Friday, 10 August 2018

Streatham and Marlborough (256-6) bt Mandarins (148) by 108 runs

Another hot, sunny day at Streatham and Marlborough's ground saw spectators cheer a team of 11 talented players to a comfortable victory.

Unfortunately, they were watching England thrash Panama in the World Cup while the Mandarins toiled in the field, guessing the score from the occasional shouts from inside the bar.

It was a tough day, made tougher by the heat and some generous (to the batsmen) LBW decisions, as the opposition batsmen proved difficult to dislodge.

One in particular, an ageing and irate Indian rumoured to have played at a much higher level, was particularly challenging until his arrogance got the better of him. Gesturing to a teammate on the boundary he told him to prepare to take a catch (translation services provided by A. Manian). A few balls later, he did indeed offer up a gratefully taken catch, albeit to a Mandarin well within the boundary.

Special mention must also go to the bowling of G. Warren, who “made things happen”. A lot of those things were runs – history and the opposition's indecipherable scorebook do not record how many – but two of them were valuable wickets.

Streatham and Marlborough completed their 40 overs having made an intimidating 256.

A few Mandarins made starts – Venky (32), Warren (23) and Baxter (19) – and Eastaway, batting well up the order, made an attractive 16 before getting run out, conveniently just before he would have had to leave anyway.

However, with the total still quite some way off, the lower order had no alternative but to swing and hope – in vain, as it turned out. Streatham and Marlborough completed their victory with seven overs to spare, Hurst the not out batsman with 4.

Chris McKeon

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Super Skip Seals Victory in Surrey Scorcher

Mandarins, 179-8, beat Mickleham, 161 all out, by 18 runs (35 over game)

Not to be outdone by England’s heroics earlier in the week, the Mandarins contrived to win a thriller of a fixture in the leafy Surrey countryside in the lovely village of Mickleham. Eastaway took on the onerous role of captain and immediately did something right by winning the toss and batting in 30 degree heat.

Baxter and debutant Steve Meyler made a solid start against a useful opening attack, before Baxter was yorked on 18. There then followed a succession of Mandarins wickets, with Davidson and Wilmot both perishing to very fine catches, and debutant Ravi failing to trouble the scorers.  When Gary Plahe, another Mandarins debutant, but well-known to us from his performances for the Superstars, also rapidly departed for 8, it was 57-6 and disaster loomed.

But then a splendid partnership ensued between Baker and skipper Eastaway, both bringing to bear all the cricketing nous born of decades of playing for the Mandarins.  Initially cautious, later expansive, Chris scored his first Mandarins 50 for several seasons, ably supported by Rob, who was to finish with 37*.  They put on no fewer than 97 before Baker departed to a tired shot.  A flurry of late runs, including a fine lofted drive for 4 from Harry Forman, took us onto 179-8 in our 35 overs, which felt at the very least a defensible total. Pick of the bowlers was Ayton with 4-23.

After a most excellent and somewhat extended tea (Dan Forman described the welsh cakes as the best he had tasted outside Wales) we took the field.  Stan Forman and Gary Plahe opened the bowling, but the Mickleham opening pair accumulated nicely, bringing up the 50 by the time of the first drinks break at 10 overs.  Who knows what was in the drinks? When Eastaway introduced himself into the attack after the break, he straightaway bowled one opener and had the No 3 bat lbw in his first over, to follow with the second opener in his second.  51-0 became 52-3.

Dan Forman offered up beguiling spin at the other end; after one over of punishment he gained sweet revenge as a top-edge was nervelessly taken by Harry.  When Ravi took over from Rob and took a wicket with his first ball it was 75-5.  (A note to the historians: this was, according to Chris Baker, the fourth time in 2018 that a Mandarins debutant had taken a wicket with their first ball; surely a record?)

