The New Season opener – words by C. Tebb

So a new year dawned for the Darjeeling Cricket Club with a new year of hope and expectation against a new opponent; yet the traditions remain, meeting Gully with beer in hand for example. The troops summoned by Captain Moses for a 1400 start, mustered around 1315 at Oval number 2 at the ICC and greeted each other with exciting tales on New Year adventures whilst awaiting the opposition. Greg insisted that they were well aware of the revised start time and instead tried to distract everyone with the new uniform for 2014. The less said about that the better, but there were some new definitions of tightie whities in that changing room.

Being organised this year for the averages and aided by modern information technology, Chris “Statto” Tebb arranged the soldiers up against the wall of the score box in order to be each shot several times (with a camera). Mugshots duly taken, Gully somehow escaping by refusing to put his kit on until absolutely necessary, talk turned to the soon to be over Ashes series; 30 seconds later the pros and cons of the Super 15 Rugby were being debated at much greater lengths. Time check 1355 Zulu and no enemy action in sight. 

Thankfully at 1405, some oppposition appeared; their captain duly explained that when they were told 1400 start they thought 1430 and also that they got lost on their way to the ICC. Oh well, 1430 start time – no plan survives contact with the enemy; as their captain explained that the only car missing was lost and contained 5 of their players in it. Hmm with the ICC staff sceptical that all the overs would be complete before role call, Captain Moses negotiated a DCC bat based on, “the Darjeeling rule” of the oppposition not being there for the toss and well, we always bat first.

The non-appearance of the last members of the oppostion’s squad brought some diquiet to the ranks, there were murmurs of, “Well maybe we should get started and just field first.” Captain Moses stamped out the dissention and finally the remaining squad of players arrived and play began at 1450 (sic) with Private Cartwright and Sergeant Houghton striding to the wicket. 

So began the cricket, finally! The opening pair eager to get on with started scratchily with Private Cartwright perfecting the air shot and Sgt Houghton content to collect singles. In the third over after finally getting bat on ball three times for 6 runs, Pvt Cartwright nicked one to a delighted keeper (FOW 12-1, 3.2) Recruit Pretorious joined the Sarge in the middle and carried on where his sadly departed comrade left off. Sensing a NCO’s example was needed, Sgt Houghton flicked the switch from accumulate to pinch hit and went from 5 off 6 to 33 off 16 very quickly (5x4s 1×6). Alas, like at the Battle of Hastings, seeing the opposition in retreat and giving chase Sgt Houghtong duly edged to the keeper chasing a wide one and perished (FOW 47-2, 5.6). Enter Sergeant-Major Brown who promptly announced him self with some silky shots to all parts of the boundaries; this must have woken up Recruit Pretorius who decided that the opposition Grenadier #1 must be punished for poor technique and started bashing the poor man over the ropes for two straight 6s. The new found confidence aided by his own corp of photographers spurred on the young gun and two further boundaries were plundered before the karma of making the Sgt-Major run three, ensured that Recruit Pretorius advanced down the wicket only to be stumped for 33 off 19. (FOW 98-3, 9.4) The halfway mark was reached with the Tea Leaves 100-3 with Sgt Major Brown joined by Corporal “Punishment” Al Huq. What follows will remind those old enough, Brigadier Turner maybe, of the Battle of the Somme; pure carnage. After seeing themselves in in the 11th over (2 scored), slaughter began in earnest. The 50 partnership coming up in just 37 deliveries (JB 19(16) – IAH 29(21)); unfortunately for the opposition Grenadier #2 came onto bowl to whom Cpl Punishment decided was fair game, 50 for GI Joe off just 28 deliveries (4x4s, 4x6s). Deciding that Grenadier #3 was more to his liking the Sarnt Major moved to his 50 (36b, 5x4s 1×6) with an agricultural shot over long on. The 100 partnership followed at the end of the 19th over and with sniper-like precision and clinicalism(?) a whopping 25 runs were plundered from the last over. (Not the most off a single over in the match but this innings). Sgt Major Brown fininshing on 60* off 41 balls with 7x4s and 1×6 and Corporal Al Huq 76* off 35 balls with 5x4s and 6x6s. Darjeeling finishing on 224-3 off their 20 overs in a rapid 80 minutes. 

