Wednesday 19 July 2023

Hazball at SMCC

Mandarins vs Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club, Wednesday 12 July

There were a number of questions in the air as the Mandarins ventured to the traditional territory of Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club. Would Jules have found 11 players? Could we get back to our winning ways? Would the rain hold off? And would Johnny Extras once again be a star player? [SPOILER ALERT] The answers were yes, yes, yes and yes. 

First of all, the time-honoured ritual of selecting the captain. Step forward Harry Forman to initiate us into the delights of Hazball. Older Mandarins were intrigued to see how his captaincy would differ from his father’s approach – more of that anon. Harry duly won the toss and batted, Chris Baker and Alex Frankpitt opening. The latter unleashed some gorgeous drives. Once Baker had been well taken at slip your correspondent arrived at the crease, slightly nervous lest a misdirected ball hit a still convalescing thumb. SMCC did have one opening bowler of some pace, but the odd wild delivery meant that Extras, our reliable friend, mounted steadily. Having scored a stylish 25 Frankpitt departed caught at mid-off. Lowin arrived and he and Baxter proceeded to put on 62 against a varied SMCC attack. Jules was eventually bowled for 25, replaced by Chris Healey, who was in fine form (even better form than Extras). Baxter missed a straight one on 42, but Mills came in to provide his usual mix of controlled (?) aggression and the odd defensive shot and finished 31*. Chris was out just before the end of the Mandarins innings for a fine 55, allowing Olly Wood to make a brief cameo. Johnny Extras contributed a weighty 52. 233-5 felt like an eminently defensible total, though we were conscious that it remained a good pitch.

After another excellent SMCC tea we took the field, with Harry Forman and Giordy Diangienda opening. Both bowled well, Harry in particular beating the bat regularly (including 5 out of 6 in one over). But the SMCC openers made rapid progress, Henley in particular playing some fine shots. Owen Jackson, star outfitter to the Mandarins, and Hurst replaced the openers; Owen eventually bowled one opener, but by drinks SMCC were 123-1 and comfortably placed it seemed to complete the run chase, with Henley hitting the ball to all corners and the (very) young No 3 Harland looking all too comfortable. Older Mandarins were worried: would this end up as an embarrassing 9 wicket loss, having scored over 230? But Hazball knows no fear. Harry brought Healey on at one end and persevered with Jackson. Both decisions were amply repaid when Owen bowled Henley for 78 and Chris persuaded Harland to top-edge to Jules behind the stumps. Once Owen had completed his spell Hurst was reintroduced into the attack. Having got 0-30 off his first 4 overs Martin proceeded to work his magic and took 5-9 off in his second spell, aided by good Mandarins catching; clearly the change of end helped. The highlight was an over when Malik the SMCC captain utilised reverse sweeps and ramps against the fiendish Hurst, all to no avail, until trying a traditional off-drive he was caught by Paul Mills. Harry brought Olly Wood into the attack and another SMCC batman fell. SMCC had reached 200-9 when Giordy won an LBW decision and the Mandarins duly won by 33 runs. An excellent game, played in a great spirit. 

So how does Forman fils compare to his father in captaincy? An understated captain, but as someone once said, he got the big calls right (and pretty much all of the little ones as well).

Get the match-card here.

Tim Baxter

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