourbon biscuits is being passed around the Long Room. You can tell that there is a tension in the air because no one is trying to deconstruct their biscuit one layer at a time. Clearly there is a consensus for thoughtful crunching.
If you were to crunch the numbers behind the reason we are here today, the first final match to settle a Ten10 League, it would hard to come to any other prediction than a comfortable win for the Archbishops. The Saints have managed a remarkable return to form in Season 3 which has seen them go from worst to first in the Power Division. Their team ethic has been marked by an assurance that someone will turn in a match-winning performance every match. And so they have. Augustine showed excellent consistency and consistent excellence with a run of four 50’s mid season. William Temple and Robert Runcie have both proven capable of the type of 4 or 5 wicket haul that can bring a batting line up to its knees in penitence. If there is a criticism of the Saints, it is that often you feel they are just doing enough. Six of their nine wins have come by 11 or less runs when they have batted first. They are strong, but if a team really pushed them, they could still topple.
Whereas the Saints made a stately procession into the final, the Composers sneaked in by the with of a hair on a violin bow. Their success has not been universally popular. Margaret Thatcher has returned to Twitter to campaign for a wider playoff system next season saying, “We beat TGC. Won 2 more. PMXI better team. #Ten10playoff #meritocracy #justsayin”
While there is much to concern The Great Composers in a season end where 4 out of 5 games were lost, including the catastrophe in Central Park, before they snuck by the surging Somerset Engineers through a no result in the last match of the regular season, there is hope. Ever since Purcell took figures of 6-1 to rout the Kings and Queens, the TGC have been capable of aggressive, symphonic cricket. There is little argument that JS Bach is the best batsman in the league this season, and if their middle order is shaky, when they bowl well as a unit, they bring both sturm and drang.
Archbishops of Canterbury Saints
Williams (WK), Augustine (C), Anselm, Cranmer, A Becket, F. Temple, Coggan, Runcie, W. Temple, Abbot, Welby.
The Great Composers
Handel (C), JS Bach (WK), Beethoven, Mozart, Tallis, Schubert, Purcell, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner.
Archbishops win the toss and predictably will bat.
There is a huge sense of atmosphere and occasion building around Lords. There’s a row of fancy dress nuns settling down next to a row of actual honest to goodness nuns. There’s a man in a Captain Barnacles outfit with a banner reading ‘RE-INSTATE THE CTA’. There’s a coach load come dressed as an orchestra in the Mound Stand with inflatable instruments. I’ve counted fifteen Winston Churchills and twelve Queen Annes. Game on.
The Great Composers take the field to the disco version of Beethoven’s Fifth from Saturday night fever. Rowan Williams and Augustine stride to the crease to the strains of ‘Black Dog’ by Led Zeppelin.
1st OVER – ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY SAINTS 19-0 (Williams 4*, Augustine 15*)
Wagner storms in from the Pavilion End to get the match started. The first two balls are quiet as Williams nudges one to midwicket and Augustine knocks one down the ground for two. Then, Augustine changes a gear, swatting a short ball to the midwicket boundary before driving into the covers for three. Williams clips one away to deep square leg and they run three again before Augustine cuffs an upper cut for six. Good start for the Saints.
WICKET – WILLIAMS CT WAGNER B LISZT 4 (3)
First ball up from Liszt and Williams tries to nudge into the leg side and rotate the strike. He mistimed the shot though and the ball looped to Wagner at square leg. Williams got out cheaply in a similar way when the two sides met in Round 4. The Composers had a plan and stuck to it.
2nd OVER – ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY SAINTS 35-1 (Augustine 16*, Anselm 15*)
Anselm looks like he means business from the moment he steps to the crease. He punches the first ball faced to the long on boundary. Then he dismissively hooks a short one over long leg. Liszt managed to get the ball working into both batsmen in the second half of the over who worked to rotate the strike.
3rd OVER – ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY 65-1 (Augustine 37*, Anselm 24*)
The pre-match fears were that Chopin, who has been so dependable for most of the season, would struggle to be economical on this wicket. Those fears prove well founded as early as the second ball of the over when Anselm launches a straight ball to cow corner for six. Anselm rotates the strike driving the second three of the over to long off. Then Augustine hits three sixes back to back. First he cover drives a loose half-volley, then he hooks a long hop, before slam dunking a straight ball 20 rows back beyond long on. That feels like a huge psychological blow. Suddenly 200 is an outside possibility. Can the Archbishops push on from here?
