The car washes of Dhaid rarely embody the spirit of the exotic, but 7 km to the south east lies a beautifully green, quaintly rustic cricket field among plantations and gravel plains. It was an all-out, rural affair from the start with early, cunning home ground psychology at play.
Dusk enveloped the setting with flood lights being held back to ensure the Darjeeling wagon train realised it was no longer in glitzy El Dorado. Given James’s recent confessional email about a goat in the desert we feared he may never leave the area.
The captains toss, where adult men embrace their tribal responsibility and flick a piece of metal to decide who throws the ball at whom, was conducted in Dhaid’s muggy Autumn darkness by the light of a cellphone. It was our first loss of the night. The second would be Dexy, who after whistling down half an over of net-practice-like deliveries wounded himself and hobbled off the field to lie next to the boundary rope like a forlorn, beached Salmon.
The floodlights fired to life and with the neatly choreographed exit-right by the pre-game entertainment of five startled, foraging hedgehogs, it was game time. The unique opening bowling combination of Man of the Match, Will Gregori Rasputin Watson (a 4-fer on debut) and the shuffling Badger immediately baffled the opposition. George would later compliment Badger on his unexpected agility-to-weight ratio, an athleticism which may have also confused the batsmen.
As the loping left-arm mystic unleashed pacey, unplayable deliveries from within his ample beard, Badger looped in apparently terrifyingly slow turners. The batsmen capitulated to five down before long. The fielding effort was surprisingly suffocating given the Darjeeling reputation of generosity. Both Dorris and Scott held onto rippers, by our standards, and Ieuan proved a wicket keeping wall. However, there were notable efforts at big-hearted sportsmanship from an unnamed former international scrumhalf and then Ash, curiously, both using the white ball to demonstrate how a fat fledgling pigeon spills from a nest. A mixture of wides and ambitiously contrived overthrows were minor glitches supplementing the rare lusty blows that crept the opposition to 107.
Dorris, apparently still marveling at his catch and contemplating more stomach-crunches in response to witnessing the power of his batting partner’s guns, nudged an early, gentle catch back to the bowler. George continued to slap deliveries around the ground and grumbled like a poked bear at the incessant yodeling of appealing fielders.
The chorus reached its ambitious climax with a howl for LBW as a short, leg-side delivery was slapped for a boundary. George, tiring of the zoologists perpetual mistiming of strokes at the other end of the flat-rolled pitch, and pinching of strike, ran him out shortly before the composed, gentle downhill run with Laird to 107 for victory in the 12th over. George, desperately in need of protein-shakes after his flurry of wicket-to-wicket shuttle sprints avoided the post-expedition debrief at the Irish village. It would have been there he’d have heard the revelation by tribal elder and scorer, Nick, of a corrected mathematical glitch and the Hellyer maiden 50 not out.
In three cars we made our way down to Al Dhaid to play against our newest opposition against Azamari Cricket Club (including six lads and kit in Mrs Harvey’s’ 4X4)
In short, we had no idea what to expect and as many of you know when you drive out to this part of the world/Sharjah, you feel like you go back in time a little……what I hadn’t expected was to go back to an era akin to those early pioneers of Darjeeling Cricket Club!
The ground is at the end of a dirt track, half a mile off the main road – without the four flood lights rising above the ground, you wouldn’t know it’s there. The infrastructure consists of four lamp posts, a gen-set in the far corner of the pitch, a couple of very basic looking shower/WC’s and an old Barasti type pavilion (complete with a palm-roof)
The pitch is a grass one, though more like you’re basic rolled mud á la Sharjah Cricket Stadium (and from a distance all thought it concrete), the bounce however, was fairly consistent and the outfield grass was well-mowed and flat. It’s not a huge ground, larger than Emirates Palace, but smaller than Oval 2 from the ICC.
The opposition were a friendly young bunch, there was a smattering of salwar kameez attired spectators and the Umpire made beautiful efforts of formality with his limited English.
Harvey lost the toss and therefore, had to field – the usual grumbles and expletives were muttered under (and above) the breath….In this, instance – some of this was justified as only Darjeelingites turned up for the game and therefore, a perfect excuse to renegotiate the batting was wasted…………..schoolboy, some might say.
