Brownie’s Leaving Match

What a week it’s been with Iraq imploding (again), Luis Suarez getting kicked out for the World Cup for ‘tripping’ his teeth into an Italian’s shoulder and Stephen Brown’s Leaving Match – hastily resurrected at Dubai College.

I thought I would start this with a small excerpt of yesteryear that I found in the closet – this was a report written following another Leaving Match for one Mr. Brad Wissinck back in 2008. This too was the hottest cricket match that year – and to-date remains (and I hope it stays that way) the warmest match I’ve ever played.

A little excerpt of Cricket in Dubai over the Summer

Our team Darjeeling CC organized a cricket game on Saturday to see off one of the clubs favourite members – who, paradoxically is an Australian.  During the summer in Dubai, it’s only really possible to play early in the morning – because of the obvious high temperatures – but with common sense deserting us we opted for a 2:00pm start thinking that the schedule would tie in nicely for a 6:00pm start at the pub and 7:00pm kick-off of the S.Africa v All Blacks game.  I should add that we no longer have our own ground and (air conditioned) clubhouse since a Dubai Holding company decided to build a mega development/city on it (the project is of course, now on hold).  Therefore, we have to play at Zabeel Park with all the other oiks.

 

We did however, in the past used to play through the summer – so what could a wee 20 over match do to us?  Two overs into the game, though hot – we thought this no worse than past games on our desert pitch from yesteryear. ……….. However, temperatures in excess of 110⁰f (plus 80% humidity) have a habit of catching up on you – especially when you have to bowl a couple of overs.  On returning to my fielding position at extra cover after my first over (only one wide) my body temperature felt like it had risen five degrees – after the second (no wides and one wicket) a further three – the worry was that it didn’t come back down again – but merely hovered around the “severe fever” zone. 

 

The batsmen were certainly no worse off – the first over saw the openers taking a two – this folly was repeated only once or twice in the entire match.  Singles were walked; sweat poured, heads hung low in the field and the only focus appeared to be on self-preservation.  After 10 overs we had a drinks break and this is when it became obvious that water was running low.  With it being a Friday and the middle of summer, the park staff clearly believed no one would be mad enough to come until the evening (yet alone play cricket!) and no shop was open. The epitome of the game came in the 12th over when one of our batsmen, Chris  – who was on mid 20’s (and in his mid 40’s)with only two boundaries (…..ouch) drove a half volley to point and walked a single he could have clearly made – the ball was gently lobbed toward  the keepers gloves and Chris noticeably slowed down – for a second it looked like the keeper was going to tease him and fumble the ball – but soon after he tipped the bails off thus putting Chris out of his misery – whereas he promptly walked off, soaked himself in water and sat under the tree ensuring the emergency services were on speed dial.

 

Come the fifteenth over, our skipper for the day, Gary – a portly beer drinking northerner in his late 40’s – summoned up the last of his strength to sound normal and spoke to the opposing captain.  With sweat pouring down his neck he suggested that (for the benefit of the rest of the team of course!) that we reduce the match to a sixteen overs as he feared for the health of the fielders and batsmen alike.  Therein, he took the ball, bowled the last over and retreated to the shade.

 

I’m glad to say we won the game – and though fielding first did subject us to the worst heat of the day we enjoy a pleasant bout of schadenfreude witnessing the (losing) fielding side struggle as we sat under the tree with fresh supplies of water.

 

Mad Dogs and Englishmen…….

Though, not quite as brutal Friday twas most certainly was a stinker – similar to Brad’s leaving do but perhaps without quite so much sp*nk in the mercury…..or has someone else mentioned, like Chiang Mai but with the oven on.  Owing to the good work of Mr. Nathan Cartwright we were playing at our latest venue Dubai College and the occasion; to provide a suitable adieu to one of our most colourful characters (residing from the not so colourful Yorkshire) who is leaving us for longer summers and shorter, wetter, colder winters on Monday. Brownie has provided us all with much mirth, anecdotes, changing room antics and even musical entertainment……….a colourblind one-man Panto who can more than bat a bit….

We all drifted in between 1:30 and 2:00pm. With no facilities apparent, phone calls were made and a Goan caretaker (with a Portuguese name I’m sure Christiano Ronaldo would struggle with) was located and subsequently invited us to any supplies that we may need. Paul, Wardy & I followed Conceição (see, I told you….try saying that when you’re hot & sober!) to the store cupboard. Chris Ward reflecting with nostalgia on how he loved the smell of sports equipment supply rooms – with flashbacks from the “locker room” scene in Porkies we found the gear needed and made a hasty retreat.

Naturally, Mr. Stephen Brown was skipper for his last match, his one request being that he could select his side. Coined as “Brownie’s Mates” in the pre-match emails, better alternatives were soon sought. We finally settled on AT’s suggestion and the team is in the book as “The Brown Stars”. Chris’s Taverners were unsurprisingly skippered by Chris, though Ashish Banerjee appeared as the on-field Captain ………….more about that later.

Once stumps had been appropriated and boundary markers placed a headcount was taken. Remarkably, all were present bar Dannie Rees (suffering from squitty-poos) and the Hass – merely saving himself for a grand entrance – who was to join us a few minutes later.

The toss was won or negotiated, I don’t know and because of the heat no one seemed to notice or…….well….give a toss.

