Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Took it to the Final Over, But Then...

Mandarins vs King’s School Rochester Headmaster’s XI

Took it to the final over but lost by five wickets in somewhat farcical circumstances

Those of you on the WhatsApp group will already have seen this perfect summary of the game. There follows a slightly more in-depth review…


Another week, another sweltering September fixture, provoking discussion of the days when we played through to early October. Jonathan mercifully won the toss and we batted first in the heat. The Mandarins got off to a flying start with Brand and H Forman making 81 off the first 15 overs before Brand departed on 49 (for the second time in a week). Harry continued to push on, going to his 50 before holing out to the new slow bowler for 51. Another 50 partnership from Healey and a free-flowing Jarvis followed, as Mandarins continued at somewhere close to 6 an over. When Jarvis was bowled for 18, Healey (unbeaten on 68 at the end) and Ramani (26 not out) upped the tempo further with shots around the ground and took us to a very healthy-looking total of 229 for 3 off 37 overs at tea.

Opinions at tea were divided – satisfaction at a good score vying with recent memories of some very hard-hitting Headmasters XI batters. The outfield was lightning quick and the pitch was true even if some balls didn’t come through as fast or high as expected.

As it turned out, 229 might have been enough if Mandarins had taken their catches (have I heard that one before?). The King’s School Values were on big hoardings at all four corners of the ground – resilience, ambition, passion, and work-rate. Unfortunately it was resilience that was most called-upon during our time in the field. Runs flowed – 67 for 1 off 10, 124 for 3 off 20, 185 for 4 off 30. Eastaway, Ramani, and the 3 Formen bowled tidily, with a wicket apiece for Eastaway and D Forman, but were unable to build scoreboard pressure. But it was Hurst’s vicious medium-pace topspinners that kept us in the game, clean-bowling two well-set batters on the back foot, and finishing with 3 for 48 from 11. 

Our catching proved our undoing, H Forman and Brand putting down take-able catches, and Ramani insisting that a bullet that came back at him ankle-high was also a dropped chance. The Headmaster’s XI drew level on 229 for 5 at the end of the penultimate over and we thought the drama had seeped away. Eastaway’s first ball of the last over went high straight to Healey at deep midwicket. Such was the belief that Healey would take the catch that the batters failed to run… but lo, a drop. Second ball a dot, and the third went high in the air again straight to a Mandarin. Sadly H Forman spilled this one too and the batters trotted sheepishly through for the winning run.

A fine game in a beautiful setting played in a good spirit (apart from some chuntering from their young and tired opening bowler at Healey’s enterprising batting at the death). We retired to mull over what might have been at Restoration House.

Sam Brand

Tuesday, 5 September 2023


30th August (Wednesday)

Two days to go. Full teams for each match. Weather forecast improving. All looking good. But then the dreaded ping of WhatsApp. No doubt an older mandarin who has been trying to nurse an ageing body through to mid-September. No it’s the most youthful of Mandarins – Rakesh’s back is causing him grief. OK, that should be manageable, just. Ping. It’s Zac’s knee. Flap around. Nikhil’s trip to Dubai has been postponed. He is persuadable. Raki bravely offer to play on Sunday as a batsman. We are back up to full strength.

31st August (Thursday)

One day to go. WhatsApp quiet. Bliss. (Apart from the usual ie Tony asking for directions he has already been sent or Martin asking about start times listed clearly on the tour email and website).

1st September: FMCCC

Set off from East Kent in mizzle. But forecast is for a fine evening. Ping: heavy rain in Oxford means that groundsman wants to inspect. Hold breath for two hours then all is well, though we are moved to pitch B.

Pick up Peter and get to Horspath on time. Surprisingly some of the oppo are also early. They head to the bar. We change and warm up.

Start only 25 minutes late. Gemma’s first game as captain. She decides to bowl. An excellent bowling performance from most Mandarins with Gemma clearly the best and the best fielder and a top captain (Dan isn’t even doing his Steve Smith impression).