4th OVER – ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY 91-1 (Augustine 37*, Anselm 50*)
I know uncommon is not an overused superlative in sporting parlance, so let’s use it here. That was an uncommon over. Mendelssohn has shown consistency as a bowler throughout this season, which is perhaps why he unravelled so much under pressure here. The first ball was short, wide and hitting the boundary rope from Anselm’s bat before third man could even dive. Then Mendelssohn bowled three more short ones that were dispatched square to leg, then off, then leg again. Handel came over to his bowler and harsh words were clearly spoken before Mendelssohn pitched the last two on a better length. But both were given the same treatment with a towering six over extra cover and a straight drive past a despairing long on. Anselm salutes the crowd and the dressing room. The Archbishops are almost too far in front already.
WICKET – ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY 95-2 (4.4 OVERS) AUGUSTINE LBW PURCELL 40 (12)
After the shellacking of the previous two overs, the surprise is that Purcell is capable of holding a tight line that neither batsman can hit. Only four runs come from the first three balls of the over before Augustine tries to open up again. He misses playing across the line to a straight one and the umpire has no choice. The Composers rise to celebrate, but it feels more like relief than joy.
5th OVER – ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY 103-2 (Anselm 51*, Cranmer 8*)
As he walks to the crease to the sounds of ‘I Write The Songs’ by Barry Manilow, you can hear the debate from the pavilion about which Cranmer will be playing today. Will it be the Cranmer who started the season with three ducks in four innings, our the batsman who hit 59 at a strike rate of 295 against the Innisfree Bards. Two balls later, both audaciously scooped for four over the head of JS Bach, the evidence suggests the latter.
Time for some emails and tweets.
Jeff from Winchester writes in to wonder if Rowan Williams will still be opening for the Saints at the start of next season. He writes, ‘With the trend this year for opening batsmen to have the most impact, will ACS be able to continue with a number 1 who has not hit a 50 and been out for 10 five times?’
In other news, Leonardo DaVinci has been let loose on the hospitality.
“Wish I had invented the pork pie #absolutegenius #buffet”
6th OVER ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY SAINTS 119-2 (Anselm 57*, Cranmer 18*)
Smart cricket from this middle order pairing, combining strike rotation with sucker punches against Schubert’s bowling. A pattern emerges of alternate singles into the offside and big hits. Highlights of the over are a second ball drive from Cranmer which stayed flat but carried the boundary and a classy, Gooch-like punch down the ground from Anselm for 4. Although Schubert managed to keep things reasonably quiet, 200 is still on the cards.
7th OVER ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY SAINTS 142-2 (Anselm 73*, Cranmer 25*)
A counter intuitive captain’s choice by Handel goes awry as Chopin is shipped to all parts of the ground again by both batsmen. Cranmer hits a sumptuous cover drive from the first ball and Chopin’s shoulders visibly slump. None of the composers’ body language looks particularly promising at this point. After a boundary stop to save a run from Tallis, Chopin guides the next ball past where slip would be for four. Then he tries the same shot again but lofted. Mendelssohn almost makes the catch at fine third man, but it eludes him for six. Chopin loses his line for the last two balls, a quickly run two to mid wicket and a fine nudge for another four.
8th OVER ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY SAINTS 157-2 (Anselm 80*, Cranmer 33*)
Another curious choice of bowler as Mendelssohn gets a second over. This time things work out better for the Composers. Tighter lines and more energy in the field mean that the ACS only reach the boundary once when Anselm cuffed the third ball through the covers for a four. Two overs left and only 43 needed for a dominant score of 200, but Anselm looks like he is starting to tire.
Possible controversy and dissension in the Church of England alert! An email has come through from the Right Reverend Bishop of South Yorkshire. In spite of the press conference quote given by Justin Welby earlier in the week clearly stating that believers praying for a Saints win was ‘neither in the spirit of the game, nor the spirit of the spiritual’, the Bishop, the Dean of Nottingham, the Bishop of East Ridings and five rectors and parsons are currently grouped around an internet radio praying for the right result. Pictures on Instagram can be seen here.
