Sunday, 13 September 2020

A Lovely Day: Pity About the Result

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Bank of England 3rd XI 195 for 7 (40 overs), Mandarins 112 all out (32.4 overs). Bank won by 83 runs. 

On Mark Carney’s watch as Governor, the cricket match at the Bank’s annual sports day was prohibited (too ‘exclusive’) and soon it was agreed to sell off the sports ground. For some Bank staff, these acts of destruction will be remembered more than his failed experiment in monetary policy (‘forward guidance’) or his passing resemblance to George Clooney. 

Happily, the Bank’s cricket club has survived and is hiring a school ground in Wimbledon for most of its home games. On the way, I passed the end of Bank Lane, which runs down to the former ground. A poignant moment. Many Mandarins have played there, including 44 simultaneously on the occasion of our 30th (?) anniversary. It was the twentieth century when we last played the 3rd XI there: a brief contest, with the Bank dismissed for 70 or so and the Mandarins cantering to a 10 wickets win, courtesy a Mayhew half-century. Tea was taken after the match. The fixture was not renewed. Diplomatic relations were restored two years ago, and two heavy defeats at the hands of the ‘Wednesday XI’ saw the Mandarins relegated back to face the 3rds. 

The new ground, at Oberon Fields, has a fine pavilion, recently refurbished, topped by a handsome clock tower. But, as one of the Bank players admitted, it might be more suitable for rugby than cricket: the pitch was scruffy and worn, the outfield uneven. 

The Bank won the toss and opted to bat, in a 40-overs a side contest. Heard and Stan Forman initially kept the lid on the scoring rate, but the tempo increased as the Mandarins switched to spin. Chave made the breakthrough with two wickets in quick succession. At 74 for 2 off 21 overs, the game was rebalanced. But opener Patel then accelerated, and at 140 for 2, a score of well over 200 looked on the cards. After two overs of dross, McIntyre then picked up three wickets, including Patel for 66, and there were wickets also for Ramani and Stan Forman. But the Bank’s lower order had enough firepower to get them to 195. Plaudits to Lewin and Tivey, who shared wicket-keeping duties, and dealt well with the variable bounce, and (archivist to note) there were no drops, in what was a decent performance in the outfield. 

When Mandarins batted, the ball seemed more responsive to the surface, stopping and popping (was it a different kind of ball?). No batsman looked comfortable except Ramani with 26 and Tunbridge who top-scored with 30 - those fluent drives were not on display: instead, lots of patience and summary dismissal of the bad ball.

At 80 for 9, near-humiliation was on the cards. But Heard and McIntyre put on 32 for the last wicket to earn near-respectability. Heard hit five crunching boundaries in his inimitable style   - some compensation for his luckless bowling spell - but was bowled going for the sixth.  

A beautiful late-summer’s day. Thank you to the Bank. 

Mandarins XI: F Chave, Tunbridge (cap), Lowin, Mills, Manian, Tivey, Ramani, S Forman, D Forman, McIntyre, Heard. 

Paul McIntyre

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Mandarins Invincible No More

Mandarinvincible (sic) No More
Elstead (213-8) bt Mandarins (57 all out) by 156 runs 

“This has to end soon, doesn’t it?” was how Graeme ended our most recent match report, regarding our unprecedented unbeaten run which had threatened to run into September, perhaps a whole season, or at least a year since our last defeat.* 

Reader, it did end. Very soon, and very heavily 

At the hands of our old friend and now foe Patrick Murphy too, who had assembled an all-star side of youth and experience from not just his own but the surrounding villages too, perhaps in awe of the newly mighty Mandarin reputation, which appeared to have preceded us down the A3. After all the recent rain we were at least met by a bit of sunshine and the usual pleasant scene, if also by a slightly unpleasant looking muddy brown pitch. Judging that it might dry out a bit but probably wouldn’t crack up, captain Forman (D) – himself defending a six-game winning streak as skipper – won the toss and inserted, not least because opening bat Brand was one of three of our top six who was not yet in attendance.

And until drinks it was all going quite well. (Although little did we know at this stage that at 60-4 from the first 20 overs, Elstead already had enough runs to win). Andy and Harry’s opening spells were tight, Paul McIntyre (8-1-28-1) settled in very nicely and Stan (10-1-29-3) was exceptional, especially as three of those overs came at the death. But the order in which we received batsmen did not necessarily reflect their ability, as a procession of talented middle order youngsters from the local leagues proceeded to first get on top of and then completely dominate our bowling. On and on they went, past 4 o’clock and then 200 runs. Fielding got a bit raggedy, and the captain began to run out of ideas, until Elstead eventually decided they had enough not too long before it was due to get dark.