Unfortunately Graeme completes a hattrick of recent tour injuries and collapses mid-pitch after doing his Mark Wood impression. His back has gone. Surely we can chase 107 even with a crippled Graeme. No. A slow start and early wickets. “Tall Bob” is proving a handful to our less tall Bob. The top order can’t get the ball off the square. Gemma gives us hope and is now also the best batter (30) and Peter hits an aggressive 22. But we are never really up with the rate and lose by 10 runs. Convivial beer with the oppo who even happy to share their giant duck mascot, Arvind.


2nd September: Erratics

Ping. Graeme can’t play and can’t captain. Bob heroically steps in to play and keep. Dan to skipper. Erratics have lost their first two tour games and are rumoured to have selected their strongest XI. Few give us much hope.

No obvious toss but a conversation in the pub means the Erratics will bat. They never quite get away but 181 for 8 off 44 overs still looks a little above par. Fantastic slip catches by Chris H and Bob (though Bob was keeping at the time). Bowlers all contribute thought there is some debate whether Jim’s bowling is contributing on behalf of the Mandarins or the Erratics. Rob with 3-30 and Chris H with 3-18 the stars. Most agree this is a bit above par.

But Drew (32) and Dave (39) give us a great start. However, despite a few lusty blows from Paul, 63-0 becomes 125-8. Perhaps the hot air balloon inflating and then rising from the far boundary is just too distracting. While Chris H is still there, run rate is now increasing to 7, 8, 9 an over. Just the sort of chase we fail to win 99 times out of 100.

But not today. “Joss” Heard beams into from another dimension and hits 34 off 18 balls and with Chris H takes us to the brink. 9 needed off the last over. 3 off the last 2 balls. Chris H spots an unwise gap at cow corner and despatches Chris Cook to the fence. Off to the Six Bells. Mandarins elated. Erratics deflated, now three down for their tour. Great to have Nikhil back playing for us. An absolute classic that will enter Mandarin folklore.

3rd September: Harwell International

No new injuries. Surely too good to last. (Spoiler alert: it is). Collect Raki from Didcot. Back much improved. He can bat, he can bowl, he can field, he can loudly advise the captain.

Harwell look a lot more athletic than last year but then it turns out most of the strapping youths warming up are here to play football on the next door ground. Still Harwell do have half of their league team playing.

A glorious mid-summer’s day. So the skipper (your correspondent) wins the toss and decides to bat. The opening bowlers are sharpish and Drew can’t repeat his heroics of Saturday. But Chris H and Raki give us a good base and we reach 58-1 before Chris is brilliantly run out (and not by Raki). Runs rather stop flowing. Nearly handbags when umpire Bob declines to rule on an appeal, telling the bowler that his amble girth had blocked his view.  David is also run out (remarkably again not by Raki) but we still have a few wickets in hand when the skipper suggests to Rob it is time to get moving. He goes from 7 runs off 23 balls to hitting 22 off the next 14. A few lusty blows from Martin and we end up on 151. Oppo’s teenage sledger suggests we are 30 below par.

We are also 1.5 bowlers down with Peter off with a torn calf and Rob nursing a sore hamstring. Harwell move swiftly to 42-1. Martin bowls well with no luck but Raki starts pegging them back bowling beautifully (4-21). Excellent catches are taken by Drew, Dan and Rob. Harwell are now 72-6 but well up with the rate and with star kiwi batsman Max looking in ominous form. But then we enter the rabbit hole for the second time during the weekend and Dan knocks out their lower order in one over with Chris B taking a slip catch to clinch Dan’s first ever Mandarins’ hattrick. A win by 72. Harwell captain furious. Her team much more relaxed (which is partly why she is furious). A couple of beers and the award ceremony sees several Mandarin winners: Dan gets champagne moment, he and Raki are jointly players of the day and Rob gets the much coveted “dick of the day” for managing to get to the middle having forgotten to take his bat with him. Meanwhile back at Warborough the Erratics have lost the fourth and final game of their tour...

