Sunday, 20 June 2021

New Fixture at Taplow - Report

 After a couple of cancelled matches, June finally brought good weather and a new Mandarins fixture against Taplow Cricket Club in Buckinghamshire. This was the third attempt to fulfill the fixture; COVID and the Cricket World Cup intervening in the previous two years. With the promise of the seasons first outdoor tea, an intrepid Mandarins team trekked outside of the M25.

Match manager Somerville committed the first 'grave social blunder' of the day by turning up in the colours of the opposition; his split loyalties evident as Taplow Director of Cricket (with subtext that he is still waiting for a Mandarin cap after 8 years play). Having won the toss, and seen the scratch team Taplow had assembled from all quarters of the shire, Mandarins duly chose to bowl.

Heard was immediately in the action with his third ball: bowling Taplow's professional footballer (name and team withheld so his manager doesn't find out he was playing cricket). Despite steady bowling at both ends by Heard and Eastaway, Taplow steadily built their innings. It took an inspired one-handed catch in the slips by Hawkins, off the bowling of Ramani, to break the partnership. Ramani quickly nabbed his 2nd wicket and by the time Hurst had bamboozled the batsmen with his wrong-un, Taplow were teetering on 139 for 4. Unfortunately, what followed was an exhibition in boundary hitting as over 100 runs were plundered off the Mandarin bowlers. Final score 245 for 4 off 38 overs with three batsmen scoring 50's.

Following a splendid tea, the Mandarins set about their innings with gusto. After Somerville departed cheaply there were murmurings that the Mandarins were playing against 12 men. As penance, the match manager positioned himself by the bar to take the drinks orders of thirsty batsmen at the fall of each wicket. Wilmot and Baxter kept the bar quiet as they steadily accumulated runs over the next 15 overs. Wendelborn's debut as the Mandarins overseas player at number 4 was eventful; a rumour that he was a member of the touring NZ party was quickly dispelled but he scored a lusty 18 runs in true Mandarins fashion. After Manian was bowled by a mystery leg-spinner - the mystery being how many balls would land on the strip - the Mandarins inning was steadied by an excellent half-century partnership by Ramani and Hawkins. The introduction of Taplow's opening batsmen to bowl innocuous tweakers heralded a Mandarinesque collapse as Barton struck 4 times for 5 runs scored. Despite the determined defense of McIntyre, the team fell 7 overs shy of the 48 over target to save the match. Final score 139 out. Highest scorer was extras with 43.

Our thanks to Taplow for their generous bowling, their kind hospitality and playing a timed match in the true spirit of village cricket. PS. I promise to influence the batting line-up in Mandarins favour next year.

Drew Somerville

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