Saturday, 14 July 2018

North Enfield Match Report

In a summer full of sporting surprises the Mandarins’ victory over North Enfield may not make much of a ripple but it truly should rank up there.

It was a typical start. Your correspondent arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled start of 1.30 and was totally unsurprised that, despite being the team being beseeched to arrive at 1.00 so the game could start as promptly as possible, I was the first arrival. As such I assumed the role of captain, strode out for the toss at 1.29 with four additional members of the team in various states of undress (in the changing room, thankfully) and attempted to negotiate that we bat first in what was scheduled to be a 40 over game. Civil service negotiating courses not being what they used to be, I failed, despite my assertion that the traffic in the Blackwall Tunnel really was terrible and the snarl up on the North Circular would delay the rest of the team only further. But the opposition really wanted to bat first as well, ostensibly due to the hot weather but on discussion afterwards it was probably more to do with the fact that last year we politely declined to bowl on after they had bowled us out for under a hundred and knocked off the runs in no time. So we tossed and, first surprise, I won and duly elected to bat.

The batting order was almost entirely determined by the order of arrival of the team but, second surprise (I’m going to stop counting now; suffice to say there were lots), we had a ready-made Emmanuel College opening pair of Baxter and Lowen champing at the bit. Perhaps it was the sight of the padded-up number three batsman (yours truly, again) striding out to umpire at square leg that affected the mood of the opening pair, but it was clear that there was a sense of calm and clarity that is rarely associated with the Mandarins, particularly given that we were facing one of the quickest bowlers that we will see over the course of the season. “There’s something different about Tim today” I said to anyone that would listen; one wag suggested that the presence of a septuagenarian at the other end of a pitch meant that Tim’s preferred method of dismissal would have to be shelved.

Alas there was indeed a run out that split the opening pair but this was entirely (I think) David’s fault though he could reasonably have expected to take a single to the man on the boundary; the fact that he was quite so short of his ground showed quite how short the boundary was and quite what a good arm said opening bowler had. But this was after they had added 78 runs, doing the radical thing of keeping out the good balls and scoring off the bad ones and seeing off the opening bowlers. Baxter moved to his 50 soon after and Tunbridge and Warren came and went fairly quickly, both content to give the strike to Tim who was seeing the ball beautifully and picking up the pace but both falling trying to press things on. This only brought Wilmot to the wicket who scored a sparkling 48, taking a particular fancy to the returning opening quick who, getting carted around a bit, charged in faster only to see the ball return past him faster. Tim continued to press on and brought up a marvellous hundred, a rare sight in a Mandarins shirt and thoroughly deserved for a brilliantly judged innings. Tim and Jonathan eventually fell though this turned out to be a good thing as Inder came in and smashed a brutal 40 off only 16 balls, making the most of the short boundary and taking us to a very imposing score of 254-5 off our 40 overs.

North Enfield appeared undeterred and approached the chase by sending in two beefy opening bats with a single-minded approach – give it a biff. Stan Forman did a fine job opening the bowling, keeping things very tight and tidy (the scorer, who has seen a game or two there, remarked afterwards that Stan was the only bowler to really master the quite pronounced slope across the pitch which was some praise) which allowed Venky, bowling with skill and no little menace when he fancied, to account for both openers. Stan took a deserved wicket and McIntyre then came on and, as you do, opened with a double-wicket maiden. North Enfield were 34-5 and we were left speculating what the largest winning margin for the Mandarins was; it surely was under threat.

Rather than going for the jugular, the Mandarins eased off, and the North Enfield number 5 played a lovely innings of see-ball-hit-ball (though Stan was unlucky not to see him off several times) to score 113 not out of 80 balls. Thankfully Forman elder, Manian and Inder did the job with the other bastmen (none of whom scored more than 15) and North Enfield ended up on 205-9 off their 40 overs.

Truly a remarkable game and what a treat to be there to see Tim score the first hundred of his life; well overdue and may there be more to come for the Mandarins.

