Penned by Charles Forward from our 7 February fixture at the ICC Academy
The inaugural meeting of a new decade between these two titans of Dubai cricket dawned foggy, so much so that at the toss there was some discussion as to whether this was a six a side game in preparation for the upcoming six a side tournaments or a full 11 a side game. The arrival of the rest of the Lions confirmed this was a full team Game. The Lions on winning the toss decided to insert Darjeeling as they had a full side and wanted to take advantage of a soft ball until Badger arrived with the Match balls.
Darjeeling started slowly with Rachitt surviving a confident call for caught behind in the first over, before failing to nick the ball and being adjudged LBW. This brought the unassuming Andrew Kirk to the wicket who decided tip and run was the best way to upset the Lions. This nearly worked but he also managed to miss one and was following Rachitt back to the pavilion LBW for 2. The captain of the day Jamie Watkins (26) joined Charles Forward (31) (if only that were their ages not weights in Imperial measures) to steady the innings until the latter ran out of lives and found a fielder who could catch.
Watto was joined by Arsalan and these two took the score up to 82 to set up the final push for a competitive score. Cameos from George, Nick, and Chris saw the Darjeeling total to a slightly below par 138, however the sticky nature of the pitch meant there was hope particularly as the Lions “Badger’ had proved difficult to get away.
An inspiring team talk from the captain with the key message to bowl straight sent the Darjeeling team out to defend the total. Unfortunately both Oli and Nick struggled for direction and the 17 wides they conceded gave the Lions a strong start. Nick claimed the opener and Rachitt coming on at the end of the power play sent their number 3 back, however a no ball 2 balls later cost Darjeeling a further wicket before the introduction of Badger. The flight and guile of the Darjeeling veteran (4 overs for 23) kept the scoring rate under control however this was too much for the Darjeeling fielders who refused to entertain taking any catches once Badger himself had decided to give the opening bat a third chance by dropping one most grandmothers would have taken!
The introduction of George brought us back in to it with 2 quick wickets, one from an excellent catch from Rachitt now the catching strike was over. An inspired piece of captaincy by Watto, refusing to bring back opening bowler Oli, instead introducing Pete Langton resulted in another wicket but it was too little to late and Arsalan was unable to defend 2 off the 19th over resulting in a 5 wicket loss.
The game then moved on to Kickers for a full post mortem where both teams rehydrated and set up some battles for the next meeting of these Dubai titans.
Any cricketer in the UAE should jump at the chance of a game here. Three years after first admiring it from a floor high up in a neighbouring skyscraper, this writer was lucky enough to get the chance to play on it shortly before sadly leaving the country for good. Nestled amongst far-ranging and undulating green gardens, and with the ocean lapping up against white sand metres from the boundary fence, you’d be forgiven for imagining yourself in the West Indies were it not for the imposing Fairmont and Jumeirah hotels squarely framing the sight screens. Yes, we were in Abu Dhabi to play the Gents at their enviable Emirates Palace home ground.
With Darjeeling having come up against the Gents in a DSL fixture only a few days previously, this was a more social affair. The two teams set up at the boundary in the shade of palm trees and uncertainty around our hosts’ policy on studs saw them unscrewed, replaced and unscrewed again while the pitch was inspected, and the coin tossed.
Darjeeling were put out to field first in sweltering heat and yours truly thrown the ball by captain Watto to start the demolition. Three wides (right, left and right) later and the long-awaited legal delivery, graciously served half way up the wicket, was duly dispatched for six runs. The theme of my own afternoon was at least decided.
With the boundary short and the bowl-shaped outfield slow, the temptation to angle up was irresistible for most batsmen but, apart from Nick whose ruthless bowling sent stumps flying, Darjeeling’s attack suffered initially from a few slippery hands. The bowlers eventually found their mark, with Matt (2-40), Umar (2-24) and Krish (2-25) finishing with two wickets apiece, Ash 1-21 but on the wrong end of some drops and Nick the pick of the group with final figures of 2-14 off 4.3 overs.