And so another thoroughly enjoyable Oxford tour over. Thanks to everyone. A special mention to those who made themselves available for all three matches and particularly to Dan, Chris B and Bob who played all or part of each of them.

John Hawkins

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Low Scoring Thriller in Genteel Surrey Fortress

An unexpectedly close encounter saw victory once again elude the Mandarins in the genteel Surrey fortress of Elstead.

With only nine players turning up for the start, reluctant captain Chris Baker had little choice but to win the toss and bat, sending in Sam Brand and Paul Mills to begin proceedings. It was, however, a promising start. Two no balls from an older, faster Jasmine Faulkner-Wybrott and a rare three contributed to the Mandarins scoring seven off the first over and raising hopes of a Hundred-inspired batting performance. Brand and Mills pushed along, with the latter put down after crashing the ball to cover, and even managed to run another three after taking a few overs to recover.

Five overs in, and the Mandarins were 24-1, Brand becoming Faulkner-Wybrott’s first victim of the afternoon. But from there the run-rate dropped dramatically as a succession of accurate spinners made good use of the turn and bounce to ensure Elstead remained a drought-stricken place for the Mandarins’ batsmen. Your correspondent managed only a risky single before half-heartedly prodding at a delivery that then looped up to first slip. Two overs later, Mills departed on 20, bringing Chris Healey to the crease - despite his former vow never to play at Elstead again.

Williams, returning from illness, was put down by the same fielder who had dropped Mills before scoring his 3,000th run for the club, continuing the year’s impressive run of milestones. Healey put on 20 before being caught, and Wilmot contributed 13 before being run out – Williams calling for a single after hitting the ball to Elstead’s best fielder. The scoring had clearly become too slow for Williams as, two overs later, he came down the pitch to bowler Barry Young and found himself stumped.

A similar fate befell Ramani, who managed 14, while Eastaway (13), Hurst (5) and Plahe (0) fell in quick succession to Faulkner-Wybrott, leaving her with figures of 4-25. In total, the Mandarins had scored 111 of 47 overs, only six of which featured boundaries. At a rate of 2.36 an over, it turned out the Hundred had in fact had very little impact on the Mandarins.

If defending 111 looked a tricky prospect, Eastaway and Hurst gave the Mandarins early hope with some tight overs before Eastaway bowled opener Young for 0 and then had number 3 Randall caught, also for 0. Hurst bowled Stalham for 3 and by the eighth over, Elstead were 25-3.

Unfortunately, the other opener – J Lincoln – remained, scoring much more freely than the Mandarins had managed. He was put down twice, both sharp, hard-hit chances, while an LBW shout from Ramani was turned down. In another arena, it would have been a good candidate for a DRS review.

Only a rapid half-century and retirement dislodged Lincoln. But then Mandarin fortunes improved once again, with his successors removed for low scores, including a Plahe using his desire for revenge to fuel a faster delivery and bowl Faulkner-Wybrott for 0.

With Elstead 9 wickets down, the Mandarins spied an opportunity for the long-sought victory in this part of Surrey, but Lincoln emerged again from retirement to join his brother – O Lincoln – who was already set on 21 and the hosts requiring only 10 runs to win.

It took the Lincolns only another over to knock off the remaining runs, prompting some discussion of when exactly a batsman who has retired is allowed to return.

Alas, moral victories are not recorded in the scorebook, and for the second successive year the Mandarins fell one wicket short of a bank holiday victory.

Mandarins: 111 a.o. Mills 20, Healey 20

Elstead: 115-9, Plahe 3-14, Eastaway 3-24

Chris McKeon

Monday, 14 August 2023

Peper Harow in its Mid-Summer Finery

On a bright and breezy day, on the pre-tour Sunday traditionally left blank for Mandarins to heal their spiritual and physical wounds in preparation, the rained-off season opener with Peper Harow was restaged, a tribute to Dan Forman’s efforts, Mandarin optimism, and the absence of sane physiotherapy advice.

