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.
The weekend of the 10th & 11th of November will see the Virtuzone GCC Sixes arrive at the ICC Academy in Dubai Sports City, for 2 days of fast paced 6 a side cricket.
Team entries are already in from the region, with teams travelling from Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, many teams from the UAE are also confirmed to enter from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
This is going to be a fun weekend for all the family, fast paced and exciting cricket, food and plentiful beverages and kids activities throughout the 2 days.
Teams who wish to enter can contact Nathan Cartwright
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 (plus beer) 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 beer 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 bollocks off. I bade a tearful farewell as I headed back to the airport, but a great weekend catching up with some top chaps.
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.
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 pints 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 ’14 pint man’.
14pm 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 gonorrhoea 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 pub…