Monday 3 June 2024

Mandarins v Brightwell, 2nd June 2024

Brightwell 154 AO, Mandarins 158-6. Mandarins won by 4 wickets. 

The game against Brightwell-cum-Sotwell has always been one of my favourite games of the season. The location is deep in a lovely south Oxfordshire village, the ground is bucolic and beautiful, the oppo are a friendly bunch, and there is in the nearby Red Lion an excellent village pub.

The weather was glorious: warm and sunny. The Mandarins welcomed our nearest recruit, 8-year-old Aadi Kulkarni, of whom more anon. Inevitably, the Mandarin living closest to the ground was late (that's you Professor Heather), but we got the game started at 2.15pm, with Cap’n Hawkins deciding that Brightwell would bat. The pitch, frankly, looked damp, unsurprisingly after the ghastly spring. Following a tight first Eastaway over, The Demon Heard was brought on from the other end. First ball, a high beamer. Welcome to friendly cricket. Second ball (or 1st legit ball) smacked for 4. Third ball another full toss. No run. Fourth ball, yet another full toss, which batter Smith unaccountably hit straight to a fielder. New batter Webber defended ball five. Ball six swung in, pitched on leg stump and then seamed away horribly, hitting the top of off stump. A jaffa. Webber trudged away bemused, Brightwell 6-2 after two. Following a rescue stand of 29 between Hadland and Chandler, wickets again began to fall, despite a number of catches being “missed” by fielders standing 10 yards too close, three wickets falling with the score on 47. The Demon took three, Rob (who bowled beautifully) and Dan took two each. 8-year-old debutant Aadi was brought on. He bowled straight and with real conviction. His figures of 1-7 (clean bowled) were well deserved and could have been even better if we'd not dropped Moore (J). As the 9th wicket fell, Brightwell were perilously poised at 91-9, the ninth wicket falling to Jim of the Mystics. New change bowlers were brought on. Moore (J), making the most of his life and well supported by Windsor, led an attacking recovery, which was rather larger than we'd hoped. When Nikhil finally got a straight one thudding into Windsor’s pads, the 10th wicket partnership had put on 63, which is apparently the highest ever in the club. Not bad after 156 years of history. 154 all out looked like a decent score on a pitch which had offered help, especially to the seamers. Special mention should be made of Bob T, who kept wicket beautifully in difficult, variable bounce, conditions. That excellence was capped by a quick reflex stumping.

The Red Lion-provided tea was delicious, Jim of the Mystics being particularly appreciative of the vegetarian options – although much of his tea was wolfed by one of the local dogs (your own fault, Jim). Cap’n Hawkins, who gave a fine leadership display, asked Chris H and Dan to open, with some of us wondering whether this was going to be a difficult chase. After Dan perished with the score on 11, Kulkarni (N) joined Chris. There followed a top-quality stand of 99, with Nikhil playing beautifully off his legs, and Chris batting as only Chris can. When Nikhil perished for a fine 46, with the score on 110, much of the work had been done. Chris retired shortly afterwards, having reached (yet another) well-made 50. Despite some minor alarums as Hawkhead and Tivey perished cheaply, for 1 and 0, Rob and Aadi (who batted very straight and retired on 1 not out) held the line and, after Aadi’s retirement, Professor Peter arrived to join Rob for an entertaining stand. Although Rob fell shortly before the end, Cap’n Hawkins supported Peter as he continued his aggression, finishing the match with a 4 and huge 6. Special mention must also be made of Jim of the Mystics, umpiring in a remarkable singlet that showed off his impressive 25th wedding anniversary tat. 

Another memorable and enjoyable Brightwell match, well worth my 150-mile round trip. I for one will be back in 2025. 

