Sunday, 12 September 2021

Elstead: A Player Speaks

Mandarins vs Elstead, Monday, 30th August 2021

The traditional Bank Holiday fixture versus Elstead generated plenty of comment on the Mandarins WhatsApp complaining about Elstead’s selection policy, much of it from commentators who weren’t even playing. So in the interests of historical accuracy here is a belated match report. 

First, the team. We were delighted to see Chris McKeon back from his sojourn in Liverpool, and look forward to him playing regularly next season. We were also lucky to have a brace of Porters. Overall it looked a reasonable Mandarins team on paper (though everything is relative). 

Next the toss. Your correspondent (having been asked to captain at the last minute, not for the first time at this fixture) duly lost, but in my defence I did get agreement to a timed game. This was to prove important later. Elstead elected to bat, facing almost 11 Mandarins (Dr Mills was fashionably late – somebody had to be); Andy Heard and Jon Porter opened the bowling. Veterans of the Suffolk tour will be pleased to hear that Andy had remembered his boots (he may even remembered his towel, history does not relate). What he forgot was the club kit. Andy duly took the first wicket in a tidy spell, but Elstead steadily accumulated; Gemma Porter took over from her father and was denied a wicket when Chris Baker, catching the ball at the third attempt at long on, discovered to his chagrin that he had stepped over the line and it was six. In Chris’s defence there was a time when that catch would have counted. McIntyre also bowled tidily, whilst Elstead carried on at a steady rate, with first Lincoln then Ryman retiring on reaching fifty. Mills and Baxter also practised some leg-spin. But the star of the show was Rakesh; brought onto bowl criminally late he bowled 12 overs, 4 maidens, and took six for 27, comfortably the best Mandarins bowling of the season. In amongst his wickets was a fine stumping by Chris McKeon, who kept very well on his return to the Mandarins colours. Elstead’s final total was 233 off no fewer than 46 overs. This felt like quite a lot. 

Undaunted, Baxter and Brand opened the Mandarins response and put on 44 for the first wicket at around 3 an over (unfortunately not much more than half the required rate). Brand then skied a catch, whilst Baxter tried to run a sneaky bye and was run out. Mills, Arvind, Baker and McKeon fell cheaply. Gemma Porter impressed until she too was caught. By this time it was very clear that holding on for the draw was the only option. It was left to Jon Porter and Rakesh to see out the overs, as Elstead bowled every more quickly in a ploy to get more than 20 overs into the last hour. This they did, but to no avail. I of course had total confidence that the iron wall of McIntyre and Heard would prevail, should they be needed. But they weren’t and Mandarins finished at 95-7.

Match drawn. 

Tim Baxter


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