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The Old County Ground in West Malling has been hosting First Class cricket since 1836 but on the 9th and 10th September it hosted its first ever Test Match between Superstars CC and a star-studded Rest of the World side. The game itself was a two day affair with twelve players aside played with Test Match rules (with the odd "adaptation"). The day arrived and the groundsman, despite heavy persistent rain the day before, produced an excellent wicket. RoW skipper Paul Gaught won the toss and made the positive decision to bat first, hoping his team could get through a tricky first session and dictate the match.
Game picture
Game picture
Superstars XII
Rest of the World XII
Day One: Morning Session
It was tough going for RoW with openers Chodzko-Zajko and Plahe using conditions excellently, however they only picked up the one wicket, Dollin who was spectacularly caught at second slip by Conway. In fact despite tight spells by seamers Spry and Singh the bowler picking up 2 wickets in the morning session was spinner Marchant, who picked up McKee LBW after a promising 20 and Owen who was expertly caught by Hewlett. Hewlett himself picked up the solid Lloyd for 12 (off 41 balls) caught by Singh. Superstars were unable to dismiss the stubborn Gaught, who bought up a 50 on the strike of lunch and Anand who saw his team to lunch. Some bright spark at slip quipped the partnership was a run out waiting to happen but after an engrossing first session the RoW had reached 106-4 off 39 overs. Platform established.
Day One: Afternoon Session
The first action of the post lunch saw Anand call "yes" but the look on his face suggested he knew this wasn't right, and predictably Gaught was run out for 52 (from 123 balls). With Abigail (bowled for 2) and Goodwin (caught by Plahe for 0) both dismissed by Bishop the RoW were suddenly 124-7 and that platform suddenly looked very shaky. Anand needed someone to keep him company, partly to score runs and partly to avoid his skipper for a while and he found two in Morgan and Varghese. Morgan was dismissed by the returning Chodzko-Zajko for a 39 ball 7 runs that allowed Anand to start dominating the bowling and endangering the nearby houses with some big sixes. The innings passed a psychological milestone of 200 before Anand was bowled by the returning Singh for a mighty impressive 83 from 80 balls. Varghese had been excellent before being run out for a sensible 17 while Singh made light work of Robb, bowled for 0 leaving Hemingway 2 not out. The Rest of the World had scored a formidable looking 223 all out thanks mainly to Gaught's application and Anand's flamboyance, they'd also left Superstars a tricky 20 minutes to bat before tea. Of the bowlers Bishop's 2-5 were the best figures but Singh?s 2-23 and Marchant's 2-32 impressed the knowledgeable local crowd.
The Rest of the World were bouyant while Superstars were tired. Bishop and Warren were sent out to keep things quiet while Varghese and Morgan had licence to attack. Of the six overs five were maidens, the final of those a wicket maiden as Dollin excellently caught Warren at second slip for 0. Superstars finished 2-1 when the players broke for tea and beautiful cake.
Day One: Evening Session
Bishop and Patwal walked to the centre for the final two hours of the day but both quickly returned to the pavilion. Patwal (0) was caught and bowled Varghese, Bishop (7) was wonderfully caught at gully by Goodwin off Morgan. The RoW had taken 3 wickets in 16 balls in one of those spells that can break a side- Superstars were 7-3. Conway and Hewlett were tasked with the recovery. Conway counter-attacked with gusto with Hewlett digging in until the Gus-Fraser-alike Robb took a sharp caught and bowled chance more in self- preservation than anything else to dismiss Hewlett for 9 (22 balls). Captain Gigg took on the role of keeping Conway company until he was caught at slip by Gaught for 6 singles (38 balls). Sir Steve Meyler did the same until an wonderful piece of ground fielding by Abigail ran him out for 4 despite a dive that produced nothing except dirty whites. Superstars had passed 100 mainly due the excellence of Conway (who passed 50 himself) and now sent in nightwatchman Spry - an idea suggested by resting Owen. Spry didn't seem to think his preparations were perfect but he did a great job, including keeping 5 balls of a passionate over from Anand out, but the final day of the over was too much. Superstars ended the day on 120-7 with Conway unbeaten on 76 and RoW's excellent start had been followed up by chipping away at the middle order and they were in command of the match.
Day Two: Morning Session
Plahe joined Conway. There was a spell of phoney war as McKee and Gaught bowled but then RoW took the new ball and the game ignited. Plahe was batting surprisingly carefully but hit the shot of the weekend, a sweep through third man for four (narrowly missing keeper Dollin). Conway was creeping to a deserved century until one mistimed on drive was caught by McKee off Anand. Conway was naturally disappointed but he'd scored 95 of the 147-8 at that stage, it was a strong innings. Marchant followed, caught at slip by Gaught off Anand, for 3 and the RoW were looking at the follow on. However Plane (25), Chodzko-Zajko (6 not out), who entertained fans with his trademark reverse sweep, and especially Singh had other ideas. Singh attacked and although he lost his partner Plahe at 187, bowled by the impressive Robb, Singh's 47 (off 36 balls) not only passed the follow on target but took Superstars into the lead. When he was impressively caught by McKee on the boundary Superstars had built an imposing lead of 5. The innings was clearly based around Conway's brilliance and Singh's flair, but Plahe's dedication should be underestimated. On the bowling side Robb (3-39), Anand (3-13) and Morgan (2-32) led the attack.
