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

Monday, 20 May 2019

Winning Ways Return at Brightwell

Mandarins beat  Brightwell cum Sotwell by 6 wickets BCS 117 for 8 declared off 46 overs (Eastaway 2-22, Healey 2-14, Chave 2-31). Mandarins 118 for 4 off 27.4 overs (Baxter 56)

It is a long time since we won at Brightwell, so the manager had selected a strong XI, even with the luxury of leaving Pharaoh and all the Formans on the bench. The troops did not disappoint. For veteran Mandarins followers it was all there: the match manger late for the start; another timed game; Heard and Eastaway in harness; JP evergreen; Williams keeping wicket with all available parts of his anatomy; skipper Tunbridge making all the right calls and scampering around the field; the usual smattering of drops and misses, although none truly egregious. We did however manage two off one ball, JP getting enough fingers on the caught and bowled chance to make it difficult for Graeme backing up at mid off - and down she went. The running totals for the year are 8 caught, 18 dropped, so make of that what you will.

The Outfield was dotted with numerous coloured cones marking the worst of the rabbit holes. Sadly these played no part in the proceedings. The grass was lush, but the pavilion boundary short, so many shots still got full value. The pitch, I think it is fair to say, although spared the rabbits, was sporting. Very. A number of batsmen fended lifters off the gloves whilst others grovelled to reach the grubbers.

The Mandarins bowling was tight throughout. Andy's opening spell of 8 overs 1 for four (yes 4) with 5 maidens can rarely have been bettered. The smooth, shortened run up, the rhythm, the nagging accuracy. He felt so good he even took a sensational slip catch off Fraser to round off his day. Rob was also niggardly and threatening under cloudy skies. The newly reinvented Chris Healey seamers also swung prodigiously, his two wickets meaning he is still the man to beat this season in the "most wickets" column. And congratulations to Will Thornton on his first Mandarins wicket, almost immediately followed up by stop/ drop/ scare of the season as biffer Forster smashed one straight on to his right hip bone, causing him to crumple. But showing the resilience of youth he soon resumed after the icing spray had been applied, and did a great job with JP in restraining the scoring of a dangerous 9th wicket partnership.

Gloomy Mandarins reckoned 110 a good score. An old salt in the pavilion said 126. Brightwell declared midway between the two, having upped their run rate to only 2.5.

In the event we were guided home comfortably by Tim, swashing and buckling, swishing and missing, with 11 boundaries out of 56. To the disappointment of their fans, with his bat so much in evidence, the pads played only a subdued part in this innings, but their day will come.  Brisk Partnerships of 37 with Drew, 24 with Chris B, and 32 with Fraser meant we were always ahead of asking rates and notional d/l par scores. Tim's dismissal near the end did however allow Graeme to demonstrate how not to play the unplayable delivery - half track, straight along the ground at speed it went. His horizontal batted crouch shot, although not in the coaching manual, would have kept it out if he had bent down low enough in time. But he didn't. Bad luck Graeme.

And so to the delightful Red Lion for refreshments. Many thanks to Brightwell for going the extra mile to get a side out, and for their hospitality.

Chris Baker

Monday, 6 May 2019

Proper cricket at Peper Harow

Mandarins 208-6, drew with Peper Harow 181-8

Confusion over start times. McIntyre in the changing rooms speculating whether the weather required two jumpers or three. A time game. Playing at a cricket club dating to the 18th century. The Mandarins’ skipper being subjected to a cross-examination on his decision-making before the game had even started. All of these hallmarks of a day of proper cricket for the Mandarins at Peper Harow.
That decision was electing to bat – it’s only going to get gloomier and colder reasoned captain Baker; Healey countered by suggesting that such weather probably wasn’t going to suit the Mandarins terribly well in the field. Undeterred by dressing room squabbles, Tunbridge and Pharoah strode out and set about putting 50-odd on for the first wicket with the latter going about proving his point that his technique was better suited to orthodox opening batsman than lower order biffer by getting off the mark with a six. Tunbridge and Chave departed in fairly quick order, leaving Manian to join Pharoah who then proceeded to put on another 50 partnership before Pharoah departed having made a fine 73 (which, for the record had plenty of patience and guile alongside the lusty blows). Manian made an excellent 45, keeping the tempo up in the middle order with lots of singles and a few sumptuous shots including a flick over square leg that had the crowd purring. Baker, Healey and Heard all got in the runs as well to take the Mandarins beyond 200, leading the skipper to decide to declare before the allotted time for tea, reasoning that a typical Peper Harow wicket had seen 120 be a competitive score in the past.