9th OVER ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY SAINTS 172-2 (Anselm 81*, Cranmer 47*)
Wagner’s back into the fray. No real chances for the breakthrough wicket that the Composers are desperate for, but the runs are starting to dry up. Having to run a couple of twos from the first two balls clearly is uncomfortable for Anselm. He looks as puckered and exhausted as an overripe tomato out there. The only blemish on Wagner’s economy was Cranmer thumping him over deep midwicket for a six. Cranmer is now just three runs away from his second fifty of the season.
10th OVER ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY SAINTS 193-2 (Anselm not out 88 (27), Cranmer not out 59 (20) )
A wayward last over from Schubert allows the Saints to finish with a flourish. Although he tempted Anselm into playing and missing, just before Anselm signalled to the dressing room for an oxygen mask, two no balls and some ill advised short pitched deliveries mean that Cranmer and Anselm both get to sign off in style with a final six each. Well played, your reverences.
Overall, you would class that innings as a disaster for the Composers bowling. A disaster that has them pegged as 20-1 outside shots for the victory. They allowed Anselm in particular to dominate proceedings and some of Handel’s choices were questionable in the extreme. Liszt in particular will be wondering what he had to do to get a second over.
Credit though to the Saints, who were aggressive, bullying, and merciless in their execution. It’s the Composers who need a miracle, but if JS Bach can get going, they may find one yet.
Bowling figures for the Composers: Wagner 0-34, Liszt 1-16, Chopin 0-53, Mendelssohn 0-41, Purcell 1-12, Schubert 0-37. Those figures from Chopin rank as some of the worst ever bowled in a Ten10 match.
Elizabeth Barrett-Browning tweets:
“Anselm knock puts him in top 10 players for season at @Browners expense. How is he grumpy? let me count the ways. #ladybards”
So out come the Archbishops with a spring in their step. Anselm’s face is returning to a paler shade of beetroot. The match is theirs to lose. All eyes will be on JS Bach, loosening up his shoulders on the way to the crease while the stereo pumps out his theme, ‘The Real Slim Shady’ by Eminem, around the ground.
He’s done it to the Archbishops already this season, hitting a match-winning 80 from 29 balls. However, the frailties of the Composers middle order, (1 fifty and 387 runs at an average of 20.34 and a strike rate of 254 between Beethoven, Mozart and Tallis) suggest if he doesn’t win this match, no one else is likely to.
Here we go then.
1st OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 26-0 (TGC require 168 from 54, Handel 26*, JS Bach 0*)
FIREWORKS! BOOM! First ball, Handel drives Welby over extra cover for 6. Second ball, BASH!, hooked over long leg. Third ball, OOOOH! Straight drive down the ground for four. Fourth ball, AAAAAAAH! Slogged to deep midwicket for another six. Fifth Ball, KABLOOEY! Cut away for four past third man. Last ball, PHHHT! Handel plays and misses to one outside off stump.
A great start for the Composers.
2nd OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 37-0 (TGC require 157 from 48, Handel 26, JS Bach 11)
Abbot, dependable Abbot, steadies the ship for the Saints. After an opening straight drive from Bach, Abbot puts the clamps on. The rest of the over only goes for seven runs, and both Bach and Handel are made to play and miss to outswingers. The damage from the first over means that the Composers are still around the run rate as they face the stiffest part of the ACS bowling line up.
3rd OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 63-0 (TGC require 131 from 42, Handel 48*, JS Bach 14*)
The two batsmen have a long conference in the middle before facing William Temple’s over. Bach hands the strike to Handel with a swiftly run three to long on, and then Handel explodes again. He cuts like a surgeon, hooks like a boxer, flashes hard as a lighthouse and nudges like a fruit machine. Handel is keeping pace with the Saint’s opening charge, making a star of the league look very ordinary in the process. Those 20-1 odds are starting to shorten.