Sirtone

Monday 27 May 2024

Much Ado About Numbers*

Mandarins  113 for 8 (35 overs)
Charlatans 114 for 8 (30.3 overs)
As always, it’s all about the numbers. With the delightful Greenwich Park cricket ground bathed in unexpected sunshine, Mandarins lose the toss and are asked to bat, despite the opposition still being two players short. 
Skipper Hawkins has some early decisions to make. 
  • Opening batsmen?  Healey and Baxter (Wilmot and Brand both delayed by having to find parking spots). 
  • Should we offer the oppos two fielders? No!  Well, OK, we will, but only for a couple of overs, and both should be aged over 60.  To be fair, that’s the majority of the team.  Hurst & Hawkins do the honours.
  • And finally, who should write the match report?  Yours truly is appointed before a ball has been bowled, an unusual break with convention.
Another week of rain has left a pitch that is a pudding.  The bounce is reliably low, the ball rarely climbing above half stump height.  With tight Charlatan bowling, it takes the skills of a batsman with 9,996 Mandarins runs to his name to be able to repeatedly nurdle the ball to backward point where, astonishingly, there is no fielder.  Make that 10,000+ runs to his name, a record that will surely never be surpassed.
36 for 0 off eleven overs is a solid foundation, but myriad-man Healey (16) is then yorked trying to force the pace. Baxter (16) follows soon after, lofting a drive – right tactic, but picked out the fielder.  Long boundaries and a slow outfield mean that the only way to hit fours is to wait for full tosses.  Alas these are in short supply.  It’s the 25th over before the ball first reaches the boundary (“Is this a record?” wonders our archivist) as Brand and ‘anchor’ Wahaj put on 52 with growing confidence.   101 for 3 with five overs to go, and it’s time to launch the offensive.  An offensive that immediately fizzles.  Brand (23) is lbw to a scudder, top scorer Wahaj (32) is caught, and we limp to an underwhelming 113 for 8.
But on this pitch, maybe 113 is competitive.  We just have to avoid bowling full tosses.  And for the first 17 overs, that’s pretty much what we achieve.  Straight bowling and fine catches from Baxter, Wahaj and Healey (at cow corner) mean that when we break for drinks, the Charlatans innings lies in tatters, at roughly 45 for 6, effectively 45 for 7 because their opening bat had earlier headed to A&E after landing on his shoulder, which meant we wouldn’t be seeing him again.
Alas, whatever is in the drinks damages the Mandarins length radar.  Boundaries begin to flow, and before we know it the target is 40….30…20, with plenty of overs to spare and only one more wicket taken, a catch off Nikhil.  Hawkins makes the bold decision to take the pace off the ball by replacing Wahaj with Baxter.  And despite a first ball full toss (a forgivable loosener) it seems the right choice.  A couple of false shots, a near catch at mid wicket, there is hope.  Charlatans nudge up to 112 for 7 – then Tee is clean bowled for 14.  112 for 8, last man in.  Aman keeps out Baxter.  Then Healey bowls a tight maiden over to Bhuvi.  Still hope.  Baxter to Aman – he pushes a single to mid off.  Could it still be a tie?  Alas no, as Bhuvi (48*) lofts the next one over mid on, and celebrates victory.  A victory that 45 minutes earlier had seemed certain to be ours.
Rob Eastaway  (7-3-8-5)

*that’s enough gratuitous book plugs - Ed 

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Heathers: the story of a legendary tea (and some cricket too)

One of the sad symptoms of long-covid has been the slow death of the classic cricket tea. Happily Brill, a picturesque village in the hills near Oxford, are raging against the dying of the light. But more of that later, the day also involved some cricket.

Mandarin Captains all too often face the sort of challenges that Ben Stokes never faces. Chris McKeon had selected the most eclectic eleven of ten. This included Will and Nathaniel Heather who had never before played a competitive game of cricket, five wicket-keepers and at a push four bowlers. On top of this, and perhaps less surprising, Jonathan was running late stuck in Rochester with car battery issues and then delayed by roadworks on the M2. Happily Brill’s captain, the famously big hitting Andy Parke was very willing to be flexible so we agreed on 35 overs a side with a maximum of 9 overs a bowler and the Mandarins batting first. He stressed that most of his team were in their 40s (most Mandarins were in their 60s) and they had two people playing their first senior game (we had two playing their first ever game) so it should be an even match. (I wasn’t convinced).

