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A new fixture and a strange, disorientating occasion for me. The two teams I play for, playing against each other, at the club where my sons play and I spend many hours at on most summer weekends. It was a bit like you and your girlfriend’s parents meeting for the first time. Except that that meeting also take place at your school in front of your teachers.
At least we all had cricket to talk about. And somewhat unexpectedly an exciting game emerged from what seemed to be a hopeless cause at the halfway stage. Barry won a toss for the Superstars (!) and put the Mandarins in to bat first on a decent-looking Streatham and Marlborough CC track. Vijay (3-0-10-1) was hostile with the new ball and got a well-deserved wicket with a sharp yorker. Mike D (3-0-12-1) continued his fine bowling form, while James Hewlett and Will Spry also picked up a wicket apiece. But the star of the show was the late-arriving Gary Plahe, who nevertheless got onto the field in enough time to bowl a full four overs and take three wickets for just 20 runs (two of which were two of three catches safely held by Adam Spencer) . Three run outs did not help the Mandarins’ cause much either, especially as two of them were two of their batsmen. But opener Tim Baxter retired on 25 and returned to top his score up to 38 which, with the addition of a generous 27 extras, was enough to take the score up to 108 before the Mandarins were all out with two balls unused in the innings.
It still looked a fair bit under par. But inspired by a team talk from ‘keeper Chris Healey (“let’s go and show them what sh*t cricket really looks like”!), the Mandarins produced a stronger bowling performance that took the game into a tense death over. Openers Adam and Diwakar were watchful against fizzy top-spinning bowler Martin Hurst (4-1-10-1) before Diwakar (6) let loose a cut and was well caught at point by Graeme Tunbridge. Adam (25*) and new Superstar Tim Saunders (26*) both then bedded in for a while, aware that four or five an over was enough to keep the Superstars comfortably on track. But things got a fair bit more interesting in the Superstars middle order with Mark Williams run out for two, Vijay top-edging a pull to the ‘keeper for 7, James Hemingway run out for one and then James Hewlett clean bowled in the same over for two, leaving the score at 82-5 with four overs to go. That left the old guard of Gigg (12*) and Duggan (5*) to perform something a rescue act, but one that was not without its chances. Three were required from the final over which was entrusted to JC Gray. A dot, a single to Barry and another dot to Duggan had the Mandarins daring to dream. But Mike got his bat on the next one, set off for a sharp single and the run out attempt ended up being overthrows. Mike came back for a two and the match was won with two balls to spare.
A close game and cheap pints from the club bar in the evening sunshine afterwards - at what is always a beautiful ground with good pitches - led to talk of making this an annual fixture. Hopefully it is a relationship that will last.
Team: Gigg (capt), Anand, Duggan, Hewlett, Spry, Plahe, Spencer, Patwal, Saunders, Hemingway, Williams.
Game picture
Author: Dan "he should play for us next year" Forman.
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