Darjeeling v Awali Taverners at the ICC GCA – words by Stephen Brown

An early start was in store for Darjeeling, but incredibly managed to get all 11 men there before the opposition. The usual stench of stale alcohol and cigarettes filled the changing room, with Julius being the only exception as he now only drinks water and smokes an electronic liquid tube! Nick Harvey then tried to cure hangovers by opening a boiling hot bottle of Jäegermeister, and Gary Turner  was put in charge of dishing it round the lads and demanding you take a “man’s swig” of the devils juice.

Noel, who looked like some kind of cartoon puppet when he walked in with his youngest son’s white shirt on, was again given the honour of leading the troops. He won the toss, elected to bat and made his first masterstroke of the day by announcing Badger would accompany Brown at the top of the order and stride out at number 1!

After months of anticipation, Badger took the first ball of the day and got an almighty roar from the crowd as he nicked one through the gully for a welcomed boundary. Darjeeling got off to a flyer with a breezy 20 by Brown, and a short cameo from Chris N, before been cleaned up by a full toss. There was confusion on whether or not it was a no-ball, but it is very difficult to argue when you lose your off stump, and have to walk past it on your way to the changing rooms.

Darjeeling then consolidated with Anthony working the ball around and Badger “the anchor” still playing and missing every other ball. When Anthony departed the last ball before drinks, Badger was to walk off to a standing ovation for his 45 ball 29*. However, everyone’s hopes turned to despair when he decided he’d had enough and wanted to retire. Rumours were spreading that fitness may have had a part to play, but it was later confirmed that he was getting the shakes as he’d not had a Benson & Hedges for at least an hour! A new record that will take some beating.

Julius and Gary were to take the crease after drinks and their innings couldn’t have been more different. Gary played a fluid run a ball 27, with a little help from the keeper, who dropped the worst catch I think weI will ever see. Julius or Julia as he was known on the electronic scoreboard was under pressure from ball 1. Myself and Jonno (who had dragged himself out of bed to watch) had told him to stop being so selfish and to “crowd please” for once in his life. With this seed now planted, he scratched and prodded his way around for what seemed like 3 days! Messages were being sent via walkie talkie for him to kick his stumps over, and although he tried as hard as he could to get out, the fielders just couldn’t help us out. His mammoth stay was eventually ended by a sharp grab at slip and Teddy departed for a prolonged 11. This turned out to be a blessing for Darjeeling as this brought MOM Nick Harvey to the crease and he blazed his way to a 25 ball 50. A real impetus that was needed, and he and Noel upped the run rate in the latter stages to set the visitors a tricky 217.

The visitors got off to a flyer with Julius and Josh bowling a real mixed bag. Both got unlucky, beating the edge on numerous occasions, but boundaries were leaked and the visitors were above the rate in the first 5/6 overs. Julius then struck twice in two balls (the 2nd being a debatable LBW decision by stand in umpire Jonno) which turned the game back in our favour.

Noel was rotating the bowlers well and Chris N and Chris “the scorer” Tebb put a squeeze on, going at under 6 an over. For those wondering why Chris T is nicknamed the scorer, you won’t believe it until you’ve seen the book. He was either a very lonely young man, not quite good enough to make the senior side, or enjoyed picking up 20 quid every Saturday. No matter the reason, his multi-coloured scorebook and his performance on the electronic scoreboard was a very close runner up to Nick Harvey for MOM! Not many enjoy the luxury of scoring, and his efforts were well appreciated by all and in particular Badger who was attached to an oxygen machine in the dressing room and unable to score after his 13 over stay at the crease.

With the run rate now climbing, who better to take advantage of the conditions than Gary and Badger. Their opener Charles was the only player who could still take the game away from us and when Gary had him caught at short extra cover by Anthony who was fantastic in the field, Badgers eyes lightened up on the arrival of “the rabbits”. I can’t finish talking about Gary without mentioning his maiden over! Only the 2nd of the day, but his was the only one that counted as he was bowling at someone who could hold a bat. The other maiden being bowled at Badger earlier in the day with 6 plays and misses infuriating the opposition skipper.

Badger gladly helped himself to a couple of wickets, and MOM Nick Harvey bowled a tight spell to back his batting up and also chipped in with a wicket. Josh at this point was in the captains ear ensuring Noel he was warmed up and ready for another chuck. Noel contemplated this, but with the run rate now at 28 runs an over, he just couldn’t be risked! Instead, the skipper went for experience and threw the ball to Simon Fowler who’s trusty dobbers earned himself a wicket and made a win now impossible for the visitors.

There was still some action to be played as Julius was on a hat trick from earlier. He charged down the hill and bowled his quickest delivery of the day (clocked at 48mph) but the shuffly Guy Parker safely dealt with it. Julius was to grab another wicket with the penultimate delivery of the game and was the pick of the bowlers with figures of   4-0-25-3. The opposition finishing 47 runs short, and a convincing win for Darjeeling.

A game played in superb spirits, and the Bahraini lads were extremely accommodating after the game allowing us to drink all their beers. Shirt presentations were carried out by Nick Harvey and by the time the 5th bottle had gone down, it was nailed on that we will be visiting Bahrain in the near future for a rematch.

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