Openers Chris H and Shahrukh were told to bat properly, get to 50 and retire. Chris did that in style. Shahrukh chased the first, wide, short ball from a 17 year old opening bowler on debut and chopped on. But both David Williams and Chris M scored decent 20s against very mixed, very slow bowling. After Chris H had retired, the pace dropped a bit but a series of Heather cameos got us to 143. The opposition were highly sceptical of the claim that Nathaniel and Will had never played before after Nathaniel smacked his first ball over extra cover and followed that up with a flashing drive for four while Will steadily accumulated at the other end for 10 not out (as befits a FCDO civil servant). Given a good pitch, Andy “the big show” Parke, two other top league bats and a short boundary on one side it felt 40 or so short.

But then to the tea: home made sponge cake, warm sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, more varieties of sandwiches that you could shake a stick at, brownies, scones with cream and jam, proper mugs of builders etc etc. Andy was in his element (and was spotted after the match slipping back for fourths or fifths).

By now the crowd had gathered outside the village hall and the bar was doing good business. The sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze blowing. Perfect day for cricket even for a Mandarin ten weighed down by carbohydrate, chocolate, cream and pork.

League bats Sweetman and Parke J opened for Brill and were clearly in no mood to hang around but Andy then had Parke J very well caught by Chris M and bowled the Brill number three. But this just brought Parke A to the crease and he started smacking it around as usual. There was some relief when he retired and we got a grip on the run rate during the middle overs courtesy of Shahrukh (who got better over by over) and “Bionic” David Williams bowling for the first time for years after a shoulder re-build. But we made the mistake of taking too many wickets and Parke A returned and that was pretty well that.

We needed to get two of their three good bats out to have a chance but managed only the one. Parke A gave one quarter chance early on to Nathaniel when he hit an Andy full toss full pace at head height to him on the leg-side boundary: “the first time I have had a cricket ball hit to me a game”. Happily Nathaniel took it in his stride. Indeed a big shout out to both younger Heathers for excellent fielding that put most of the rest of us to shame (Will even took a catch). Luckily they didn’t look to their father for guidance. To be fair Prof Heather had taken a decent catch but late on was wandering back to long-off thinking of the lecture he was due to deliver later that evening when he turned and saw that Sweetman had rifled a Healey deliver straight at him. The look of surprise and panic was obvious from the other end of the ground.....

Brill’s scorer reckoned we have been visiting them for at least 55 years. It is certainly one of our oldest fixtures (Chris B can no doubt advise). A proper village game against a great bunch. Hopefully we can get 11 next year if only for the tea (or for the real ale on tap in the bar). But every cloud has a silver lining and Nathaniel and Will’s debut was certainly that. Hopefully we will see them again soon.

John Hawkins

Thursday 16 May 2024

Rye Lane

2024 romantic-ish comedy (of sorts) set in Peckham and starring the Mandarins and Millfields CC

Director: G Tunbridge
Producer: D Forman

Original screenplay by: 11 amateur cricketers finding new ways (or at least new places) to lose every week

“Will it be safe to park my car?” enquired one (to remain anonymous) Mandarin on the late notice news that our game against Millfields had been moved to Peckham Rye. He clearly hadn’t been to the (now very) posh end of Peckham in a while. What he should have been more worried about was the safety of his ankles on some very unkempt grass, the short boundaries on all sides, and the lack of turn offered by an astroturf pitch. Still, same for both teams and beggars can’t be choosers etc, and we were grateful to Vik at Streatham & Marlborough CC who facilitated the use of the pitch after Dulwich Sports Ground let us down. And have we ever had a ground with its own ice cream van in situ before?

As many Mandarins will of course know, the locally set Rye Lane was a very successful 2023 British romantic comedy. According to Wikipedia, the film “received critical acclaim… with praise for the performances, and its direction, style, and originality”. And as any Mandarins who have seen my obvious match report jokes coming a mile off before will of course have already have guessed, our match had very few of those things. There were indeed many critics, but there was little acclaim. The performances received praise in part but will not be troubling the judges when it comes to awards season. Director Tunbridge did his best with the limited source material he had, but style was in short supply, and, as for originality, let’s just say that many of us had seen very similar films before.