Given just 80 minutes to try and bowl their 20 overs, Darjeeling’s platoon of likely lads took to the field, with Captain Moses expressing that Dajeeling expects that every man should do his duty and give no quarter bowling, fielding or sledging. Cpl Punishment given no respite by the ever-demanding Captain opened up from the School end and after the obligatory initial wide, the Ericsson opener declared, “Game on, old chap,” and carted the Cpl over the long off sightscreen for 6 first ball! From the Academy end Captain Moses took it upon himself to go where the eagles dare and despite the obligatory ealy wide (comedy moment when Brigadier Turner started begging the oppostion umpire to behave, after giving a swing and a miss, wide of Cpl Al Huq in the first over) bowled a wonderful line and length giving away nothing. Captain Moses gunned down a very tidy looking opened in his 2nd over, squaring him up a beauty and taking an edge through to Recruit Pretorius. (FOW 24-1) Consensus was that the Umpire would not have given it, had the opener not started walking before stopping and waiting for the signal. Form the other end Cpl Al Huq was victim to some wild slashing and deliberate stroke play yet the benficiary of the “Ian Bell scoop to Cover” to pick up his first wicket of the season, (FOW 27-2) and finishing with 1-31 off 4. Captain Moses, inspired by his own pre-battle address, caused no end of problems to the batsman and after a personal duel with the number 4 yorked him with the 2nd slower ball in succession. Cpt Moses finishing with 2-13 off 4 including a maiden.

In to the attack Cadet Flight Sergeant Tebb (CCF RAF) from the school end and after a few balls of getting the radar correctly aligned, delivered a ball of good length and line, with a hint of away movement to pick up his first wicket of the season. (FOW 48-4). Warrant Officer 2nd Class Gullickson was introduced from the Academy End and soon picked up where he had left off from last year, showing all the tykes how to bowl swing properly. After taking a full bloodied drive to the midsection Flt Sgt Tebb was withdrawn as his run-up was taking too long and light was receding quickly, 2-0-15-1. WO2 Gully continued to tease and trouble that batsman, but as is nearly always the case when we bowl, the batsman just were not good enough to edge it. It was at this point that the oppostion decided that they were going to enjoy batting at the ICC rather trying to chase an ever increasing run rate. Brigadier Turner into the attack and with no back up from his field alternated bewteen being shown respect and being shown no respect, youngsters these days, eh? After Warrant Gully finally picked up his deserved wicket (3-0-3-1) he was retired to allow the Grand Rear Admiral Banerjee to announce himself on the game; which he duly did. Last years, alleged, leading wicket taker starting with a double wicket maiden, including an oppostion Umpire giving an LBW!! The Brigadier was again let down in field with a dropped catch, no names (the author) this drop seem to trigger some new thought process in the opener’s mind. To around this point he had sedately acquired 40 or so runs but in the last 4 overs overcame his shell sock and unleashed a brutal counter attack. 8 and 12 off Brigadier Turner’s last two overs and after bowling his penultimate over, to the oppostion player most resembling a Badger, conceding just 5; the last over was something spectacular in the rapidly fading light. First ball – long off, WO2 Gully runs to his left, just over him; SIX. 2nd ball – long off, WO2 runs to the right, just just over him; SIX. Third – long off, WO2 runs in, just short; SINGLE. 4th to the tailender, SINGLE. Fifth ball – straight, straight, straight and on to the roof of the ICC; SIX. Last ball – long off – way over him; SIX. 26 off the last over; opener suddenly finishes on 97* and Grand High Rear Admiral goes from 2-1-5-2 to 3-1-31-2. Tea Leaves still win by 76 runs! Mention in dispatches for Private First Class de Boinville who got pad rash and then fielded.

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