Darjeeling CC v Fly Dubai – words by Chris Tebb

Last Friday the honed, bronzed gladiators of the Darjeeling cricket club took to the verdant, green field at Sharjah English School to take on the hastily put-together team of Fly Dubai. Amidst the traditional pre-match warm-up of chain smoking and beer guzzling; skipper Andrew Tideswell Esquire duly tossed the coin, with a skill refined only by repeated practice, the call of the opposing skip was sadly, for them, incorrect and the frequent flyers were banished to 20 overs of torture by direct sunlight and a level of humidity approaching stifling levels. 

Opening the batting for the Tea-Leaves were those paragons of batting skill and technique, Messers Dommett and Scholtz. These fine gentleman proceeded to treat the expectant crowd to 10 overs of batting that would be politely called traditional, amassing the total of 72 runs prior to the drinks break; of these 72 runs the soon to be departing Brian Scholtz in his noble quest to obtain a DCC ton prior to leaving for less sunnier climes contributed 44 off a mere 36 balls having woken up after 22 deliveries. Our resident wicketkeeper, sporting the new look of glistening in the humid conditions – Robert Pattinson will be jealous – contributed a more stately 17 from 25 deliveries. Alas, the old adage of drinks breaks bringing wickets proved true, firstly on the delivery after the resumption Brian (44/37) departed sending a ball stratospherically high, only to see the fielder underneath cling on; thus “The Scorer” sauntered to the crease, having handed the iPad into the (in)capable hands of the Badger. Until the first wicket, The Scorer had compiled a full wagon wheel of the innings but upon returning to the pavilion found that the apparently devious scoring app had been too much for the stand-in; however now we return to the action.

Having seen his opening partner dismissed Chris D then decided that obviously two new batsman were needed at the crease and departed four balls later for 18(29 balls). Joining Chris T at the crease was the indomitable Julius Mooney, the pair tried to hasten the scoring rate but a combination of picking out fielders with regular monotony and that after every run Chris T proved that his fitness levels were not up to even DCC standards, scoring was still difficult to come by. 72-0 quickly became 82-3 with Julius departing for 7(12 balls) and 87-4 with Josh Smith adding 3 off 6 deliveries. Struggling with both heat and timing Chris T having been joined at the crease by the skipper tried to use up as few balls of possible by going on the attack, mainly to get out of the heat and also to hit boundaries so he wouldn’t have to run. Despite only facing 2 dot balls the elusive boundaries would not come and The Scorer returned to his hutch stumped for 10 off 13 balls (100-5) in the 17th over.

If ever the tail needed to wag for DCC it was now, however when Andy perished looping a catch back to the bowler (5/10) even 120 looked a long way off. Fortunately the dynamic duo of Ash Banerjee and David were equally to the task, David becoming only the 3rd DCC batsman to hit a boundary in the innings and Ash sacrificing his average off the last ball for an possibly vital second run (6/9). Dave was left last man standing with a commendable 10 off 7 deliveries; however despite reassurance at the innings break that the psychological barrier of 6 an over required the final total of 120/7 was well below par.

The Fly Dubai innings began with Julius steaming in at the Water Tank End wearing his flamboyant, blue deck shoes and promptly disappearing twice to the boundary. The first a silky leg glance from the opening bat, the second a violent but perfectly executed cover drive, thereafter line and length were reacquainted and the subsequent 10 deliveries of his spell produced a miserly 2 runs and a bye (2-0-11-0).   From the Road End, left arm quick Josh bounded in like a gazelle for his first delivery only to be let down by his new, very white boots producing a Bambi on Ice moment that Robin Cousins would be proud of; understandably cautious the rhythm deserted Josh and his first (and only) over went for 16. To try and shore things up David was introduced and met with the respect that he deserves with a single boundary the only blot on the copy book in his first over; however the scoreboard pressure of 6 an over was blown out of the water as the first four overs went for 34. For some reason, and not a tactical masterstroke by any measure, Andy had relinquished on field captain’s duties to Brian, who duly replaced Julius with himself. What followed was a master class in pace bowling only blighted by a fine uppercut for four through third-man to produce figures of 2-0-7-0. Having been watchful to David’s first over; the more powerful opening bat decided to free his arms and plunder two sixes and a four from the 6th over to leave David nursing figures of 2-0-25-0.

Thus the end of the pace attack, leaving the spinners with 13 overs to take 10 wickets and defend 63 runs; leading wicket taker Stuart M was introduced to the attack and feasted upon by the opening batsman as if they were at a Friday Brunch having not eaten all week, the first of his two overs going for 13 including a four and a six. From the Water Tank end Ash was introduced and demonstrated a rare example of control having been chastised first ball for 6 and picked up the powerful opener for 43 caught and then stumped in a wonderful demonstration of fielding by wicket keeper Chris D. The departure of one opening released the shackles of the other, until now he had been more Jonathan Trott than Chris Gayle but now facing the Badger he found his mojo with 2 straight 6’s in an over costing 16 (2-0-29-0). Ash continued looking to add to the first wicket in his previous over, but instead committed the cardinal sin of a front foot no ball by a spinner not once but twice! Another 6 for the opening off the last, left Ash with figures of 2-0-19-1. Then the captaincy masterstroke, resuming after the drinks break Gibbon Human showed the wile and the guile to oust the number 3 caught in the deep by Josh, a wicket maiden denied by the opening with a sneaky double off the final ball of the over. Taking on the mantle from the Water Tank end was the irrepressible Mo, who open arriving on time was asked if he had a new driver, unfortunately Mo was in a hurry to get the game over and done with and went for 11 including giving the opener his well-earned and chanceless 50. Thus the demon deliveries of the Ape Man returned to snaffle more wickets and try and force Mo to have another bowl. After trapping the number 4 LBW with his 2nd delivery he produced a wide first up to the opposing skipper, decked in half a tube of sunblock, before forcing a scoop into orbit by the batsman that eventually found its way to the safe hands of the scorer. Was the batting collapse on?