This writer has just googled “worst ever sports performances” to attempt to provide you with a useful gauge of his own toils. A run-up shortened from a Mitchell Johnson 2013 Ashes-esque space shuttle runway to the last resort step-and-lob shame largely failed to stem the wides. Wicketkeeper Charles got a 360-degree workout and the ICC-accredited umpire even copped a bowling action into his thigh in the struggle to keep the ball down the middle. Watto and Darjeeling CC showed its team spirit throughout with endless but futile faith. I am reliably informed that only Boris Johnson’s son may have bowled more wides in an on over for Darjeeling than the ~12 calculated for my final over. A catch resulting from a miscued smash to the boundary is gratefully received in final figures of 1-67 from 6 overs.
A rare 30-over match saw the hosts out within 25 overs and setting a target for Darjeeling of 144 runs to win.
Sunny, opening the batting for Darjeeling against his old side, made a confident 22 including some characteristically elegant drives you could take home to meet your parents, while partner George saw six balls before holing out for three. Brendan came in at three and battered the Gents with raucous but never-uncertain 74 runs, of which 30 came from sixes. Watto himself contributed a rapid 26. DCC were clearly brimming with confidence – with all wickets falling to catches.
From a generous foundation, and with the noise on the boundary getting louder, Charles, Matt P and Ash were able to dictate the pace and literally walk it home. Charles, presumably taking a breather after his acrobatics behind the wicket stroked a gentle sixteen. Matt’s desperate shouts of “Two there!” were greeted with leisurely strolls between the wickets from final partner Ash, who dragged out the suspense and condemned Matt to a total of ten singles amongst his 14 runs. Darjeeling were turning the screw, and the slow-play tactics clearly worked, with a Gents bowler removed from the attack for bowling two dangerous deliveries. With the team roaring support from the boundary Ash himself squared up for the Gents’ final delivery, answering it in style with a dismissive six over the Palace-end sight screen to win Darjeeling the game.
Almost May and we still have perfect weather to don the whites……only it wasn’t Whites on Saturday (some of us didn’t read the memo.) Fortunately, there were spares at hand and Darjeeling got their first opportunity to show off their new Green-coloured kit in the daytime. With the Dubai Super League done and dusted for another season, the side was a good mix of both friendly and DSL players. Chat centred on Thursday & Friday evening’s activities with many talking of the Michael McIntyre show they’d attended and making a complete hash of his jokes.
Blighty Ducks, keen to play in their new Duck Yellow kit, were the opposition and preferred to forego the changing rooms and remain outside in their favoured Gulf Sixes position on the grassy knoll. (With much banter and merriment to be heard I might add). Captain Watto led the toss, promptly loss and received the mandatory abuse as Darjeeling were asked to field.
A rare (though harmless) sight was presented to the Ducks’ openers with the veteran Nick Harvey given the new cherry. It was a long opening over with four wides giving Watto some early diving practice behind the stumps. Brendan opening at the schoolyard end wasn’t quite able to match Harvey’s extra rate (only 3 wides) as the Ducks got off to a straightforward start. And that’s pretty much how it continued. With runs coming easily off the bat aided by frequent extras and some spilled chances in the outfield (including DSL Leader, J.Houghton) keeping the Ducks upper order at the crease.
Both Nick & Brendan did take a wicket a piece in their opening spells but then the Ducks enjoyed a massive partnership of 157 between Cameron 93 & Chris 82. Racchit and Umer doing their best to stem the tide…………..as did Olly with a generous offering of 26 runs in his opening (and only) over. Both Stanni and Jono chipped in at the end with some better bowling but it wasn’t until Brendan took the old ball back in his hand that the deadlock was broken. By then the Ducks had amassed north of 200.
There was something to cheer about with Brendan taking a further two wickets and having an opportunity to claim a Michelle with his final delivery. However, he finished with the very respectable figures 5-0-40-4.
Nick 4-0-34-1, Racchitt 4-0-48-0, Umer, a respectable 5-0-33-0, Olly we’ll skip, Jono 4-0-32-0 and Stanni 2-0-24-0). Darjeeling set 230 to win.
2nd half of the Match
A tall order, but with all of those DSL lads in the squad achievable, no?
Fast-forward 3 overs and any optimism was given a hard low-blow with Chris Marques, Arsalan & Shehan all back in the hutch and Darjeeling 4 for 3.
