Nottinghamshire Law Society 'v' ON Phoenix XI Cricket Match

Nottinghamshire Law Society 'v' ON Phoenix XI Cricket Match

Written By: Jonathan Hammond, Old Nottinghamians' Society
Written: 3rd Aug 2021

 A Wicket Maiden and a Batting Maiden!

With typical Phoenix Weather of glorious sunshine from a cloudless sky, the glint from the Solid Silver effect Wheelhouse Trophy gave an inkling of a battle between two equally talented teams, and two confident Captains; both of whom had only brought their Winner’s Speech with them… with the Law Society hoping to retain the Cup for another year.

The passion and the intention that the Nottinghamshire Law Society brought to this annual match was more intensified when two very smartly dressed gentlemen appeared from the changing rooms… with white shirts and grey flannels… they’d only brought their own Professional Umpires(!!!) to ensure fair play and, hopefully, an unbiased series of decisions!

Nottinghamshire Law Society Cricket 2021 Team

Old Nottinghamians' Society Cricket 2021 Team

We were not disappointed and both teams played to the high levels of Sportsmanship expected from two such respected Societies… with thanks to both Colin Langton & Rukman De Silva for their time in the middle and for keeping us all in check.

The Beer Barrel was tapped by Jonathan Hammond, adding yet another skill to his growing repertoire having picked up a Barrel of New Dawn 3.9% from the Trent Navigation Brewery only 30 minutes before The beer was for those doing battle and for those spectating to enjoy throughout the evening… such is the evening offered to those willing to pop down to support the Phoenix XI.

The coin toss was overseen by Umpire De Silva and Kassra Powles, Captain of The Law Society, decided to bat and this resulted in some of the Phoenix XI putting down their pint glasses; having only managed to consume a quick ‘alf.

Your team for the evening was Nigel Hampson, John Croasdale, Eduardo Martin, Stephen Powell, David Axtell, Charlie Chaloner, Jim King, Will Vickerstaff and, making their Phoenix debuts, Adi Das, Richard Hayes, Tristan Sawle… what a team!

The Phoenix XI took to the field with David Axtell being tossed the new ball to begin from the Pavilion End. But who would the Law Society send out to defend the pacey attack of the first few overs of both experience and youth?

Sure enough, the safest pair of experienced legal hands appeared on the pitch in the form of Martin Foulds, bringing with him onto the field of Battle the fresh-faced Aaron Singh.

Axtell’s first Over was met with a single off the first ball followed by 5 dots… a quick look at that run rate would suggest a potential score of only 20 after their allotted Overs. More runs might be needed… but where would they come from, how could they increase the run rate?

Without further ado, up stepped Jim King for his first Phoenix bowling expedition for almost a year… and the ball was duly dispatched over the 360 degrees available by Aaron Singh for 12 runs from the Over… until Charlie Chaloner bowled his usual pacey line and length, which only brought a four to the Long Leg boundary and five dot balls.

Adi Das then stepped up for his debut Over for the Phoenix XI. How would the rookie cope with the pressure? The first ball was wide… oh, it was wide… almost in line with the City Ground in the distance… (due West!)… but more controlled bowling for the rest of the Over brought only 4 runs coming off the bat.

The youthful and ever-energetic Will Vickerstaff then stepped up and bowled his first ball that thumped the pads of Singh, who played a shot well after the ball had impacted the padded protection… such was the pace. A snicked single then left Foulds facing Vickerstaff. Experience versus youth… and it was youth that won the day as Vickerstaff bowled around the wicket to the left-hander Foulds, who heard his off-stump being pushed backwards and the bail tumbling. Foulds was gone and Liam Wilkinson took his place.

Stephen Powell bowled the next Over… pace and line causing all sorts of problems for the batsmen with a chance of a catch being sent to the safe pair of hands of Jim King at Gully. When I say ‘safe’, there was an audible groan around Adbolton Lane after the ball slipped between his fingers and fell to the floor with an almighty thud, through the silence… Powell was denied his first Wicket of the match and only one quick single was achieved from the Over, despite it giving a missed opportunity of a run-out at the Bolwer’s end, following a calamitous reverse-sweep attempt.

Eduardo Martin now took the ball and his first delivery was snicked to King again at Gully… only to see the fielder repeating his previous juggling act and the ball dropping to the floor. The Over saw 8 runs added to the score but also the departure of Aaron Singh having achieved a total of 26 runs, forcing his retirement from the game to allow others to take part!

Tom Lyas now joined the attack but was not even warmed up before Tristan Sawle began the first Over of his Phoenix venture and, although the first ball was a Wide, it was followed by two dots and then the Wicket of Lyas, as the full toss was dispatched to David Axtell who had moved to Gully and took the catch with ease; bringing Alistair Rose into the fray for the Law Society. Apart from the Wide Ball, Sawle’s first over was dots and the Wicket… an impressive start for the youngster.