It left an awkward looking 10 overs for the RoW to bat. Things looked worse for RoW when Singh had McKee impressively caught by wicket keeper Warren in the first over, but neither Singh nor Plahe were able to make further inroads so Gigg decided to turn to the traditional over of spin in the final over before lunch, bringing himself on. With his first delivery in test cricket Gigg produced a ball that Shane Warne's "ball of the century" is glad it's a different century now, spinning past Owen's bat and Warren took the stumping. RoW were effectively 10-2 and although lunchwatchman Abigail saw the over out it had been the type of session that decisively swing test matches. Superstars were now in the ascendancy.
Day Two: Afternoon Session
It was a nervous lunch, especially for Lloyd and Abigail who were due to face the Superstars attack who had momentum. Chodzko-Zajko and Hewlett bounded in but Lloyd was firm and Abigail busy. It wasn't until Marchant was introduced that Lloyd (a vital 22) was bowled and Goodwin (5) was caught by Gigg. This gave Superstars a hope but Dollin, reminding cricket lovers of other Australian counter-attacking wicket keepers, bludgeoned a 32 ball 53 which suddenly put RoW in a position they were considering declaration plans. Patwal bowled him but it was the introduction of Conway which caused another shift in control. He caught and bowled Hemingway (10) and bowled both Varghese (0) and Robb (0, for a pair) in one over. When the legend Meyler out-thought Gaught into pulling to Singh (who surprisingly dropped 2 or 3 over the weekend) at mid wicket for 1 the game was in the melting pot. Throughout all this time Abigail was holding the team together, bringing up a well deserved 50 with a 3. Singh and Plahe returned and mopped up the innings, Anand was caught by Marchant for 16 off Singh while Abigail was finally bowled by Plahe for 60. Morgan was left undefeated for 7 and the Rest of the World had left a chance. Essentially if Superstars could replicate the Rest of World's scoring rate there would be a very tight finish. All four results were possible.
Day Two: Evening Session
Superstars sent out Singh (2) as a pinch hitter, but unfortunately he pinched more than hit and was bowled by the consistent Morgan. After 10 overs Superstars were 25-1 which meant the required rate was rising but still possible. Whilst scoring did improve Robb picked up key wickets of Bishop (12) and Gigg (4) and his Spooner bowling partner Goodwin bowled the dangerman Conway (9). At this point light rain was intermittently falling and affecting the condition of the ball and outfield. Patwal returned after an unfortunate injury and saw the game to a stalemate until he was skilfully caught, in wet conditions, by Abigail off Hemingway (38). Warren (32no) and Hewlett (3no), whose partnership included a shattering all run 5 from a hugely misdirected throw, saw the innings to safety where the rain and common sense saw the game finish 30 minutes early as a draw. The innings never really got going towards the target but there were some excellent performances from Warrren and Patwal.
So let's be honest, we're all a little surprised it wasn't a farce. In fact it was a good cricket match that (ridiculously given the expectations) probably needed an extra hour or two of time to be an all-time classic. Still, all players remain unbeaten in test matches and were well fed after the teas (thanks to Izzy, Mary and Laura for their help) and barbecue (thanks to Gary). Some excellent performances and some memorable moments. Hopefully we can do it again.
MATTHEW CONWAY for his 95, 3 wickets in one over and excellent slip catch.
Noteable mentions to Vijay Anand, Alok Singh, Pete Robb, Paul Gaught and Richard Abigail.
BARRY GIGG gets a wicket with his first ball in test cricket.
Noteable mentions to Will Spry being a "drunk-watchman", Gary Plahe's sweep through third man for four almost hitting keeper Dollin, Vijay getting so worked up over two LBW appeals to Will before just clean bowling him, Matt Conway's slip catch and Paul Gaught's slip catch.
Author: Paul "checking who I have a better test average than" Gaught.
Game picture Game picture
Game picture Game picture
With thanks to Vijay (mainly), Penny and Jason.
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Superstars XII
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Rest of the World XII
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One quality batsman....
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Three batsmen opened
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Matt's excellent catch
6 / 20
If the MCC coaching book need a picture
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Relaxation is important
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Catering was excellent
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Famous monument
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Imagining Ricky Ponting was playing
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Superstars' Player of the Year 2035
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Visualising the clatter of wickets
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Tactical discussion? Or number of cakes eaten?
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Working off the protein shakes
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Superstars brains trust
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One of these was an excellent performer over the weekend
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Post match presentation
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Post match novely cheque

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