On what can only be described as a perfect day for cricket the Darjeeling Cricket Club took on an unknown rival (later to be identified as a team we thrashed before at SES) on the smaller pitch at the ICC and previous venue of a fine Grisdale batting display.
While indulging in in a fast-growing pre-match ritual of devouring a choice of Burger King or Hardy’s pre-match chatter was mostly centered around certain members’ conquests of the the previous, Jono AKA The Darjeeling Bicycle sharing what he described as a stereotypical Dubai hookup with a teacher and Greg adding that he for the first time saw a certain member of the DCC known for his anger management issues showing a softer side, the table was set for a standard random day at the home of DCC.
With members arriving from 12:30 to 1:15 for a 12:45 team get together and some confusion caused by the term “bring a few scoops” amongst the internationals of DCC, the source of the confusion and the second-last player to arrive, Gary Turner AKA the Guv’nor was selected to Captain the side, due to club captain Chris Dommett’s reluctance to captain the team from keeper, against the Wombats/Nomads/ Without a Name, which at this stage had 3 players at the ground consisting of two slightly portly cricketers and a gentleman resembling a Bollywood actor playing the role of the Rambo of the cricket field.
With the classic line of “my team is still coming from Friday prayers” uttered by the opposition captain, the Guv’nor proceeded to win the toss and in true DCC form, elected to bat, a decision not driven by tactical prowess but by a culture of Friday hangovers and a memory of desert weather conditions. So the day of normal randomness continued as DCC Umpire Shiju and Umpire Banerjee took to the field to call ‘Play’ on a 25-over match.
Out strode Sackers and the Bicycle to open the batting against the Wombats who were at this stage recognized as a team we played before when an aforementioned DCC member with anger management issues scored 90 against Sharjah and were outplayed by DCC. The opposition by this time had grown to 9 players with two of their team still praying hard.
Sackers started scoring from some Jonathan Trott-like shots but not in true Sackers style gave away his wicket softly with a practice catch to the opposition off the bowling of Hamad, before the opposition had reached the full complement of 11 fielders.
Out strode Greg Moses to the pitch with his signature fisherman’s hat and a bat won for player of the tournament in Chiang Mai. His feng shui just seemed right after having witnessed the first time emotional display and armed with a new pre batting ritual involving two fingers and a foul smell (details of which are being withheld due to the open nature of Facebook and fear of having to enter into a witness protection program for revealing them) Mr. Share the Love himself went on to build a Rahul Dravid rock of an innings.
In the meantime, more and more scoops (beverages, biere, brews, lagers, XXXX’s etc, for the rest of us non Oldham Athletic supporters) were being enjoyed next to the pitch, which bode well for the banter but perhaps not the batting performance needed by the middle order.
Bicycle, during all this, started his innings nervously, very unlike a man with his Casanova-like exploits but started to find his stride not too long after Mr. Moses walked in, and proceeded to bash a few fours for a very good 40 and an innings-defining partnership of 73 with Greg before being bowled by “one that kept straight” otherwise known as a “beauty” from the bowling of Moiz, who was proving to be a be a bit of a thorn in the side of the Darjeeling run rate along with Taz “Sharapova” who had a Shoaib Ahktar like run up and a Maria Sharapova like grunt upon delivery.
Unfortunately, a batting collapse reminiscent of the England cricket team of the nineties, South Africa in a Cricket World Cup or the more recent collapse of the Pakistan middle order in their previous test in South Africa, commenced with depressing ease.
First came and went the reluctant captain, usually dominant, out for 1, bowled by Haroon, followed by the self-proclaimed agricultural cricketer, Nathan Cartwright, out for 6, bowled by Abid.
Which led to an attempt at an innings-stabilizing 7 of 9 balls innings (Strike rate significantly helped by 4 overthrows) from Jules “Tats” Mooney, caught off Moiz with teddy bears, rattles and puzzles lining the way back to the changing room along with some choice words. Which brought in Mr. Comeback, Nick Harvey, who was soon after caught off the bowling of Hamad for 4.
All this action happening while Greg was building a beautiful game-saving attempt of an innings on the other side of the scooped-up middle order, while bravely trying to hide the pain of his pulled hammie and fighting the burning sensation in his nostrils. The question being raised at this point, will Mr. Share the Love be able to bowl with a pulled hammie, since we were looking a little bit short of a few wicket takers, which as we all know, is crucial for winning a game of cricket.
Finally, after a serious batting wobble, in strode Gully, red-eyed from a week-long visit from his wife’s cousin and looking brittle, therefore setting the opposition bowlers at ease, to bring some form of support for the superb innings being played by Greg.