Stanni and Jono steadied the ship rebuilding to 50 for 3. (Mark in particular executing some beautifully struck boundaries.) But after they both fell around the halfway mark for 25 & 19 DCC were 5 down on a slowing pitch and were facing an over rate of plus 12. Duck Soup it was not.
Hope however, was not lost as Watto and Racchitt took the attack to the bowlers and bought us within 90 of the target with 7 overs remaining. After Jamie fell for 38 (2 6s and 2 4s) and Racchitt top-scoring with 51 (2 6s & 4 4s) the tail failed to wag and Darjeeling was cleaned out for 174 in the 23rd over. Not the close game we like, but played in Great Spirit without a ruffle of the feathers between the sides.
Sadly, a couple of us left with merely an adieu (Gentlemen, that’s not the Darjeeling way.) – But most ventured up to Kickers for some consolatory beverages as did the Blighty Ducks. (Confirming that they most definitely would be in attendance to the Gulf Sixes and quite probably, the Gala Dinner.) Chat turned from the usual sport into back injuries (with some quite surreal and bizzare details shared.) As the amber flowed and inhibitions fell, the conversation ebbed to the more ‘sizeable’ conquests we’d each enjoyed in the past. The observant amongst us would have perceived a range of memories in the window of our expressions from laughter and guffaws, to winces and painful headshakes. Darjeeling, being the philosophical bunch we are, learned that if you are going to go large it’s always best to mix it with an exotic flavour, like Swedish or Brazilian…………….never Scottish.
The 32nd tournament has coincided with Darjeeling Cricket Clubs 50th anniversary so expectations are running high, especially after last years progression through to the semi-finals.
Game 1: DCC v NCL Dynamites
The ever present Darjeeling opened their thirty second campaign for the Holy Grail of the Chiangmai Sixes title. Captain Umer Saleem had put the squad through a net on the previous day and had the team assembled at the crack of dawn to take up the challenge of playing 2018 Cup winners, NCL dynamites.
Affable Appleton had prepared an idyllic setting. Indeed Darjeeling stalwarts, Badger and Chris Dommett represented the Lord Taverners in the tournament opener. The flight, guile and bulk of the Tour Manager will be sorely missed this week. Our glorious leader disintegrated into a frenzy of activity but won the toss and chose to bat.
The reassuringly mountainous presence of Blikkies opened with Graeme “worth my weight in gold” In testing conditions on a new lump of plastic, the start was cautious. WMWIG monopolized the strike stroking a brace of fours through the unguarded covers. The erstwhile Beijing Duck was removed for 17 in the third over. The former Armadillo was reprieved on 5 before launching consecutive sixes. On the final ball of the penultimate over, Blikkies holed out while PSG and Racchitt negotiated the final over setting a total of 48.
The Dubai outfit had the perfect start as the welcomed return of the legend that is Rudi removed the opener with his first ball of an economical over that yielded a mere seven runs. The Bangladeshis stabilized their innings before a final brutal assault. Racchit’s last ball was despatched for 6 having conceded only two runs from his previous deliveries. With brutal efficiency the remaining runs were garnered off the suffering skipper. The holders had won their first game with 7 balls to spare and earned a bonus point but the Darjeeling team had not disgraced themselves.
Game 2: DCC v Divine Felons
Game 3: DCC v Lanna
As part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations the club hosted a golf day on 14th March at Dubai Hills Golf Club.
With 58 participants it promised to be a great day of drinking and eating with a bit of golf in between.
Players started arriving from 11 am to sign in and collect their goodies which included, golf shirt, shoe bag, drinks bottle, golf balls and other assorted giveaways. The shirts almost didn’t make an appearance but with Jerome collecting them at 4:30 am from the manufacturers all was good in the end.
After people arrived there was a clear divide between the golfers and the non-golfers. Golfers hit the range for last minute swing tweaks and a bit of putting practice. The non-golfers hit the bar to sample the many different beverages available to them, all in the aid of loosening up.
Come 1:30pm, slightly delayed due to the morning fog, Nick Harvey spotted a microphone and couldn’t resist and continued to bark instructions to the whole range, 120 players, of which only 60 odd were DCC Golf Day players. The group photo was taken much to the confusion of the travelling Australian Golf Society, but then again it doesn’t take much to confuse them.
