Friday 12 August 2022

From Inauspicious Beginnings …

Mandarins vs Goldleaf CC: Dulwich sports club 7/8/22 

From inauspicious beginnings  …

So to Dulwich from the corners of the earth (well the Gulf and the Scottish islands – see below) to play short notice oppo Goldleaf in a balmy 27 degrees. Another record for the archivist: the first oppo to start off as a darts team?

Dan had found Goldleaf by putting out a web appeal for a ‘weak to medium strength’ friendly club. So there were muttered comments when Rob took himself off after going for 8 boundaries from 3 perfectly respectable overs. And although Satish and Zac slowed the scoring to something north of  60 for 0 off 10 overs, it was not looking good (compounded by late arrival Matt – having completed a 45 minute circumnavigation of Dulwich with his long suffering girlfriend in search of the pitch - going off injured, his hangover from the previous night’s mess ball exacerbated by taking a firm drive on the point of his knee.)

We then dropped two catches, both off Zac. Jarvis in the slips had obviously failed to acclimatise to the change from 45 degree heat in the gulf (change in temperature changes the ball trajectory), from whence he had jetted in the day before. And your correspondent had similarly struggled with the transition from 16 degrees on Mull (though the  interval training between deep fine leg and deep backward square at the end of each over had also taken its toll).

Cometh the hour, cometh the Chairman. With diplomatic skills worthy of David Brent he moved me from deep backward square to point ‘to save me from so much running’ putting Dan Taylor in my place. It would have been nice to have been told this before I had arrived at deep backward square! Two balls later the same Dan T took a fine running catch, which I wouldn’t have got close to, and the come back was on. 

Satish promptly removed the other opener lbw, and then two wickets fell quickly. 15 year old son was about to be given not out to a Satish strangle when he shouted, ‘its OK, it only hit my glove’. Dad then followed bowled by Zac off a bottom edge when the ball was going over: not their family’s day (see below for the younger sister). We started taking our chances, Matt returning to the field with a juggle at fly slip, and Rakesh taking a c and b steepler when he was the furthest of 3 mandarins from the ball and a pile up looked all but inevitable. Even I caught one. Dan F bowled 10 consecutive dot balls, the batsmen having never seen anything that slow.

Two well deserved wickets each to DanF and Rakesh, and although there was some hard hitting the final score of 180 for 8 dec looked about par on a reasonable pitch with a quick outfield and short straight boundaries. And well below the 300-1 we had been fearing. The excellent tea tasted all the better for that.

The Mandarins innings opened surprisingly calmly. Jarvis, acclimatisation complete and jet lag receding, took part in his second opening 50 stand of the season, before he (25) and Dan  T (19) departed having seen off the pacy openers and hit some lusty blows.   Zac and Satish took advantage of early drops to accelerate, Zac’s 67 – which saw him covered in dust and with an elbow doubly lacerated from a dive in the field and another to make his ground – was the innings of the day with some big hits.

Not even a vigorous debate in the field about whether a ball hitting an allegedly overhanging branch of  a tree planted outside the rope on the full was a 4 or a 6 – with Canterbury being mistakenly quoted in support of the 4 – could halt the progression. When Satish (31) and Zac fell we staged a mini collapse, but Arvind’s failure to emulate his early season golden ducks and Matt’s unexpected winning hit with a drive over extra cover (he didn’t know he had it in him, as testified by a fine victory dance!) let to victory by 5 wickets with a couple of overs to go.

The report would not be complete without tribute to a friendly oppo and some good banter over Zac’s jug. Finally, a shout out to the oppo’s number 11, younger sister/daughter from the aforementioned family, who faithfully jogged from deep fine leg to deep fine leg at the end of each over clad all in black, and with the temperature by then touching 30 – an increase in pocket money, or these days some extra mobile data, seems in order.

Martin Hurst

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