Mandarins XI: Lowen, Baxter, Tunbridge, Warren, Wilmot, Inder, Manian, Venky, Forman D, Forman S, McIntyre

Graeme Tunbridge

Friday, 22 June 2018

WG IX Match Report

WG XI 168-7 - Mandarins 113 a.o.

Dr WG Grace may not have recognised the form of cricket being played by the Mandarins and the team named in his honour at Regent's Park on a midsummer's evening in June, but one hopes he would have appreciated the spirit of competitiveness yet conviviality in which it was conducted, even if he may not have been quite so full of admiration for all of the strokeplay.


In what was the WGXI's first ever Twenty20 fixture and only the Mandarins' second (who would have thought we would ever be trendsetters in the modernisation of cricket?), 'white ball captain' Forman lost the toss and was asked to field. Despite the best efforts of Heard, Manian and Venky it was a bracing experience with the new ball flying around and WG putting on 55 for the first wicket and bringing up 100 in the 12th over. The slower bowlers managed to exert a touch more control and a few more dot balls against the middle order, with McIntyre the pick with 4-0-22-3 and supported by Forman and Inder with a wicket apiece. But our groundfielding has a way to go yet to match the standards of the Blast, Big Bash or IPL, and giving up 33 extras – mostly in wides - was also somewhat unhelpful.


The target of 169 therefore always looked a tad ambitious. But a promising opening partnership of 37 between Brand (who top scored with 22) and Mills got us a good start, before towering sixes from Baker and Tunbridge threatened an all out assault on victory for a while. However it was all out in the more traditional sense eventually, although not before we had at least used up all but all of the overs. Two run outs did not help our cause and neither did WG's slow right armer Sykes who picked up four wickets with his nagging dobbers on or just outside off stump.


The great man Grace would have appreciated the old fashioned virtues of that and one suspects he may have enjoyed one or two of the cold beers kindly provided by our hosts as well. They certainly enjoyed the experience and were up for renewing on the same terms next year. But arch modernisers that we are, perhaps it will be a 100-ball game we are playing by then. No doubt the good doctor will be turning in his grave at that.

Dan Forman

Monday, 11 June 2018

The afternoon had started promisingly enough....

Mandarins 85 all out
Ad Hocs 86 for 3

As the Mandarins walked off the pitch after another defeat, what was the reaction of the players?

"Hmm" said one.

"Meh," said another.

The afternoon had started promisingly enough.  The opposition only had eight players at 2:30 - a situation that might normally have led to an agreement that they should bat.  But Healey, captaincy thrust upon him, won the toss and ruthlessly decided the Mandarins should bat, on the basis that it was a warm afternoon and we had a team that looked on paper to be one of our stronger batting line-ups.

And there was also the pitch - the Old Alleynians rugby ground off the South Circular, which was dry and dusty and likely to deteriorate as the afternoon wore on.

Healey successfully persuaded the opposition to go for a declaration game, 20 overs from 6:30pm, a format that few of them were familiar with.

With the Mandarins 11 for 1 off 11 overs (Brand defeated by a fast ball that cut away and kept low), many of the opposition were clearly baffled as to what it was about this format that made it superior to the limited overs version.

When the change bowlers came on things got worse.  The bowler from the lower end was so slow that the ball barely reached the stumps, but Wilmot and Lowen struggled to get the ball off the square, and when they did, it only twice made it to the boundary, thanks to the painfully slow outfield.  It might have been a situation for quick singles to put pressure the fielders, but this wasn't the batting pair you'd choose for such tactics. Pharaoh replaced Wilmot but he too was stymied by the slow and variable bounce. At 40 for 2 off 22 overs, with the realisation we were only an hour away from a gentlemanly declaration, there was an attempt at acceleration.  Alas all that accelerated was the rate at which wickets tumbled.  Before long we were 54 for 8.  At which point, Healey joined Chris McKeon, and showed that a class player can master even the trickiest pitch, and even when suffering from tennis elbow.  A flurry of boundaries from both batsmen nudged us above 70. McIntyre then stuck around for a cameo before Healey was caught behind.  We were 85 all out at precisely 4:30pma masterful bit of timing that ensured no embarrassing declaration would be required.