It was a nice change to see Peper Harow park at its finest, rather than on a cool, wet April day. David Williams and Sam Brand opened up, and David immediately met his ideal bowler - bit of pace, outside off, couple of short balls every over.  Peper Harow also had only 9/10 fielders, but fairly soon essentially all of them were at backward point. Undeterred, David continued cutting into the gaps for a fine 26. Sam continued calmly keeping out the good and despatching the bad, joined by Shahrukh who hit several shots of the day, a leg stump pickup and back foot force smashed for four being perhaps the best. All of the bowling was decent, but the pitch was quick enough to play shots on, and we reached 90-1 off 19 before both departed to the slow bowler.

Jules Lowin and Jon Wilmot began picking up the slack, in contrasting styles: Jon employing the minimum possible bat movement, Jules the absolute maximum. Jules was unlucky to be caught for 13; Raki even more unlucky to be run out, forgetting that Jon was about as likely to run a quick single as microwave an Aldi own brand Hot Chicken Tikka Masala for his tea. Next up was Chetan, recruited I think by Jules for the day; his brief but entertaining stay was followed by Jarvis, whose 225 strike rate was unmatched. Hands up if you saw that coming. We chipped and tipped a bit more, but the drama came in the final over, with Gary run out, then Jon - who had to this point played everything precisely on merit, keeping the ball on the floor, seemingly ignoring everything else - going 644 off the last three balls, taking himself to 50 and Mandarins to a respectable 194-9. Not amazing perhaps, but not far off par. If we bowled and caught well…

The Peper Harow reply (spoiler:successful) was fascinating. Captain Steve Bradley is no mean bat but took his role as Anchor (I think that’s what his team were calling him) very seriously. Although when the rate later climbed he did unleash several booming drives that showed great skill, he largely restricted himself to cutting and easy singles (sublimated memories of youth perhaps). It was a very good innings anyway, even if it was only 62* out of 195. Meanwhile most of the batters around him were teeing off like it was Augusta. This made setting fields - if I may whine a bit - a teeny bit challenging. We got off to a great start mainly thanks to Gary, whose medium pace was accurate and nipped about, and who removed the dangerous Ali with a fine c&b, and after 8 overs they were 14-2. However the next 4 overs leaked about 30 more, as the big hitting Waqas got into his stride. Raki put the brakes on with a great spell (10 off his first 6 overs), but there were enough runs elsewhere to keep PH almost up with the rate.

The introduction of Baker brought more dramatic swings in fortune, with a few lusty boundaries but also the demise for 42 of Waqas, whose attempted reverse something (I can’t call it a sweep, or a switch hit, or anything really; he just flipped basically) did not exactly pan out. 10/10 for self-belief though; I CAN DO WHATEVER I PUT MY MIND TO OH. Anyway, he was followed by Sohail, who continued in the same vein, whacking a few sixes off Raki and Shahrukh to keep them close. Shahrukh’s revenge, pinning Sohail for 47, gave us much needed hope, which picked up steam when Giles followed fairly soon after. But new batsman Faisel had the magic arm, all of his, er, stylish shots to deep midwicket somehow finding the middle of the bat, and by the time he was caught for a quick fire 22, the game was almost done. A swing and a miss from the new bat Mosa was followed by a single burgled to mid on, whose run out attempt hit the batsman in a final act of fruitless defiance.

This was a game we could have done just a little better in, in all departments. Our batting was not bad but we were probably 15/20 short of par; bowling was not bad but we did give plenty of gifts too; fielding not bad but three catches went down that might have swung it. It was, nonetheless, a lovely game in a very good spirit and an exciting-ish finish. We thank Dan, and Gary, and Chetan, and Peper Harow, for making it possible. Now all I have to do in the three days before tour is get two achilles screaming in pain after 8 overs of extreme pace (49mph) to magically recover. Anyone got a good physio?

Chris Healey

Wednesday, 9 August 2023

April in August at Reading

Reading University Academic Staff 157 (Ramani 3-38, Hurst 3-47) beat Mandarins 143 for 4 (Stancombe 44, Wilmot 38*, D Williams 33) by 14 runs.

