Saturday, 17 April 2021

Season Opener 2021

PH 157 for 8 off 35 overs (2 each for Porter, Baker, McIntyre). Mandarins 137 all out off 33.1 (Healey 30, Williams 27). Lost by 20 runs.

Well, first things first. As I arrived at the ground (air temperature 8 degrees C) Peper Harow were having delivered all their old scorebooks back to 1945. I am hoping we can liaise to recover records for the epic Mandarins appearances there in the 1960 s and 1970s, and shed some light on that shadowy era of mythical heroes.

Anyway, to the present, putting aside all the pre-match hype about the weather, niggles, work "issues", who was and wasn't up for it, the eleven who did turn up actually experienced some decent conditions. It only snowed with a vengeance twice, but not enough to stop play, and only three Mandarins followed the chairman's advice/ dispensation to wear woolly hats like the professionals. Williams's sporting of short sleeves was, however, brief. For the record this was the earliest ever Mandarins game, beating by 6 days the 17 April 1999 fixture.

To be Mandarins Chairman requires a certain presence. Jonathan's response to the mixed weather was to sport a long over coat and silk scarf which many present found reminiscent of that character in the film Withnail And I. The scarf spoke to a fighter ace (JP:"He's just parked his spitfire in the next field."). The strangely elongated woolly hat was straight out of Dr Suess. I have no idea if he won the toss, but we fielded. And pretty well. Except Graeme who kept diving over the ball at cover to stake an early claim for the Mike Pattison Award for 2021. No, actually he fielded very well, as does anyone who takes a catch off me.

Porter made the two early breakthroughs, Healey was threatening but unlucky. McIntyre and Somerville chipped away in the middle overs, and Baker and Tunbridge kept a lid on things as the snow fell. They offered five chances and we took five catches, and missed none, so there is a gauntlet thrown down to all who follow this season. The 34th over was influential and went for 19 (all I am saying after the recent correspondence on the subject is that it wasn't me). So 157 looked a decent knock on a typical early season green wicket.

On paper we batted pretty deep. Unfortunately not just on paper but in reality, they bowled pretty deep. The innings had four phases: the foundation phase. Laid by the watchful Dan Taylor and David Williams after Matt Conway had gone early trying an ambitious pull shot. 37 for one off 11.The hari-kiri phase: Dan will have to explain why he thought there was a run to short extra cover off a wide. Graeme attempted a second off a fine snick and "I am not as fit as I thought I was". Meanwhile, Drew fell off the pavilion steps and turned his ankle, taking a key batter ( new terminology please) out of the equation. 60 for 4 off 16.

The pressing for victory phase: Lusty blows at last from Jules Lowin, Healey and Wilmot, although the latter slowed up by a back injury sustained in a collision with the "batter" whilst keeping wicket. 122 for 5 off 28. 36 needed off 7, five wickets in hand.

You know how this always ends. The final phase, the "death bowling" phase. Messrs Ganzi and Dar were awkward and straight. Five wickets for 17, all clean bowled, and Baker unable to stay with the brave Somerville batting with Paul as runner at number eleven. Still, the consensus was that it was well worth the trip, a close game played in good spirit by all.

Chris Baker (I think the video credit goes to the opposition?)

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