Saturday, 20 July 2019

Mandarins Win Again in Shorter Form

Superstars 108-8
Mandarins 109-3
Abbey Rec Thursday 18 July

Trust us to finally get good at T20 cricket just as it is going out of fashion. With interest in 50-over ODIs revived by a moderately eventful game at Lord's, test cricket about to steal the spotlight with the renewal of a rivalry even older than some of our players, and all Mandarins eagerly anticipating the start of the Hundred next year, it seems the charms of 120-balls a-side may have had their day.

But as the Blast kicked off across town on Thursday and MCC members grumbled about there not being enough superovers or cricket bat guitars for their liking, the Mandarins turned in a better late than never performance to secure a comprehensive win over the Superstars, a first victory in the two years of this format having returned to our fixture list. 

This win didn't even require any Stokes deflection-like luck or Roy DRS review twists of fate. We simply did the unusual thing and bowled, fielded and batted quite well. Asked to field first, Hurst (2-9) fizzed away at one end while Heard (4-1-17-4) probed at the other. Debutant Carnell (1-23) did not disgrace himself with his first bowl outside of a back garden for at least three years. Tunbridge and Baxter did disgrace themselves with dolly drop catches (both being two of our normally more reliable fielders) but made up for it with decent overs and otherwise our fieldwork held up well, the highlight being Cook's catch off a steepler at cow corner. Superstars skipper Gigg was also good enough to walk after being given not out caught behind by deubtant 'keeper Teifion Nangle off fellow captain Forman (D) (3-1-11-1).

Restricting the Superstars to 108-8 felt like we were well in the game, and so it proved despite the early loss of Brand for a duck. Third debutant Andy Ryan (8) helped see off the more dangerous new ball bowling before Baxter (27 retired), Mills (24) and Tunbridge (26 retired accelerated nicely) and Cook (11*) finished things off with a couple of big hits, with seven wickets and more than a couple of overs to spare.

Following us also winning a white ball tournament in North West London in July (no not the world cup, but the much more prestigious charity six-a-side), it seems we are finally finding a bit of form in the shorter forms of the game. Our South London Satsumas rebrand for the Hundred may not be such a joke after all.

Dan Forman

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Too Few Runs at the Bank

Mandarins 149; Bank of England XI 152-2. Mandarins lost by 8 wickets.

Wednesday, 3 July, 2 30 pm

Bank of England sports centre, Roehampton

Our What’s App group has been reminiscing about our heaviest defeats. On the face of it, the
scorecard for this match doesn’t suggest this was among them – scoring 149 isn’t too bad,
surely, and perhaps the bowlers were unlucky? The match reporter will no doubt find some
‘positives to take away.’ Well, he’ll find one or two. But the reality is that we were

The Bank put us in, concerned that their bowling line-up would be unable to stem a
Mandarins run chase. But, though this was a time game beloved of so many Mandarins, too
many of our early batters played as if it were a T20. Davidson and Baker steadied the ship
and played some good strokes across the billiard table that is the outfield on the Bank’s senior
ground – a straight drive from Davidson (his first for 30 years, he revealed in a post-match
interview) was memorable. But he was bowled by a good ‘un. Baker was then caught at the
second attempt, his attempt: having been dropped lofting a drive to mid-off, he was caught
next ball, lofting to extra cover.

Jon Porter, Heard and McIntyre revived us from 87 for 8 against the second-string (no, this is
an honest report, third-string) bowlers, as the Bank allowed us to eke out a score that would
give their batsmen some decent time in the middle.

A magnificent cream tea followed. Heard was seen tucking in with a vengeance. But his
opening spell, probing and accurate, showed no ill effects (though one unkind soul suggested
afterwards that his failure to take a wicket, despite bowling so well, was surely a cause of our
defeat). Stan Forman, too, caused the Bank openers some problems. But, though McIntyre
broke the opening stand, there was little for the Mandarins to cheer – until the other Bank
opener retired on reaching 50. This brought in their reputed best batter. But we never got to
see how good he was. Gemma Porter produced the champagne moment of the day, surprising
him first ball with a fast yorker.

The Bank reached their target in a canter, with more than six of the last 20 overs to spare.
But, if you’re going to be well and truly stuffed, there may be no more soothing environment
than the Bank’s lovely grounds, on a warm summer’s evening. This might have been be our
last visit, as the place is up for sale (could this have happened under Mervyn King?). If so, it
will surely trigger another bout of fond reminiscing on What’s App.

Many thanks to Arvind for organising the team.