Darjeeling opened with Rikesh, who bowled well (including a cracking first ball in-swinging Yorker) as did his opening partner Brent, who enjoyed an early wicket, but a few poor deliveries and wides kept their score ticking along at 9 an over, as it did for much of the match. Harvey & Peet were first and second change and despite a couple of loose ones, both bowled OK but at the half way stage Azmari had lost just one wicket for 80 odd runs. We then changed ends and Guernsey Kimbo was bought on.
Kimbo later blamed the lights, though the rest of us blamed the long hops, full-tosses and wides as his one and only over leaked 22 runs. Olly VDB came and bowled well, though was punished in his last over and the remaining overs were bowled out by the remaining overs from Harvey, Rikesh and Brent who all kept the scoring down (though this may have been because their opening bat was completely knackered) with the home side finishing on 183 – 3
Rikesh finishing with 4-0-32-0, Brent: 4-0-21-1, Harvey: 4-0-24-1, Matt: 4-0-39-0 and Olly: 3-0-34-1 – Azmari’s opening bat finishing on 88 n.o.
Azmari apparently, means ‘Tigers’ though I’m not sure in which language. Darjeeling’s response to the hosts total was barely pussycat. Though in their defence (as the scorecard won’t) many argued that they struggled seeing the ball with the lights, especially from the left-arm over opener. Both out openers (Kimbo, 1 – Jono, 3) fell cheaply and when Brent, wasting an opportunity to bat 3 was run out for 2, only the extras were keeping the score ticking along.
Munish offered some hope, after our newest adoption from the Kuwaiti casuals was caught for 3 (though, I’m sure he made more than that) as did Potty, with the visitors best score (including a first ball six over mid-on) but when they fell for 13 and 24 respectively, the fat lady was already on the team bus with the microphone packed away. Harvey prolonged the agony for a few overs and enjoyed a decent partnership (relatively not nominally) with Rikesh, but was caught behind for 15. Thankfully, Rikesh & Matt Peet edging our final total over 100.
Result aside, the match was played in good spirit and only one contested stumping in the second over of the hosts innings resulted in a Darjeeling expletive.
The prospect of the club’s first over 35s game in ages attracted stars from far and wide. Mr. N. Williams (Tsar of Moscow) flew in from Azkaban, and yours truly from the cultural deserts of Kuwait. Unfortunately, only one of us survived the rigours of a pre-match session in Bidi’s the day before as the Tsar of Moscow pulled a fetlock rushing to the bar and joined the growing list of late withdrawals. Against doctor’s orders, Mr. R. Khanna (Patron of Putney) bravely decided to risk his dodgy hammie, and completed a less than spry looking XI just before kick off.
In true social cricket fashion we met up for a pre-match beverage in Kickers to keep Blikkies company, and then repaired to the pitch where Captain Banerjee (Advisor to Businesses) duly won the toss and elected to bat. Greg and Pottie opened up on a slow, low pitch against some elderly dross, and cruised to 17 in the third over. Greg then got bored and chopped onto his own stumps to his absolute disgust and departed for a swashbuckling 2. Jonesy and Pottie moved the score along nicely to 39 before both departed to innocuous deliveries for 22 and 12 respectively, and after a fluent 8 I joined them, spanking a full toss back to the bowler.
At 58-4 Cookie was joined by the non-injured Nathan (Cartwright) and set about repairing the damage. Dealing mainly in ones and twos (much to Nathan’s delight) they moved the score on to a more respectable 121 before Nathan decided he was done for and capitulated, stumped for 31. The arrival of Mr. Harvey at the wicket prompted an acceleration in the run rate, and after a cautious start even Cookie cut loose. The score raced to 191 with a couple of balls left, at which point Nick was bowled for 31, leaving Etienne to face one ball after warming up with his son for the previous 15 overs. Cookie was undefeated on an excellent 53, with 36 extras contributing to a par score of 193 for 6.
Following current IPL fashion we opened up our bowling with a combination of searing pace (Greg), and mystery spin (Badger). Greg bowled well (4 overs 0-23) but struggled to get the ball above shin height on a dead pitch. In an eventful second over which went for 17, Badger tricked one of their openers into trying to knock the pastry off a tempting steak and kidney, and hit him plum in front. 1-25 off 2 overs for Badger, so he was hauled off and replaced by the far more parsimonious Etienne who bowled well for 0-19 off his 4 overs.