From that point victory was always unlikely at best. When our openers fell cheaply, followed by our number 4 for a duck and then 5 and 6 to two in two balls to Murphy himself, victory was probably beyond Ben Stokes batting at both ends. So the final 20 overs were all about survival, with the prize of the unbeaten record still to be played for. Could this at least be our Cardiff 2009? With Stan as Anderson and McIntyre as Monty? 

But even the rearguard action failed to materialise into an exciting finale, as we were all out for 57 with five overs still to be bowled. Due to the survival objective, it wasn’t quite the horror show of a batting performance that the scorecard might suggest. Many of the overs were successfully played out as untroubled maidens. But perhaps the defensive mindset was slightly too defensive too. Jamie (12) had looked comfortable and Harry (14) very fluent for example, but both fell prodding back indecisively to close catchers to balls they would normally have just despatched. Maybe the unbeaten record weighed too heavily on our minds, in the chat at tea and in the captain’s instructions.

Yet if the art of Sunday cricket is to enjoy closely matched games that get everyone involved, best summed up by the maxim that you would rather lose a close one than win too easily, then unbeaten seasons aren’t really the done thing are they? (and it is perhaps a lesson that Elstead could learn about their approach to bank holiday Monday cricket too). Swaggering, dominant, invincible, unplayable just aren’t very Mandarin adjectives. It wouldn’t have sat right would it? Maybe this comprehensive walloping was for the good. Business as usual, what we know best, makes the wins all the sweeter when you also know the taste of defeat. That is what Graeme meant by “this has to end soon” isn’t it?
 
Dan Forman

* for the record we were unbeaten from the 2 September 2019 to 30 August 2020, which, with the leap year, I think makes it 364 days. As John Hawkins noted, there is something quite nicely Mandarin about that.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Hockerill Bowled Over by Mandarins

Mandarins (150-9) beat Hockerill (131 all out)

The last day of the Suffolk tour normally sees a bedraggled, injury-ravaged Mandarins team cobbled together at the last minute with confusion over team selection arrive a few minutes before the scheduled start of the game and somehow put together a semi-respectable performance (you can see where this is going). Despite the Suffolk tour not going ahead this year, little else had changed. At midday it transpired that 13 Mandarins were on their way to Hockerill; Heard was turned back along the M4 but the fact that Chairman Wilmot was not only en route but also on course to make it to a game on time was an occasion not to be missed. So 12 Mandarins showed up though tunnels Blackwall and Rotherhithe meant that four of those arrived after the game had started. Luckily Hockerill are a friendly and accommodating bunch and so were quite happy for the Mandarins to bat first and use all 12 players if required. 

Early on it looked like that might be needed – Lowen and Baxter departed in similar fashion, both looking comfortable before attempting drives on a pitch where the ball wasn’t coming onto the bat and being caught at mid-off. Healey and Somerville stabilised things and looked to reproduce their exploits of the previous year, taking advantage of some generous change bowling to post a partnership of 70 (Healey out attempting to slog) with the run rate up around 5 an over and talk of a score of 180 on the cards. The further change bowlers for Hockerill turned out to be a different proposition, with the run rate slowing considerably as full, straight bowling did for Somerville, Baker and Manian. Tunbridge and Ramani picked things up with some sharp running between the wickets before Ramani ran out Tunbridge (“yes, no, maybe, no, yes” was the sequence of calls I believe). Wilmot looked cultured in moving the score on before Ramani did for him as well, this time cutting out the confusion by calling Wilmot through for a single when the keeper had the ball in his hands. Whilst standing up to the stumps. The scorebook has it down as “run out (?stumped)” which summed it up nicely. On the boundary we were all hoping that Ramani would make it a hat-trick of run outs in only his fifth game for the club – calling Hurst through for the only three of the Mandarins’ innings seemed certain to do the trick but Hurst surprised us all by making it home and the Mandarins posted 150-9 from the allotted 35 overs, which seemed a reasonable score given the slightly tricky wicket.

