Saturday, 22 July 2017

Mandarins Try a New Format

A new fixture (the Mandarins’ first ever twenty 20 game?) and a strange, slightly disorientating occasion for me. The two teams I play for, playing against each other, at the club where my sons play and I spend many hours at on most summer weekends. It was a bit like you and your girlfriend’s parents meeting for the first time. Except that that meeting also take place at your school in front of your teachers.

At least we all had cricket to talk about. And somewhat unexpectedly an exciting game emerged from what seemed to be a hopeless cause at the halfway stage. Your captain and correspondent lost the toss and we were put in to bat first on a decent-looking Streatham and Marlborough CC track. Anand (3-0-10-1) was hostile with the new ball and bowled McKeon (A) (6) with a sharp yorker. Plahe, with 4-0-20-3, was the pick of the Superstars’ bowlers, while three run outs did not help the Mandarins’ cause much either, especially as two of them were Graeme Tunbridge (2) and Chris Healey (12). But Baxter retired on 25 and returned to top his score up to 38 which, with the addition of a generous 27 extras and a useful 11 from Andy Heard, was enough to take the score up to 108 before the Mandarins were all out with two balls unused in the innings.

It still looked a fair bit under par. But inspired by a rallying cry from ‘keeper Healey (“let’s go and show them what sh*t cricket really looks like”!), the Mandarins produced a stronger bowling performance that took the game into a tense death over. Openers Spencer and Diwakar were watchful against Martin Hurst’s excellent spell (4-1-10-1) before Diwakar (6) let loose a cut and was well caught at point by Graeme. Spencer (25*) and Saunders (26*) both then bedded in for a while before retiring, aware that four or five an over was enough to keep the Superstars comfortably on track.

But things got a fair bit more interesting in the middle overs with Williams run out for two; danger man Anand (7) top-edging a pull to Healey from Randi (who fully deserved his 3-0-12-1); Hemingway run out for one; and then Hewlett clean bowled in the same over for two; leaving the score delicately poised at 82-5 with four overs to go. That left Gigg (12*) and Duggan (5*) to perform something a rescue act, but one that was not without its chances. Three were  required from the final over which was entrusted to JC Gray with instructions to be as tight as his Treasury purse strings. And, HMT man in the age of austerity that he is, he willingly obliged. A dot, a single and another dot had the Mandarins daring to dream. But Duggan got his bat on the next one, set off for a sharp single and the run out attempt ended up being overthrows. The Superstars came back for a two and the match was won with two balls to spare.

A close game and cheap pints of good beer from the club bar in the evening sunshine afterwards - at what is always a beautiful ground with good pitches - led to talk of making this an annual fixture. Hopefully it is a relationship that will last.

Mandarins 108 ao. (19.3 / 20 overs)
Superstars CC 109-5

Dan Forman