MoM Cookie replaced Greg at the ICC end, and bowled tightly, taking 1-20 from his first 4 overs, aided by a great tumbling catch by Greg in the deep. At the drinks break the Mammoths were 82-2, and needing more than 9 an over, with Nick Harvey replacing Etienne at the Bradenton end. His first over was eventful to say the least, with two sitters dropped by Greg and Badger, a farcical missed run out chance, a run out by Nathan thanks to the mis-named Lucky, and finally a wicket for Nick, bowled all ends up. First ball of his second over was a real jaffa, clipping the top of off stump to leave the Mammoths close to extinction.
However, at the other end, Jonesy decided to make a game of it, getting smacked for 40 from his 3 overs as Ranjit and Sadiq kept the Mammoths in touch with the asking rate. Ash replaced Nick (2-18 from 3) and restored the balance in favour of Darjeeling, having Ranjit caught behind for 40, and bowling the new guy first ball. He finished with an excellent 2-17 off 3 overs, and with about 30 needed from the last 3 in a moment of madness/genius he tossed the ball to Badger. A good catch by Nick and 5 runs later, Mammoths needed 25 from 2, and tight overs from Ash and Cookie left them 17 short with 9 wickets down.
A good win, celebrated in customary style in Kickers afterwards, with the players joined by a number of the younger club members who had been staying hydrated while we sweated our proverbial’s off. I bade a tearful farewell as I headed back to the airport, but a great weekend catching up with some top chaps.
The day started with a few early arrivals being gripped to Jo’s phone as a cached live coverage of the DSL team’s super over finale was dictated by McCaffery Jnr. The good news saw Nick’s celebratory F bomb count go through the roof pre toss. A new record.
The opposition fronted as a standard middle aged male troop, ranging from 3-4 technically good players, a couple of social blokes who used to a play a bit, and a couple of blokes who could sink 14 beverages of an afternoon then take a piss…
After a quick streak and pulling himself together, Nick won the toss and we had a bat. 10 off the first from Aryan was a good return off a good bowler. Aryan, Munish, Digby and Harry all with starts saw us 4/61 at drinks.
Fresh from his celebratory streak, Nick was charging, slapping them to all corners for a well fought 60. He only needed for someone to stick around, the middle order didn’t offer much today but Young Tom came in at 9 for a run a ball 20. A great head on his shoulders for his age.
Still with a few overs to go Ash came in to not only see out the innings but also wrap up the Fashions on the Field title for yet another week with the broadbrim/spectacle/headband/skins combo ensemble. Whilst looking the part he rolled the wrists over a juicy half volley to clear the fence and send the bustling crowd of 22 into raptures.
A decent total of 9/156 on an up/down wicket.
The Cannons came out with malicious intent using 3 of the technically better players i mentioned earlier. A few fielding mishaps and some blatant slogging saw them on the required rate for the first 5-6 and in the 9th they were 2/90. Enter the man with a vast appetite for chilled beverages.
He threw the kitchen sink and took it to the kids like a catholic priest, clearing the fence with nothing more than a pair of shorts and a bat. Even his box was unwanted ballast and thrown towards his team mates at fine leg to be collected mid innings.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm for its retrieval thoughts turned to if it was indeed uncomfortable or bad news had filtered through about the previous owners gonorrhea problem. An unfortunate time to receive the news no doubt, however it didn’t deter him and they passed us 2 down with 5 overs to spare. Off to the clinic I guess, or back to the cafe…
A very hot day at the ICC saw Darjeeling host a talented touring side from the University of East London.
DCC were batting first on an uneven wicket that offered movement for both new ball bowlers and spinners later in the game. Sam Jackson got DCC off to a good start with a string of impressive boundaries through the off side and formed a good 2nd wicket partnership with Watto. Watto, in particular, was eyeing up the 6 over extra cover shot with a success rate of 33% however still remained at the crease courtesy of picking their most limited fielder twice in the deep. Good batting & bad fielding had DCC well placed at 120-1 with Watto (47) and Sam (41) looking set for just the loss of Harry (caught behind for 17).
