Last Friday the honed, bronzed gladiators of the Darjeeling cricket club took to the verdant, green field at Sharjah English School to take on the hastily put-together team of Fly Dubai. Amidst the traditional pre-match warm-up of chain smoking and beverage guzzling; skipper Andrew Tideswell Esquire duly tossed the coin, with a skill refined only by repeated practice, the call of the opposing skip was sadly, for them, incorrect and the frequent flyers were banished to 20 overs of torture by direct sunlight and a level of humidity approaching stifling levels. 

Opening the batting for the Tea-Leaves were those paragons of batting skill and technique, Messers Dommett and Scholtz. These fine gentleman proceeded to treat the expectant crowd to 10 overs of batting that would be politely called traditional, amassing the total of 72 runs prior to the drinks break; of these 72 runs the soon to be departing Brian Scholtz in his noble quest to obtain a DCC ton prior to leaving for less sunnier climes contributed 44 off a mere 36 balls having woken up after 22 deliveries. Our resident wicketkeeper, sporting the new look of glistening in the humid conditions – Robert Pattinson will be jealous – contributed a more stately 17 from 25 deliveries. Alas, the old adage of drinks breaks bringing wickets proved true, firstly on the delivery after the resumption Brian (44/37) departed sending a ball stratospherically high, only to see the fielder underneath cling on; thus “The Scorer” sauntered to the crease, having handed the iPad into the (in)capable hands of the Badger. Until the first wicket, The Scorer had compiled a full wagon wheel of the innings but upon returning to the pavilion found that the apparently devious scoring app had been too much for the stand-in; however now we return to the action.

Having seen his opening partner dismissed Chris D then decided that obviously two new batsman were needed at the crease and departed four balls later for 18(29 balls). Joining Chris T at the crease was the indomitable Julius Mooney, the pair tried to hasten the scoring rate but a combination of picking out fielders with regular monotony and that after every run Chris T proved that his fitness levels were not up to even DCC standards, scoring was still difficult to come by. 72-0 quickly became 82-3 with Julius departing for 7(12 balls) and 87-4 with Josh Smith adding 3 off 6 deliveries. Struggling with both heat and timing Chris T having been joined at the crease by the skipper tried to use up as few balls of possible by going on the attack, mainly to get out of the heat and also to hit boundaries so he wouldn’t have to run. Despite only facing 2 dot balls the elusive boundaries would not come and The Scorer returned to his hutch stumped for 10 off 13 balls (100-5) in the 17th over.

If ever the tail needed to wag for DCC it was now, however when Andy perished looping a catch back to the bowler (5/10) even 120 looked a long way off. Fortunately the dynamic duo of Ash Banerjee and David were equally to the task, David becoming only the 3rd DCC batsman to hit a boundary in the innings and Ash sacrificing his average off the last ball for an possibly vital second run (6/9). Dave was left last man standing with a commendable 10 off 7 deliveries; however despite reassurance at the innings break that the psychological barrier of 6 an over required the final total of 120/7 was well below par.

The Fly Dubai innings began with Julius steaming in at the Water Tank End wearing his flamboyant, blue deck shoes and promptly disappearing twice to the boundary. The first a silky leg glance from the opening bat, the second a violent but perfectly executed cover drive, thereafter line and length were reacquainted and the subsequent 10 deliveries of his spell produced a miserly 2 runs and a bye (2-0-11-0).   From the Road End, left arm quick Josh bounded in like a gazelle for his first delivery only to be let down by his new, very white boots producing a Bambi on Ice moment that Robin Cousins would be proud of; understandably cautious the rhythm deserted Josh and his first (and only) over went for 16. To try and shore things up David was introduced and met with the respect that he deserves with a single boundary the only blot on the copy book in his first over; however the scoreboard pressure of 6 an over was blown out of the water as the first four overs went for 34. For some reason, and not a tactical masterstroke by any measure, Andy had relinquished on field captain’s duties to Brian, who duly replaced Julius with himself. What followed was a master class in pace bowling only blighted by a fine uppercut for four through third-man to produce figures of 2-0-7-0. Having been watchful to David’s first over; the more powerful opening bat decided to free his arms and plunder two sixes and a four from the 6th over to leave David nursing figures of 2-0-25-0.

Thus the end of the pace attack, leaving the spinners with 13 overs to take 10 wickets and defend 63 runs; leading wicket taker Stuart M was introduced to the attack and feasted upon by the opening batsman as if they were at a Friday Brunch having not eaten all week, the first of his two overs going for 13 including a four and a six. From the Water Tank end Ash was introduced and demonstrated a rare example of control having been chastised first ball for 6 and picked up the powerful opener for 43 caught and then stumped in a wonderful demonstration of fielding by wicket keeper Chris D. The departure of one opening released the shackles of the other, until now he had been more Jonathan Trott than Chris Gayle but now facing the Badger he found his mojo with 2 straight 6’s in an over costing 16 (2-0-29-0). Ash continued looking to add to the first wicket in his previous over, but instead committed the cardinal sin of a front foot no ball by a spinner not once but twice! Another 6 for the opening off the last, left Ash with figures of 2-0-19-1. Then the captaincy masterstroke, resuming after the drinks break Gibbon Human showed the wile and the guile to oust the number 3 caught in the deep by Josh, a wicket maiden denied by the opening with a sneaky double off the final ball of the over. Taking on the mantle from the Water Tank end was the irrepressible Mo, who open arriving on time was asked if he had a new driver, unfortunately Mo was in a hurry to get the game over and done with and went for 11 including giving the opener his well-earned and chanceless 50. Thus the demon deliveries of the Ape Man returned to snaffle more wickets and try and force Mo to have another bowl. After trapping the number 4 LBW with his 2nd delivery he produced a wide first up to the opposing skipper, decked in half a tube of sunblock, before forcing a scoop into orbit by the batsman that eventually found its way to the safe hands of the scorer. Was the batting collapse on?

Emphatically, no. As the scoreboard said the scores were level, the quiet one of the opposition came in and duly played a tentative forward defense first up, before playing a majestic straight drive well over the boundary rope for a match winning 6. Fly Dubai winning by 6 wickets in the 14th over. The final boundary count was 9 fours and 7 sixes compared to DCC’s 7 and 1. Gibbon finishing with respectable figures of 2-0-9-3. So vanquished by a superior foe on the day, the team retired to drown their sorrows and be entertained of tales of a less reputable nature by the “injured” Greg Moses. Well there is always next week………………