Emphatically, no. As the scoreboard said the scores were level, the quiet one of the opposition came in and duly played a tentative forward defense first up, before playing a majestic straight drive well over the boundary rope for a match winning 6. Fly Dubai winning by 6 wickets in the 14th over. The final boundary count was 9 fours and 7 sixes compared to DCC’s 7 and 1. Gibbon finishing with respectable figures of 2-0-9-3. So vanquished by a superior foe on the day, the team retired to drown their sorrows and be entertained of tales of a less reputable nature by the “injured” Greg Moses. Well there is always next week………………

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Darjeeling v Dry Docks – words by Chris Dommett

Amid feverish anticipation and much mystery surrounding the identity of two “Guest” players for Darjeeling, Friday 7th June dawned hot and humid with no sign of rain. Dry Docks World (DDW) have regularly beaten us over the last couple of years, and hopes were high that Nick had unearthed a couple of talented ringers (a la Dougie G) to again give us a better chance of revenge. Breath was baited as we waited to see who turned up.

First mystery Guest turned out to be prolific run accumulator and some time stumper, Brad Wissink, back in Dubai to complete a market moving property deal, thus finally ridding himself of the mortgage I did for him 5 years ago. We waited for the second guest, and waited, and waited. Nick finally admitted it was Grisdale J, back with special approval from the Chairman, but as he failed to appear his place was taken by David’s young son Rahan.

Nick finally lost the toss and we took the field with Greg Moses opening up from the water tank end. After his first ball castling of the chirpy but slow moving keeper last week, hopes were high for a repeat, but Greg’s loosener this time was smeared back past him for 4. 8 off the first over, but a pulled intercostal muscle meant Greg had to retire to slip, and proceeded to distract the keeper with a discussion on the rupturing of various internal organs.

Julius started off from the road end with a plumb LBW appeal turned down amid gasps of disbelief and howls of “I say old chap, that can’t be right”, or words to that effect. Julius calmly accepted the decision and got his revenge a couple of overs later by clean bowling the guy. Overall, an excellent spell of 3 overs 1 for 26, which might have been 1 for 20 if the batsman hadn’t taken Greg up on his challenge to prove he was strong enough to hit a straight 6.

Brian replaced Greg, and bowled a hostile and effective spell for figures of 4 overs, 1 for 29.

The turning point of the match came when Nick pulled the masterstroke of introducing the spin of Steve Brown, Ash B and Neil Colbeck. From a position of 79 for 1 after 10, and 100 after 12, Darjeeling managed to restrict DDW to a sub-par score of 144 for 7 after their 20 overs. Stevie finished with figures of 4 overs, 2 for 25, Ash 4 overs, 2 for 23, and Neil 3 overs, 2 for 20.

However, the real star for Darjeeling was the catching and fielding which was undoubtedly the best for many a year. Stevie took 3 catches, Brian 2, including a spectacular effort on the boundary, and even Julius swooped like a gazelle to take a fine running catch at deep mid-wicket. The other wicket was a stumping by yours truly.

Set 145 to win, Darjeeling opened with the returning Brad and Brian, and they weathered some fast and hostile bowling from the DDW openers. Brad smashed his way to a belligerent 7 off 18 balls before being well caught down the leg side, but Brian was in fine and fluent form and kept the run rate well under control.

Nick came and went for 4, bringing Stevie B to the crease. He kept Brian company until they paused for drinks mysteriously after only 8 overs. Returning refreshed, the pair milked and slashed the bowling to all parts until Brian was stumped by a couple of yards for an excellent 62 (42 balls). At that point only about 25 were needed from 4 overs, but the wheels started to come off. First I was bowled for 2, then Neil departed for a duck.

That placed to burden of winning the match squarely on Stevie’s shoulders, and he responded by hitting 18 off the 18th over. So, 3 needed for victory with two overs left, Julius facing. A couple of dots and then the clatter of stumps as he was cleaned up off an inside edge. David strolled to the crease and swung and missed the next 3 deliveries. A very rare wicket maiden, and still 3 to win.

Two balls later the match was ours with Stevie ending up on a fine 45 not out from just 30 balls.

All in all, a great performance from Darjeeling, and special thanks to David’s two lads for filling in so well.

The after match pleasantries were completed, and so to bed. Or in my case an evening of White Collar Boxing. Bizarre concept!