So, after a lot of hard work the match took place! Most importantly, over the course of the cricket and the gig in the evening we managed to easily reach our target of 1000 pounds!
The gods of cricket were certainly smiling on us on Saturday. The weather forecast had been nothing short of cataclysmic all week, and indeed in almost every part of London it hammered down for most of the day. But not in Walthamstow! Although we had to reduce the overs to 25 per side, it did not rain at all – at least until the teams came off at the end of the day!
The cricket was of a high standard and in the end Hopi edged the LRC by 13 runs – largely thanks to superior bowling and fielding.
It did not all start well though. Hopi captain Attila the Stockbroker won the toss and elected to bat, but within the very first over opener Ben Lewis of the CPGB was back under the shelter of the gazebos – wafting his first delivery to first slip for a GOLDEN DUCK. With both sides stronger with the ball than the bat on what was quite clearly a bowlers’ wicket, they were hoping that Lewis would be one of the main contributors. The pressure was on.
But in came Chesterfield Hopi supporter Martin Jones and managed to steady the ship with other opener John Sidwell of Communist Students. The pair put on a good 75 runs between them – keeping the scoreboard ticking over at around 4 an over on a very slow wicket with an even slower outfield. Jones relied on some solid defensive play and pushing singles, whereas Sidwell looked to hit out. He played the LRC’s spinners particularly well, using his feet well to drive.
With 15 overs down at the drinks break things were finely in the balance thanks mainly to some extremely tight spin bowling from LRC NC member Rory Macqueen and Paul Basani. This – combined with tight wicketkeeping from Sean McNeill and some excellent work in the field from Andrew Fisher and Mary Partington in particular – slowed Hopi’s scoring rate down to just under four an over.
At the break, Sidwell and Jones were instructed by captain Attila to hit out. This they then did, but not without creating chances for the LRC. They will rue two missed chances – dropping Jones in the slips and Sidwell at mid off, both off the bowling of Macqueen. This may have indeed been the turning point of the game – Sidwell continued to smash his way to 51 (where he had to retire), and Jones continued to a gritty 30 where he was caught and bowled by leg spinner Joe Flynn. Both batsmen were greeted by rapturous applause for their excellent contributions.
Pickled Politics writer Sunny Hundal and Matt Sellwood of the Green Party were then at the crease looking to push the score on. Hundal in particular made his intentions clear from the very outset – smashing his first ball high into midwicket. Good running between the wickets also saw some quick singles from Sellwood. But LRC pressure took its toll. John Millington bowled a very handy spell removing both batsmen – Hundal caught by Tom Davies at mid on for 2 and Sellwood clean bowled for 3. John McDonnell Mp also bowled two very useful overs for the LRC.
Hopi wicketkeeper Jamie Moloney looked to be striking the ball well but was ran out for 1, and by now the LRC had their tails up now and were all fielding very well. But they were frustrated by Robert Shrew and his flourescent pink bermuda shorts, who combined with Aussie Green Party member Natalie Benn to score some late runs which would eventually prove decisive. Shrew smashed his first ball for 4 and and bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 13, with Bennett playing clever shots into the gaps to reach an unbeaten 5. Their audacious running between the wickets frustrated the LRC, who missed at least two good chances to run them out.
At tea then, things were nicely poised with HOPI having reached 112-5. Here is the breakdow of the Hopi innings:
John Sidwell (Communist Students) – Retired – 51
Ben Lewis (CPGB) – caught Millington bowled Nielsen – 0 (first ball)
Martin Jones (HOPI Chesterfield) – caught and bowled Flynn – 30
Sunny Hundal (Pickled Politics) – caught Davies bowled Millington – 2
Matt Sellwood (Green Party) – bowled Millington – 3
Jamie Moloney (Chair, HOPI King’s College) – run out – 1
Rob Shrew (HOPI London) – NOT OUT – 13
Natalie Bennet (Green Party) – NOT OUT – 5
Attila the Stockbroker (c) – DID NOT BAT
Rosie Isaac (Socialist Party) – DID NOT BAT
Sam Tarry (Chair, Young Labour) – DID NOT BAT
And the LRC bowling figures:
Tom Nielsen 3 overs, 0 maidens, 1 wicket, 12 runs
Tom Davies 3-0-0-10
Rory Macqueen 5-0-0-18
Paul Basani 5-0-0-25
John Millington 5-0-2-23
Ian McGovern 1-0-0-7
John McDonnell 2-0-0-11
The players quickly tucked into the food, took the opportunity for some team photos (see below) and then were off again against the back drop of some nasty looking dark cloud cover. LRC openers Ian McGovern and John Millington stepped out onto the field, making a steady start against the Hopi opening bowlers Jones and Sidwell. Both bowlers bowled tightly and this combined with good fielding – in particular from Rosie Isaac, Natalie Bennet and Sam Tarry – to keep the score down. The LRC batsmen played patiently though – waiting for the occasional bad ball to dispatch. But the slow outfield again meant that boundaries were few and far between, with the LRC struggling to maintain the run rate that Sidwell and Jones had earlier. They did stick around though, and Hopi desperately needed a wicket to keep the pressure up.