“I call getting 48 runs a Runcie. Handel is on a #Runcie”
4th OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 87-0 (TGC require 107 in 36 balls, Handel 48*, JS Bach 38*)
It’s Bach’s turn to get fired up. He takes back to back boundaries in the first two balls, you could call it 4/4 time. Then JS gets a reprieve from a DROPPED CATCH. Coggan loses one in the sunlight at third man and the batsmen run two. A short ball is hoofed for six over leg before Coggan DROPS BACH AGAIN!!! To add insult to injury, the last ball is upper cut square on the off side for another 6. The Saints two best bowlers this season have gone for 50 runs in 2 overs. The required run rate is
under 3 runs a ball. Handel is still on a Runcie.
5th OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 110-0 (TGC require 84 in 30 balls, Handel 71*, JS Bach 38*)
In three seasons of Ten10 league cricket, not once has George Frederic Handel suggested that he is capable of the kinetic, electrifying performance that he has put on today. He has taken Donald Coggan, a bowler nobody has scored more than 40 from since Round 1, and smashed him. It’s as easy as one, two, three. One, a giant six drops fifteen rows back into the Allen stand. Two, a despairing leap by Cranmer on the deep point boundary can’t stop another six from a vicious upper cut. Three, the ball takes another visit to the back end of the Allen stand. Lord’s is in uproar. Handel fails to connect with the fourth ball but comes back strong with a classical straight drive for four off the fifth. He even has the temerity to sneak a single and keep the strike from the last ball. It’s less than 17 an over to win and suddenly the TGC are favourites.
6th OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 130-0 (TGC require 64 in 24 balls, Handel 90*, JS Bach 39*)
Handel continues to dominate and Frederick Temple has no answers. Things are unravelling horribly fast for the Archbishops. Someone call the Bishop of South Yorkshire and tell him to pray harder. After a bit of strike rotation at the start of the over, Handel settles back in again, helping himself to short ball hooked fine for six and a cover drive for another six. That shot was hit with the force of a percussionist who hasn’t had anything to do for the last two movements smashing a gong. Only 2 other batters have hit a century in the Ten10. Can Handel score one in a final?
WICKET THE GREAT COMPOSERS 136-1 HANDEL CT WELBY B W. TEMPLE 92 (27)
After they run three from a Bach off drive, Augustine unveils a tactical bombshell. Running against all cricketing wisdom and possibly decency, under the pump and running out of runs, the captain sends Justin Welby to slip. It almost works first ball as William Temple gets one to move away and Handel just manages to stay in control of a steer to third man. Temple then sent down a no ball before producing a ball that swung like a corner in a velodrome. Handel swings and gets a nick to a celebratory Welby. Augustine sprints over and kisses him on the forehead.
WICKET THE GREAT COMPOSERS 136-2 BEETHOVEN B W.TEMPLE 0 (1)
Two wickets in two balls! Beethoven’s terrible season ends with his fourth duck, his sixth score of two or less, his seventh time of failing to reach double figures. He was late on the shot and was cleaned up.
7th OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 143-2 (TGC require 51 from 18, JS Bach 46*, Mozart 3*)
Mozart comes striding to the crease looking like he’s heading for the conductor’s plinth. Underneath you suspect he’s feeling like he’s about to try to bat with a conductor’s baton. Suddenly the nuns, real and fake, are making the noise. Mozart manages to make a solid connection to a yorker and they run three before Bach finds a boundary on the off side to stave off a sense of immediate collapse. If the Composers can hold their nerve, they should still do this.
WICKET THE GREAT COMPOSERS 157-3 JS BACH B ABBOT 58 (21)
That’s the big wicket. Taken clinically with an inswinger from Abbot that squeezed between bat and pad.
8th OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 157-3 (TGC require 37 from 12 balls Mozart 4*, Tallis 0*)
Abbot comes back for a second over and Mozart gets off strike quickly looking to settle. JS Bach reaches a fine 50 with a pull shot into the Grandstand for 6 that comes close to hitting someone in a Gonzo the Great costume. From then on Abbot takes control, forcing a missed shot, then an edge which ran to the boundary for four. A no ball frustrates the bowler before he unleashes a yorker which Bach can only chip down the ground for two. The pressure starts to tell and the wicket falls. This is now such a close final. Both teams ended the 8th over on 157, but with two new batsmen at the crease, perhaps the Archbishops are gaining the upper hand again.