After an arranged toss and being put/putting ourselves into field, best actor in a leading role was clearly Wahaj, who bowled with good pace (for 2-32) and significant swing, took an excellent catch in the deep and batted with gusto. Harry (2-28) and Rob (2-36) also bowled new ball spells that were deserving of more and would have got it on a pitch offering any kind of movement off the surface (and did their figures a bit more justice when coming back to bowl to the tail). And it clearly wasn’t a spinner’s pitch but Martin was threatening with his spitty bounce, while Nikhil and I took some tap but at least combined to get rid of their best bat. However Millfields were stuffed full of good batting (“probably the best batting line up we can put out” is always a mixed blessing when relayed in the pub afterwards) and pushed through the 35 overs for a powerful 204-9.

Fuelled by his birthday cake at tea and with memories of his Treasury take-down still fresh, Stan was promoted to open and got us off to a flier with a sparky 26. But Sam Brand got a good one, while Chris McKeon and the skipper succumbed to almost identical looking late-swinging in-duckers to leave us at that point in the story arc when all hope seems lost (but in our case of course actually was). Jules tried to hold things together with a patient 23 and Nikhil and Wahaj had a bit of fun (with Wahaj’s pull/hook behind square the highlight). But that was all she wrote, with the last two wickets going off consecutive balls and suddenly we were all out for 106 with seven overs still out there in the sun. Small consolation was taken from the score having gone over 100 and the margin of defeat having just dipped under it.

So not exactly an original Mandarins storyline, a cliffhanging finale or a sudden unexpected twist. Romance was more to be found beyond the boundary among couples lounging in the finally spring-like weather. As for comedy, well there’s always a bit of that in Mandarins cricket and the outfield provided some slapstick moments. So, while it might not win any awards, worse days have certainly been had. We played a game of cricket in good weather against always pleasant opponents, no one broke an ankle and Martin’s car remained unscathed (and if you really thought he would remain anonymous you should have seen that one coming too). So as the credits rolled and the audience left muttering that they thought it was meant to be a bit more exciting than that, no one actually demanded their money back from the box office.

Millfields (204-9) beat Mandarins (106 all out)

Mandarins CC (play-cricket.com)

image0.jpeg

Dan Forman

Wednesday 8 May 2024

And so to Bucolic Broxbourne...

Mandarins vs Graces Sunday 5 May. Lost by 49 runs

Toss “arranged” on basis that they had fewer players than us at 1.00 – 9 plays 6

Graces 237 for 7 off 40 overs (Earl 102, Healey 2 for 30, Chadwick 2 for 52)), Mandarins 188 all out off 39.4 (Baxter 52, Wahaj 41, Shumail 4 for 18)

And so to bucolic Broxbourne on an actual sunny day. The New River runs through the village green and very close past the Broxbourne CC ground. Now, there are three things you must know about the New River. First it is not new, and second it is not a river. It is instead an aqueduct built in 1613 to supply water to London. When the project failed King James the First took some time off from being King and stepped in to buy half the equity in return for half the profits, so proving himself a role model for Macquarie and Thames Water (who still own it, it supplying 8% of London’s daily requirement). James I nearly drowned in the river in 1622 when his horse pitched him in head first….

I could digress further, but to return to Sunday 5 May 2024, the THIRD thing you must know about the New River is that it is a voracious devourer of cricket balls…..four in all whisked downstream to the treatment works. It would have been six, but Graces batters managed to clear the river entirely with two of their maximums. Graces won that particular game within a game 5-1, only Tim managing to splash one for the Mandies, although Raki in his turn also hit a towering six in the opposite direction, deep into the gloomy and impenetrable woodland behind the unclimbable fence. Wahaj also hit a six for us but memory fails as to where that one went – if into the river, add one to the scores above.

Given last year’s effort when both teams aggregated 153, and a Broxbourne pitch which was pretty slow and occasionally very very low, the batters did well, not least Earl who had scored 0 in his two previous outings. His 1st 50 was correct, his second full of risks, but we couldn’t get him and he retired undefeated. At one point Graces were 186 for 2, but Mandarins stuck at it and collected wickets in the later stages. All our bowlers had their moments, debutant Wahaj working up good pace and away movement, Raki unlucky (how often do we write that?), debutant Nikil doing a passable impression of Dan Forman, Sharukh and Healey chipping in, and debutant leggie Sammy Chadwick showing character to keep plugging away at the end in the face of violent swishing and occasional connecting. Ground fielding was good, but we missed two and a half chances (that counts as half off Wahaj and only one repeat one for Raki, with back to the river, the other, for which he reproaches himself, in fact cleared his leap by several feet). But champagne moment belonged to Sammy, who showed us how with virtually his first touch of the ball, direct hit run out from extra cover.