Change bowler Robert Shrew showed some good pace on a slow wicket, and he was assisted by Ben Lewis who bowled two maiden overs in a row, ensuring that after 12 overs the LRC’s total was just 23 – below two runs per over. The breakthrough for Hopi finally came in Lewis’s third over when a slightly fuller delivery coming back in rapped McGovern on the pads. There was an enthusiastic appeal and umpire Joe Flynn was in no doubt that it was hitting the stumps.
Sean McNeill came in at three and knew what he had to do – step up the pace. An over-pitched delivery from Lewis was smashed away for two runs, and although a wicket had fallen the over went for 10 runs. They then managed 8 off Matt Sellwood’s over, and with Sunny Hundal taking an over or so to settle into his rythm, the LRC enjoyed a few good overs thanks to Sean’s pacey running between the wickets.
Following a crowd-lifting over from Attila (who performed his famous 100-yard run up to the crowd’s delight) and a decent over from debutant Rosie Isaac, the chips were down and Millington and McNeill started to up the tempo. But the overs were gradually running out and Attila was happy to give the LRC singles and protect the boundary out in the deep. Natalie Benn’s slow left armers also helped to pin the LRC back with just 5 coming from her over, forcing them to start looking for risky singles with the score at 79 after 20 overs.
The re-introduction of Jones, Shrew and Sidwell put the pressure back on. Whereas the LRC had seen a few run out chances go begging, the Hopi side managed three direct hit runouts in the space of a few overs – an extremely rare phenomenon in cricket at any level. The first of them removed the dangerous batsman and LRC player of the match Millington, who was desperately unlucky not to get to 50 – run out by Jones at 44 after an excellent knock. Things got even worse for the LRC when their best batsman Paul Basam ran himself out for 0 – Jones again striking the stumps with an excellent throw.
Andrew Fisher then came in and was met with an extremely quick and bouncy delivery by Shrew. Striking his glove and running into the covers, McNeill called a run. Amidst the ensuing confusion, Shrew followed his delivery, picked up the ball and nonchalantly struck the stumps at the bowler’s end from about 15 yards. The tide was turning Hopi’s way – reflected in the noise amongst the fielders. The LRC needed 16 to win off the last 6 balls. With McNeill still at the crease on 23, there was an outside chance, but the pressure was on new batsman Tom Nielsen.
Fittingly, man of the match Sidwell stepped up to bowl the final over. Following two dot balls the LRC needed an increasinly unlikely 16 off 4, and Nielsen was then clean bowled by a cracking full delivery. Joe Flynn stepped up to the crease with the near impossible task of 16 off 3. He managed a single and so did McNeill on the next ball, but it was all too little, too late with the LRC finishing on 99-5.
Following proceedings, Hopi Chair Yassamine Mather gave a speech reminding the crowd of the importance of such events where the starting point of solidarity is not tailing the designs of US/UK imperialism or siding with this or that faction of the tottering Iranian regime, but aimed at strengthening the only consistently democratic class in Iran – the working class. She agued that in such precarious times the need for the international workers’ movement to articulate its own ‘foreign policy’ independent of the imperialists and the theocrats was greater than ever.
Following this, the raffle was drawn by John McDonnell MP and young Hopi supporter Evie from Manchester. By the time Hopi SC members David Broder and Charlie Pottins had more or less cleaned up the raffle prizes the heavens openened – we really were lucky with the weather!
It was a cracking day with great food drink and entertainment. Whatever team they happened to be supporting (quite a few had mixed loyalities!), everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Thanks must also go to Matthias and Reuben for organising the benefit gig in the evening which raised substantial money in tickets and on the bar. There will be a report and pictures of this event soon.
Here’s to next year – bigger and better!
Ian McGovern – lbw bowled Lewis – 11
John Millington – run out (Jones) – 44
Sean McNeill – NOT OUT – 24
Paul Basam – run out (Jones) – 0
Andrew Fischer – run out (Shrew) – 0
Tom Nielsen – bowled Sidwell – 0
Joe Flynn – NOT OUT – 1
Martin Jones – 5 overs, 0 maidens, 0 wickets, 17 runs
John Sidwell – 5-0-1-11
Rob Shrew – 5-0-0-13
Ben Lewis – 3-2-1-10
Sunny Hundal – 3-0-0-21
Matt Sellwood – 1-0-0-8
Atilla Stockbroker – 1-0-0-7
Rosie Isaac – 1-0-0-3
Natalie Bennett – 1-0-0-5
More reports from the game:
Marsha Jane Thompson (Hopi Steering Committee and LRC NC): http://unionfutures.blogspot.com/2009/08/cricket-hopi-vs-lrc.html
Jim Jepps (Hopi SC and Green Party): http://jimjay.blogspot.com/2009/08/cricket-aid-for-iranian-workers.html
Videos from the game (Thanks to John McDonnell):