Quite a few years ago, I contributed a piece to the Mandarins 25th anniversary book in which I recalled skipper Chris Baker fuming on the boundary as his opening pair put on 8 runs in the first 11 overs. Remarkably, the Mandarins won that game.
Well it wasn’t quite that bad when, with Baker having lost the toss and been put into bat on a lovely pitch and on a glorious day, Somerville and Hawkhead opened the batting at Roehampton. But it wasn’t great. This was Hawkhead’s fault. Somerville scored a fine 42 whereas Hawkhead scored 7 (off 35 balls as the scorebook pointedly records) in an opening partnership of 34 off 12 overs. Thereafter, perhaps mesmerised by the constant chop chop chop of the helicopter traffic overhead but more likely by the excellence of Bank of England leggie Walder (4-44 off 13 overs), the Mandarins continued to meander along at 3 runs per over. Special mention should be made of Treasury ringer Tom Eland (of whom more anon), the second highest scorer on 24. Manian, Davidson and Baker all struck a few lusty blows but the fall of 3 wickets in 3 balls at the end of the innings put an abrupt stop to any attempt to accelerate. The Mandarins closed on 158-9. The modest acceleration at the end was driven by Baker’s loud encouragement from the boundary to Run Hard. I’m looking forward to Run Hard 2, son of Run Hard later in the season.
The majority Mandarins view was that our total was 40 runs short on a good pitch, possibly informed by the fact that five of the team were eligible for Senior railcards. This quickly turned to the unanimous view when Heard’s first over went for 10 runs (reader it might have been 12). The well organised Bank of England openers Husain and Somerville (according to the scorebook - surely some mistake?) took advantage of the good pitch and the varied bowling to move quickly to a stand of 50+. Eland was brought on to bowl what turned out to be accurate and penetrative off breaks. He broke the opening stand with a fine caught and bowled off his first delivery and went on to take 3-48 off 11 overs, capping a fine debut performance. Eland was helped by a superb shared wicket keeping performance by Wilmot and then Tivey. There were no byes despite some wayward bowling and we saw a superb leg side catch standing up by Tivey to give McIntyre his solitary wicket. Notwithstanding the maturity of the team, fielding was also excellent. In the end, however, the collective Mandarins view had been all too accurate. Bank of England cruised to victory by 5 wickets despite a couple of alarms and we finished bang on the planned 7.30pm close.
Despite the defeat, it was a pleasure to play once again at the Bank of England ground. There was strong support for a continuation of this reinstated fixture.