To put the chase in context, Mandarins have never made so many runs to win a game (Plenty of larger scores but highest successful chase remains 225 for 5 vs Kings School in 2016). The first over was frenetic –  9 deliveries, 12 runs, Wilmot done by a jaffa first ball, and McKeon dropped. Chris settled to contribute a punchy 29, but our chances suffered a major setback when Sharukh pushed to the covers and failed to hear Tim whisper “waiting”. Two of our top hopes out for 0, so up against it, but Tim battled away and Wahaj sustained the momentum with a partnership of 71. Graces fielding was energetic, verging on maniacal, although they too dropped their share. We were within reach at 128 for 3 off 26, 110 needed off 14, but the match turned in the 27th, when the seemingly innocuous Scott got both of them, Tim, visibly tiring, was bowled by a low one, Wahaj aiming for the river once too often failed to clear deep mid-wicket. Healey was still to contribute but he too perished soon, undone by low slow bounce. Although the tail swished gallantly for another 50 or so the rate was unsustainable, and even the token consolation of 200 plus eluded us as Shumail cleaned up.

Nonetheless, thanks to Graces for an excellent “Proper” start to the season at a lovely venue with top notch facilities, and within very easy reach of London by super efficient train. 

Chris Baker

Saturday 4 May 2024

The Season Begins...

Report of Thursday 2 May 2024, Mandarins vs HMT Treasury, T20 at King’s House School

After a soggy spring of cancelled fixtures, the Mandarins finally began their season with a rare T20 match. Our opponents were a combined HM Treasury and Cabinet Office team, which was fitting given former Mandarin greats like Gus O’Donnell and JC Gray made their careers in HMT and our illustrious founder Robin Butler rose to Cabinet Secretary. The match in Chiswick was also played at what was traditionally the civil service sports ground; until the Treasury sold it off to King’s House School during the post-2010 austerity years…

Expectations were low though for the prospects of play, with skies as gloomy as the state of the public finances and a weather forecast as bad as recent economic forecasts. 

In a classic Treasury powerplay reminiscent of how they set Spending Review terms for line departments, HMT “negotiated” that there was no need for a toss as they would bat first; like they did last year when smashing a high score before skittling us out in fading light. 

Undeterred by these inauspicious signs and your correspondent’s delayed arrival via Southwest Trains, the Mandarins fielded a strong mix of youth (well, under 45s, plus Stan…) and experience. This included Hawkhead pilgriming again from Solihull to add to his double century of caps, and Ramani managing to find his way from East London. 

The pitch was greener than HMT’s book for appraising public spending, and Boycott’s keys would certainly have sliced through the moist surface. 

Thankfully given the gloomy light, skipper Dan Foreman had brought a pink ball for the novel pair of Tunbridge and Healey to open the bowling with. Their wicket-to-wicket medium pace seamers brought back fond memories of the Black Caps’ “dibbly dobbly” bowling attack on similarly green decks in New Zealand. 

Healey struck first, bowling the dangerous Bentley for 5. The Mandarins started to fancy their chances of containing HMT, given the lush, slow outfield, long boundaries and surprisingly accurate bowling and sprightly fielding. There were athletic dives among the ring fielders to save singles and speedy sweepers cutting off the boundaries. Remarkably, there were no bobbles in the field by the Mandarins, except the skipper’s thermal headgear… 

The contest was intriguingly poised at 37/1 as the ten over mark approached, with the skilful top-order batsmen starting to stimulate HMT’s run rate through quick running and the occasional boundary. 

First change bowler Ramani was unlucky that the Mandarins couldn’t snaffle some difficult stumping and catching opportunities, as his beautifully flighted off-spinners were beating the batsmen in the air and off the pitch. 