Mandarins XI: Baker, Baxter, Davidson, Forman S, Hawkhead, Heard, Mills, McIntyre,
Porter G, Porter J, Tunbridge (cap).

Paul McIntyre

Monday, 1 July 2019

Mandarins Run-chase Falls Just Short at North Enfield

North Enfield (224 for 7) Beat Mandarins (217 All Out) by 7 runs

North Enfield’s ground looked a perfect midsummer’s picture on Sunday, the ancient oak just inside the top boundary particularly majestic.  Ten Mandarins took the field at 1.30 despite the usual delays on the M25.  They included two players making their second appearance for us - James Hewlett, who debuted at HMT earlier this month, and Chris Morgan, who last played for us on tour 28 years ago.  The eleventh man, who appeared at 2.30, shall remain nameless: regular readers will correctly guess his identity. 

North Enfield batted first.  Hurst was as threatening as ever on a slightly faster pitch than we’ve seen before at this venue.  Somerville gave a very passable impersonation of a regular opening bowler at the other end.  The North Enfield openers steadily accumulated 71 before Cooke, these days an off-spinner, took a catch off perhaps the worst ball he bowled, provoking a characteristic Mandarins discussion of the correct interpretation of the no ball law as it relates to high full tosses. 

At one point the opposition, powered by an impressive 92 from Jones, representing the middle of three generations of Joneses on the field, looked likely to get close to 250 from their 40 overs.  But Captain Baxter used his somewhat limited bowling options well, both he and Baker taking wickets.  Two wickets from a returning Hurst (8 overs, 2 maidens, 2 for 20 – curiously enough the only bowling analysis recorded in the score book) slowed the rate in the last few overs.  224 looked very challenging, but with an exploitable slope down to the bottom boundary, just about within the bounds of possibility
Opening the batting, Baxter scored freely off Miss Jones, representing the junior generation of the family, but Devenport at the other end proved trickier, some combination of guile, flight and no obvious lateral deviation removing Hewlett, Somerville and Wilmot in quick succession; at one point he had three maidens, two wickets for no runs.  To complete the top-order rout, Baxter then decided to call a quick single from the non-striker’s end as Davidson nudged one gently to mid-wicket, perhaps reasoning that his partner would be safe unless the fielder managed a direct hit.  Result: direct hit: out.

But it’s never over till it’s over.  Cooke and Warren put on 112 for the sixth wicket through a combination of faster running than any seen from the Mandarins in many a year, fine stroke play and some lusty hitting, including three sixes from Cooke.  North Enfield eventually brought on Sanders, by some way the fastest bowler of the day.  He made short work of Baker and Hurst, the latter bowled second ball after having backed so far to leg the previous delivery that what would have been a wide had he stayed put instead passed runlessly between bat and pad.  David Williams skillfully kept the momentum going almost to the end, with ten off the penultimate over, until, with two balls to go, Morgan fell to another fast straight one from Sanders.
So no Mandarins should-have-been-a-draw conversations this time.  The result properly reflected the balance of an excellent, genuinely exciting game, played in the best of spirits throughout.      
Nick Davidson

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Limited Overs, Limited Excitement, Limited Spirit, but Unlimited Curry

Sunday 24 June was not a day for classic limited overs cricket matches in London. At Lord's Pakistan batted their way to a par score first innings with some steady accumulation at the top and some late hitting at the end, but all the while with enough wickets falling to keep the total just about in check. South Africa then put up a respectable if insufficient effort in chasing it, with several batters getting a start but none going on to a big score. Eventually nine wickets fell as the run rate escalated and the chase became less competitive. The game technically went the distance but, with several men now posted on the boundary, the contest had ended quite a few overs previously.

Meanwhile at the real home of cricket south of the river - where the only egg and bacon is to be found inside our bellies rather than out and the actuality of the spirit of cricket is tested in ways the other MCC's laws could never completely define ...

Streatham and Marlborough Sunday first XI batted their way to a par score first innings with some steady accumulation at the top and some late hitting at the end, but all the while with enough wickets falling to keep the total just about in check. The Mandarins then put up a respectable if insufficient effort in chasing it, with several batters getting a start but none going on to a big score. Eventually nine wickets fell as the run rate escalated and the chase became less competitive. The game technically went the distance but, with several men now posted on the boundary, the contest had ended quite a few overs previously.

Naturally, we all said it for him before Eastaway had a chance: 'If this had been a time game these would be exciting overs now' etc.* 

[What's that you say Ed? You want actual match details/highlights/gossip/notable incidents for the archive rather than just this poor attempt at humour? Oh go on then]...

