Saturday, 15 June 2019

Bails Shortage Doesn't Hold up Mandarins Victory

According to the new edition of a popular cricket book (a book, by the way, that can be found in most discerning homes in the UK), cricket is at its best when a match goes to the final over with victory and a draw still possible.

And sure enough, our second match against Heber Nomads delivered just such a classic ending in what was, of course, a declaration game.

It was a match not short of eccentricities. It began with a shortage of bails.  There was debate as to whether a cricket match is legitimate if most of the stumps are bail-less. (Alas the aforementioned book fails to answer this question.) Having improvised two bails with a long twig, normal service resumed when Dan Forman found several spares in his kit.

The Mandarins batted first, and Baxter and Chave were tested by some tight Heber bowling on a slow pitch with variable bounce. Chave was dropped twice on his way to an otherwise solid 37, while Baxter made a chanceless 30.  Enter Tunbridge, who batted with fluency and style to an effortless 50, supported by a fine cameo from the returning Sam Cook.

In the final over of the innings, video technology made its dramatic first appearance in Mandarins history.  And also its second.  McIntyre was lured out of his ground by a leg break, and the keeper removed the bails.  Square leg umpire Tunbridge had, for reasons best known to himself, decided to video the action, and having missed the dismissal with the naked eye, watched a slo-mo replay which confirmed McIntyre was out of his ground.  Two balls later, Stan Forman took a large divet out of the pitch as he scuffed the ball down into the crease.  The keeper again whipped off the bails, and Tunbridge, now an expert on DRS, was again able to confirm it was out, this time by a whisker.

188 for 8 declared - and all that without Healey having to bat.

Despite some lusty hitting and sharp running from Heber, the target always looked a bit high, and wickets fell regularly.  McIntyre, Arvind and all three Formans bowled well, with young Harry Forman the stand-out bowler with 5-0-7-1, including the wicket of Taylor, who was bowled by a slower ball delivered with a guile and precision rarely seen in 14-year-olds. Or 50-year-olds, come to that.

With 40 needed off four overs, Heber switched from attack to defence.  Skipper Eastaway brought himself on for the first time and removed Smith with a ball that cut in and kept a bit low.  One over to go, nine wickets down, Chave bowling off-breaks with fielders crowded around the bat.  Faulkner blocked the first two balls with aplomb, but he nicked the third onto his pad and it lobbed up to short extra where Tunbridge snaffled the chance.

Victory by 40 runs, and a reminder why declaration cricket is such a great format.

Rob Eastaway

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