How to explain this game to someone who was not there? Some of the facts are barely plausible. That our opening bat only scored 38 in 35 overs? That we only lost 4 wickets in the run chase up to 10 balls from the end and left the eccentric big hitting of Hurst and Heard on the bench? That the final over, with 18 wanted, was a maiden?

The answer, dear reader, was the pitch. I arrived to find Mandarin early birds scouring the Reading School groundsmans sheds (locked) for a roller to use on a wicket described by Captain Zac as sporty. Its hue of green was indistinguishable from the rest of the longish outfield. It gave to the touch. After Saturday's downpours there was more rain during the afternoon to freshen it up. Bounce both low and high, seam movement and spin excessive, generally very slow. Larger and larger divots taken out as the match progressed. A good old fashioned results wicket (which in the end would have produced a draw had we not being playing "Berkshire Standard" 35 overs.)

In the end the margins were quite narrow. For example, we might have won if we had not started with 9 and had to manage with 10 fielders for the rest of the innings. The usual couple of chances went down, although not too expensive. Some of the lbw shouts were very very close. Indeed. Says Raki. We reckoned par was 100 to 120, and they were 114 for 7 before Tamuur made a blistering and decisive contribution of 41 batting at No 8. Two bits of football on the fence might have saved 6 runs but both went for boundaries. And so on and so forth.

Still 157 was nearly 100 fewer than our last outing against Reading, so some cause for optimism at halfway. Bowling was better than some of the figures suggest. Although the wickets mainly went elsewhere, commendations for Zac giving away only 13 off his 7 overs, and JP making a welcome season debut, 2 for 17 off his 7. Raki's 3 takes him to 98 for the club. 

We made a poor start against Qasir, who got lots of seam movement to reduce us to 5 for 3 in the 6th over. After a patient rebuilding job, Zac opened up and emulated Timuur with 7 4s and a six. Had he lasted a couple more overs then we might have shaded it, but he holed out to long on in the 20th over and Mandarins still needed 92 off 15. Jonathan and David Williams (who has a  Mandarin son called Louis), not to be confused with Louis Williams Mark 2, playing today or Louis Davidson also playing today, did their best to close down the target, but the pitch now regularly confounded them. David could not time his cut shot, and Jonathan was very unfortunate that all of some booming drives went straight to extra cover instead of past him. Small margins. 

We needed 60 runs off 5, then a wayward 31st over yielded 18 which induced something I can only characterise as panic amongst the Reading ranks as they argued about tactics, muttered from the outfield and tinkered with their placements, eventually even dragging Richard Tranter (age 72, first game recorded v Mandarins 1978) out of his favoured slip position. A tight 32nd over was followed by 11 runs off the 33rd, the ask now 26 off 2. David fell to a grubber, and Raki injected his customary energy trying to run both the fading Jonathan's runs for him, but we needed 18 off the last. That it was a maiden (4 byes/leg byes) belies the amount of swishing which went on. Jonathan's attempted  charge down the wicket/reverse pull/pull (the pitch being so slow that he seemed able to play the shot both ways missing each time) whilst his arms and legs all went in different directions is something I shall probably have nightmares about in the close season.......

Anyway, a 90% improvement on the margin of defeat from 2 years ago, and great to defy the weather and sustain this historic fixture, one of only 3 surviving from the 1975 fixture card.

Chris B

Wednesday, 19 July 2023

Hazball at SMCC

Mandarins vs Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club, Wednesday 12 July

There were a number of questions in the air as the Mandarins ventured to the traditional territory of Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club. Would Jules have found 11 players? Could we get back to our winning ways? Would the rain hold off? And would Johnny Extras once again be a star player? [SPOILER ALERT] The answers were yes, yes, yes and yes. 