Match details/highlights:

SMCC 174-5 from 40 overs. Eastaway 8-1-20-2. Forman (D) 8-0-54-2. But McIntyre the pick with 8-2-17-1 - now there's a man who knows and loves the modern formats.

Mandarins 144-9. Warren 25* the stand out. Healey being caught for 21, followed by Eastaway bowled next ball and Forman run out without facing three balls later pretty much ended it as a contest, although McIntyre then dug in for the 'Mandarins draw'.

Gossip/notable incidents:
The drop count was less embarrassing than usual, although Manian almost added the best one of the year yet, trying three or four times to get rid of it with a juggling act more suited to Zippo's Circus up the road in Peckham Rye, before eventually deciding to let it settle in his hands.

Warren took a stumping standing up to Eastaway (perhaps a sign of George's skill or Rob's, er, reliance on guile as much as pace these days). One of their bats played a cut so late and so far outside leg stump that he actually placed it not just behind square but behind the stumps (perhaps a sign of his skill or your correspondent's non-existent guile or pace).

Healey chuntering about fielders chuntering and bowlers not quite respecting the umpires or spirit of Sunday cricket enough for his liking.

Lowen chuntering about Pharoah running him out.

Tunbridge chuntering about excessive numbers of fielders on the boundary.
(I do love a bit of passive aggressive pretending we're all getting along just fine on a Sunday).

But what our hosts perhaps lacked a touch in grace on the field they more than made up for it off it, with a lavish and delicious tea, a jug of ale sent to our changing room and a spectacular chicken curry that had been brewing all afternoon on the boundary served at no charge. Those of us who stayed late enough to enjoy double helpings decided that the spirit of the game was alive and well in south London after all, whatever the format.

*(Now a one-day timed game world cup would be an interesting concept. If only we knew a mathematician-cricket fan with an obsessive interest in declaration formats who could devise a scoring system for it...)

Dan Forman

Match report for Treasury

HMTreasury 124 for 4 off 20 beat Mandarins 105 all out off 20

Three 20/20s in as many weeks and three defeats, all by about a 20 run margin. Now, I don't want to overanalyse this but there are similarities in the way we have gone down which suggest a pattern:
A) not fielding 11 men. On this occasion, thanks to great work by JC and welcome support from the Superstars, we did actually have 11 but they were stymied by the South West Rail strike and Hammersmith Bridge closure ( note to all - it is closed indefinitely and completely buggers traffic in the west south west London quadrant. Roehampton match manager to note in particular.) This meant that Stan didn't arrive until over no 13, and Robin until over no 18. HMT lent us three but we still fielded with only 9 or 10. Plugging the gaps gets difficult. Say 7 runs given away.

B) We can't cover ground in the field or throw. Another 7 runs given away. Pick more younger men. With arms.

C) We can't run. We just can't. Never could. In the case of the aged and lame, never will. It looks so simple when the opposition do it. But we can't.  We either don't try or get run out. 7 more at least given away. 21 runs, the margins of three defeats.

Which means that basically in terms of the batting and bowling departments we are very competitive in this format although 27 wides in this game was too many. Stan took two but was a bit expensive. Stars were Gary With 1 for 14 off his 4 and Paul M conceding only 18 off his. Treasury only had 57 off 12 overs (special mention for ex Mandarin Johnny Martin who held it together at the top of their order for 25 retired) but accelerated thanks to French and Oliver. Still, 124 looked get able.

That it wasn't was due to C above, plus some very tight opening bowling which put the star studded Mandarins batting under a bit of early pressure. James Hewitt from Superstars and Paddy Turner leant from HMT got 19 and 25 respectively to keep us in the hunt, plus 22 extras, but the lower order also fell away in the gathering dark ( had I won the toss I would have batted for this reason alone).
General feeling that Chiswick, whilst still very noisy, isn't quite what it was when the evening Concorde used to thunder in over the square and dislodged the bails with its reverb.

Chris B

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Bails Shortage Doesn't Hold up Mandarins Victory

According to the new edition of a popular cricket book (a book, by the way, that can be found in most discerning homes in the UK), cricket is at its best when a match goes to the final over with victory and a draw still possible.

And sure enough, our second match against Heber Nomads delivered just such a classic ending in what was, of course, a declaration game.

It was a match not short of eccentricities. It began with a shortage of bails.  There was debate as to whether a cricket match is legitimate if most of the stumps are bail-less. (Alas the aforementioned book fails to answer this question.) Having improvised two bails with a long twig, normal service resumed when Dan Forman found several spares in his kit.

