Sunday, 8 May 2022

Bad Day for the Bean Counters

Mandarins 134-3 beat HM Treasury & CO 97-5 Chiswick

Thursday 5th May (T20)

It was a bleak enough day already for the Treasury, before anyone even arrived at Chiswick. Interest rates were up, inflation was forecast to hit 10%, the economy to go into recession. At least, the HMT types might have thought on their train from Waterloo, we have a pleasant evening game against those friendly Mandarins to look forward to.


Well, a genuinely Mandarin side, if a little younger on average than some of our oppos might have become used to, had other ideas. It would not be spin worthy of Charlie Whelan to say that we battered them. And the seven former or serving civil servants among us may have taken a small dollop of satisfaction from this too. All of us who have ever had a funding request turned down, a slightly snooty response to go back and provide some more evidence on value for money, or a write-round that has been approved by every department bar the one at Horse Guards Parade, well, forgive of us if we enjoyed it a little bit more than we should.


Indeed, forgive us if those of us who have been on the other side of a Mandarins trouncing a few too many times, didn’t mind being the dominating force just for once. But it is okay to win a game once in a while, even to win well. And, well, if it happens to come against the all-powerful holders of the government purse strings (and don’t they like to let us know it), forgiveness is surely forthcoming.


It seems Rishi Sunak needs a have a few words with his troops about timekeeping too as, unlike Wilmot’s wonders, who, perhaps even more surprisingly, were all largely present and correct by the allotted start time once more, even on a weeknight. However Treasury tardiness (or perhaps Jacob Rees Mogg standing over them with a stopwatch) kept the oppo from arriving on time for a full T20, and the game was reduced to 18 overs-a-side instead.


It probably made little difference in the end, as it turned out to be a walk in St James’ Park. Baxter and Warren (28 retd not out) got us off to a fair flier, before Stancombe (25 not out retired from 15 balls) and debutant Joey Hayle (27 retd not out from an even fewer 11 balls) got the scoreboard going up even faster than the national debt in a lockdown. Matt Brown found some welcome form in accompaniment and Owen Jackson had the perfect platform to play some of his huge heaves across the line (one of which went faster than the RPI in recent weeks). Score predictions were revised more regularly than even the OBR could cope with (Ed: okay Dan, that'll do) and the final tally of 134-3 looked like it must have been double counted across at least two or three spending review periods.

Dare I say we even took the field a little confident that we might defend it? I would if even knew how to recognise such a feeling. So slip was withdrawn just after the first ball flew past him to third man for four, and just before both opening bowlers Heard and debutant number two Sushant Achawal (3-0-20-1) induced edges that would have been pouched by any Mandarin fielder (Webmaster: Hah, hah!), let alone the unrecognisably effective team of groundfielders we had out on this occasion.

But the run rate never threatened to get close to the eights and more that were quickly required, especially as Sushant and Jackson (3-0-24-1) removed the two useful openers rather than us seeing them retire with the potential to return. Stancombe (2-0-7-0) and Hayle (2-0-3-1) kept the scorecard in even firmer control than when JC Gray was in charge of it, just leaving time for Baker and your correspondent (3-0-14-2 if he says so himself, even if he does know when to bring himself on on these occasions), to offer some tempting flight to batters who desperately needed to go after it.

Value for money you say? I'll say it was.

*Author's note: The Treasury guys we play against and I have worked (and played) with are all thoroughly nice chaps. Honestly. Some of my best friends work for the Treasury. Any caricatures of snooty arrogance are entirely of the author's own making for the purposes of jazzing up a match report and bear no resemblance to any real life Treasury civil servants, dead or alive.

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