Hurst and Healey opened the bowling. When Ad Hocs dispatched Hurst's second ball for four, it looked like humiliation might be swift.  But the bowling tightened and the batsmen were clearly finding conditions almost as hard as we had found them.  Two wickets in two balls from Hurst, both bowled, had Ad Hocs teetering on 10 for 2. New batsman Peak came in with guns blazing, and smashed a ball back at Hurst which he gamely got a hand to and wished he hadn't.  Had that catch stuck it could have made things interesting.  As it was, the batsmen steadily broke free from the shackles.  When Porter relieved a wicketless Eastaway he got a wicket with his first ball (60 for 3) and there were fleeting whispers of a fightback.  But it was not to be.  Ad Hocs struck the winning runs on the stroke of 6:30pm, the very moment when the 20 overs had been due to start.


Rob Eastaway.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Bank of England Match Report

Quite a few years ago, I contributed a piece to the Mandarins 25th anniversary book in which I recalled skipper Chris Baker fuming on the boundary as his opening pair put on 8 runs in the first 11 overs. Remarkably, the Mandarins won that game.

Well it wasn’t quite that bad when, with Baker having lost the toss and been put into bat on a lovely pitch and on a glorious day, Somerville and Hawkhead opened the batting at Roehampton. But it wasn’t great. This was Hawkhead’s fault. Somerville scored a fine 42 whereas Hawkhead scored 7 (off 35 balls as the scorebook pointedly records) in an opening partnership of 34 off 12 overs. Thereafter, perhaps mesmerised by the constant chop chop chop of the helicopter traffic overhead but more likely by the excellence of Bank of England leggie Walder (4-44 off 13 overs), the Mandarins continued to meander along at 3 runs per over. Special mention should be made of Treasury ringer Tom Eland (of whom more anon), the second highest scorer on 24. Manian, Davidson and Baker all struck a few lusty blows but the fall of 3 wickets in 3 balls at the end of the innings put an abrupt stop to any attempt to accelerate. The Mandarins closed on 158-9. The modest acceleration at the end was driven by Baker’s loud encouragement from the boundary to Run Hard. I’m looking forward to Run Hard 2, son of Run Hard later in the season.

The majority Mandarins view was that our total was 40 runs short on a good pitch, possibly informed by the fact that five of the team were eligible for Senior railcards. This quickly turned to the unanimous view when Heard’s first over went for 10 runs (reader it might have been 12). The well organised Bank of England openers Husain and Somerville (according to the scorebook - surely some mistake?) took advantage of the good pitch and the varied bowling to move quickly to a stand of 50+. Eland was brought on to bowl what turned out to be accurate and penetrative off breaks. He broke the opening stand with a fine caught and bowled off his first delivery and went on to take 3-48 off 11 overs, capping a fine debut performance. Eland was helped by a superb shared wicket keeping performance by Wilmot and then Tivey. There were no byes despite some wayward bowling and we saw a superb leg side catch standing up by Tivey to give McIntyre his solitary wicket. Notwithstanding the maturity of the team, fielding was also excellent. In the end, however, the collective Mandarins view had been all too accurate. Bank of England cruised to victory by 5 wickets despite a couple of alarms and we finished bang on the planned 7.30pm close.

Despite the defeat, it was a pleasure to play once again at the Bank of England ground. There was strong support for a continuation of this reinstated fixture.

