Friday, 25 May 2018
40 Over Defeat in Rural Oxfordshire
Brightwell 164-5, beat Mandarins, 163-7
Brightwell cum Sotwell is one of the Mandarins' most attractive fixtures, a lovely ground, nice opposition and fine pub, all in beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. Less attractive is the slow route through Henley to get there, which is why Chris McKeon and I were twenty minutes late arriving, debutant skipper Arvind having decided to bat on the basis that with only six players present at the ground, fielding was not much of an option.
David Williams was already out, run out in the first over. Best draw a veil over that. Drew Somerville followed for 13. There was then a lively partnership between Chris Baker, in good early season form, scoring 27, and Venky, who scored 18, including one superb six over midwicket. Brightwell bowlers generally kept things tight, and wickets fell reasonably regularly. Baxter accelerated to reach 50* by the close, whilst Sam Brand, ever the crowd-pleaser, enlivened his innings by breaking his bat.
Reducing the average age considerably, Gemma Porter came in at number 9 and ran very well between the wickets, though your correspondent found it rather difficult to keep up with her. Mandarins closed at 163-7 after 40 overs, which felt a reasonable, if not commanding total.
Things were looking very promising indeed when Drew Somerville bowled Brightwell's No 1 bat with the first ball of the innings. Sadly, this proved the highlight of Drew's spell. The other opener accumulated nicely, taking advantage of a ten man Mandarins side (due to two late injuries: not the match manager’s fault – Ed.), before being bowled by a ball that kept low from Venky.
Barringer, the Brightwell Number 4 proceeded to play very well all round the ground, though lucky to get away with a very good lbw shout from Paul McIntyre. Chris McKeon kept very well and had several close calls for stumpings. Arvind rotated his bowlers, the pick of whom was Gemma Porter, with 2-22 of 7 overs, but Brightwell overhauled the Mandarins for the loss of 5 wickets. But the Red Lion was as welcoming as ever.
Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Side-swappers swing it for Superstars
Superstars (145-8) beat Mandarins (144 all out) by one wicket
After last year’s last over Twenty 20 thriller between these two sides, this more traditional declaration game at first threatened to be even shorter – and certainly more one-sided. But that was not accounting for the impact of two young debutants (one of whom was considerably younger than the other but both still young by modern Mandarins standards), the first of whom threatened to turn the whole afternoon on its head, before the second decided to show a few older heads how batting should be done.
After two weeks of frustration it was good to be playing at all, even better to be doing so in the sunshine, better still at beautiful Streatham and Marlborough CC. Captain Forman (D) lost the toss against his friends from the Superstars and the Mandarins were put into bat. In the remarkable position of having a full dozen in our match day squad, new recruit Inder was loaned to the opposition on the basis that he was a solid opening bat and, well, the Mandarins never suffer from early innings collapses, do they?
Sure enough Superstars seamer Konrad had Baxter caught at slip and Davidson bowled in his opening over on a spicy pitch. Pharoah threatened with one ferocious six but then promptly managed to get himself run out over-eagerly backing up at the non-striker's end. Baker (27) added some solidity to the recovery and Hurst (37) some panache. But with wickets at a premium your skipper and correspondent used all of his tact and diplomacy at drinks to negotiate the return of Inder to our ranks, sacrificing (not literally) his second born son Harry to do so. Inder’s 17 was indeed useful in pushing our total up to 144 all out, under par but just about in the game, and certainly more competitive than 14-3 and 68-6 had looked like being.But this was far from Inder’s most decisive contribution of the day. With the Superstars surviving Hurst’s testing and unfortunately wicketless 9-4-18-0 opening spell, opener Vijay then raced to a 50, at which point the game looked done and he unselfishly retired himself to give others a chance to bat. With Forman (D) having retired from the field with a back injury, stand-in skipper Davidson made a smarter decision about how best to deploy Inder, inspirationally tossing him the ball before he promptly ran through the Superstars middle order with 5-1-19-5, leaving us suddenly one wicket short of victory, one of whom was potentially 13-year-old Harry and the other the returning retiree Vijay. Davidson offered the young man no quarter, with several men put in around the bat. Yet the boy kept his head where the men around him had lost theirs, holding his end up with little drama, finding the occasional single and giving Vijay enough strike to get the 20 runs required for the win.Times may change and, with them, players and even formats of the sport. But it still pays not to take anything for granted in this great game of ours.
Monday, 23 April 2018
Peper Harow 106; Mandarins 107 for 6. Mandarins won by 4 wickets.
The Mandarins’ first match of the season was a celebration of the club’s finest traditions, against opponents we first played before Britain joined the European Economic Community. It was a declaration game: no 100 ball gimmicks here. Overnight rain meant a delay, to the old starting-time of 2 30. The man with the kit was nonetheless late (and the bag contained no wicket-keeper’s pads). The dressing-room denounced the ECB and all its works. We lost the toss. Eleven chances were missed. Malcolm Field, a valiant twentieth-century Mandarin, came to watch and was reassured that little had changed.
