Streatham and Marlborough Midweek XI (171-8) beat the Mandarins (153 all out) by 18 runs
A very much hybrid Mandarins-Heber side (Mandeber? The Handarins? The Mandebees?) took to the field to face a strong but friendly Streatham and Marlborough Midweek XI. Seven of us had donned the whites of Heber at various points down the years and two more had attended the school itself. Whereas five of us were Mandarins debutants. Nonetheless it was under the guise of the Mandarins that we played and, perhaps inevitably, finished a spirited but close second place.
Captain Forman (D) lost the toss but would have fielded anyway, knowing more about his bowling resources than batting. And his bowlers did not let him down. Eastaway (8-2-11-0) was utterly miserly and Forman (H) almost equally tight and very threatening at the other end, finishing with 7-1-25-2. Newcomer Zac Stancombe acquitted himself excellently with speed and good hands in the field and a lively 5-0-13-1. Jay Reeve and Phil Borthwick also picked up a wicket apiece on debut, with Phil also grabbing a steepling catch.
At drinks Streatham only had around 40 runs on the board but a second half acceleration saw them take tea on 171, with Mateem (42) and Satish (22 not out) chancing their arm to give the elder Formen a bit of tap towards the end. And while we were suffering a little bit of an identity crisis, near misses against them both that proved to be ultimately costly were proof that we were definitely still a Mandarins side.
In reply we were a bit of a one-man team once Tunbridge had been given out LBW early on (not a little unluckily as it looked from the scorer's table), but what a one-man team it was. Jules Lowin, having already shown his skill behind the wicket to stump danger man Ettinger for 38, then showed it in front of the wicket too, playing his finest Mandarin innings by a distance with a hard-hit and career-high 50 that gave us a sniff of a win. Olly Wood and Sam Henley got starts but fell victim to a fine 4-7 spell from SMCC's Taz Taper. Eastaway (10) and Stancombe (23) looked like they might get us close but fell victim to young off spinner Dan Hanna (a nephew of Tim Baxter's best man it turns out, which really should qualify him to play for us) taking two in two balls. Forman D saw off the hat-trick ball but then fell victim to a diving slip catch/rash shot outside of off stump, leaving Stan stranded, 21 balls unbowled and all of us wondering if maybe we might just have got there if we had batted the 40 overs.
Maybe we would, maybe we wouldn't. Maybe we were Mandarins, maybe we were Heber. Maybe the 20 Mateem hit after we dropped him was the difference, maybe Streatham were just a little bit better than us. But the sun shone, good cricket was played, a couple of cold beers were sunk and everyone on both teams had a better Wednesday afternoon than they would have done in front of a computer screen on yet another Teams call. Maybe the Mandebees Midweek XI should become a thing.