Mandarins 89 all out
Charlatans 90 for 1 (after 14.3 overs)
Charlatans won by 9 wickets.
For the second year running, the decision to reduce this game from 40 overs to 35 overs proved to be academic, as the Mandarins were inserted and crept to a feeble 89 all out inside 31 overs. We could blame the fact that we were at least one batsman short (12 year old Harry Forman was a noble stand-in at number 11), and that skipper Dan Forman had needed to bring Jeremy Jarvis out of retirement. Or we could blame the accurate Charlatans bowling which rarely gave an opportunity to hit to the short boundary on the far side. Then there was the pitch – slow and low as always, and seaming all over the place (at least for their bowlers). Or it could have been our running between the wickets. Lowen set the tone, calling Jarvis for a suicidal single to backward point when it wasn’t his call, to leave Jarvis a couple of yards short; later in the innings there was a Hurst/Eastaway mix-up followed by a McIntyre/Forman sharp call that proved to be too sharp, making three run outs out of ten dismissals. Or it could have been the misfortune of losing McInerny, who was batting confidently when he clipped the ball sweetly to backward square only to find the one Charlatans fielder who seemed able to catch on the day. Whatever, it meant a return to one of those sub-hundred totals that we hoped we’d left behind in 2016.
The ball was sufficiently unused that we had the option to stick with it instead of taking a new ball. There were as many opinions on this as there were players…“A new ball might move more”…”but it’ll go the boundary faster”….”but we need to take wickets”…”the spinners might prefer it softer”…”surely you’d never turn down the chance to use a new ball?”. In the end, with no bowler expressing strong preference either way, we opted to take the new ball. And lo, the ball did indeed fly to the boundary faster. The first six came in the fourth over off Hurst, though the batsman was then bowled by a beauty next ball. A strong lbw shout was turned down in the next over (looked plumb to me – Ed) but that was it – not a snifter of a chance thereafter. Number 3 batted as if he had a party to get to in ten minutes, sprinting for twos and threes and several times almost lapping his partner. By the time first change McIntyre came on, Charlatans need about 15 to win, and No.3 began launching into reverse sweeps – frankly by now it felt as if they were just taking the p*ss.
It was Dan Forman who bowled the final over (or three balls of it anyway) as Charlatans completed the formalities.
In the early years of this fixture, these used to be close, nailbiting, high-scoring games. That seems like a distant memory now.