Just as HMT seemed to be getting on top, Baxter memorably produced the match’s turning point with an outstanding catch off Ramani’s bowling. The HMT opener cut powerfully and uppishly in the expectation of a boundary. But he watched in dismay as Baxter at point leapt to his left and grasped the pink ball by the fingertips of his right hand, whilst at full stretch. He then cushioned himself from spilling it while landing. It was such a stunning catch, even amongst Tim’s remarkable collection of stunners in recent seasons, that comparisons were soon made to Jonty Rhodes or Ben Stokes’ blinding takes of yesteryear. The non-striker was also so impressed that he jogged over to shake Tim by the hand in congratulation. Blowers and the Test Match Special team would have unanimously declared this the match’s “champagne moment”.

HMT’s incoming left hander strode confidently to the middle at 53/2. Seeking to regain the momentum in his first few balls, he cleanly middled Rakesh with a lofty swing. He looked destined to get himself off the mark with a six. But his heart sank as he spotted Stan Forman poised on the boundary and watchfully tracking the pink ball’s rapid flight against the low cloud, strong wind and noisy planes descending to land at Heathrow. Steadying himself just inside the rope, Stan confidently took a difficult head height catch and avoided overstepping backwards. 53/3.

Stan was back in the action bowling at pace, but even he couldn’t prevent HMT recovering in the middle overs with some skilful use of their feet resulting in lofted boundaries. 

Dan brought himself on and was soon causing problems on a pitch proving surprisingly dangerous for the spinners. HMT imprudently abandoned their previous orthodoxy and embarked on some Kwasikaze strokeplay. Wickets began to tumble like Britain’s credit rating during the final days of the Truss premiership and Lowin regained his poise with the gloves with two smart stumpings. 

Remarkably, Forman senior took all six of HMT’s final wickets as they were dismissed for 93 after 19 overs.  Dan’s superb 6/15 off four overs were his best ever figures for the Mandarins. They also gave him a four wicket lead over Rakesh in their eagerly anticipated duel to see who would claim the 2024 season bragging rights for most wickets.  

At the interval, the Mandarins were feeling chipper about chasing down the 94 runs required. But it was a subdued start by openers Williams and Baxter against tight bowling, with Williams soon caught for 2 against the tall, wily offspinner. 

In a rare return since he became a dad a couple of years ago, Brockbank took guard. He made a watchful start and started accumulating singles and twos.  

Despite his new gloves, Baxter was soon caught behind for 6 off the medium pace away swinger and walked off in his very old pads. 

 Ever enthusiastically, Brown strode to the wicket and showed positive intent. But he fell early as he chopped onto his stumps when beaten by the turn and bounce from the fine offspinner.  

Perhaps seeking to emulated his beloved Warwickshire Bears’ T20 blast hitting, Hawkhead swiped at his first ball. But his leading edge arced comfortably to point and he trudged off, leaving the Mandarins in some disarray at 16/4.

Brockbank gave the incoming Lowin a pep talk that all was not lost, especially as this Mandarins inclusive batting line-up in fact got stronger in depth as evidenced by Healey at 11. Lowin saw off the hattrick ball and they soon combined to run smartly and starting forming a steady partnership. The scoreboard pressure was beginning to build, although the batsmen couldn’t actually make it out in the gloom.

But Brockbank’s patience was rewarded as he punished some bad balls, such as dispatching a waist high full toss to the midwicket boundary. His pick was sweetly timing a pull shot off an attempted bouncer that invitingly sat up on the slow pitch.  

But just as the Mandarins looked on top again, Brockbank was bowled for 18 by a fine yorker. Entering at 46/5, Stan Forman looked unfazed by the pressure and the deteriorating light. He kept up the swift running and middled some boundaries. 

The Mandarins were pegged back to 58/6, however, when Lowin was caught and bowled for a useful 11. Reassuringly, Tunbridge was next in. But he couldn’t discover his usual silky touch due to the gloom. He was also bothered by a rapid chest high full toss that the umpire failed to call as a no ball. When he was bowled for just 1 and the Mandarins fell to 61/7 with around six overs to go, we were set for a thriller. 

The incoming left-handed Rakesh looked as calm and technically correct as ever though. He partnered smoothly with Stan and their worked the gaps to bring down the required rate to less than a run a ball. 