After feeding the strike to Greg with three well-taken singles, the gentleman out in the middle realized that Greg running with a pulled hamstring was not in the spirit of Darjeeling Cricket, so Gully decided to let loose and hit two classy fours before trying one shot too far and was caught off the bowling of Taz (of the Sharapova kind, not to be mistaken with the Tasmanian kind) for a crucial 11.
In strode the “taking one for the team” player of the day, your’s truly, to witness some brutal hitting by Greg, a short run of a very well-taken two runs (disputed with the umpire, the first of two dubious umpiring calls for the day) and a brave sacrifice run-out to protect the Batsman of the Day’s wicket for a well-run duck without facing a ball.
This left only one ball of the innings which Greg proceeded to hit through the air, only to be dropped and ending the innings, carrying his bat, for a long overdue 108, his first 100 after the sad demise of the Darjeeling Cricket Club grounds in 2008, may she rest in peace.
With a softish target of 207 set for the opposition, Darjeeling took to the field and after a brief stint of enthusiastic fielding practice, set about defending their total, opening the bowling with the deceptive Gully from the Academy End and Jules from the School End as a well-fuelled Gris replaced Ash to umpire for the first 10 overs, while the latter tucked into a Stella or two.
The opening bowlers proceeded to keep it about as tight as a loosely-tied westminster tie, with some quality dot balls mixed in with some good balls dispatched to the boundary, but there was hope in Darjeeling’s slightly scooped-up blurry eyes when Jules took the wicket of Mannu sharply caught by the candidate of comeback player of the year, Nick Harvey for 5, which brought to the crease a blue padded, Inzamam ul-Haq like communicator between the wickets, Omar.
Gully proceeded to bowl his five overs on the trot, which is no mean fitness feat for any DCC bowler, unlucky to end his spell wicketless, conceding 44 runs and with Jules finishing 4 of his overs on at the other end with figures of 1 for 38, Darjeeling were still battling hard to stay in the game.
During Jules’ spell, the second dubious call of the day was made when Gris called a (low) slow ball full toss a no ball, which brought about a pleasant exchange of shits and giggles between the Guv’nor and Jules and said umpire, with the other umpire proclaiming his support for his fellow umpire with a well timed: “What to do?”. The call was also later falsely blamed on the innocent square leg fielder.
Jules was replaced by Nick at the school end and he came in to bowl like a man who did not spend any time away from the game with an injury. Nick was the only other wicket taker in the innings bowling Karan “Bollywood Rambo” with a pearler for a well played and showy 62. Nick ending the day the pick of the Darjeeling bowlers with 1 for 38 of his 4 overs.
The Bicycle then replaced Gully at the academy end and clearly thought that a slow full toss would be his stock ball of the day, with ‘Taz’ Tauseef, who replaced the Bollywood Rambo and the blue-padded Omar proceeding to take advantage of the fine weather and friendly pitch, though rarely used by the Bicycle. Not even a change of ends stopped the full toss frenzy and Jono ended the day with an uncharacteristic 52 runs of his 5 overs with no wickets.
Mohit was brought on to replace the Bicycle and stem the flow of runs and did a great job in his first over, but unfortunately, consistency let him down in the second and Mo was knocked around a bit in his second for figures of 0 for 21.
it was now clear that Greg’s hammie was costing us on the bowling front with the aforementioned lack of wicket-takers taking effect, facing a team spurred on by the wild celebrations and Asian drums from the other pitch, where a corporate cricket day was in full swing with spectators lining up for food boxes, etc.
With Darjeeling’s fielding being good to pretty good despite a few misfields, a dropped catch and a half-chance, we could not take any benefit from some poor running from Omar and Tauseef as they merrily continued chipping away at the target, getting the Wombats into a very comfortable position.
The Guv’nor brought himself on to replace Mohit for one over and went for 12 runs in the 19th over of the game, leaving the Wombats 2 runs to get with 5 overs remaining.
On came CD, some say a little too late, and after 3 balls and a hamstring-inspired misfield, the game was all over, the Wombats beating Darjeeling by 8 wickets with several overs to spare.
Despite the loss, it was a thoroughly enjoyable game made better by great banter, scandalous dressing room stories and good opposition who understand the spirit of cricket.
The Wombats were worthy opponents and with a bit more depth on the bowling front, they are very beatable.
Unfortunately, I cannot do a Girders report, but judging by the pace of scoops being consumed until the time we were asked to leave the dressing room, some quality shenanigans were had.