Side-swappers swing it for Superstars
Superstars (145-8) beat Mandarins (144 all out) by one wicket
After last year’s last over Twenty 20 thriller between these two sides, this more traditional declaration game at first threatened to be even shorter – and certainly more one-sided. But that was not accounting for the impact of two young debutants (one of whom was considerably younger than the other but both still young by modern Mandarins standards), the first of whom threatened to turn the whole afternoon on its head, before the second decided to show a few older heads how batting should be done.
After two weeks of frustration it was good to be playing at all, even better to be doing so in the sunshine, better still at beautiful Streatham and Marlborough CC. Captain Forman (D) lost the toss against his friends from the Superstars and the Mandarins were put into bat. In the remarkable position of having a full dozen in our match day squad, new recruit Inder was loaned to the opposition on the basis that he was a solid opening bat and, well, the Mandarins never suffer from early innings collapses, do they?
Sure enough Superstars seamer Konrad had Baxter caught at slip and Davidson bowled in his opening over on a spicy pitch. Pharoah threatened with one ferocious six but then promptly managed to get himself run out over-eagerly backing up at the non-striker's end. Baker (27) added some solidity to the recovery and Hurst (37) some panache. But with wickets at a premium your skipper and correspondent used all of his tact and diplomacy at drinks to negotiate the return of Inder to our ranks, sacrificing (not literally) his second born son Harry to do so. Inder’s 17 was indeed useful in pushing our total up to 144 all out, under par but just about in the game, and certainly more competitive than 14-3 and 68-6 had looked like being.But this was far from Inder’s most decisive contribution of the day. With the Superstars surviving Hurst’s testing and unfortunately wicketless 9-4-18-0 opening spell, opener Vijay then raced to a 50, at which point the game looked done and he unselfishly retired himself to give others a chance to bat. With Forman (D) having retired from the field with a back injury, stand-in skipper Davidson made a smarter decision about how best to deploy Inder, inspirationally tossing him the ball before he promptly ran through the Superstars middle order with 5-1-19-5, leaving us suddenly one wicket short of victory, one of whom was potentially 13-year-old Harry and the other the returning retiree Vijay. Davidson offered the young man no quarter, with several men put in around the bat. Yet the boy kept his head where the men around him had lost theirs, holding his end up with little drama, finding the occasional single and giving Vijay enough strike to get the 20 runs required for the win.Times may change and, with them, players and even formats of the sport. But it still pays not to take anything for granted in this great game of ours.