I can’t speak for everyone but our fourball had a great time, but I must admit that by the 13th the golfing quality fell away quite dramatically. Especially when we decided strawpeddos were the name of the game. Thankfully this was washed down by more drinks lovingly supplied by Nick and Stannis wives, who did a grand job of ensuring all players were fully hydrated. The golfing quality was obviously not hampered in some groups by looking at the results it clear to see that a steward’s enquiry into handicaps for next year may be required.
Golf over and now time for more hydration and quite possibly one of the greatest roast dinners you can get in Dubai. Drinks were flowing, raffle tickets being purchased, and second helpings were on the menu, then suddenly Nick Harvey spotted a microphone again! Time for the prizes, during the day there were 9 on course competitions and 3 team prizes up for grabs.
First the team event of Texas Scramble.
1st Place with a Net 53.5 – Andrew Mitchell, Clinton Arrot, Mark Stannard, & Conal Bunnett
Prize = Jabra Wireless Headphones
2nd Place with Net 57 – Paul Bourdillon, Fida Hussain, Blikkies Blignaut & Anthony Marziban
Prize = Fourball at Dubai Hills Golf Club
3rd Place with Net 57.5 – Marco Carstanjen, Graeme Sneddon, Steve Pettigrew, Craig Miller
Prize = Dozen Golf Balls and Portable Speakers
Now to the on-course prizes. Special mention must go to Ben Jones who apparently managed to place in all competitions while using a 4 iron, even on the 130-yard par 3.
There were 5 nearest the pins and 4 longest drives and the winners were:
Nearest the Pin – Hole 2: Nick Harvey
Nearest the Pin – Hole 13: Amber Waite
Nearest the Pin in 2 – Hole 7: Blikkies Blignaut
Nearest the Pin in 2 – Hole 10: Craig Miller
Nearest the Pin in 3 – Hole 15: Jerome Schokman
Longest Drive – Hole 5: Tom Kimber
Longest Drive – Hole 8: Elliot Spencer
Longest Drive – Hole 14: Marcos Kairinos
Longest Drive – Hole 18: Marcos Kairinos
Overall a great day had by all and I believe the last men standing were going strong well into the morning.
Look out for the 2020 Darjeeling Golf Day!
On a particularly early Saturday morning in Dubai, Darjeeling CC members arrived in dribs and drabs to the Ocean Fair Ground in DIP. Of particular note, Julius Mooney, Baron Mooney of Springs (VC, MBE, KStJ, DL, FRSA), strolled into the ground akin to a panda bear whilst regaling the troupe with his exploits from the night before, inevitably ending up being ‘kennelled’ by his wife for the rest of the weekend…hats off, sir!
Skipper Gramilla kept to his tried and tested method of losing the toss and being asked to bat 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 what a mockery both sides made of that!! Ollie “Page Boy” Page, arriving fresh to Dubai from the frosty, northern climes of England, and “Derriere” Arsalan opened the Darjeeling inning with watchful intent and looked solid from the start, safely negotiating Cool Boys’ opening salvos by the oddly effective pairing of their left and right medium paced bowlers, mixing it with full tosses and half-trackers. Derriere warmed up with the innings with a beautifully timed wristy slog sweep for six but, in general, scoring was relatively slow going. Page Boy, after nurdling a couple of singles, decided it was “Delivery Time” and went for a huge swipe to cow corner but unfortunately missed, being bowled middle stump. Andy “Captain” Kirk strolled in at 3 with his usual Aussie no-nonsense attitude, generally impressing on the opposition how sub-standard they all were. Captain, unfortunately, couldn’t quite live up to his own billing and was back in the hutch LBW with a solid 1 to his name. Derriere, on the other hand, became increasingly confident and began to pick off Cool Boys’ bowling with numerous 1s and 2s, keeping the run rate at a steady 3-4 an over.
