Mandarins v Green Sox, T20, 21 June 2023
Get the No 3 bus from Brixton, he said. Only a 2 minute walk from the Turney Rd stop, he said. Well, he hadn't allowed for a bizarre temporary detour and a bus driver who had clearly graduated from the Dick Dastardly School of Wacky Racers. Wild, Baby. The one compensation was that my adviser, Cap'n Dan, joined the bus en route and had the same, er, fun.
Shaken and more than a little stirred, we reached the surprisingly attractive Dulwich Sports Ground (well, it is Dulwich, right?) just about on time to meet up with our fellow Mandarins. Unusually, there was no Mandaking element which explained why there were 4 ringers, 3 of them first timers. Except they weren't ringers, Cap'n Dan told us. Quite what they therefore were, Dan didn't choose to say except to assert, rightly, that they would always be Mandarins. So, for the sake of posterity, they will be named: the Tintinnabulists, more specifically the Tintinnabulist Mandarins, hitherto to be known as TMs.
And so the match started, a little late, in warm, glorious, even blinding summer sunshine. Mandarins fielded. Zac and TM Geordie opened the bowling. As a Brixton native, Geordie had very wisely shunned the No. 3 bus. Both bowled well, without much luck, on a placid track. The opening pair of Bason and Thomson, and then Formela, pushed the scoring rate rattled along at a greater rate than felt comfortable. And then, with the score at 100-0, and probably to everyone's surprise, a wicket. Basin took a single to Paul's right hand side and impulsively decided to try to turn that into 2. Only for Paul to take aim and hit the wicket with only one stump to aim at. Impressive. At the other end, the Mandarins cause was helped by the pre match agreement for bats to retire at 25. Thomson and Formela hit the ball hard and far and then retired. Bingham was well stumped by TM Dave off the bowling of Cap'n Dan and Grocott departed soon after, bowled by a turning off break from TM Jack. Hitchens also departed quickly, caught by TM Jack off the bowling of Paul (aka "Milks" in the scorebook), who therefore took a central part in 50% of the wickets that Mandarins managed to take. Thereafter, Willcocks and Clarkson kept the score moving to allow Green Sox to close at a healthy 164-4. This felt like a lot of runs to chase, frankly. But Cap'n Dan was optimistic, so why couldn't we be.
Mandarins opening pair were TM Rich and Zac, who both batted well. After putting on 40 odd at a good, untroubled, rate, the only surprise was when TM Rich got himself run out. He offered a possible explanation when he told us that he hadn't fancied the prospect of batting again if retired. Zac was joined by TM Dom, who had a keen and very effective eye for hitting the ball to leg. So effective indeed that he retired ahead of Zac, who was joined by Mr Milks. Zac and Paul again kept the scoring rate within reach until Zac retired. Hawkhead came in and exited quickly after a hara-kiri runout, outlandish even by Mandarins' exacting standards. Enter TM Dave who, with Paul, maintained a manageable chasing rate, before Dave went for 17. Paul survived a close run out call, but survived and went on to retire after a well made 27, hitting his last ball for 4. Chris B came next, apparently under instructions to smash the ball from the off. This he did, but straight to a fielder. A first baller. Cap'n Dan joined Paul briefly before the latter's retirement and was then joined by TM Jack. It would be fair to say that TM Jack did not look quite as good a bat as he did a bowler, but he and Dan somehow contrived to keep the scoring on track. Dan hit a superb lofted straight drive for 4 in the penultimate over just when it was needed. This left 6 required off over number 20. Easy, you say. But things are never that easy with the Mandarins. Somehow, TM Jack was left facing the final ball with the score on 163. All results possible. No run, a loss. 1 run a tie. 2 runs or more, a victory. Much Mandarins trepidation. Utterly needless as it turned out. The bowler bowled, TM Jack swivelled on his hip and smacked the ball beautifully past fine leg. An easy 2 - victory to the Mandarins.
This was a match played in great spirit and it was a pleasure to join Mandarins, Tintinnabulists and Green Soxers for a drink afterwards. Rumour has it that this was Mandarins 6th unbeaten game, including 5 wins. One word, Mandarins and Mandakings. Hubris. Just saying.