Wednesday 13 September 2023

Took it to the Final Over, But Then...

Mandarins vs King’s School Rochester Headmaster’s XI

Took it to the final over but lost by five wickets in somewhat farcical circumstances

Those of you on the WhatsApp group will already have seen this perfect summary of the game. There follows a slightly more in-depth review…


Another week, another sweltering September fixture, provoking discussion of the days when we played through to early October. Jonathan mercifully won the toss and we batted first in the heat. The Mandarins got off to a flying start with Brand and H Forman making 81 off the first 15 overs before Brand departed on 49 (for the second time in a week). Harry continued to push on, going to his 50 before holing out to the new slow bowler for 51. Another 50 partnership from Healey and a free-flowing Jarvis followed, as Mandarins continued at somewhere close to 6 an over. When Jarvis was bowled for 18, Healey (unbeaten on 68 at the end) and Ramani (26 not out) upped the tempo further with shots around the ground and took us to a very healthy-looking total of 229 for 3 off 37 overs at tea.

Opinions at tea were divided – satisfaction at a good score vying with recent memories of some very hard-hitting Headmasters XI batters. The outfield was lightning quick and the pitch was true even if some balls didn’t come through as fast or high as expected.

As it turned out, 229 might have been enough if Mandarins had taken their catches (have I heard that one before?). The King’s School Values were on big hoardings at all four corners of the ground – resilience, ambition, passion, and work-rate. Unfortunately it was resilience that was most called-upon during our time in the field. Runs flowed – 67 for 1 off 10, 124 for 3 off 20, 185 for 4 off 30. Eastaway, Ramani, and the 3 Formen bowled tidily, with a wicket apiece for Eastaway and D Forman, but were unable to build scoreboard pressure. But it was Hurst’s vicious medium-pace topspinners that kept us in the game, clean-bowling two well-set batters on the back foot, and finishing with 3 for 48 from 11. 

Our catching proved our undoing, H Forman and Brand putting down take-able catches, and Ramani insisting that a bullet that came back at him ankle-high was also a dropped chance. The Headmaster’s XI drew level on 229 for 5 at the end of the penultimate over and we thought the drama had seeped away. Eastaway’s first ball of the last over went high straight to Healey at deep midwicket. Such was the belief that Healey would take the catch that the batters failed to run… but lo, a drop. Second ball a dot, and the third went high in the air again straight to a Mandarin. Sadly H Forman spilled this one too and the batters trotted sheepishly through for the winning run.

A fine game in a beautiful setting played in a good spirit (apart from some chuntering from their young and tired opening bowler at Healey’s enterprising batting at the death). We retired to mull over what might have been at Restoration House.

Sam Brand

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