First of all, the time-honoured ritual of selecting the captain. Step forward Harry Forman to initiate us into the delights of Hazball. Older Mandarins were intrigued to see how his captaincy would differ from his father’s approach – more of that anon. Harry duly won the toss and batted, Chris Baker and Alex Frankpitt opening. The latter unleashed some gorgeous drives. Once Baker had been well taken at slip your correspondent arrived at the crease, slightly nervous lest a misdirected ball hit a still convalescing thumb. SMCC did have one opening bowler of some pace, but the odd wild delivery meant that Extras, our reliable friend, mounted steadily. Having scored a stylish 25 Frankpitt departed caught at mid-off. Lowin arrived and he and Baxter proceeded to put on 62 against a varied SMCC attack. Jules was eventually bowled for 25, replaced by Chris Healey, who was in fine form (even better form than Extras). Baxter missed a straight one on 42, but Mills came in to provide his usual mix of controlled (?) aggression and the odd defensive shot and finished 31*. Chris was out just before the end of the Mandarins innings for a fine 55, allowing Olly Wood to make a brief cameo. Johnny Extras contributed a weighty 52. 233-5 felt like an eminently defensible total, though we were conscious that it remained a good pitch.

After another excellent SMCC tea we took the field, with Harry Forman and Giordy Diangienda opening. Both bowled well, Harry in particular beating the bat regularly (including 5 out of 6 in one over). But the SMCC openers made rapid progress, Henley in particular playing some fine shots. Owen Jackson, star outfitter to the Mandarins, and Hurst replaced the openers; Owen eventually bowled one opener, but by drinks SMCC were 123-1 and comfortably placed it seemed to complete the run chase, with Henley hitting the ball to all corners and the (very) young No 3 Harland looking all too comfortable. Older Mandarins were worried: would this end up as an embarrassing 9 wicket loss, having scored over 230? But Hazball knows no fear. Harry brought Healey on at one end and persevered with Jackson. Both decisions were amply repaid when Owen bowled Henley for 78 and Chris persuaded Harland to top-edge to Jules behind the stumps. Once Owen had completed his spell Hurst was reintroduced into the attack. Having got 0-30 off his first 4 overs Martin proceeded to work his magic and took 5-9 off in his second spell, aided by good Mandarins catching; clearly the change of end helped. The highlight was an over when Malik the SMCC captain utilised reverse sweeps and ramps against the fiendish Hurst, all to no avail, until trying a traditional off-drive he was caught by Paul Mills. Harry brought Olly Wood into the attack and another SMCC batman fell. SMCC had reached 200-9 when Giordy won an LBW decision and the Mandarins duly won by 33 runs. An excellent game, played in a great spirit. 

So how does Forman fils compare to his father in captaincy? An understated captain, but as someone once said, he got the big calls right (and pretty much all of the little ones as well).

Get the match-card here.

Tim Baxter

Tuesday, 18 July 2023

Not Hobgoblin Nomads

Weekend of Rescue

Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR): First, it was Dan to the rescue who salvaged the fixture by quickly managing to identify an alternate opposition after a last minute pull out by the original opponents - Hobgoblin Nomads. Secondly, Tim Baxter carried his bat through the 40 overs with an 80 after a miserable middle order collapse. Thirdly, Dan’s god brother (?) Ben closed out the game with a terrific late 3 over burst to compliment his initial 5 over miserly spell to close out the match for us.

On a partly cloudy but extremely windy afternoon the Mandarins and Sutton CC converged on the Hollies pitch at the far end of the Dulwich Sports Ground. Captain Chris McKeon playing his 100th match for Mandarins stepped up to lead us and promptly decided to bat after winning the toss. Chris’s partner Sian brought with her a coterie of fans for Chris’s big occasion and neatly set up a picnic just over the cow corner boundary with bubblies and food at the ready.