Tony Hawkhead

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Charlatans - A Correction: While Harry Forman did indeed fail to repeat his heroics on Sunday, the last man out was in fact Manian, leaving McIntyre the not out batsman.  The Editors wish to apologize for any distress this error may inadvertently have caused.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Mandarins fall short against Charlatans
Charlatans, 220-7 declared, beat Mandarins, 149 all out, by 71 runs

A last-minute change of venue, as the Woolwich groundsman confessed to having failed to prepare a pitch, saw the Mandarins once again take the field on a delightfully sunny Sunday at Streatham and Marlborough’s leafy ground in Dulwich.   The match was designated our home fixture, with a re-match to take place later in the season further east.  As a result, a declaration format was adopted, rather than the advertised 40/40.

Batting first, the Charlatans openers both made 50s, rattling along at about 7 an over, with plenty of thick edges and aerial drives failing to go to hand.  But Captain McIntyre, in what he claimed was his first game as skipper in 10 years, rotated his seven bowlers sagely.  Baxter (3-21), Eastaway (3-40), and McIntyre himself brought things back under some control, though ‘control’ perhaps doesn’t do full justice to Baxter’s appealing. 
Despite the heat, the Mandarins ground fielding held up well, and George Warren produced a fine performance behind the stumps, happily showing no after-effects from the dislocated shoulder he suffered in the Oval nets in April.  The general feeling was that the Charlatans’ 220 could have been a lot worse and that a true pitch and fast outfield left us with a fighting chance.

Baxter and Davidson got the Mandarins run chase off to a solid start after tea, adding 55 for the first wicket, the propulsive and sonic qualities of Baxter’s pads (and calling) sowing their usual confusion among the opposition, and a fair few long hops in the first few overs helping the scoring along.  Warren, top scorer with 30, Venky (25), and a couple of dropped catches that would have shamed even the Mandarins kept the momentum going even as the bowling became tighter. 
A series of ducks in the lower middle order led to McIntyre’s eventual consent to bat out the draw with about 7 overs of the final 20 left.  Sadly, Forman H. was unable to repeat his heroic effort for Superstars on the same ground a few weeks earlier, last man out with three and a bit overs to go.  So, in the end, we came close to a first draw of the season, but not quite close enough.

Nick Davidson

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Mandarins 113 (Brand 32) Lost to Heber Invitation Nomads (116 for 3) by Seven Wickets.

The jolliest groundsman in the world (I find them a dour bunch on the whole) greeted early arrivals in person, and said airily "It's soft on top, hard underneath." It was certainly pretty, and the excellent pavilion was graced by a display case with the Dulwich Prep School blazer of one D. Underwood, together with his 1958 games report ("Must try harder...."). He would have liked to bowl on this strip. It ripped a mile except that Macintyre and Baker couldn't put it in the right place. It was also terribly slow, and prone to stop,so very difficult to score freely, even off the bad balls, of which, with respect to both bowling units, as we now seem to call them, there were lots and lots.

Mandarins proceeded throughout at a sedate 3 runs an over, surviving the early loss of Drew to a second snorter in as many weeks. Sam held the innings together, showing more patience than the others, and at drinks we were a modest but reasonable 70 for 3. Then the wheels came off as Eastaway, captaining the Heber XI, dismissed his opposing captain Graeme, and a youngster called Stan Parry Smith took four quick wickets. 77 for 7. Arguments about what constituted a reasonable declaration became academic, although Jonathan, making his season debut, helped the tail get past 100.

Some thought 113 defendable. An lbw for Harry Bassi with his first ball for the Mandarins (The second time this has happened this season notes the archivist - can anyone remember a previous occurrence??) gave early hope. But the rest of the Heber batting looked very solid and punished the usual clutch of half chances and misses and might have beens. It was up to the second Bassi, Charlie, to hit the stumps a couple of times to achieve respectability. Paul was hit out of the ground. I only mention this because it provided the chance for Graeme to lure two gentle womenfolk of Dulwich who were promenading in BelAir park into the stinging nettles on their side of the fence to look for the ball. The perils of a Sunday afternoon outing...

One of the Heber team summed up the day brilliantly "That was a good game, no one ended up in A&E" And the dreaded thunder never materialised either. Thanks to Rob and friends for this new fixture, hopefully to become a regular event.

Chris Baker