However, a familiar Darjeeling middle order collapse began with a newly single, resident DCC love rat, Dorris trying to hook a half volley & getting cleaned up, Jono exuding the air of man who would rather be in Rockies getting caught & Muni and Kev both succumbing to the tourist’s version of Badger leaving a middle order scorecard of 3,4,5,4 and followed up by Rohan running himself out without facing a ball for a duck (surely a dick of the day moment!?). Big Mikey hit a few boundaries and was not aided much by Matt Peet who seemed to be a specialist in picking the fielders – all in all DCC closed on a sub par 175 off 25 overs.
Being the most senior bowler in the team, Rohan was handed a brand new dukes ball, first over & ran in to bowl some heat from the top end. No wickets unfortunately but mixed his lengths up well and came up against some good stroke play to go for 30 from 3. Keen to avenge his own calamitous running, a smart bit of fielding off his own bowling led to DCC’s first wicket being a run out.
Mikey bowled well from the other end mixing up his stock slower ball with the odd quicker one & snicked off their opening bat for 32 who looked a decent player. Spinners were the order of the day at first change with Matt Peet claiming an LBW with a googly in case anyone was wondering & Jono wheeling away at the other end proving there is more to this man than smashing bullfrogs. Muni did well under a skier from Jono fresh after doing a juggling act with a similar opportunity a few overs previous & when the dreadlocked Rasta Brenty chipped in with a snick off wicket afterwards, UEL were 6 down and the game was well placed to go either way.
However, UEL’s version of Rambo (according to his scorebook name!) was under little scoreboard pressure and took the opposition home for a 3 wicket win in the last over. A relatively comfortable run chase in the end that proved DCC were most likely 20-30 runs light. Pick of the bowlers being Matt Peet with 1-29 off his 5 overs.
Date: 11 March 2017
Venue: ICC Academy
On a glorious sunny day at the ICC, the eagerly awaited traditional monthly friendly against The Blighty Ducks produced a match winning performance by Darjeeling’s own Six-Machine, Carl ”Half-Giant” Fletcher, that will be remembered by all present for many years to come. After the humbling of Skyline CC up in Sharjah the week before, principally by Half-Giant, he was keen to keep reproducing his towering form and produce he did!
Skipper A. “Double A” Banerjee kept to his tried and tested method of losing the toss and being asked to bat first under a blue, sunny sky, on what transpired to be a slow-ish track, which although yellowish and hard in hue, it was thought would require batsmen to work hard for their runs (oh how Half Giant make a mockery of that!). “Half-Giant” Fletcher and Jamie “Sneaky” Smibert opened the Darjeeling innings with watchful intent and looked solid from the start, safely negotiating The Ducks’ opening salvos by the oddly effective pairing of moonball off-spinner Clive and medium-quick Rob.
Half-Giant Fletcher warmed up with a couple of scything blows to the leg-side boundary, which kept the scoring rate decent with Sneaky Smibert looking comfortable picking up singles and rotating the strike. Sneaky, however, with the intent of upping the scoring rate, nicked one to first slip, which he was rather surprised about and thus had to sneak off the pitch unbeknownst to his fellow team mates.
Realising that Fletcher was standing on his own, with Sneaky having snuck off, Ollie ”van den” van den Broek walked in at 3 and, expecting a loosener, was surprised by a rather well-directed bouncer first up by Rob, which caused him to produce an Olympian style double-pike tuck, which summarily landed him on his backside (Tom Daly would’ve been distinctly unimpressed!).
Half-Giant, on the other hand, tucked in to the Duck bowling of Clive and leg-spinner Allen by either charging down the pitch clubbing them over their heads or smoting the ball to the leg side with swivel pulls or flicks, keeping the run rate at a steady 6-7 an over. “Van den”, ridiculously thinking he could match his more illustrious partner, also charged down the track to Allen but only managed to successfully spoon the ball to long-off, thus ending a rather short and uninspired innings.
After Van den’s departure, in-stepped Carl “Conor – The Notorious” McGregor, fresh from dominating all opposition on the UFC circuit and wanting to now grapple with the more viscous and physical sport of cricket. With the atmosphere akin to his ring-side cage, The Notorious south-pawed his first ball for 4 with aplomb and then rope-a-doped a couple of singles around the pitch. Deep into the 5th over, Notorious decided to upper-cut a delivery to the off-side boundary but was undone by Allen’s “rear-naked choke” off-break and was forced to tap for submission. Notorious trudged off realising he had been outsmarted by the better f(l)ighter but was soon made aware of Floyd Mayweather’s announcement to end his retirement and fight Notorious for an estimated $100m fight in June this year, which cheered him up a bit.
