Saturday, 28 September 2019

Beastie Hat-Trick Ends Season in Last Ball Shocker

Mandarins 126 for 7 off 25 overs (Tunbridge 30 retired) beat Alton 125 for 8 off 25 overs (Roberts 32 retired, T Green 30 retired, Eastaway 6 for 20) by one run.

"Optimism over ability" was the motto invented by Rob Foot for the Mandarins. The optimistic Mandarins drove distances through lashing rain to join Mike, Wendy, Helen, Jon and Gemma (and James in spirit although he is now striking out at Leeds Beckett) to celebrate Rob's 50th birthday. Optimism was rewarded. First it stopped raining and groundsman Peter was confident that the pretty Bentworth ground would dry quickly. Second there was much conviviality over a superb spread of cakes,sandwiches and fizz, eaten before the game. A toast was drunk to Rob's memory. Thanks from all of us to Wendy and Helen for their hospitality. Third, despite further squalls it became possible to play at 2.30 and a truncated 25 over game was agreed. 14 Mandarins took to the field in white (Southern Vipers may claim you Gemma, but you will always be one of us too) and Jon Day made a very welcome appearance to umpire ( of which more later). A good smattering of spectators included Heard and Mike Pattison.

Mandarins batted. Alton fielded a mixture of 4th, 3rds and 2nds, and the bowling was always challenging on a wicket inevitably a touch damp after the downpour. Baxter and Harry Forman began steadily and ran well but it was a struggle to get the ball away, even the pads were out of touch as Tim found the boundary just once in his 23. Harry was more fluent as befits the youngest ever holder of an all time Mandarins partnership record (quiz question - how many wicket partnership record holders were playing in this game? Bonuses if you name them. A donation from the Archivist to the RFLF for a correct answer - and indeed incorrect ones too). The openers added 49 before Harry fell for 22, but half the innings was gone. Others came and went quickly as the search for "ability" and acceleration stuttered. The spirit of Foot, the Batsman, inhabited only Graeme on this afternoon as he muscled to 30, a cut (actually drives mainly) above those scratching around him. His momentum drove us to a rate of 6 an over in the second half. An expectant crowd was denied the spectacle of Hurst vs the short boundaries, but 125 was defendable.

Mandarins fielded with the luxury of 13 players allowing Cap'n Jon to rotate skilfully those most challenged by bending and throwing. Alton looked the business, but the County players mustered only 6 between them, both snaffled by Eastaway and (Gemma will have to admit) her run out of JWills was straight out of the Mandarin, not Southern Viper, playbook. Alton 8 for 3, Eastaway rested with 3 overs 2 for 2. Stan Forman got in on the act with a commendable spell of 1 for 14 off 4 to make it 27 for 4 in the tenth. Advantage Mandarins, but the Alton middle order picked off all the Mandarin slows and the total advanced to 100 ,with Carpenter going well, before the next wicket fell to a recalled Eastaway. However, that same over went for 10, Alton needing just 17 off two. The recalled Hurst burnished his credentials as the most dropped off bowler of the Mandarins as Tony spilled a steepler at mid wicket before Graeme got both hands to a tough one at deep square but couldn't hold on. 7 off it, and 10 needed off Eastaway's last. "Rhino" as the scorebook calls the batsman was nerveless. The first three balls go for 2, 4, 2 as the Mandarins wheels seem to be coming off. Rob Eastaway has been hit for 18 in 9 balls. Just 2 needed off 3. Would you back him? You bet. Rhino - bowled, Litton - bowled, and now needing 1 to tie, the Jon Day finger goes up for the third time in the innings as Cap'n Green fails to connect and falls lbw to the last. Sensational finish to 2019, move over Lords and Headingley. Mandarins win by one, with an Eastaway hat trick. How Rob F would have loved it. Thanks to Alton CC, Porters, Foots and Peter the groundsman for another magical Mandarin memory.

Addendum: you know that phrase "all results are possible?" In this case they may have been. If you think it's confusing in a World Cup final super over, then consider: OFFICIALLY Mandarins win by one. The cumulative run tally confirms this. But close scrutiny of the batting tally shows 126 - a tie! ( as predicted by Michael Foot some way out). Then, initial scrutiny of the bowling tally showed 127 - an Alton win before the Eastaway hat trick??? No, detailed ball by ball analysis shows the bowling figures actually add to.......126! Still a tie? Let's call it a Mandarin win on 1 fewer wickets lost, so that final lbw was crucial.

Chris Baker

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