The eagerly awaited spectacle that many of the excited crowd had made the journey to witness, was now only moments away as the ball was tossed to Richard Hayes to begin his debut Over for the Phoenix XI. Carrying much expectation and the hopes of the crowd on his broad shoulders, Richard began a full and lengthy run up, eventually reaching the crease and hurling a fast one down the 22 yards to the cowering figure of Liam Wilkinson… who watched it fly past him some 8 feet wide of the crease and a Wide was signalled by Umpire De Silva. Now that ‘his fast one’ was out of his system, and seemingly struggling to breathe, the run-up was shortened and a more sensible delivery followed which kept low and was put down as a dot ball. The following ball surprised everyone gathered there that day… including the bowler, as a swing of the bat from Wilkinson missed the ‘slower one’ from Hayes, which eventually reached the crease and toppled the bails, as the middle stump was nudged backwards and the name ‘Hayes’ went into the score book as Wicket-Taker and Wilkinson was walking back with only 2 to his name.

1 over, 1 wide, 1 wicket and 1 run… Hayes had arrived!

The 10th Over was taken by the experienced hand of Nigel Hampson who gave little away with both tight lines and length giving the batsman little opportunity of scoring… as the rumble of Thunder in the distance matched the ominous signs that the Law Society were half way through their innings and looked like they were going to need more runs on the board to make a real battle of the match.

As the fielders changed ends, all was good in the Phoenix World as the clouds parted and the sunshine broke through yet again… and David Axtell began his second Over from The River Bank end. The second ball was sent hard towards the long boundary through Mid Wicket by Alistair Rose; forgetting that the energetic and agile Eduardo Martin was waiting for anything in that direction and the catch was magnificently taken only inches off the ground… no need to worry the Third Umpire to replay the video, the catch was given by Umpire Langton and Rose was on his way back to his team on the boundary. Axtell’s two overs had brought only 5 runs, 9 dot balls and a Wicket… a Masterful lesson for the youngsters watching.

Jim King took the ball for his second over and, WHAT an over… the first ball being driven to Mid-Off where the outstretched and fumbling hands of Tristan Sawle promptly became tangled with the ball and the potential catch was dropped… and, whilst George Handere had taken to the crease only a few moment before, Jim sent him back whence he had come with a ‘dolly’ of a delivery that looped up and, on it’s fourth complete roll was missed by the hungry batsman who swung wildly to leg, wildly enough to do a complete turn to see his middle stump hit… and the bails dropping… Jim had his Wicket!

The Over will be remembered for the tentative calling between the two batsmen… with the Yes, yes, YES from one of them being countered with the No NO NO of the other!

Charlie Chaloner was next up and bowled a fierce Over succumbing to only one wide and one run… a near perfect example for the new recruits to see ‘how it is done’. The Wide being very generously given by Umpire Langton but without even a glare nor a glance from Chaloner… another example of good Sportsmanship that we expect from an experienced Phoenix.

As we mention the new recruits, up popped Adi Das for a pacey Wicket Maiden that saw Paul Hinchcliffe being sent back to the Pavilion before he had managed to find his feet… a wonderful achievement from Das and we hope to see him gracing the Adbolton Ground again over the next few years… he was certainly a handful with wonderful line and length bowling and the reward was for Adi seeing the two remaining outside stumps, bereft of their colleague, which was now lying prone on pitch; such was the pace!

Will Vickerstaff continued with sensible bowling and the batsmen were now struggling to affect the scoreboard too much.

Stephen Powell ended his two Overs with only 3 runs being taken but he also managed to take the scalp of the Law Society Talisman, with Kassra Powles falling to the first ball of his second over as the middle stump was dislodged yet again, having only just been put back in place!

And now… a piece of History was made for Old Nottinghamians & Phoenix Cricket as Vicki took to the crease… to show the boys just how to do it… with almost five Overs still to come, how was the first timer (and first lady to play for or against The Phoenix XI) going to cope with coming to grips with the line and pace of The Phoenix bowlers?

Well… really, really well as Vicki carried her bat at the end of the innings, achieving her 4 runs with style, great timing and patience…

Vicki joined Umar Rishab at the other end, who was thoroughly enjoying his time out in the middle… with two 6s and a 4 on his score card, all three boundaries taken from Eduardo Martin’s second over to help boost the scoreboard. A 4 minute Team hunt in the long grass for the second of those.  It was Tristan Sawle’s second Over that slowed down the run rate with only two singles being taken; one of which went to Vicki. It was Vicki’s attempt of the drive over Mid-off that brought the game to an immediate standstill as the ball sailed high towards the waiting hands of Tristan for a ‘caught and bowled’… Could he? Would he? Should he?

It seemed to hang in the air until landing neatly into Tristan’s cupped hands… it was a catch… Vicki was out… but, wait… instead of rapturous applause from his team mates and congratulations, all Tristan heard was the mass intake of breath and the boos at what he had done… it all seemed too much for the youngster and his concentration lapsed for a split second… and he dropped the ball. Vicki was safe… to fight another ball! 