Except that we won the match. At 68 for 4, a familiar mid-innings wobble was on the cards. Actions modelled on Murali and Malinga were threatening. But Jon Porter (11) steadied the ship, and Manian’s patient knock of 24 was rewarded with the winning runs at 7 00 on a glorious sunny evening. Earlier, Tunbridge was caught when looking well set. But Brand ignored the convention that you don’t drive on a slow pitch to make a decisive 45, including a straight six.
Tait (39) batted through for Peper Harow, and a violent late flourish from Jones at number 10 spoilt McIntyre’s figures to take the score past 100. There were bright spots in the field amongst the many mishaps: McIntyre (slip) and Eastaway (running in from deep mid-off) took decent catches; Williams saved countless runs in tricky conditions for keeping; and Gemma Porter showed her county class with some arrow-like throwing as well as 2 wickets. There were also 2 each for Heard and McIntyre, and one each for Eastaway, Forman and Hurst – whose mean opening spell of 6 overs for ten got us off to the right start.
Mandarins XI: Eastaway (cap), Brand, Forman, Heard, Hurst, Manian, McIntyre, Porter G, Porter J, Tunbridge, Williams.
Saturday, 25 November 2017
Saturday, 4 November 2017
For those of us dismayed to have apparently lost a decade's worth of match reports through technical problems with our old website, I've scalped copies of the reports made during this and last year and put them into a couple of PDFs. Get them here (2016) and here (2017).
Monday, 25 September 2017
Is it because I dropped a catch when RUASC were on 117? Or the rain in Sonning Lane falls mainly at the end of the game?
Reading University Alumni and Staff CC 140 all out
* D/L score had us ahead! [Ed.]
When is the most frustrating time for the rain to come? As one draws the curtains on the morning of a much anticipated game? Or as the metaphorical curtain comes down at the end of another Mandarin season? Ten minutes before the start of a match that you have already made the effort to drive to? Or ten runs short of victory at the end of a season in which wins have, shall we say, been hard to come by?
It was the latter fate that befell the Mandarins against Reading University Alumni and Staff. And it certainly felt frustrating. Especially so perhaps because all week we had been anticipating rain, with the forecast suggesting it would begin to fall at some point between the Chiswick roundabout and Captain Tunbridge losing the toss and being put into bat.
But neither eventuality materialised and the only thing that fell with any consistency were Reading wickets, five of which all went to our recently discovered tearaway opening bowler Chris Healey (7-1-16-5) who bowled with control and not a little menace. (Or perhaps it was his identical twin brother Nick - who made a 'can you tell them apart?' appearance at tea). Backed by a somewhat surprisingly competent fielding display (McIntyre's one hander, Heard's athletic grab on the run and Tivey's steady under a steepler take all being - with all due love and respect - unexpected highlights), the bowlers all did a job. Heard was unlucky to go wicketless with the new ball. Venky was unlucky to be put on a time when the RUASC number six was swinging hard and happily; and Sommerville was unluckly his good ones were not rewarded (although took one with arguably the worst ball of his spell). McIntyre then supplied control and your correspondent (5.2-0-19-3) supplied three well caught wickets to finish the RUASC innings on 140 with an over to spare.
(Although - in what later proved to be a crucial turn of events - I also dropped a low but catchable caught and bowled chance an over earlier in the spell. And while it was not costly to my own figures, it was to the team's as Tunbridge went around the ground for 16 in the intervening over. Team-spirited skipper that he is, Graeme naturally blamed this entirely on me.)
Tea was taken in the well-appointed Reading CC club house, rather than the rather exposed and ramshackle hut that served as the changing room for the second team pitch. And heartily fortified by samosas, spring rolls and chips, we set about the gettable but by all means fail-to-gettable chase. At this stage the weather still looked set fair for another 35 overs and it looked like we were going to need them as Tunbridge (victim of a ruthless first ball LBW decision by Umpire Tivey it must be said) and Mills returned promptly to the pavilion, leaving us 8-2 and asking Sommerville (44) and (Venky 52no)to set about a patient rebuilding job. This they did with aplomb, watchful at first, accelerating later, taking us to 93 in what was set to be a match-winning partnership.
However the mid-September weather was yet to have its say. As it worsened, RUASC creditably resisted coming off before a downpour made that unavoidable. A short delay ensued although not long later Venky and Tivey were back out there edging us ever closer to glory. But the weather worsened yet again and - while RUASC were sportingly willing to stick it out to a conclusion - a groundsman did nothing to confound his trade's grumpy stereotype and ordered us off for good without consultation.
A quick check of a Duckworth Lewis calculator had us comfortably ahead but in the absence of an agreement between the sides that DL would apply, we had to settle for a moral victory on this occasion, which is at least an improvement on all the 'moral/Mandarins draws' we suffered/earned in limited overs games earlier in the season.
Over a Healey-bought jug of local IPA in the bar, our belated run of form brought forth talk of trying to find a further fixture to keep the season going (not least for Graeme whose trips to Rochester and Reading brought scores of 0 and 0, figures of 1-0-16-0 and a horror drop to boot). But it was raging against the dying of the cricket season light. So we went our separate ways for 2017. In glorious sunshine of course.