A particular highlight during the Darjeeling’s batting innings was actually of a non-cricketing nature with the odd courtship between the heavyweight pairing of His Lordship and Captain and the Pakistani Bugsy Malone look-a-like on the sidelines. Bugsy, clearly being a veteran Pick-Up Artist in DIP, began his mating ritual by lying right next to the pair whilst utilising the tried-and-tested combination of toe twiddling, nail clipping and ball juggling. Unfortunately for Bugsy, he could not quite impress the lads enough, with him leaving the ground in a sulk having not wooed any plus-sized cricketers that weekend. (NB: fortunately for Bugsy, Captain slipped Jono’s number into Bugsy’s pocket so his luck will undoubtedly change in the very near future…)
Whilst this action was on-going, Grant “Gramilla” Miller joined Derriere in the middle and together, they rotated the strike beautifully, mixing 1s and 2s with the odd boundary. Derriere eventually being rear-ended with an extremely well made 76 and Gramilla run-out on an equally fine 60. “Ginger Ninja” then entered the fray and achieved what must be termed as the ultimate “Sod’s Law”. Ninja had earlier in the day argued that the use of helmets in friendly cricket was only meant for ‘cricket girly men’…he then, of course, promptly top edged the second ball of Cool Boys’ wily spinner and sliced open his chin. After being patched up with a couple of spare plasters found in his bag, Ninja struck some handy boundaries ending with 26 not out and increasing the scoring rate to end the Darjeeling innings on a very competitive 210 off 25 overs. More than enough…one would think!!!
His Lordship opened the bowling for Darjeeling and, it must be said, bowled with great aristocracy to which the opening batsmen had no answer, taking 2 wickets in his second and third overs. Unfortunately for Darjeeling, no other bowler could match the lofty standards of His Lordship with everyone else going for plenty. Derriere did take a fantastic catch at square leg to give the Darjeeling boys hope but the band of buffet bowling brothers, including “Sideshow” Roscoe; Chris “Telly Tebby”; Gramilla; Page Boy and Ninja all got plenty of tap…Van Den upgraded the buffet into a full “Entertainer Brunch” by trying his best to reincarnate his fellow countryman, Daan van Bunge’s, efforts against Herschelle Gibbs in the 2007 World Cup (https://youtu.be/Hsv99LxwrYw). Indeed, Rizwan took a special liking to his bowling in the penultimate over to finish the game off a little quicker than hoped for by the Darjeeling team (sorry boys…mea culpa!). A shout out must, however, go to Captain Kirk’s manful efforts of marshaling his 10 men around the field, giving everyone a good game, but unfortunately, the lack of bowling control, allied with the hard-hitting style of Cool Boys, not to mention one less fielder, hurt the Darjeeling team in the end. Indeed His Lordship, in his usual inimitable way, summarised the Darjeeling bowling efforts succinctly with the words ‘utter shite’…I think no man would dare challenge those noble words!
So, despite the loss, a thoroughly enjoyable game was had by all, with high scores on both sides, skillful batting, and everyone getting a good go. On to next week!
Van Den’s MoM: Derriere…for his excellent 76 and feline like catch at square leg. Bravo monsieur!
Start time: 10:30 if my memory hasn’t already started getting worse
Darjeeling CC started off in the field, fresh out of a meeting discussing what was going to happen in the 2019 season and it being our 50th Anniversary.
The Gents were dripping in the new 2019 season kit and it was all guns blazing in the field. The first over of the game going for a mere 3 runs off the bowling of Greg. The amazing start was short lived as Brent was next in to bowl…feeling a little worn from the night before he championed as best he could, but got sent packing to all parts of the ground going for 22 in his first and only over of the day. In what appears to be true to DCC sport, the third over provided some action. A catch was dropped off Greg’s bowling. Sadly this wasn’t the only, as a few more were to come in the days play. Greg finishing off his 4 overs for 19, which was very impressive after the dropped attempts.
The first breakthrough of the day came in the 6th over, this coming shortly after a second catch was dropped by Roscoe the over before of Greg’s bowling yet again. DCC then went on to drop a 3rd catch in the 8th over of the day… it was evident that we gave the cannons too many chances, chances which they ended up using to the fullest.
