Sunday, 18 September 2016

Cold Drinks and Canapes in the Rochester Sun...and victory on the field

Mandarins (225-6) Beat King's School Rochester Headmaster's XI (223-7) by four wickets

After a Saturday rain-off in Reading it was gratifying to see the weather forecast hold true for a fine Kentish sunny Sunday afternoon in September for our final fixture of the season - and even more gratifying to finish the year with a win in such lovely surroundings.

View from Pavilion (Andy Heard)
Not that it always looked like this would be case. The King's School pitch was still playing well and with a short boundary on the uphill and a fast run down the slope, bowling was hard and fielding even harder. After Heard made an early breakthrough with the new ball, a succession of Headmaster's XI batsmen settled in for substantial contributions of 30 or more. The late-arriving Eastaway eventually bowled the other opener Beacher (36) with a beauty, before Hurst capped a fine 10-over spell with the wicket of big-hitting number three Settle for 40 (also bowled). Healey and Forman also earned one each (at some expense in the latter's case), while McIntyre chipped in with two to cap an excellent season (and if Gareth Batty can still get on the boat to Bangladesh perhaps it's not too late for Paul to make the trip to India either). However number six Walker remained unbeaten on 51 at the declaration, with 223-7 looking a formidable target.

The talk over a truly stupendous tea of sandwiches, sponges and scones in the Headmaster's garden was that the Mandarins had successfully chased a similar score here just a year before, although many Mandarins remained somewhat cautious given this season's batting form. They would have been even more so had they known that Chris Healey's contribution would be a golden quacker. Nevertheless that did not come until after Manian (27) and Temple (33) had put on a substantial opening partnership of 61 to set up an enticing platform. And after Healey's unusual aberration, Wilmot (54) and Alex Lennon-Smith (68) tucked in to the bowling as it were the Headmaster's teatime spread still on the table. Albeit aided by some generous choices of bowling in aid of generating a result, the Credit Suisse duo took us to the brink of victory with a wonderful stand of 108. And after a Mike Richardson run out special and a quick contribution from McKeon C (11), Lennon-Smith was still there at the end to take us over the line in the final over with two monstrous hits for four.

All that remained was the annual argument over who would take the team kit home for winter, wistful what might have beens about this year's many batting collapses and round agreement that the Rochester fixture has become an annual highlight and that this year it provided a fitting end to the season, all aided by cold drinks and canapes in Jonathan's fine garden. Then came the last trains back to London and the melancholy feeling of summer's end and another year of Mandarin cricket gone. Until we meet again in the Spring...

Dan Forman