Sunday, 30 December 2018

Michael Crosse

Jon Porter writes to say with the sad news that Michael died on 10th December.  As some of you were aware, he had been battling myeloma for a number of years but in the last couple had been well enough to come along to spectate at a few of our games. Those of us who were fortunate enough to play with Mike will remember a stylish batsman, an accomplished keeper and someone who smothered their face in zinc cream like an Australian cricketer before it was fashionable to do so!  The funeral will be in Oxford in Saturday 5th Jan - Jon has the details if anyone would like to find out more.

Nick Davidson: I knew Michael as a Department of Trade and Industry economist before he became a Mandarin cricketer.  He was equally calm and congenial in both contexts.  I remember well engaging conversations with him both in the  DTI canteen and the odd long cricket-related car journey.  He is a very sad loss.

Rob Eastaway: Michael was very good company, always thoughtful and curious and with a good sense of humour. He was a good cricketer and I remember being particularly grateful once when he saw off some hostile bowling at Roehampton and saved us lower order batsmen from having to bat. Michael was a lovely guy and I will cherish memories of many convivial chats over a pint.

Tony Hawkhead: A really sad loss. A proper Mandarin spirit.

Tim Baxter: Very sad. Mike was a gentleman and a good cricketer. It was a great pleasure to meet up with him again at the curry a year or so ago.

Chris Baker: Gentleman is a very apt description. I can't recall him ever other than calm and elegant. Very sad.

Andy Heard: I remember Mike as a keen volunteer for any game within striking distance of Oxford, and as Jon says, he was a pretty decent wicketkeeper throughout that time. He also toured Suffolk with us in 2005.  We'd lost touch with him in recent years, so it was a particular pleasure that he was able to make it to the end-of-season curry in 2017.

As far as I can tell, Mike's playing career for Mandarins ended with two matches in 2006; the report he wrote below therefore seems to also have been his final game for us.

Reading University, Sat 16th September 2006

The result of this game can be encapsulated by saying that a young pacey Mandarins attack finished off Reading after their run chase faltered.

On a still grey afternoon with just a hint of autumn in the air Reading invited us to bat. Healey and Mckeon saw off the brisk opening bowlers and took the score to over 50. Healey went on to make a personal fifty with some of his characteristic pulls of anything short. One bowler then had to leave the field with a ricked back, having stopped a fierce return drive from Healey with his foot. Interestingly, Reading had a substitute who, he informed us, had told his wife he was shopping at B&Q, come by to see the game and just happened to have his kit in his car. Chris had to retire himself a short time later, with a pulled leg muscle. Crosse and Tunbridge pushed the score on but it was an aggressive partnership between Jean-Christophe Gray and Chris Evans, both scoring over 20, which took the final score up to the sporting total of 174. J-C rode his luck, being dropped four times, all off the same delivery.

Over a tea of cucumber sandwiches and excellent jam tarts, we pondered whether we could stem the rapid scoring that Reading had achieved last year.

Chris Healey chose an opening attack which blended youth (Matthew Evans) and guile (Andy Heard). Evans bowled with zip, consistently on and outside the off stick while Heard kept the batsmen guessing. The Reading openers took a few chances, survived and started scoring at more than the required rate. Chris then brought on his brother Nick in a change which brought an immediate wicket. Nick will admit it was not his best delivery but the ball turned on its second bounce and the bemused batsman scooped it into the hands of Porter in the covers. The number three scored rapidly but Chris Healey came on to bowl and tempted him into a cut too far and too late and bowled him. With 20 overs left Reading needed about five an over. Their remaining opening bat was going for it until Porter bowled him through the gate. After a few more wickets fell a draw looked the most likely result. Would Reading play out the remaining overs with the only entertainment being the Porter children using the boundary circuit as a velodrome ? No, for Healey had an ace up his sleeve. He brought on Gray and paired him with Matthew Evans returning for a second spell. Both bowled straight and on a good length. A strong hitting batsman swished at an Evans delivery, Crosse caught it behind and the batsman solved the umpire’s uncertainty by walking. Gray took a good caught and bowled and the remaining wickets fell quickly with several overs to spare. Gray finished with 4 wickets for 14 - a satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable game.

Michael Crosse

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