It was a pleasure to see Hurst open the bowling, twirling and whirling in his first match of the season. Nearly a year without playing had seemingly no effect and he found his groove straight away with only 10 runs going off his 7 overs; no wickets but plenty of ooh-ing and ah-ing from Wilmot behind the stumps as the batsman continued to play and miss. Eastaway at the other end found his range to bowl both openers, though only after a couple of drops of his bowling – one a tricky caught and bowled chance and the other a dolly of a drop from Baxter at mid off who can only still have been having nightmares about his own dismissal. Baxter more than redeemed himself with a tidy spell of bowling to take two wickets (one lbw and one bowled) with McIntyre also on the money, keeping things tight and, having decided that today probably wasn’t going to a strong day in the field for the Mandarins (two more catches went down over the course of the game), took his two wickets bowled as well. Wickets fell at regular intervals but Hockerill threatened a revival with their two best batsmen putting a decent partnership together for the eighth wicket and finding gaps in the field. Ramani broke that partnership with a lovely delivery to bowl a batsman looking well set; his earlier wicket (bowled) was also an important one, dealing with another batsmen that looked like he might score a few runs. Healey came on and promptly wrapped up the innings, with his medium pace doing for numbers 10 and 11 – both bowled, naturally.

After another enjoyable game against a good opposition the unbeaten season continues with the archivist confidently declaring that the Mandarins will have never gone to Elstead on bank holiday Monday unbeaten. This has to end soon, doesn’t it?

Graeme Tunbridge

Monday, 3 August 2020

Foxbury vs Mandarins

Foxbury 150-9, Mandarins 151-7
Mandarins won by 3 wickets

Our third match of the season was against new opponents Foxbury, a Chislehurst team who play friendly Sunday cricket, but only on Saturdays. If they hoped this ploy might confuse our selectors then it backfired because it meant we were able to play the Paul Mills card, more of which anon. 

The match was played at Queen Mary ground which has an immaculate square reminiscent of Vincent Square, but an outfield that suffers from being a rugby practice ground in the winter.  It looked like a batsman's paradise.

Five of us made it to the ground before the scheduled 1pm start, and in the absence of Jonathan Wilmot ('closure of Rochester bridge'), his proxy Graeme Tunbridge lost the toss and we were asked to field.  We had ten players when the game started, including debutants Jules Lowin (not to be confused with spectator David Lowen), and the specialist fine leg fielder Adam Eastaway.

Eastaway Snr and Stan Forman opened with some miserly bowling and the pressure told. In the sixth over of the 40, with the score on just seven, the stodgier of the two openers tapped the ball to Baker at mid-wicket, the impatient non-striker called for a suicidal single and was sent back, and Forman calmly removed the bails.

Eastaway's figures were ruined when the increasingly confident Andrews smashed 14 off an over, heralding a change to spin from both ends, and a change of fortune for the Mandarins.  In the first of two tight spells, Rakesh Ramani (pick of the bowlers with 1-14 off eight) bowled the threatening Andrews, and over the next dozen overs Dan Forman, Mills and Baker were all in the wickets. At 102-7 Foxbury looked unlikely to set a challenging total, but some lusty hitting by Thompson and Wood added important runs, before their partnership was ended by a spectacular overhead catch by Tunbridge at cow corner.  Foxbury's final score of 150 looked a decent but gettable target.

With Arsenal playing the FA Cup final, the Forman duo persuaded Wilmot to shuffle the batting order so they could get away early, and the pair opened together.  We knew they didn't want to hang around for too long, but it was still a surprise when in the second over, Forman senior pulled the ball to long leg and called (well one of Formen called) for a second run as long leg gathered the ball.  Dan was at least a yard short when the keeper smashed the stumps.  [Archivist - when's the last time the first wicket to fall in both innings was a suicidal run out?]

Brockbank, Lowin, Tunbridge soon followed, and when Stan Forman was bowled for a handy 16, Mandarins were at a precarious 37 for 5.  Enter the Saturday superstar Mills to join Chris Baker.  Having seen off the useful opening
bowlers, both batsmen made the most of some indifferent change bowling to pile on the runs with only a couple of scares.  A match-turning partnership of 78 ended when Baker was bowled by the tidy Andrews.  When Rakesh was clean bowled trying to impress his fan club (allegedly) with another expansive drive, he was replaced by Wilmot.  There was some tension in the pavilion - at least for Adam Eastaway who was due in next - when Wilmot was put down by the keeper, but Wilmot and the unbeaten Mills picked off the remaining runs without further drama to see the Mandarins home with three wickets and seven overs to spare.