George Appleton came down with Orn and Theresa too braved the stifling weather to watch another eagerly-anticipated Interclub Match.  Kieran from the school came down, which was nice and he is clearly an enthusiast of the game. We chatted for a while, though with sweat dripping off statuesque spectators he soon found some work that needed doing inside and bid us well.

So with the sides settled Johno and a vomit-free Gully – who’d somehow negotiated to open (and clearly does a good job of lobbying his batting position in the pub) – strode out open at around 2:15pm.

Gully struck a couple of shots but generally did much to dispel the rumours that he played Grade A cricket in Australia. He fell in the second over off the bowling of Hassan. The fielding side rotated the bowling at will – so much so in fact that by the end of the seventh over, seven bowlers had been used. Johno continued to knock the ball around – however, runs were hard to come by and come drinks (10th over) the score had not reached 50.

There was some confusion in the ranks as to whether this was a 25 over fixture as advertised or a twenty over game as the weather was urging. This [confusion] reached a crescendo soon after drinks when the umpire pointed out he believed we were playing a 25 over match. Therein saw a most uncharacteristic outburst from our club-captain, Mr. Chris (Dummy?) Dommett, who vociferously claimed that he’d never agreed to this as Captain. Julius (Umpiring) replied pensively that he thought Ash was the Captain and was retorted with a “do-you-know-who-I-am” reply (sort of). Julius was somewhat perplexed and with heads turning to and fro there fell upon a brief silence. A silence that would have been perfectly perforated by the botty-injured Dannie Rees’s falsetto of “……Awkward…..!” And so play resumed.

Now faced with just five overs left – Johno retired on 44 (– a sterling effort the conditions……….and his general level of fitness) following Stephen Brown’s dismissal to bring on the exiled Jim Grisdale and Paul Sackley to the crease.

Overall, it was a sparkless innings with less than 10 boundaries and the weather robbing the usual vim we’ve come to expect in these matches.

Innings highlights included:

  • Stephen Brown going arse-over-tit at the batting crease
  • Chris Ward going for 16 off an over
  • Hassan – on removing Stephen Brown just after he’d been hoiked over long on for one of the few sixes of the day – responded with a trademark fist-pump and Neanderthal grunt. Brownie was naturally, displeased – however, the ball was a good one; nipping in off a length (I know all this as we were all camped right behind the bowlers arm – cricketing etiquette abandoned to claim the minimal area of shade)
  • Dommett’s minor tantrum which must surely be shortlisted for the Teddy award come Christmas

The Brown Stars made 129. An unimpressive total, but one that looked easily defendable considering the conditions.

Paul and the in-form Brandon made there may to the crease for the start of the Taverners’ innings with Gris & I opening the bowling. Brandon hit a beautiful six off the first over (one of only three that day) and then worryingly ducked a couple of Gris’s bouncers on a track that had been keeping low all day.

Cue Julius and two tremendous overs of line and length bowling that saw four wickets tumbling for the loss of just six runs including a triple wicket maiden that took what little breeze there was out of the sails of the Taverners. Paul, Brandon, Rohan & Chris D all fell victim to Julius’s opening spell. It’s a curious thing getting out in an all Darjeeling Match and though I escaped the pleasure this time, I recall that there is no dignified way to be removed in an interclub game. Most of us walk off with stupid devil-may-care-grin trying to conceal the humiliation of the moment (especially, if you have been dismissed – as I have twice – by one Stuart Matthewson). I say this, however, Gregory Moses managed to break the norm by walking (his chin higher than a beamer) before been given out after nicking one behind off the bowling of Paul. Still, some work to do to regain the moral high ground post-Chiang Mai my friend…

With the Taverners ailing on 46 for six – humiliation was abated by a decent stand between Israr and Ash Banerjee. Israr looking his usual settled self and Ash offering stubborn resistance interspersed with some decent cricket shots and kamikaze running between the wickets.

Their partnership ended in spectacular fashion after Israr’s cover drive was pocketed one-handed by Brownie diving full stretch to his right. He celebrated in a modest and dignified manner by reeling off a circumnavigation of the square reminiscent of an FA Cup winning goal-scorer. Twas a great catch and Israr left the field shaking his head complete with dumb-interclub-grin.

A couple of low-scoring overs later, the heat still relentless and the game was fizzling down to the inevitable with all Eleven fielders now realizing that Chris had actually had a good point when he stood fast to his Twenty Overs ideals.   Ash retired knackered as top-scorer (25) for the Taverners and Chris Ward made a few.

Other highlights were few and far between. Gris took a funny tumble as did Julius (by the way, sorry if that fall hurt Jules – as I noticed no one came to over a hand – think it was too hot). In the flavor of the world cup Julius actually stayed down for a couple of deliveries…… but no referees blew their whistle nor did physios run on the pitch.   The Hass was bowled second ball after Brownie’s first-ball-bouncer took him by surprise. After twenty overs with the score still in two figures we all left the pitch and discussed post-match drinks.

Overall, it was a humidly-induced lackluster affair – and whilst most agreed that the ground has potential and the location aint-‘alf-‘andy there was a general concord that there is work to do on the pitch and that the outfield currently has a scoring-rate lower than Johno’s in Mahikis.

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