DCC in Al Dhaid – words by Dick BJ

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.

Advertisements

Al Dhaid road trip – penned by J Houghton

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.