Match report: Captain Qayyum meets his Waterloo

Following his most famous victory in Belgium in 1815 the Duke of Wellington described the battle as ‘the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life’. He might well have been talking about last night’s Greenwood Trophy match against Poloc Panthers. But the BBC Scotland team is not known for its’ glorious victories (indeed google ‘BBC Scotland cricket club victories’ and hit ‘I’m feeling lucky’ it will say “Did you mean ‘BBC Scotland cricket club defeats’?”), and last night added to the tally of defeats, but the pill was particularly bitter as they were inches away from a much-deserved win.

Having won the toss Poloc decided to field first, and Thomas Jose and club newcomer Baibhab Mishra went out to bat. The first over did not go well. Poloc’s Ishtiaq took the scalps of both Mishra, and his replacement, Tom Cara. Courtesy of a wide, the score at the end of the first over was 1-2. The prospect of a slump seemed imminent.

But then Ali Qayyum came out to bat. With a burning anger in his eyes following his duck last week, it was clear he meant business. A good partnership between Qayyum and Jose was cut short by Jose being bowled by Ishtiaq. Jose’s 13 runs had brought the score to 14-3 at his dismissal.

Strolling out to the middle, the antipodean swagger of Seth Edwards exuded confidence. And it was not misplaced. Qayyum and Edwards built a solid humiliation-saving partnership of 57. With a very respectable 25 Edwards returned to the pavilion with his head held high. Replaced by Lord Blane, confidence had returned to the BBC side.

Another good partnership built on the previous one and when Blane was dismissed with 17 runs, the partnership had added a further 46 runs. Leithead’s stay at the middle was characteristically brief, but lived long enough to witness the horror that was Qayyum’s dismissal on 49 runs. Despite being one run short of his half century, it was a knock which rescued pride and any hopes of the BBC making the match competitive.

Replaced by the terrier that is Humphrey Tauro, it was now a case of adding as many runs as possible. But after Leithead’s dismissal Matt Walmsley came out to bat and managed to add 5 runs, bringing the total to 130 – a score which had seemed like a pipe dream at the end of the first over.

With a required run-rate of 6.55 a collective effort from everybody in the field, as well as the bowlers, was needed to secure victory. It was a nail-biting innings. Everybody fielded with panache and precision, but special mention has to go to William Cory and Matt Walmsley (whose regular return to the team would be welcomed by everyone).

And the bowlers did their bit too. Wickets fell early, and Poloc found themselves staring down the barrel on 16-3 in much the same way the BBC had. With two wickets falling with Poloc stuck on 48, the momentum was in the BBC’s favour. But it was all about fighting for every inch. Poloc were yet to exceed the required run-rate, so there was no time for any slip-ups.

At 98-7 things were still going well. Poloc continued to be behind the required run-rate, but Stout (who finished on 49no) was making a strong batting attack. A strong partnership between him and Ishtiaq quickly emerged. It became clear that to win the BBC needed to break the partnership.

And then in the eighteenth over, with Poloc still behind the required run-rate, Stout and Ishtiaq made a quick dash for a run. The ball was returned smartly to wicket-keeper Jose, who clinically removed the bails with Stout’s bat still a good two feet away from his crease. He was out! The BBC celebrated. The partnership had been broken. Victory was within their grasp.

But then the square leg umpire called not out.

The match turned on a sixpence.

Poloc finished the 18th over on 117, making the required run-rate for the first time in their innings. Momentum had shifted in Poloc’s favour. Ishtiaq (who ended the innings on 16no off 9 balls) and Stout saw out the innings, making it to their final score of 133-7 with just three balls remaining.

The loss was gutting, but it was an exceptional performance from the BBC side. Similar efforts in the future will no doubt yield better results.

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