WICKET THE GREAT COMPOSERS 165-4 MOZART LBW F. TEMPLE 12 (6)
The ball is definitely starting to swing and Temple catches Mozart playing across the line to one which was shaping away from him. Absolutely no hesitation from the umpire and Mozart has to take the long walk back to the pavilion.
9th OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 175-4 (TGC require 19 from 6 balls, Tallis 0* Schubert 10*)
An over of two distinct portions, four balls to Mozart which only produce 8 runs, one boundary that beat a great effort from Abbot at fine leg and a dismissal. 29 from 8 seems like a tall order and the Archbishops are back in control, but Schubert opens his shoulders and hits a four to deep midwicket and then has the audacity to play a scoop shot for 6. Rowan Williams can only stare into the sky as the ball floats beyond him. This twisting, turning final is fully back in the balance again. And we’re going ball by ball.
9.1 OVERS WICKET THE GREAT COMPOSERS 176-5 Tallis LBW COGGAN 0 (2)
Augustine hands the ball to Coggan for the final over. He marks his run up and then bowls a huge no ball which Tallis misses. Coggan turns again and this time his rhythm is there. It hits the seam and pitches back into Tallis, hitting his rear pad in line. Again no controversy, and perhaps given Tallis’s season no surprise. Coggan is engulfed by his teammates. The perfect start to the last over for the Archbishops.
9.2 THE GREAT COMPOSERS 180-5 (TGC require 14 from 4 balls Schubert 10*, Purcell 4*)
Purcell faces his first ball from Coggan. Clearly the sports psychologists have been working with him because the deafening roar around the stadium doesn’t affect him. The pressure of the situation doesn’t phase him. Coggan bowls a straight ball on a line and Purcell puts a big front foot forward and sends the ball back from whence it came. Cranmer has no chance at long on. Could Purcell be a hero?
9.3 WICKET THE GREAT COMPOSERS 180-6 PURCELL CT ANSELM B COGGAN 4 (2) (TGC require 14 from 3 balls)
Clever bowling from Coggan. He goes around the wicket this ball and the changed angle just gets Purcell out of his rhythm enough to force a front edge that skies a ball to point. Anselm takes the catch calmly. The Archbishops are now totally in charge.
9.4 THE GREAT COMPOSERS 181-6 (TGC require 13 from 2 balls Schubert 10*, Mendelssohn 1*)
From the Saint’s perspective, the situation requires a laser guided yorker and that’s exactly what Coggan delivers. Mendelssohn keeps it out but swift fielding in the covers from the captain keeps the Composers to a single. As long as Coggan doesn’t bowl a no ball, the Composers can only tie.
9.5 THE GREAT COMPOSERS 182-6 (TGC require 12 from 1 ball Schubert 11*, Mendelssohn
Coggan repeats the trick of the last ball with the same result. Schubert can’t get this yorker any further than a swift footed Runcie at mid off. This has been one of the most remarkable overs of death bowling in any Ten10 match. Coggan has truly repaid his captain’s faith. The nuns, real and fake, are starting a conga. The Bishop of South Yorkshire has instagrammed a photo of the champagne corks popping. One more ball.
10th OVER THE GREAT COMPOSERS 182-6 (ACS WIN BY 11 RUNS Schubert 11* (3) Mendelssohn 1* (2)
Coggan completes this perfect over with a dot ball, pitching a slower one outside off that Mendelssohn went at too early. The Archbishops are the Season 3 Ten10 champions. On paper, it will look like another routine, did enough, win for the Saints, but everyone here at the ground knows different. After dominating their entire innings, Handel nearly stole the win from them. If this is the drama that comes from a game like this, maybe Thatcher is right and playoffs are the way forward.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Anselm
The natural choice, while the Saints bowlers were struggling to find their form, they always had the knowledge that they had the runs on the board and it was Anselm who put them there. Appropriate too that he popped up to put the final nail in the Composers coffin with a last over catch.
Bowling figures: Welby 0-26, Abbot 1-25, W. Temple 2-39, Runcie 0-24, Coggan 2-30, F. Temple 1-38
So as Augustine raises the trophy, I take my leave. Thanks for all the emails and tweets. See you next season.
Simon Travers © 2014