But there were more twists in store.  Mickelham’s No 5, Walker, ably supported by No 7, Kennington, put on 52.  It was looking very tight: Mickleham only needed to score around 5 or so an over to win, so the Mandarins needed wickets to stay in the game.  Harry Forman took his first Mandarins wicket, bowling Kennington, whilst the returning Eastaway took 2 in 2 balls, including a running catch by Steve Meyler at first slip, made all the more impressive by the fact that he had pulled his hamstring and could barely move (several other Mandarins were scarcely more mobile.  Stan Forman then took the key wicket of Walker for 53. It was left to Gary to bowl the No 11 to end the innings at 161, an 18 run victory, duly celebrated in the lovely village pub with our fine opposition.  Man of the match was undoubtedly “Super Skip” Eastaway, who followed his heroics with the bat to take a rare Mandarins five wicket haul.

Tim Baxter

Monday, 6 August 2018

Strange Goings-on at Mickleham

Post match's a ski that they're drinking from, in case you hadn't worked it out.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

We’re Not in Kansas, Mandarins

Superstars 132-8 beat Mandarins, 125-8, by 7 runs.

Another twenty20 fixture, in a south London park, without even access to a changing room let alone a pavilion? We’re not in Kansas anymore Mandarins. We were though off to see our own Wizard of Oz, the wonderful Jono Maher, back for the briefest of visits and kindly gracing us with his presence on the cricket field once more. But was the man who has now made more Mandarin comebacks than Judy Garland had marriages still all we had cracked him up to be in the wildest anticipations of our minds, or a mirage of our memories invested with superlative abilities that could never live up to expectations? (we will return to Oz later to find out).

Talking of mirages, we were on the backfoot from the start as Robin Pharoah failed to show (and so is cast as Professor Marvel, who offers his services but turns out not to be on your side at all). That made our lives slightly harder in the field, a situation only exacerbated by Arvind’s need to take a transatlantic phone call during the Superstars innings as well (sadly not to any Hollywood scriptwriters for the purposes of this match report). Luckily Hurst was on hand to propel his tornado-like deliveries in partnership with his trusty sidekick Heard (4-0-19-3), and they did their best to restrict the storm damage wrought by Superstars opener Spencer (26* off 12). If captain Forman only had a brain he may have kept this pair going but instead decided to bring himself on for an expensive spell in which he removed one enemy only to unleash the fury of Superstars numbers five Reeve (26* off 11) and six Plahe (27* off 15). At the other end Maher was not lacking heart as he pounded in off his long run between throwing himself around in the field (and executing one excellent run out). However he was lacking a little accuracy after six months without a game, and Baxter behind the stumps needed his full range of winged monkey-like moves to get to some of the wider efforts. As ever in cinema, extras played a part.

Direction was eventually provided by combinations of Venky (4-0-20-2), Baker and the returning Heard, with none short of the courage to bowl at the death as the Superstars sought to push on past 100 and set an imposing total somewhere way up high. But the later bowlers’ consistency and some munchkin-keen fielding kept the emerald city of victory in sight with a target of 133.

But like the plot of many a promising film, our reply swung this way and that, threatening an exciting conclusion before eventually losing its way. Mills was majestic, setting fire to the chase with a lightening-like 25 retired. A middle order partnership between Baker and Venky took us further down the yellow brick road. The hot air balloon of triumph was waiting to take off. It all seemed set for a spectacular finale in glorious technicolor. Optimistic voices were heard on the boundary as the much-heralded Maher made his way to the wicket. 

However wicked wickets were falling as fast as a chandelier cut loose from the ceiling.  Maher proved to be a mere human after all, unable to be the omnipotent power we had all hoped for and susceptible to the same fallibilities against the moving ball as us all. And, unlike Toto’s, our tail did not wag. We swung for high above the chimney tops but why oh why could we not reach the boundary? And so the dreams that we dared to failed to materialise. We ended up seven runs short. Seemingly close but in other respects another world away. And we woke the next day in our beds wondering if we really had seen Jono after all. Or was it all a dream?
Dan Forman

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.