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?