Super Skip Seals Victory in Surrey Scorcher
Mandarins, 179-8, beat Mickleham, 161 all out, by 18 runs (35 over game)
Not to be outdone by England’s heroics earlier in the week, the Mandarins contrived to win a thriller of a fixture in the leafy Surrey countryside in the lovely village of Mickleham. Eastaway took on the onerous role of captain and immediately did something right by winning the toss and batting in 30 degree heat.
Baxter and debutant Steve Meyler made a solid start against a useful opening attack, before Baxter was yorked on 18. There then followed a succession of Mandarins wickets, with Davidson and Wilmot both perishing to very fine catches, and debutant Ravi failing to trouble the scorers. When Gary Plahe, another Mandarins debutant, but well-known to us from his performances for the Superstars, also rapidly departed for 8, it was 57-6 and disaster loomed.
But then a splendid partnership ensued between Baker and skipper Eastaway, both bringing to bear all the cricketing nous born of decades of playing for the Mandarins. Initially cautious, later expansive, Chris scored his first Mandarins 50 for several seasons, ably supported by Rob, who was to finish with 37*. They put on no fewer than 97 before Baker departed to a tired shot. A flurry of late runs, including a fine lofted drive for 4 from Harry Forman, took us onto 179-8 in our 35 overs, which felt at the very least a defensible total. Pick of the bowlers was Ayton with 4-23.
After a most excellent and somewhat extended tea (Dan Forman described the welsh cakes as the best he had tasted outside Wales) we took the field. Stan Forman and Gary Plahe opened the bowling, but the Mickleham opening pair accumulated nicely, bringing up the 50 by the time of the first drinks break at 10 overs. Who knows what was in the drinks? When Eastaway introduced himself into the attack after the break, he straightaway bowled one opener and had the No 3 bat lbw in his first over, to follow with the second opener in his second. 51-0 became 52-3.
Dan Forman offered up beguiling spin at the other end; after one over of punishment he gained sweet revenge as a top-edge was nervelessly taken by Harry. When Ravi took over from Rob and took a wicket with his first ball it was 75-5. (A note to the historians: this was, according to Chris Baker, the fourth time in 2018 that a Mandarins debutant had taken a wicket with their first ball; surely a record?)
But there were more twists in store. Mickelham’s No 5, Walker, ably supported by No 7, Kennington, put on 52. It was looking very tight: Mickleham only needed to score around 5 or so an over to win, so the Mandarins needed wickets to stay in the game. Harry Forman took his first Mandarins wicket, bowling Kennington, whilst the returning Eastaway took 2 in 2 balls, including a running catch by Steve Meyler at first slip, made all the more impressive by the fact that he had pulled his hamstring and could barely move (several other Mandarins were scarcely more mobile. Stan Forman then took the key wicket of Walker for 53. It was left to Gary to bowl the No 11 to end the innings at 161, an 18 run victory, duly celebrated in the lovely village pub with our fine opposition. Man of the match was undoubtedly “Super Skip” Eastaway, who followed his heroics with the bat to take a rare Mandarins five wicket haul.