Sunday, 31 July 2022

Closely Matched and Close Together

Mandarins lost to Heber Nomads by three wickets - 10 July 2022

Mandarins beat Streatham and Marlborough CC Midweek XI by 24 runs - 13 July 2022

Two Dulwich fixtures, two lovely grounds, two tight games, two debutantes and two different results. Quirks of the fixture list also meant that our only two games in an otherwise six-week window were also only a couple of days apart. A brief rainfall of friendly cricket amid the drought, you might say. And both were certainly hot enough days to necessitate two drinks breaks amid each 35-over innings.

Winning the toss and batting first against Heber at Dulwich Prep, skipper Eastaway's side were reliant on a brutal and brutally effective innings from the sadly lesser-spotted Robin Pharoah. His 86 contained 14 boundaries, five of which were sixes. Which was a good job, as he wasn't very interested in running many, despite bravely batting in a smart watch in order to track his step count. But also a good job because he didn't get much other support in our 172-9 - despite Arvind finally escaping from his run of golden ducks - other than from Ramani's 22 and a highly entertaining and encouraging debut from his young son Sonny (who scored a run to match each of his 10 years). Entertaining both for Sonny's ambitious shot selection (a reverse sweep being a particular highlight) and his even more ambitious attempts to encourage his father into taking on a few more singles. Encouraging in that Sonny's enjoyment of the day might mean we see a bit more of both father and son in future months and years.

Unfortunately for us the Heber Nomads had an even more brutally effective opener of their own. Alex Frankpitt's 92 containing 17 boundaries, six of which were sixes. That brought little respite for any of the bowlers, brought his opening partner and sometime Mandarin Sam Brand ample time to eventually escape his own run of ducks, and brought the target of 173 well within reach by the time he was eventually caught in the deep. At that stage the time format meant our best chance was going to be taking all 10 wickets, and for a while the pressure was on and more Mandarin men and boys were gathering around the Heber bats. But Borthwick (34*) and Smith were impervious to the pressure and saw it home with a handful of balls and three wickets to spare.

Three days later we were back on a different but equally charming Dulwich field to take on the Streatham and Marlborough Midweek XI. Once more there were some familiar faces on the opposition, including our own Owen Jackson, and a debutant on our side, in the form of Satish Parthasarathy (slightly older than Sonny but equally talented, just as nice and, most importantly, keen to play more for us in the future). Stand in skipper Tunbridge won the toss and wisely elected to bat, while your correspondent and supposed captain WhatsApp'd an order from his Uber, which probably isn't a sentence that made many Mandarins match reports in previous generations. Speaking of which, it was also nice to have the lesser-spotted Jeremy Jarvis (27 - runs that is, not years) back at the crease, and he and Baxter (33) were diligent in seeing off the new ball and taking us past 50 for the first wicket. Arvind, Stan, Rob and Harry chipped in and Satish added 31* more, taking us to a perhaps bang on par 176-7 from our 35.

After what was possibly too good a tea (if such a thing can exist) in which second helpings were impossible to resist but energy in the field then even harder to summon, Eastaway nonetheless removed the Streatham openers and the younger Formen chipped away at the middle order. They were never far behind the required run rate though and had Haris (41*) had a partner stay with him until the death it might have got squeaky. But a couple of run outs, and a couple of wickets from Satish (who joined the wicket in his first over for the club club, if not the first ball for the club club) kept us on top, before Baxter finished it off with his first and only ball of the match.

Two good oppos, good games, two very similar scores, two different outcomes. But one satisfied feeling of having got a good bit of Mandarins cricket in in good company.

Dan Forman

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