I’m not sure if that tempted opener Wilmot to return back to the pavilion quickly he was caught behind for 1. Meanwhile Baxter showed no effects of his recently healed thumb injury and was happily motoring along particularly favouring the point and third man region. Dan Taylor joined him and looked assured before being bowled for 9 runs by the portly off spinner who was pretty accurate in line and length. Taylor saw the funny side while he walked off and remarked that he was coached to get near to the pitch off the ball but this time around he chose to position himself at the pitch of the ball which was not a great idea. The middle collapse was well on the way as Stancombe was out LBW for 1, Ramani gone for 0 caught at cover off a full toss after being highly recommended by Healey to bat up the order. But Captain Chris McKeon strode in to huge cheers from his fans and proceeded to put together a 47 run partnership with the unflappable Baxter. Some trademark punches and aggressive running between the wickets helped us stabilise ourselves before McKeon was out caught and bowled by the offspinner.

Both teams took drinks at this junction with the Mandarins at 93 for 5, Healey kept alive the left handers union batting strike by getting out for 0 just like his predecessor, clean bowled by a ball that beat his outside edge and cluttered onto his off stump as he tried to flick one on to the legside. Debutante Ben Ackland-Snow walked in at #8 to the complete ignorance of the Mandarins that he is actually as good as good as the Kiwi – Ben Stokes 😊. Our Ben is a towering figure and there was debate on the sidelines about who could be the tallest Mandarin. Soon the chatter turned into cheers as we saw the ball being plundered to all parts of the ground. Ackland-Snow beautifully struck the ball, stood his ground stoically when called upon by Baxter to go on his dangerous excursions and the shot of the match was the lofted one-bounce boundary over cover. The duo added 61 runs before Ben was out bowled for 26. We were 155 for 7 when Hawkins walked in and Sutton CC crowded his bat with attacking fields but the silverfox was wily enough to find the gaps and managed to squeeze one past third man for a boundary as well. He was bounced out (you read that right!) for 7 when we were 173. Eastaway and Baxter closed out the 40 overs with some quick runs towards the end. Mandarins finished with 187 – Baxter 80* and Eastaway 12*

Eastaway and Stancombe restarted proceedings post tea and were on the money from the start. Eastaway was particularly difficult to bat against with the odd ball raising from length and some cutting in sharply as well. Stancombe’s radar started malfunctioning a little bit in his 3rd and 4th over of his spell with some boundary balls on offer to the batters and they duly obliged. But Eastway struck thrice in his 8 over marathon spell making sure the run rate was under control – he got the opener Manish caught by Healey at gully for 26, the other opener Junaid was bowled of a beautiful late outswinger that kissed the bails. The batter stood his ground (rightly so) since both umpires were unsure but was kind enough to agree with the unanimous appeal of the fielders, the left handed #3 batter – Sarmad looked dangerous unleashing a series of powerful pull shots but was dislodged by a Baxter one handed classic at square leg of Eastaway’s bowling attempting one pull shot too many. That catch swung the match slightly in our favour. Ackland-Snow and Ramani went on to apply the squeeze but with not much joy before the former finally managed to get through the defences of #4 batter Phani. He was also returning the bouncers that Sutton bowled which Hawkins had to cop while he was batting. A young and wristy Nethan stepped in but was soon caught at short midwicket by Baxter trying to flick Ackland-Snow and this dismissal ought to have taught the young man to adapt his technique to these English pitches that aren’t the most conducive to play such shots early on. Sutton’s skipper and chief off spinner walked in but the required run rate proved to be a bit too high with Healey & Ackland-Snow closing out the match safely (although it didn’t feel that way when the match was on). Sutton finished with 184 after a last over flurry and an element of drama added by a no-ball call on a marginal waist high full toss of Stancombe’s bowling. They needed 16 off the last over.

McKeon led the Mandarins to a fine victory on his 100th match against a gracious oppo who have invited us back to their pastures next year. Revenge match perhaps?

Match Summary

Mandarins: 187 for 8 of 40 overs

Baxter: 80* ; Ackland-Snow: 26; Sam Mannion: 3fer


Sutton CC: 184 for 6

Nav Aslam: 35*; Eastaway: 3 for 41; Ackland-Snow: 2 for 28

Rakesh Ramani