Monday, 1 July 2019

Mandarins Run-chase Falls Just Short at North Enfield

North Enfield (224 for 7) Beat Mandarins (217 All Out) by 7 runs

North Enfield’s ground looked a perfect midsummer’s picture on Sunday, the ancient oak just inside the top boundary particularly majestic.  Ten Mandarins took the field at 1.30 despite the usual delays on the M25.  They included two players making their second appearance for us - James Hewlett, who debuted at HMT earlier this month, and Chris Morgan, who last played for us on tour 28 years ago.  The eleventh man, who appeared at 2.30, shall remain nameless: regular readers will correctly guess his identity. 

North Enfield batted first.  Hurst was as threatening as ever on a slightly faster pitch than we’ve seen before at this venue.  Somerville gave a very passable impersonation of a regular opening bowler at the other end.  The North Enfield openers steadily accumulated 71 before Cooke, these days an off-spinner, took a catch off perhaps the worst ball he bowled, provoking a characteristic Mandarins discussion of the correct interpretation of the no ball law as it relates to high full tosses. 

At one point the opposition, powered by an impressive 92 from Jones, representing the middle of three generations of Joneses on the field, looked likely to get close to 250 from their 40 overs.  But Captain Baxter used his somewhat limited bowling options well, both he and Baker taking wickets.  Two wickets from a returning Hurst (8 overs, 2 maidens, 2 for 20 – curiously enough the only bowling analysis recorded in the score book) slowed the rate in the last few overs.  224 looked very challenging, but with an exploitable slope down to the bottom boundary, just about within the bounds of possibility
Opening the batting, Baxter scored freely off Miss Jones, representing the junior generation of the family, but Devenport at the other end proved trickier, some combination of guile, flight and no obvious lateral deviation removing Hewlett, Somerville and Wilmot in quick succession; at one point he had three maidens, two wickets for no runs.  To complete the top-order rout, Baxter then decided to call a quick single from the non-striker’s end as Davidson nudged one gently to mid-wicket, perhaps reasoning that his partner would be safe unless the fielder managed a direct hit.  Result: direct hit: out.

But it’s never over till it’s over.  Cooke and Warren put on 112 for the sixth wicket through a combination of faster running than any seen from the Mandarins in many a year, fine stroke play and some lusty hitting, including three sixes from Cooke.  North Enfield eventually brought on Sanders, by some way the fastest bowler of the day.  He made short work of Baker and Hurst, the latter bowled second ball after having backed so far to leg the previous delivery that what would have been a wide had he stayed put instead passed runlessly between bat and pad.  David Williams skillfully kept the momentum going almost to the end, with ten off the penultimate over, until, with two balls to go, Morgan fell to another fast straight one from Sanders.
So no Mandarins should-have-been-a-draw conversations this time.  The result properly reflected the balance of an excellent, genuinely exciting game, played in the best of spirits throughout.      
Nick Davidson

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