Thankfully, as our high viz clad scorer Baker assiduously noted, HMT loosely gave away 18 wides and 6 no balls; which proved a self-inflicted stealth tax on their prospects and helpfully inflated the Mandarins total.

Stan cheered the Mandarns faithful with more fine hitting; including against HMT’s female bowler. The Mandarins’ social media feed (Whatsapp, rather than any of that Insta, X or TikTok nonsense…) began to ping with live updates in anticipation of an unlikely win. 

If Wilmot had been around to calculate it for us, the WinViz % would probably have climbed to around the 70% levels of that morning’s BBC forecast for the probability of rain. But while remarkably the rain held off and the target neared, the fading light reminded onlookers of England’s famous run chase in near darkness in Karachi in 2000. 

Like fellow lefty Graham Thorpe in Karachi, Rakesh hit the winning runs and the Mandarins clinched a three-wicket victory was an over to spare. While our Chennai born star would have loved the win to have been against Pakistan too, it was also satisfying to finally win in this inter-civil service contest. 

Overall, it was a fine team performance with plenty of individual highlights, notably from Dan with his club best bowling figures, Stan for his fine all-round performance including 23 runs, and Baxter with his stupendous catch. 

It was a surprisingly enjoyable evening, given the inauspicious early season conditions. Many of the Mandarins savoured a well-earned pint in the clubhouse. Venky and Arvind also raised a glass in congratulations from New York City to toast the Mandarins starting May undefeated. Blimey! Neither the Treasury or us had budgeted for that… 

Jamie Brockbank

Saturday 20 January 2024

MANDARINS AND THE ART OF THE COLLAPSE

When we were defeated by Graces CC last year (all out 70 chasing 83) I speculated that this might have included the worst collapses in Mandarins History. Of course, I need not have overly worried. A quick survey shows that such disasters are so common as barely to require the raising of an eyebrow. But India’s recent 0 for 6?? Can we better that?

First some definitions. Losing two or three wickets together is routine, so I take losing 4 wickets for less than 10 runs as my starting point. Turns out this has happened well over 100 times in Mandarins annals, often twice in the same match. So instead we ask ourselves was the 4 wickets lost for zero runs against Graces the worst? No. (Although obviously it equalled the worst.) We achieved this feat against Peper Harow in 1967 and  Utopers and Begbroke in 1979 then against Great Tew in 1991, and most recently Palm Tree in 2019. We have also lost 4 wickets for 1 run on at least 10 occasions.

Was the 5 wickets for 2 runs against Graces the worst? No. 5 wickets for one run vs Gt Tew in 1980, Weald in 1989, UCS Old Boys in 2013 and Palm Tree 2019 hold that prize, although Graces takes second place alongside Cobham in 1989 and RCDS in 2010. We have lost 5 for 3 a number of times.

Was the 6 wickets lost for 3 runs vs Graces the worst? No, Great Tew 1980 again (6-1), although the Graces performance is now the second worst. So we can’t match India.

Was the 7 wickets lost for 4 runs vs Graces the worst? YES IT WAS. Beating the 7 for 8 on THE DAY OF SHAME vs East Horsley in 2006, and the 7 for 9 inflicted by Mayfield in 1980. We lost 7-11 vs Berkely Taverners in 1982, and 7 for less than 20 on 7 other occasions.

Was the 8 wickets for 11 lost against Graces the worst? YES IT WAS. Beating the 8 for 14 taken by Weald in 1979, and the 8 for 15 taken by Mayfield in 1980.

Was the 9 for 33 vs Graces the worst? NO, because the Grace’s innings also featured 9 (different) wickets for 21 (the double 9 a record of sorts, certainly unprecedented). Was the 9 for 21 the worst? NO! Mayfield 1980 witnessed 9 for 16 and so did THE DAY OF SHAME.

Nor was the 10 for 43 vs Graces the worst. A number of contenders for this one, starting with 33 vs Peper Harow in ’67, via 35 vs Theberton in 1987 and 26 vs East Horsley in 2006. But the winner, once again, is Mayfield on 26 July 1980, reaching a promising 18 without loss, then losing all 10 for 21, to expire for 39.

Chris Baker