Hertford record large victory over Lincoln in coppers first round
There is something peaceful about cricket. The game leaves one predisposed to thought, to introspection. As I rushed to Lincoln’s ground, late and hung over, I reflected on my need for a soothing game, a gentle afternoon in the sun, lulled by the sound of willow and leather, accompanied by the tranquil chanting of the birds. My wish was not to be fulfilled.
This match, played under a sky that was brooding and malevolent, painted perhaps by Turner in one of his darker moments, was an important contest, for the winner would move into the second round of the Cuppers competition. The pitch, slick from the previous nights rain, looked ominous for batsmen and fielders, the ball skidding wickedly off the surface and picking up speed as it bounced. Hertford took to the crease first. A gritty, Boycott–esque seventeen from reliable opener Chico Fernandez ensured that the Lincoln bowlers did not make the most of the favourable conditions.
This innings was a tale of two batsmen, however, who, like the Colossus of Rhodes, towered over the game, casting their shadows firmly upon it. First was Amit Upadhyay, who seemed to pick holes in the Lincoln outfield at will. His elegant stroke–play contained every conceivable weapon. He played with power and guile, the bat appearing almost malleable in his hands as he guided the ball around the ground.
Accompanying him was the Hertford captain, Robbie Walker, whose performance was more brutal but equally effective. He struck the ball with ferocity, tearing into the Lincoln attack with relish. His favoured shot, a vicious flick of the wrists off the pads, proved fruitful on numerous occasions.
With Walker and Upadhyay scoring 89 and 109 respectively, with the former not out, Hertford completed their allotted forty overs with a commanding 245–3. Although they would not have admitted it, they must have allowed themselves indulgent thoughts of an easy victory. These thoughts can only have been reaffirmed when Hertford took their first wicket of the day within the first four overs of Lincoln’s innings. They were not to have it all their own way though, and Lincoln’s number three batsman, Pranay Sanklecha, proved a doughty opponent.
He began circumspectly, prodding tentatively at the few balls he faced. Having played himself in, however, he began to turn what had been a one–sided game into a real contest. When Sanklecha set out to hit, his timing was impeccable. He took risks, frequently sending the ball soaring into the black clouds, but the Hertford fielders failed to capitalize on the opportunities presented.
As he hit boundary after boundary, his fellow batsman, Douglas, gathered confidence, and by the time the latter was removed after offering an easy catch to a grateful and relieved fielder, they had cultivated a useful partnership of 42.
With his accomplice now seated in the pavilion, Sanklecha took it upon himself to pull Lincoln back into the match. He became yet more audacious in his shot–making – reckless, some might say – but his power often helped him to safety. Indeed, a mighty six from his bat cleared the ground, smashing the greenhouse of a nearby resident. The furious homeowner remonstrated with the players, demanding that the game be abandoned, but the two captains refused to bow to the pressure. Thus we continued apace.
When Sanklecha was eventually dismissed for a flamboyant 58, his fury and disappointment was evident, though the manner of his departure from the game was perhaps easily foreseeable, as one of the many high balls that flew from his bat was taken athletically by Hertford fielder, Christian Bailey.ARCHIVE: 1st Week MT2003