DCC hosted BCA Eagles first game of the season at Sharjah this Friday.

Our punctuality was uncommonly good – with all Eleven players in attendance prior to the 2:00pm scheduled start – and not a hangover in sight (apart from Mo of course, but that’s par for the course) – as Chris Dommett recently remarked – I don’t think we’re drinking enough.

BCA Eagles started drifting in soon after 2:00pm.  I tossed with Shameem and after a re-throw was negotiated we managed to win/conjure the toss and inevitably put the Eagles into field. 

In an effort to out-fox and unsettle the opposition’s line and length we opened with Simon Fowler and the left-handed Noel Raymond (indeed, I actually put myself as skipper just so I could get Noel up the batting order!) 

Wides kept the score ticking along at seven an over, though the runs off the bat were less fluid.  By the seventh over, the padded up batsmen (Sackers & Jason) were starting to get fidgety and all were trying to will the score on….  Noel started to respond and in the 7th & 8th over hit three consecutive boundaries..

Talk in the stands centred on (as it usually does) sports and romance.  With Sackers revealing his destined meeting with a girl at the Durham Test Match (what better place to meet a girl?)

At drinks Darjeeling were 72 without loss and with Simon’s flowing run-scoring absent (as well as him being knackered) he retired hurt bringing Sackers to the crease.  Love it seems conquers all – but doesn’t help find the middle of the bat – and after a couple of overs, Paul miscued one to mid-wicket, bringing Jason Brown on with one of his seven bats (an additional two currently being tirelessly handcrafted).  Noel at ‘tother end started to spray the ball around with more abandon and began to pile on the runs including one over that went for 26 runs.   BCA Eagles offered a reasonable bowling attack (and highly enthusiastic appeals), with Shehab’s spinners topping the fair but slightly mediocre efforts.

With two overs to spare and Noel in the nineties, all prepared themselves for the standing ovation.  Noel’s umpteenth four brought him on to 99 and even Ben and Jacob started to take some notice of the cricket.  With a single needed, Noel decided that a top-edged square cut was the way forward and we all groaned as the catch was pouched at point.  Chris then joined Jason at the crease and added four runs (Jason finishing on 19*) to the total bring Darjeeling on to 171 for 3 off their 20 overs (a total which George – who umpired – believed to be a highly competitive one considering the speed of the outfield).  Noel collapsed on the turf and remained there until the start of the next innings.

Darjeeling opened their bowling attack with Josh (Water Tank) and Jacob (University).  Mr Smith making his intentions clear (and strengthening his hostile-fast-bowler reputation) by greeting the opening bat with a bouncer that ricocheted off his lid.  It was however, Jacob that was the more consistent of the two and was duly rewarded with his efforts in the second over with the batsmen forced to play on the up and yours truly was gifted a straight forward catch in the covers.  Jacob was to enjoy another wicket in his following over and Josh joined the party in his third over as a mistimed drive was caught at mid-on.

DCC looked to be cruising at this point but a resolved BCA partnership and an expensive over off the bowling of Ben took the BCA Eagles total just five short of ours (was) at the half way stage. 

The skipper believing we needed to tighten the scoring up brought himself on and proceeded to bowl two wides whilst  Jason was keeping things tidy (relatively) at the water tank end and surprised all with a couple of jaffers and was unfortunate to finish wicketless.  With no notice whatsoever, the skipper elected to get Crayton on to bowl after his DNB showing in our innings.  In retrospect, a few minutes to warm-up may have paid dividends as on his second (legitimate) ball – he pulled up with a strain in his chest/right tit  (he’s since been diagnosed with a torn under arm muscle and we all wish you a speedy recovery Crayton, Sharjah wont be the same without your electric-orange sportsgear!) .  Jason completed the over, revealing on his penultimate delivery that he (also) wouldn’t be able to continue (or words to that effect)

With last week’s bowling star Mohit on at the University end it was (overall) hard work in the field.  BCA Eagles were enjoying a lengthy partnership with a Left-Right hand combo, frequent fielding changes and the humidity were taking their toll.  Replacing the wounded Crayton and exhausted Jason I completed the bowling from the WT end – eventually, breaking the partnership with a full straight one.   By this stage the scoring had been restricted BCA Eagles had run out of steam and effective batters.  Ben came on to finish up and was unlucky not to get a wicket on his first ball – being dropped (by a tough chance) at slip – but was credited with a wicket on the last ball of the day.

We left the field jubilant, though not unexhausted.  Hands were shaken, backs per patted, Fowler mumbled something about the number of wides bowled and Sackers headed straight for the ice box and liquid refreshment.  Noel finishing the clear MOTM with his 99 off just 61 deliveries. 

Bevvies were consumed on the pitch and only Sackers, George, Chris & I reunited at Fibbers……..a slightly poor post-match gathering.

To overcome this bizarre non-drinking affliction Chris has suggested we have a pre-winter Brunch at the end of September to kick start the return to the ICC and set our priorities straight……….we have the Bahrainis coming on Friday and a reputation to uphold!