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.

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