It was now time for Hayes to continue where he had left off… and, sure, enough, after a couple of wayward balls, duly signalled by the Umpire as Wides, and some gentlemanly bowling to Vicky who took a sneaky single, it was the fifth and straight one (the only straight one?) that deceived the now confident Rishab… and it was the middle stump that found itself at 45 degrees… yet again!

That wicket brought Aaron Singh back to the crease with only 7 balls to face, including Nigel Hampsons second tight over and The Law Society innings came to an end on 106.

After a quick change around, The Phoenix openers, Nigel Hampson and Tristan Sawle, trotted on to the field of play with an air of confidence… the batting order to follow them, was John Croasdale, Adi Das, Richard Hayes, Eduardo Martin, Jonathan Hammond (taking the place of David Axtell who had kindly taking over the Scoring duties from Hammond), Stephen Powell, Charlie Chaloner, Jim King and Will Vickerstaff. A formidable line up… the Alan Wheelhouse Trophy was the Prize!

Nigel Hampson showed great determination and commitment to stay out in the middle before reaching his 25 runs and retiring… in the heat of the glorious sunshine.  

Lyas and Singh opened the bowling for The Lawyers and tight bowling only enabled 5 from the first two overs with Hampson striking the ball around the full 360 degrees that were available to him… an example of patient batting, finding the gaps. Sawle was enjoying himself with a 4 sent to Square Leg and attempted a follow up shot to Mid Wicket but sent an easy catch to the waiting Singh, off the bowling of Lyas. John Croasdale then took to the wicket joining Hampson with the perfect combination of age and experience. The score board moved on with runs being added at leisure for John but with more laboured running from Hampson… the call “there’s 3 there, run ‘em up!” from Croasdale being met with a sardonic smile from the beleaguered Hampson!

Croasdale continued with his stylish shots until succumbing to a slower ball from the first over of Rose with a shot over Square Leg which was brilliantly taken on the run by Singh for his second catch of the day… and Croasdale was out for 9.

A huge 6 and 4 brought about the retirement of Hampson, much to his relief and the heat was rising as the clouds were clearing… typical Phoenix weather for Adbolton Lane.

With the sun setting over the City Skyline, sail boats tacking and turning on The Trent, ducks and geese calling out confirming their evening roosts, there were only 33 runs needed from 54 balls… as Richard Hayes walked out to take Nigel’s place… and hoping to mark his debut with a positive performance to secure confidence within the Selector’s mind.

A decisive cut to Gully secured his first runs in a Phoenix shirt… until his Wicket was broken with a ball from Powles that kept straight as Hayes played across the line… with a total of 4 to his name.

Adi Das achieved his 25 runs for retirement and this brought Hammond to the pitch with Eduardo Martin as his partner to try and bring the match to a successful conclusion. With Wilkinson bowling a straight line, Eduardo lost his wicket to one that kept straight and low… which brought Stephen Powell to the crease.

During a chat between the stumps, Hammond reminded Powell that the Pizza delivery was due in 4 minutes… so, there was no time to lose.

A quick single for Powell from the bowling of Powles gave Hammond the strike and only 2 needed to win. Having played his signature ‘pull to leg’ shot throughout his innings (for every ball he faced!), it was the ball just outside the off stump that was pulled across the wicket and through Mid-on for the 4 runs that took the Phoenix XI over the winning line.

Both Powell and Hammond left the field of play with the applause of the Phoenix team; knowing that the Wheelhouse Cup had been regained.

The friendly atmosphere, the post-match beers and Pizza was only broken by the Presentation of The Wheelhouse Cup to the winning Captain, Jonathan Hammond. This followed a few thoughtful comments from Simon Jackson ON who said some wonderful words for those gathered to remind them of the influential work of Alan Wheelhouse as ON, Past – President of the ON Society and who was not only a Cambridge Blue, but also played alongside the great Henry Blofeld. It was Alan who performed the Opening of the Pavilion at Adbolton Lane… as well as being a Past – President of the Nottinghamshire Law Society!

With thanks to both John Coates and Groundsman Dave Vickerstaff for preparing the ground, clubhouse and pitch, without whom, we would not be able to simply turn up and play! The support from Robin Fisher and Chris Padwick was much appreciated and we would like to thank them both for helping to reduce the weight of the Beer Barrel to make it easier to return it at the end of the evening.

The match was also beamed around the World with the expertise of Andy Murdy, who commentated and engaged with a wide audience for those not able to enjoy the sunshine, the blue skies, the beers and the post-match Pizza. 

Jonathan Hammond, Old Nottinghamians' Society

On behalf of Nottinghamshire Law Society, we would like to thank the Old Nottinghamians' for a competitive game of cricket and the use of their facilities at Adbolton Lane.  This year you may have won the Wheelhouse Cup but, we will be back to challenge you next year!