Heard, who in contrast to McIntyre was sporting only two thirds of a jumper (it shrunk in the wash again over the winter, apparently), opened down the slope with a hostile spell of bowling and got a deserved wicket aided by Healey, who decided to debunk the accepted wisdom that a Mandarins slip cordon is only for show, with an excellent catch flying off an edge. Despite good spells from Hurst and debutant Thornton, Peper Harow put on over a hundred for the second wicket giving those who felt that the declaration was overly-generous (this was not a typical Peper Harow wicket) plenty of opportunity to chunter. It was McIntyre that broke the partnership in the seventh over a spell that got better as it went on, leaving it to Healey to induce a middle order collapse by taking four wickets with a spell inswinging yorkers that were unplayable at times. Thornton capped his debut with a very sharp catch at gully, though it wasn’t easy to judge if he was more surprised than the collective Mandarins. Despite the collapse Peper Harow were still in the game as long as Bradley was at the crease though the returning Hurst took the key wicket and one other to set up a tense finish. Half chances came and went in the final couple of overs but in the end the draw was undoubtedly a fair result.

Over a beer at the end there was much agreement – that it really is a privilege to play at this ground, that we really should play more time games and, you know what, the skipper actually got it spot on.

Graeme Tunbridge

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Season Opens with Win

 A cricket match on Easter Sunday leaves your match reporter with few easy angles to exploit for cheap laughs. If only there was a topically seasonal way of describing a batsman who a bowler has a habit of getting out. How I wish there was some kind of relevant bit in the bible to parse when describing a batsman who is invited a back for a second chance having been cruelly treated in his first life by a man who he thought was a friend. Or at tea, when 12 men were sat around a groaning table listening intently to their leader and considering the hours ahead, what if there was an image could I conjure in the reader's mind?

In the absence of such, you shall have to make do with a literally prosaic description of the events of April 21st 2019, but what events they were and always are when the Mandarins meet the Superstars. Even two testaments would never be enough to do them justice.

We were gathered there that day to celebrate the life of a bearded Jewish man, around 40 years old, who, it might be said, was definitely not the messiah but a very naughty bowler. While not the son of God, he had placed a son on each side of the game and used his powers not to turn water into wine (although plenty of that was to be taken later) but the miracle of stitching up a toss a week in advance so that he could bowl first on a tacky April pitch and then spend more time drinking and drinking in the unseasonably glorious sunshine that glistened like the golden foil on... no, nothing. Oh if there was just some kind of popular confectionery product at this time of year.

Superstars openers Spencer-Bickle (24) and Gaught (15) started well with an opening partnership of 40, surviving the testing seam and swing of Eastaway, Heard and Forman (H) and offering a few heavy blows down the ground (although Spencer-Bickle was fortunate that the bearded Jewish man was blinded by the light when offering a simple skier). But the openers also seemed to doubt their leader's instruction to hurry up, for they did not believe that their captain had seen this slow tricky wicket for himself. Their doubt caused confusion, to attack Chris(tian) Healey or not? Healey himself (5-1-16-2) was full, of length and belief. Both openers were out, of the innings, and of faith in their skipper forevermore.

Their captain caused further confusion and damage with his trademark running (people out) between the wickets. One such innocent was Superstars debutant Holroyd, not even afforded a chance to state his case when run out by Gigg without facing. Meanwhile the spinners were on the march, with the bearded Jewish man (6-0-14-3) and his guide and mentor McIntyre (5-0-2-16) running amok among the middle order. The Mandarins' leader then dispensed gifts to all of his acolytes, using 10 bowlers in total.

The 11th Superstars wicket (Holroyd in his second life, this time running himself out) really was the final nail on the? on the?... no, still nothing comes to mind. Anyway, it was time for an excellent tea thanks to our obliging hosts at Streatham and Marlborough CC, including small chocolate ovals for those lucky enough to have found them and some mildly spiced buns with a chequered white pattern laid across the top. No idea why they only appeared for this fixture, but tasty nonetheless.

Comeback from the dead analogies are, well, perhaps a bit bad taste and, frankly, a Superstars comeback was never close to the cards, let alone on them once the Mandarins innings was given a firm footing with a steady third wicket partnership of 58 between Eastaway (24) and Wilmot (33*) after the threatening Forman (S) (9-3-19-1) had been seen off. Venky, despite at least 40 days and 40 sleepless nights with his newborn twins, then showed us the true way of batting life on this pitch, with a breezy 10* that made everyone else's more painful efforts look like mere mortals and took the Mandarins past the target with several overs and wickets to spare.

But though the Superstars were not the resurrection, some were the life of the after party at least. And though they died on the pitch, they lived in clubhouse, where curry was consumed courtesy of the bearded Jewish man and his Muslim friends at the Mirash Tandoori, for this was a day of peace among all men, despite a few controversial LBW (umpire Baxter) and run out (umpire Hemingway) calls. And though the two teams eventually parted, for all good things must pass, they will meet again in Heaven, or at least at Abbey Rec in South Wimbledon (and where else is Heaven really?) for a twenty20 in July. Perhaps some helpful analogies will have come to mind by then.

Dan Forman

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Fixtures for 2019

A good first draft is now uploaded to the site - see menu left.  Many thanks to Dan for his hard work over the winter.


Saturday, 5 January 2019

Donations in Memory of Michael Crosse

For anyone wanting to make a donation in Mike's memory, the family are suggesting either Myeloma UK or Maggie's Centre.  His wife, Fiona, has said that both organisations helped her and Mike a lot over the last 5 years.

Jon Porter