Rob Eastaway

Monday, 27 July 2020

Things I've missed about Mandarins cricket in the past 10 months

Mandarins (138-8) bt Superstars (137 all out) by two wickets
Dulwich College, 19 July

Winning the toss. And making the blindingly obvious decision to field first on a wet and uncovered wicket to be met with hearty congratulations from my teammates immediate dissent regarding how hard it will be to hold the ball.

Not having 11 players at the allotted start time. So I am only half joking when I say that it will be Josie and Adam Eastaway at first and second slip as their father opens up (luckily Arvind appears just in time but latecomers don't get the luxury of fielding at slip, even when Rob is threatening to find edges with his usual unerring line and length).

Mandarins fielding. Yes, really. Brand and Brockbank both take sharp ones and McKeon (C) is tidy behind the stumps. Dare I say we are actually doing okay in the field? Well, at least until I come onto bowl an overlong spell when singles suddenly seem to start to get stolen and a much easier chance goes down at long off. But even I became bored with my bowling after a while so lapses of concentration are, for now, forgiven.

Fatherly pride. Stan (6-1-17-3) applying the brakes in the middle overs with big wickets as some aggressive Superstars batting threatened to take the game away from us. Harry (6-1-38-3) coming back strongly at the end to clean up the tail having taken a bit of tap in his first spell. So 138 to win with a few overs back in our favour having bowled them out. Gettable on a good enough track, but also definitely not-gettable if we don't play well. Good game.

Baker stats. Tunbridge's 2000th run for the club is roundly and rightly applauded from the boundary, a lovely moment that no one would have known about had it not been for Chris's diligent data analysis. Graeme was a young man when he started of course but now sits in the older half of this side. Befitting of this senior status and the man himself, his 28 runs are deftly judged and worth more than the bare statistics might suggest. He sees off some very accurate seamers and some very useful spin, constructs a controlled 50 partnership with Manian (25), and by the time he departs we are well on our way to our target. Well batted Mr T, well batted.

Finding a new player. Rakesh Ramani (5-0-12-2 and 22*) is very welcome in our club indeed. Especially as he is keen to play as often as he can. That he is a thoroughly nice bloke to boot is also a massive bonus. 

Good spirit. Exemplified by Superstars' Konrad refusing to claim a low catch that no one would have quibbled with had he said he held it.

A tight finish. Not quite all results possible territory but close enough to keep everybody interested to the end. Rakesh and a composed Harry (17) got us almost to the line in a partnership of 33 just as the Superstars sensed a sniff of victory. Rob does the rest and we get there with 10 balls and two wickets to spare.

A shaft of sun to defy the weather pessimists. A pretty ground. A couple of cold beers. Who's playing next week? Don't forget your match fees! Anyone get a photo of the book? God I've missed it. But it's great to be back.

Dan

MANDARINS CRICKET CLUB 2008 SUMMARY

Note on Sources:  Records for 12 games are missing from the scorebook. The Ollie Gardiner career record file does not include this year so no “plausible reconstruction technique” is possible. 11 of the 12 missing games have match reports, which have been followed where precise, and also allow some reasonable estimating. However the averages do not record 31 uncredited appearances, 30 uncredited wickets taken by Mandarins for 1348 runs conceded, nor 626 uncredited runs scored for 50 wickets and 10 not out innings

Overall Results: Played 19, Won 4, Drew 7, Lost 8, Abandoned 8.  (39.5%)  

Heaviest Victories: By 6 wickets vs Cranfield.

Narrowest Victory: By 1 run vs Benenden; by 3 wickets vs Peper Harow and 6D Handley.

Heaviest Defeats: By 108 runs vs Hetaroi; by 9 wickets vs BBC.

Closest Defeats: by 26 runs vs Charlatans; by 4 wickets vs Essex U.

Highest score for: 254 for 4 vs Benenden. Highest score against 253 for 8 vs Benenden.

Lowest score for: 70 vs Hetaroi. Lowest score against Peper Harrow 56.  

Mandarins scored 5 Fifties and one century. Highest score Chris Healey 104*  vs Worlingworth. Mandarins took one five-for, Best Bowling Jeremy Crump 14-1-64-5 vs Nazeing Common. 

Notable Events: At least 48 players turned out, 14 of them just once. Collapses: 28-7 vs BBC, similar vs. Peper Harow (to win by 3 wickets).

