Mandarins don't take it lion down in Naryan's last stand
WG XI 200-6 beat Mandarins 179 all out
You can sometimes hear the London Zoo lions from the cricket pitches of Regent's Park and, while the Mandarins didn't quite catch our kill on this occasion, we didn't roll over like the pussycats of last season's fixture either.
Your correspondent's late arrival meant that he missed the first six overs in the field but he was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find the WG XI already 41-4. He later discovered this was due to an inspired bowling change whereby Robin Pharoah asked to be taken off after just one over of his spell, complaining that the mild breeze he was running into was playing havoc with his run up. A surprisingly sympathetic skipper acceded to the request and brought on the ever-obliging workhorse Arvind Manian instead, who promptly took three wickets in as many overs, backed up by Owen Cooke who bagged a brace of his own and some most unMandarin-like fielding consistency in which no catches were dropped and a couple of good ones (McIntryre and Pharoah) were even taken.
The spin twins of Forman and McIntyre then put the brakes on the WG innings further, conceding just nine runs each from the first five over of their respective spells. But a late lower middle order blitz against all of the bowling nonetheless took WG to an imposing 200-6 from their 40 overs whereupon tea was taken amid not much confidence about the chase, given the previous year's paltry efforts on this track.
And at 33-3 (and the loss of Naryan for 19 in what we hope won't be his last ever appearance for the club but will be his last for a while) that lack of confidence was looking well founded. Yet that was before the arrival of Chris Healey at the crease. Ably supported by first Manian and then Pharoah, Healey's sparkling 78 was made all the harder by two rain delays which turned the outfield from a big cat-like to a sloth-like speed.
The weather was sadly also responsible for the end of his innings at 157-6 when his partner slipped and Chris turned back but failed to make his ground. The tail almost saw out the 40 overs but were never quite in reach of the winning score, ending up 179 all out. The lions roared, even if the Mandarins didn't. But we did at least restore some pride.