The Mandarins batted first, and Baxter and Chave were tested by some tight Heber bowling on a slow pitch with variable bounce. Chave was dropped twice on his way to an otherwise solid 37, while Baxter made a chanceless 30.  Enter Tunbridge, who batted with fluency and style to an effortless 50, supported by a fine cameo from the returning Sam Cook.

In the final over of the innings, video technology made its dramatic first appearance in Mandarins history.  And also its second.  McIntyre was lured out of his ground by a leg break, and the keeper removed the bails.  Square leg umpire Tunbridge had, for reasons best known to himself, decided to video the action, and having missed the dismissal with the naked eye, watched a slo-mo replay which confirmed McIntyre was out of his ground.  Two balls later, Stan Forman took a large divet out of the pitch as he scuffed the ball down into the crease.  The keeper again whipped off the bails, and Tunbridge, now an expert on DRS, was again able to confirm it was out, this time by a whisker.

188 for 8 declared - and all that without Healey having to bat.

Despite some lusty hitting and sharp running from Heber, the target always looked a bit high, and wickets fell regularly.  McIntyre, Arvind and all three Formans bowled well, with young Harry Forman the stand-out bowler with 5-0-7-1, including the wicket of Taylor, who was bowled by a slower ball delivered with a guile and precision rarely seen in 14-year-olds. Or 50-year-olds, come to that.

With 40 needed off four overs, Heber switched from attack to defence.  Skipper Eastaway brought himself on for the first time and removed Smith with a ball that cut in and kept a bit low.  One over to go, nine wickets down, Chave bowling off-breaks with fielders crowded around the bat.  Faulkner blocked the first two balls with aplomb, but he nicked the third onto his pad and it lobbed up to short extra where Tunbridge snaffled the chance.

Victory by 40 runs, and a reminder why declaration cricket is such a great format.

Rob Eastaway

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Mandarins Vs WG XI, Friday 24th May

When historians come to write their accounts of Friday 24th May 2019 it is likely they will concentrate on certain events in SW1A, and muse upon political highs and lows. In an attempt to redress the balance here is a summary of another event of high drama, Mandarins vs WGXI at Regent’s Park.

Experienced commentators on cricket will usually say that it helps to have 11 players. Despite the best efforts of the match manager and fixtures secretary, the Mandarins started the game at a numerical disadvantage, having only 9 players, whilst WGXI had 12. WG did kindly lend us a fielder, but we were left rather short of bowling options.

Nothing daunted, we took the field, Baxter having lost the toss, and opened with a father-son combination, Forman D and S, opening the attack. Stan Forman, fresh from his A-levels, proved the pick of the bowlers, taking 1-14 in his four overs and troubling all of the batsmen. At the other end, Dan provided plenty of flight, and was unlucky not to get a wicket; first change Graeme Tunbridge picked up one wicket, courtesy of your correspondent’s first catch of the season; and Chris Baker bowled a very tidy spell of leg-spin, and was a little unlucky not to get a wicket – though not that unlucky, given he dropped a straightforward caught and bowled. Finally more leg-spin from the captain brought more runs and one wicket, after a vociferous appeal for leg before wicket (completely unsupported by the rest of the team by the way, muttering about an inside edge) was answered in the affirmative. The ground fielding throughout was good, catching less so, with the ball following Jamie Brockbank (of whom more, later) unerringly, and Paul Mills being far too decorous in his attempt at a stumping to remove the bails. WG were set fair at 150-3 in their 20 overs.

Brockbank and Mills open for the Mandarins and rapidly set about reducing the deficit with both playing some excellent shorts square of the wicket. At 35-0 off four overs the foundations had been laid. Alas, Paul was bowled playing across the line and shortly afterwards Jamie running to make his ground badly damaged his hamstrung and had to retire hurt. (Jamie was last heard of messaging from A&E; our best wishes for a speedy recovery.) The middle order of Tunbridge, Baker and debutant Callum Tipple came and went quickly, whilst Sam Brand struggled with his timing. Forman (D) contributed a useful 8. Sam finally found the middle of the bat and was briefly retired on 25, before returning to share a useful 25 run partnership with Baxter (19*). Sam eventually fell to a good catch for a fine 35, with the Mandarins closing on a respectable 115-7 (effectively all out). We left a suddenly very wet Regent’s Park bemoaning what might have been, like a few others that day.

Tim Baxter