Saturday, 24 July 2021

Son shines in the sun

Mandarins (123-7) beat Superstars (122 all out) by three wickets

Hot. The Mandarins won against the Superstars. But the main thing to note is that it was hot. Incredibly hot.

There must have been something in the air because Superstars skipper Gigg won the toss. And it was already a bit warm just doing that. Not warm for England or the time of year or even for cricket. But properly, properly hot.

Gigg elected to bat, because it was hot, and definitely a day to bat first and go back and sit in the shade for a while. The pitch was also already very dry and dusty. Because, it really should be said, it was hot.

But the Mandarins had an unusually strong fielding side out. Which was good. Because it was unusually hot. And the Mandarins made some early breakthroughs with Forman (S) effecting a fine run out of Gaught, running to his left, picking up with his right and throwing down the stumps in one movement. In the heat. Eastaway was miserly, not wanting to waste any deliveries in what was always going to have to be a short spell. Because it was hot. And Jackson was fast and threatening. You could even say hot.

It was a day for using many bowlers, because it was hot. And the change bowlers immediately chipped in too. Forman (S) picked up Patwal and Anand for not many, both caught Brockbank at square leg. Ramani got Goel and Forman (H) got Superstars debutant Browne cheaply. Maybe they just didn’t fancy hanging around for too long. Because it was hot. At the other end Warren had dug in for 38 but didn’t look like he was enjoying it very much either. Because, in case you haven’t guessed it, the temperature was well above the seasonal average.

Gigg arrived like a cat on a something tin roof, trying his best to run either himself or George out, before he tired of running in the heat and settled in for a few boundaries and a useful 22. Forman (H) eventually had Warren caught and Forman (D) his rival captain Gigg behind the wicket to Lowin. Baxter and Healey also picked up a wicket each as the workload was shared around and the mercury rose ever higher.

Singh led a wagging of the tail with a dangerous 20 before Stan nicked him off to everyone’s relief (because nobody wanted to stay out there for any more overs) and to complete a fine three-fer in 7.3 overs and 33 degrees. 122 all out felt about a par score on a slow and uneven pitch, even if the atmospherics were anything but par.

A supplied tea was very welcome after the many months without them, but drinks and respite were even more welcome because, did I mention it was hot? Perhaps I did, so I’ll just move on to describing the events of the second innings. But just remember one thing: it was hot.

Harry decided to go hard or go home, which was a good idea in the circumstances. He hit one hard. But then he went home, missing a straight one from Konrad. At the other end Singh put himself in man of the match contention with an epic 13 overs and three wickets. I really want to mention a crucial context for this mammoth effort but have promised not to. So I’ll just say it was an extraordinary physical performance in the conditions. Which were tough. And oppressive. And challenging. Really quite difficult to bowl 13 overs in. Definitely not easy.

At 21-3 the Mandarins were feeling a bit feint and wobbling unsteadily on their feet. But Tunbridge and Healey provided the middle order equivalent of air conditioning, Graeme a calming influence and Chris throwing his bat around like a ceiling fan but chipping in a useful 21. However Duggan's off breaks then put the, err, heat back on, as he picked up Healey and Lowin and then Singh turned it up a notch with a C&B off Forman (D) while the flames of Goel's leggies and Anand's darts licked at the Mandarins wickets but didn't quite catch fire. 

But Ramani at eight was a cold iced drink of an innings, finishing 30 not out. Tunbridge's fan eventually overheated and broke down in the face of the returning Konrad for 38, an innings worth a lot more on any other, colder, day. But Forman son number one Stan was the coolest man in South East London as he saw it over the line with a breezy 9 not out, just as it looked like it might get spicy. 

Another good, close game between these teams, played in good spirit, at a nice ground and in the best traditions of timed and friendly cricket, with all four results possible going into the last few overs. It was just a bit hot.

PS There is a whole 10-part Netflix documentary to be made about the events of the last over with the scores level. Memory suggests there were four dropped catches. Or maybe it was just a fever dream.

Dan Forman

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