Best Recorded Partnerships

1st  70 vs Fram C (Dunmore/Porter)

2nd  57 vs Worlingworth (Healey/Bockbank)

3rd 151 vs Benenden (Healey/Coupar) Club record for 3rd wicket, overtaking the 132 added by Wilmot and Hadley at great Tew on 23 September 1984.           

4th  80 vs Captain Crawford (Pharoah/Tunbridge)

5th   94 vs Fram C (Thomas/Colley)

6th  21* vs Fam C (Colley/Patterson). 

7th  24 vs Nazeing (Bardswell/Eastaway)

8th 28 vs Essex U (Colley/Gardiner)

9th  75 vs Charlatans (Jarvis/Gray). Club record for 9th wicket, overtaking the 67 added by Mayhew and Healey at Easton on 20 August 1989.

10th  No.

Other 50 partnerships: 59 vs Worlingworth (Healey/Lowen).

BATTING AVERAGES

(3 recorded completed Innings)

Note Figures in brackets are approximations using match report data.

                        Played  Innings     N.O.           Runs      HS           Average               100/50

Healey                7            5              0              (254)        104         50.80                     1/1

Colley               10            4              1              112            47          37.33                    

Baxter                 5            3              0              (100)          55         33.33                     0/1

Jarvis                  6            5              2              (89)         (40*)        29.66                    

Dunmore            8            6              0              (146)        (60)         24.33                     0/1

Baker                  9            6              1              (112)          39         22.40

Porter                  6            5              1              70               33        17.50

Brockbank          4            4              1              55               40*      18.33                    

Tunbridge           6            3              0              (51)          (45)        17.00

Patterson             5            5              2              44              24         14.66

Davidson             5            5              0              55             25          11.00

O’Donnell           4            4              1              28             20            9.33

Eastaway             9            3              0              22             19            7.33

Also Batted or appeared more than once (in order of appearance): Pharoah 3-2-0-?41-?35-20.50; McIntyre         8-2-1-3-2*-1.5; Hurst 5-1-0-0-0.00; Heard 7-3-2-22-16*-22.00; Patterson 4-?-?-?; D Williams 3-2-0-29-29-14.50; Lowen 4-2-0-43-27-21.50; Singh 3-1-0-1-1-1; Temple 4-4-?-?-?; J C Gray 8-4-2-?117-34-58.50; Attenborough 2-1-0-42-42-42.00; A McKeon 2-2-0-53-41-26.50; Keayes 2-1-1-18-18*-&&&; C McKeon 2-1-0-0-0-0; Bardswell 3-2-0-2-2-1.00; C Evans 2-2-0-35-33-17.50; Thomas 2-2-0-76-76-38.00; Hoban 2-1-0-1-1-1.00; Hawkhead 3-3-1-5-3-2.50; Gardiner 2-1-0-15-15-15.00; Wilmot 2-2-0-15-10-7.50; Crump 3-2-1-8-8*- 8.00  

One appearance: Matin 2?; L Williams?; Katira 30?; Coupar 75?; Redman ?; Taylor ?; Madzarevic; Baldwin ?; Tawakeley 37*; Fenwick DNB; Neason 1; N Healey 8; Robinson 5.

BOWLING AVERAGES

(Bowled more than once, 10 overs, 1 wicket)

Figures in brackets show additional wickets taken or probably taken, not included in averages

                         Overs    Maidens      Runs      Wickets             Average

McIntyre          11                1                   53           5 (+6)             10.60

Crump              32.3             1                153            9                     17.00

Hurst                 28               2                110             4 (+4)             27.50

Baker                14               0                  83              3                    27.66

Eastaway          25               3                  84               3 (+11)          28.00

Colley              21                3                  74               2 (+2?)          37.00

Heard               18                2                  75               2 (+3)            37.50

Hoban              12                0                  90               2                    45.00

Healey             20                0                 101             1                    101.00

Gardiner          31.3             1                 108             1                    108.00

J C Gray          19                2                   80               0 (+6)

Also bowled: Pharoah ? 1 wicket; Tunbridge 4-0-11-0(+2 wickets?); Keayes 9-4-16-0; Neason 1-0-2-0; Pattison 3-0-25-0; Baldwin 1 wicket; L Williams 1 wicket; Singh 7-0-29-2 (+4 wickets);Dunmore 3-0-11-0; Bardswell 1-0-8-0; Tawakeley 2 wickets; Robinson 2-0-20-0; Porter 7-1-42-1; Patterson 3-0-11-0; Attenborough 3-0-26-2; Lowen 9-0-46-3; Brockbank 2-0-18-0.

