A day that will be etched into everyone’s memories for years to come as the mighty Darjeeling take on the ever-gracious Wombats Yellows. The day began with a 12.45pm meet….for half the team anyway, the remaining players arriving late and would be contributing to the fines session post-match. Darjeeling started with their now customary warm up of fielding drills and catching practice for 9 of the 11 players. Mark Stannard aka Stanni and Shehan thought they’d rather test and debate the taste difference between a 50-50 serving of vodka & coke and a 70-30 serving of vodka. As we shall see later on the 70-30 portion worked well for one of them.
Darjeeling won the toss and for the second week running elected to field first reasoning that they have a strong batting line for the chase…Ahem. Rishabh & Ken took the new ball and set the tone from the beginning keeping things nice and tight with the Yellows struggling to find the boundary. Ken picked up the first wicket with a dubious lbw decision with the batsmen refusing to walk (Shock). Yellows being 37-1 after 6 overs. Yellows recovered putting on a partnership of 41 however Darjeeling kept things very tight through the bowling of Lord Mooney & Shehan before the second wicket fell on 78 in the 14th over. Lord finishing with figures of 5-30-1 & Shehan 4-19-0. On came Jono who picked up another wicket turning the screw further and keeping the Yellows to 97-3 after 17 overs. Unfortunately, from this moment things went pear shaped for Darjeeling as the Yellows bludgeoned 93 runs from the final 8 overs to finish up on 190 from their 25 overs. A boisterous crowd some might say or just another game against the Wombats Yellows cheering & screaming at wide balls, dropped catches and misfields and generally doing anything and everything they could to disrespect the game of cricket. All this led to George aka Meatball & James aka Tavs questioning the childish behaviour at the end of the innings and as two school teachers one would think they have a point. A competitive score yes, but by no means a match winning one on a good wicket and a short boundary on one side. Ken & Sunny taking particular punishment finishing with figures of 5-56-1 & 3-29-0. Jono finishing on 3-25-1 & Rishabh the pick of the figures 5-28-0 including 2 overs at the death.
Darjeeling’s chase began in the worst possible way with Tavs getting caught for 0 of the third ball. He was clapped off with dignity and humility …giving a huge send off as the Yellows gathered by the pitch and challenged him to speak back to them now. Never mind we still had Kimbo coming in with George on stri…..Oh no a first baller!! With players running around George screaming as a vulture would before feasting on the remains. After 4 balls Darjeeling were 0-2 chasing 190. In walked Captain Skillsy with a big job to do. Things got even worst for Darjeeling moments later as Kimbo was caught at midwicket reducing Darjeeling to 16-3 after 3.1 overs. In walked Jono (54) together with Skillsy (57) needing to rebuild the innings. Things ticked along nicely and both batsmen got 50s in a partnership worth 106 however Darjeeling still had plenty of work to do at 122-4 after 18.1 overs when Skillsy departed. In walked Stanni at number 6 which coincidentally was also how many glasses of quadruple Vodka Coke he had had, would this spur him on? He certainly talked a good game advising Jono he would look to knock the ball around to give him strike, a fair analysis of the match situation by this veteran. Perhaps it was the excitement of being the hero, or the loopy leg spinner bowling or simply the half bottle of Vodka but his innings went as follows: Wild Slog (Dot), Wild Slog (Two), Wild Slog (Dot) and Wild Slog (Cleaned bowled). Darjeeling now 124-5 after 19 overs. Sunny walked in and chipped away at the total running 1s & 2s with intent but when Jono got out with Darjeeling still needing 50 from 26 balls Darjeeling looked dead and buried. Shehan had other plans though, coming into bat half a bottle of vodka deep wearing his sun glass hit 3 huge sixes from his first 3 deliveries!! Sunny added a six & a four and suddenly Darjeeling needed 20 from 18!! Unfortunately Sunny & Shehan got into a mix up and Shehan was run out for a match changing 20 from 5 balls. Sunny (22 from 12) departed a couple of balls later leaving Darjeeling still needing 12 from 11 balls with Ken & Lord batting. The tension was unbearable as the two batsmen played and missed, scrambled 1s & 2s until a beautiful inside edge by Ken brought a much needed boundary. Darjeeling needed 4 from the final 6 balls to win a game they had no right to. First ball was a dot before Lord scrambled a single. 3 from 4. Dot ball, 3 from 3, two singles, 1 from 1 and Ken SMASHES A BOUNDARY TO SEAL THE VICTORY!!
A truly fanstastic win from 16-3 chasing 191, Darjeeling made it with 2 wickets in hand and move up to 2nd in the table. A wonderful way to spend the most romantic day of the year with a fine group of men. Hopefully the next encounter against the Yellows can be played with more respect and sportsmanship but I somehow doubt it. Darjeeling, as ever, will be up for the challenge though.