This brought in Tom “Thumb” Mariadason and together with Half-Giant, with a fighting weight of 120kg himself, brought about a combined heavyweight batting partnership of 122.5kg with The Thumb just about reaching the height of Half Giant’s pad. Keeping bat and pad close together like forefinger and thumb, The Thumb looked good value. Unfortunately for The Thumb, he was out to his 3rd ball for 1 edging again, like his predecessor Notorious, to the keeper. Hard luck, mate!
Adam “Partially Blind” Benjamin, namesake of former 1998 Blind World Cup England Captain (http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1998-99/OTHERS+ICC/WC-BLIND/SQUADS/WC-BLIND_NOV1998_ENG-PROFILES.html– NB. category B1 blind, thus partially blind, not fully blind), was next in to accompany The Half-Giant at the 12th over with only 74 on the board realising that they had to up the ante.
Partially Blind (or PB for short), reminiscent of some of the West Indian greats with his relaxed, languid manner and resplendent in Oakley blackout glasses to maintain style and blind-ness, missed his first 6 balls whilst clearly being perplexed by not being able to hear the jingle of the ball as it was coming down the track. Realising this was a standard game of cricket without the audible assistance of bells, he was suddenly gifted with the power of sight and smacked one boundary and started rotating the strike beautifully to allow The Half-Giant to play his LARGE game.
At this point in time, the report must turn towards an innings of such magnificence, the written word cannot do it justice. In short, Half-Giant plundered and battered the opposition bowling with such ferocity and power that I am sure will have mentally scarred the opposition bowlers for quite some time. A humble man of few words, the Half-Giant very much lets his bat (or bats after splitting one in half during his mammoth innings) do the talking, smashing the ball to all parts of the ground for 154 brutal runs, which included some outrageous sixes and one particular strike nearly taking out a fielder on the neighbouring pitch as well as depositing several balls on top of the changing room’s roof.
There are several key facts and figures of note from this terrific knock…of Darjeeling’s total of 189, the Half-Giant hit 154 of them (for the statisticians out there, that is an incredible 81.5% of the team’s total) in only 62 balls, hitting 12 6’s and 12 4’s. From getting to his century to 150, he managed to do that in an astonishing 10 balls! Indeed, with Darjeeling on only 74 after 10 overs, the Half Giant-Partially Blind partnership proved an unstoppable combination, which would go on to yield 115 runs, ultimately taking the game out of sight (no pun intended PB). An awesome feat and quite outstanding knock by the Half-Giant, ably supported by Partially Blind. Bravo and hats off all round! With the team reaching a total of 189, it was felt that this was a more than decent total and one which Darjeeling knew they could defend well with a strong bowling line-up.
Apropos…Double A decided to open the bowling with Israr ‘The Academic’ and with the inspired choice of Badger “Badger” Badger at the other end. The Academic bowled tight lines to which the opening oppo batsmen had no answer and was unlucky not to add a wicket to his ever-increasing list of post-nominals. Badger, on the other hand, with his penchant for bowling beautifully flighted China(wo)men, beguiled the batsmen into playing rash shots by either spooning the ball into the air to the Darjeeling fielders or dancing down the pitch and missing the ball altogether, being expertly stumped by part-time keeper Digby “Dirty” Fraser’s filthily effective glovework.
Indeed, Badger ripped through the cream of the Ducks’ batting line-up, ending up with splendid bowling figures of 4-13 of his 4 overs and was unlucky not to get his Michelle if it wasn’t for a couple of dropped half-chances in the slips. Double A also deserves a mention at this point for his masterful manipulation of the field as skipper, which assisted in getting at least two Duck wickets. Indeed, Double A will tell you that his captaincy is inspired via the power of Jazz, which he will gleefully tell you about over a couple of G&Ts…a thoroughly enjoyable chat if I say so myself!
The opening Darjeeling salvo immediately quelled any chances of the Ducks staging a successful run chase as they were reduced to 37/4 after 8 overs once The Academic and Badger had finished their respective spells. The first change bowlers of The Thumb and Notorious supported the opening pair well with The Thumb bowling especially well ending with match figures of 2-15 off his 4 overs, which included a medley of leggies; googlies and flippers. Most impressive for someone of such youth!