Fielding: Mandarins took at least 17 catches and 6 stumpings: Dunmore 2+2 (all at Benenden); Healey 3 stumpings; Temple, Colley 2; McIntyre,Porter, O’Donnell Hoban, Anon, Brockbank, Attenborough, Crump, A McKeon, Jarvis, 1; Thomas 1 stumping.

Chris Baker

Monday, 13 July 2020

Season Begins (Finally!)

Mandarins 155 all out off 39.5 overs ( Baker 55, Pharoah 41, Rakesh 27, Eastaway 4-13) drew with Heber 154 for 9 off 39 (Mills 3-13, Healey 2-22).

Three months late but the 2020 season got off to a scintillating start in glorious weather at the superb Dulwich College setting. We all signed the COVID-19 register, applied the sanitizer, and gave each other the Wuhan elbow. Much discussion of transmission via pads and how to sanitise a pad, especially the Velcro bit. Arvind fell off his bike and was a late withdrawal, but we managed to be 11 thanks to SMCC Colt Ben Snowden stepping into the breach.

Chairman-supremo Jonathan was nearly on time, so vicar-General Healey won the toss and batted. Early progress was slow on a slow wicket against the admirable Phil Borthwick and the miserly Eastaway. The latter took the first four, Mills unlucky to middle it to mid wicket, Baxter definitely / marginally / debatably LBW (delete as applicable), Tunbridge and McKeon falling to the out-swinger  to close catches the Mandarins would not have taken. 32 for 4, innings in the balance against a Heber attack and fielding looking anything but 9 months rusty. Eastaway comes off. Robin starts middling it, Baker muddles it  using a broken bat that has spent the last 25 years in a shed ( but I did smack Eastaway back over his head, verrrry satisfying.....).

A 64 run partnership for the 5th wicket ends with an egregious failure of social distancing by Heber as Robin hit the ball straight into the air and bowler Rob Elias gouges out the eyes of Keeper Jules in a shuddering collision mid pitch. The catch is, amazingly, held, Jules has running repairs and continues. Robin's momentum is continued by d├ębutante Rakesh Ramani. Delicate declaration decision for Chairman-now Captain in Chief Wilmot avoided by a sudden late order subsidence. We reckon it is a par score.

Paul Mills challenges the archivist. When is the last time the top 6 in the batting have been right handed and the last 5 left handed? I won't bother to check, I'll stick my neck out and say it is a first.

Robin is quick but wicket less, Ben much quicker. Healey in swing mode is niggardly and makes the two early breakthroughs. Jules looks briefly as if he will win it in boundaries and is agonisingly dropped by McKeon at mid wicket as the ball bobbles off every conceivable part of his anatomy. But shortly he repeats the shot off Ben and Baker clings on. McIntrye lures oppo. skipper, Olly, but Dan and Ed Faulkner progress steadily to 107 for 4. 49 needed of 12 overs, advantage Heber. But, having taken a number of outrageous singles to creaky Mandarins, Dan takes on Ben who is far too quick for him. The run out is followed by another wicket for the tidy Rakesh,and it is 107 for 6, advantage Mandarins.

I have had occasion before to remark on the sang-froid, hidden depths and impenetrable sense of destiny exuded by Puppet-master Wilmot. He now plays his master ploy: a double leg spin finish, Mills and Baxter. And the final 8 overs unfold like a script. 39 needed, 4 wickets. Mills temps, Ed swings, Graeme makes good ground at deep mid-wicket. OUT. Johnny Hill and Johnny P keep swinging. 142 for 7, 14 needed off 3. Hill swings, Jonathan utters a cry of surprise as he realises he may have misjudged at deep mid- wicket, he back peddles, he clings on above his head. Extraordinary. 9 needed off 2. Wilmot's next ploy: Baxter is axed, Healey returns. One run is conceded off the penultimate over. 8 needed to win off the last bowled by the nerveless Mills. Single off the first, Eastaway facing. A glorious extra cover drive for 4. Three needed off 4. Dot. One. OUT. A second catch for Jonathan. Final ball, two needed, all four results possible. Mills bowls a wide one . Very wide. Not actually a wide, you understand, it being a timed game.... Umpire Nick Davidson remains imperturbable in the face of suggestions... It is a wonderful, wacky, wizardly finish. Draw. Worth the wait.

Chris Baker