Weekend of Rescue
Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR): First, it was Dan to the rescue who salvaged the fixture by quickly managing to identify an alternate opposition after a last minute pull out by the original opponents - Hobgoblin Nomads. Secondly, Tim Baxter carried his bat through the 40 overs with an 80 after a miserable middle order collapse. Thirdly, Dan’s god brother (?) Ben closed out the game with a terrific late 3 over burst to compliment his initial 5 over miserly spell to close out the match for us.
On a partly cloudy but extremely windy afternoon the Mandarins and Sutton CC converged on the Hollies pitch at the far end of the Dulwich Sports Ground. Captain Chris McKeon playing his 100th match for Mandarins stepped up to lead us and promptly decided to bat after winning the toss. Chris’s partner Sian brought with her a coterie of fans for Chris’s big occasion and neatly set up a picnic just over the cow corner boundary with bubblies and food at the ready.
I’m not sure if that tempted opener Wilmot to return back to the pavilion quickly he was caught behind for 1. Meanwhile Baxter showed no effects of his recently healed thumb injury and was happily motoring along particularly favouring the point and third man region. Dan Taylor joined him and looked assured before being bowled for 9 runs by the portly off spinner who was pretty accurate in line and length. Taylor saw the funny side while he walked off and remarked that he was coached to get near to the pitch off the ball but this time around he chose to position himself at the pitch of the ball which was not a great idea. The middle collapse was well on the way as Stancombe was out LBW for 1, Ramani gone for 0 caught at cover off a full toss after being highly recommended by Healey to bat up the order. But Captain Chris McKeon strode in to huge cheers from his fans and proceeded to put together a 47 run partnership with the unflappable Baxter. Some trademark punches and aggressive running between the wickets helped us stabilise ourselves before McKeon was out caught and bowled by the offspinner.
Both teams took drinks at this junction with the Mandarins at 93 for 5, Healey kept alive the left handers union batting strike by getting out for 0 just like his predecessor, clean bowled by a ball that beat his outside edge and cluttered onto his off stump as he tried to flick one on to the legside. Debutante Ben Ackland-Snow walked in at #8 to the complete ignorance of the Mandarins that he is actually as good as good as the Kiwi – Ben Stokes 😊. Our Ben is a towering figure and there was debate on the sidelines about who could be the tallest Mandarin. Soon the chatter turned into cheers as we saw the ball being plundered to all parts of the ground. Ackland-Snow beautifully struck the ball, stood his ground stoically when called upon by Baxter to go on his dangerous excursions and the shot of the match was the lofted one-bounce boundary over cover. The duo added 61 runs before Ben was out bowled for 26. We were 155 for 7 when Hawkins walked in and Sutton CC crowded his bat with attacking fields but the silverfox was wily enough to find the gaps and managed to squeeze one past third man for a boundary as well. He was bounced out (you read that right!) for 7 when we were 173. Eastaway and Baxter closed out the 40 overs with some quick runs towards the end. Mandarins finished with 187 – Baxter 80* and Eastaway 12*
Eastaway and Stancombe restarted proceedings post tea and were on the money from the start. Eastaway was particularly difficult to bat against with the odd ball raising from length and some cutting in sharply as well. Stancombe’s radar started malfunctioning a little bit in his 3rd and 4th over of his spell with some boundary balls on offer to the batters and they duly obliged. But Eastway struck thrice in his 8 over marathon spell making sure the run rate was under control – he got the opener Manish caught by Healey at gully for 26, the other opener Junaid was bowled of a beautiful late outswinger that kissed the bails. The batter stood his ground (rightly so) since both umpires were unsure but was kind enough to agree with the unanimous appeal of the fielders, the left handed #3 batter – Sarmad looked dangerous unleashing a series of powerful pull shots but was dislodged by a Baxter one handed classic at square leg of Eastaway’s bowling attempting one pull shot too many. That catch swung the match slightly in our favour. Ackland-Snow and Ramani went on to apply the squeeze but with not much joy before the former finally managed to get through the defences of #4 batter Phani. He was also returning the bouncers that Sutton bowled which Hawkins had to cop while he was batting. A young and wristy Nethan stepped in but was soon caught at short midwicket by Baxter trying to flick Ackland-Snow and this dismissal ought to have taught the young man to adapt his technique to these English pitches that aren’t the most conducive to play such shots early on. Sutton’s skipper and chief off spinner walked in but the required run rate proved to be a bit too high with Healey & Ackland-Snow closing out the match safely (although it didn’t feel that way when the match was on). Sutton finished with 184 after a last over flurry and an element of drama added by a no-ball call on a marginal waist high full toss of Stancombe’s bowling. They needed 16 off the last over.
McKeon led the Mandarins to a fine victory on his 100th match against a gracious oppo who have invited us back to their pastures next year. Revenge match perhaps?
Mandarins: 187 for 8 of 40 overs
Baxter: 80* ; Ackland-Snow: 26; Sam Mannion: 3fer
Sutton CC: 184 for 6
Nav Aslam: 35*; Eastaway: 3 for 41; Ackland-Snow: 2 for 28