Richard “Dexy” H and Double A wrapped the innings up as second change bowlers, whilst being very well supported in the field via run outs through a Partially-Blind / Dirty combo, which left The Ducks all out for 95 runs, thus providing Darjeeling with a rather dominating win of 94 runs.
So, a thoroughly enjoyable game was had by all, which included a gargantuan individual score, full of clobbered sixes, by Darjeeling’s Half-Giant; plenty of wickets by Badger and The Thumb and agile fielding by all to keep the Darjeeling boys as happy as a gaggle of Larry’s. Added to that, an enjoyable post-match drinks session was had with the Ducks to discuss the day’s play, which is what the game of cricket is all about. The hope is that this comprehensive win against a good side with plenty of talent of its own, will kick-start Darjeeling’s friendly side into a strong second half of the season. Cheers!
[vc_row type=”container” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Darjeeling CC v The Avengers CC Saturday 4th March 2017 Skyline University Sharjah
We bowled first and bowled great… And they kept running themselves out. One pair ended up at the same end and began a fight between themselves , as to which one was actually out, which lasted twenty minutes .
It didn’t seem that anyone really knew the rules, least of all the umpire and then it degenerated into the nearest thing to a proper fight I’ve ever seen on a cricket pitch with their bloke on the verge of tears and hysteria telling everyone to go away then trying to fight our opening bat who politely and completely understandably….told him he was an utter idiot and to get off .
It seemed their team are used to this kind of behaviour as they ran on like the Keystone Cops and literally had to drag him back . He was no Tony Bellew let me tell you … More Tony Bellend.It took ten mins and Kissinger like diplomacy to drag this madman off the pitch…
Anyway, on to our batting: Chasing 134 to win ….Ash …. In Brearley like … left field … intuitive mode ….asked this bloke who no one seemed to know …or had seen play …to open (Big Carl.) Left handed and made Ben Stokes look like Chris Tavare … He battered (the only verb that does this justice) the ball to all parts of Sharjah. And I mean battered and I mean all parts.
11 overs later … It was all over with Carl 81 not out off 39 balls .
As the teams shook hands , the idiot who was trying to fight in the first innings came over to have another go making an even bigger idiot of himself than before .
My little lad Joe asked quietly if he could over and punch him and although tempted , we set sail for Dubai.
After having been asked by CSE to be ready to play at 3:15pm Ajman Time, DCCc dads scrambled from all parts of Dubai and most made it to the ground in time only to find that the opposition were still on Sharjah time and arrived at 3:45. The boys have learned well from the seniors and invoked DCC Law #1 and padded up……
The openers Thomas and Yash made a steady start, until Yash was trapped in front for 8. Thomas was met by Rithik and took the score along to 38. Losing another quick wicket DCCc were looking shaky and 3/44 off 9. An excellent 95 run partnership between Yahya (59 off 43) and Rohan (46 off 40), steadied the side and gave us a glimmer of hope of posting a competitive score. With some good running, lusty hitting and unselfish batting by the tail Kai, Chris, Aryan and Ryan, DCCc finished at 8/172 from 25.
CSE got off to a flyer, with one of the openers smashing all bowlers to all parts, with some very impressive strokes. Having put on almost 40 before losing the first wicket CSE looked the goods. DCCc didn’t help matters by dropping 5 catches. Having broken the opening stand DCCc managed to pull scoring rate back and were able to build some pressure and pick up a few more wickets. Aryan and Yahya slowed thing down with some tidy off spin and Joe picked up a couple of wickets including a smart stumping by Kai. It was still anyone’s game with CSE needing 50 off 5. A couple of crucial run outs, very good catches by Ryan in the deep and tight bowling at the death ensured DCCc were able to enjoy a well-earned BBQ proudly sponsored by Dr Jaco’s Dental Studio.
Special thanks to Munish who broke all Thursday night land speed records to get from Sports City to Ajman by 4pm and walk straight on to Umpire for 50 overs. Jaco for finally getting off the phone in time to cook the snags and burgers….. Rob and Omar for supporting from the side lines, CSE for the game and all the parents who support the boys.