After an impressive series of performances including wins over classy outfits such as North Enfield and Banstead surely the 2023 Mandarins would have no trouble brushing aside an ad-hoc group of primary school parents from South London? Unfortunately we did. Just as the Australians are proving to be the Kryptonite to Bazball so Heber were able to blunt the power of Rakball (though to be fair our cause wasn’t helped by the absence of Raki and his fellow Chennai Super Mandakings).
Skipper Rob lost the toss and we were inserted by occasional Mandarin Dan Taylor. Rob had a target of 200 in his head and we made a decent start with Graeme and Jonathan putting on 50 for the first wicket, both looking in decent touch. The rest of the middle order contributed. A further 50 partnership between your correspondent and Chris Healey, rather mirroring the Stokes/Broad partnership that was happening concurrently at Headingly with Chris inevitably very much the Stokes figure, took us close to Rob’s target at 197 for 9 when the skipper declared. The innings rather drifted to a close after Chris was given out LBW by the implacable J Wilmot despite maintaining there was a clear element of bat involved. At least Chris now has an average (of around 180....) Perhaps minds were on Headingly rather than Dulwich. Certainly that was the case with umpire Graeme who appeared to be watching the game live while officiating. None of the Heber bowlers (most of whom seemed to be called John/Jon/Johnny) were unplayable but the pitch offered turn and some irregular bounce. The bowlers were, however, excellent at loud if very optimistic LBW appeals notably “Aussie” John who was advised by his teammates that he might have a better chance of success given events at Lords if he appealed in an English accent.
We know that Heber have some good bats, not least as most of them have guested for the Mandarins at some point. So it was unsurprising that they made a good start with the classy Alex Frankpitt in excellent touch before playing onto Zac. Rob was back bowling as we expect of him but had no luck. All of the Heber top order made runs and they were always up with the rate with the left-handed opener scoring what was apparently his first ever 50, which also involved the already reported impressive feat of breaking his bat in two with the bottom end flying off and impaling the pitch (not a great advert for the “Village Cricket” brand should anyone be tempted...). The pitch seemed to flatten out a bit and even Martin who has been in such good form this season couldn’t make the breakthrough we needed until Rob Elias eventually hoisted one to long-off that was brilliantly taken by Louis. Indeed overall the fielding was pretty sharp with at best one or two very tough chances. Zac was in particularly fine form and even Martin made a couple of excellent stops (rather surprising himself) The dismissal of Rob brought in “leg side” Dan Taylor who as Heber’s skipper on the day was clearly in no mood to take the foot of the pedal. The batsmen began to take rather a fancy to our Dan’s bowling. Chris slowed up things a little and as a last throw of the dice, Rob brought himself back and to Dan T’s clear irritation got his fellow skipper caught and bowled (it wasn’t quite clear why Dan T was so wound up but it appeared to involve the shame of being dismissed by someone who lives in the same street as him). The run rate was now down to 4 an over. Another Heberin or Manber, Jules arrived at the crease to face the returning Zac. He was reminded that as he usually scores 0 or 50 and as there wasn’t time for him to get a half-century, the crowd expected a duck. But it wasn’t to be. An over or so later and after two slashes through backward point for 4 and two nasty looking blows from Zac bowling at full pace, Jules sealed the Heber victory.
As always a good game against great opposition. But we do need a new strategy for next year. The return of the Chennai Super Mandakings would certainly help.