Umer was next in to bowl as the second change option. With Captain Grant opting for spin against the wind to entice the batsman to hit it long and risk their wicket. Sadly the Cannons played smart and knocked him around the ground with 12, 6 and 8 in his 3 over spell. Oh Captain my Captain Grant came in bowling at number 5. Taking a wicket in his first over, bowling cross seam as the wind had started to move across the wicket. Grant had a short spell lasting only 2 overs, but ended up with figures of 1-19…this wicket breaking an all-important partnership of 41 runs
Ash came in to bowl at number 6 in the 14th over, just after a wicket had fallen the over before… Ash started with a spread field… for the first few balls, and then the mastery and mind games took over. The field was brought in as the new batsman was very tentative and was reaching for the ball, the pressure in going over the top paid off as Ash got his man… bowled. Ash finishing off with figures of 1-49, which wasn’t helped by Roscoe as he over ran a catching opportunity in the last over of Ash’s spell.
Jonno came in bowling in the number 7 slot took a wicket in his first over. It was a well-judged catch in the deep by Brent… opting to stand his ground and wait for the ball to come to him. This was sadly where the wickets stopped, and the runs started to pile on thick and fast for the Cannons. Scoring just 77 in the last 5 overs, this was a day for the batsmen. Cannons no3 Wake came in and dominated with the bat against the DCC bowlers. Wake played some decent cricket shots before ending his not-out-innings in true T20 style scoring 83 runs.
The Cannons posting a massive target of 194 for Darjeeling to chase down.
An honourable mention to all those of DCC who came down to watch the gents play, even though the new kit was what you were truly after… the support had not gone unnoticed.
Darjeeling batsmen needing to get off to a flying start if we were to get the W over the Cannons.
In steps our openers for the day with RK and Rohan taking to the crease. RK and Rohan looking really good and playing some positive attacking shots to get DCC of the mark with a 36 run partnership with RK scoring 20 before getting bowled.
Next in was Jerome who walked up to the crease looking confident. After a few no-balls by the Cannons bowler, Jerome fell to a brilliant catch by the keeper taking a low diving catch to his right. The shot was an uncharacteristic push to a wider pitched delivery. Jerome had fallen after only scoring 1. Rohan was the next batsman to fall for 12 . being trapped in front by the bowler. This left DCC at 47 for 3 and in real trouble needing another 147 off only 12 overs. Charles our wicket-keeper batsman walked in at number 4 but did not last very long, as he had only managed to score 2 before being caught. This leaving DCC in even deeper strife, at 51 for 4.
At the crease we now had the experienced pair of Jonno and Brent. The pair started off nice and easy by first getting used to the pace of the wicket, when all of a sudden we saw Brent start to unleash. Brent having to make up for his bowling decided to take the bowling attack on, with massive success. Ending on an unbeaten 89, which included 7 x 6’s and 7 x 4’s, with the odd single here and there to keep him honest. This was an innings unlike any other seen from the supporters of DCC. A whirlwind performance with the bat, smearing the bowlers to all corners of the ground with some amazing power and stroke play from the man hailing from South Africa.
Jonno standing in amazement at the non-strikers end watching as Brent is owning this moment and owning the bowler. He had them in his back pocket. Jonno playing the supporting role of the day and himself scoring a well-paced 50 which included 7 x 4’s before being caught. Jonno at time looked to turn the screws with his running between the wickets as he wanted to get Brent on strike more often than not. Brent almost running himself out, and at the end fell to the ground trying to catch his breath, but Rasta rose to his feet and championed on.
Brent and Jonno turned the almost unthinkable into reality with a stand of about 130 runs. A well-paced and well composed innings from both men to steer Darjeeling into the home straight to winning the game. Jonno almost ending the innings with a not out next to his name. Unfortunately he fell agonizingly short with the end of the game in sight. In stepped Greg to add a single run, before Brent scored the winning runs in good fashion with a 4.
This had been a hard fought win by the men of Darjeeling CC. An epic run chase to say the least, and getting the first win under the belt with new swissglobal kit made it even more special. This has to go down as one of the greatest knocks by Brent.
The DCC gents thanked the Cannons before making their way into the cloak room where Grant handed a very well deserved man of the match performance to Brent by handing over the match ball. The celebration that followed was one that was well deserved
Cannons: 193/4 after 20
Darjeeling CC: 196/5 after
Stand out performers: Greg 0/19 after 4 overs