It was a scorching hot day down at the SES stadium as the stalwart players of Darjeeling met for what was a bitter sweet occasion given the sad loss of our team mate and friend , Simon Fowler the previous weekend.
It was decided that Darjeeling rule no 1 would not be used and a fair toss was made with the incorrect call from the ABB skipper Aman and I immediately informed him we would bat and the match would be of the T20 format.
A few words of respect and a quiet moment for our own thoughts before the opening pair of Jonno and Pete Shenk (manager of the Crowne Plaza SZR , Discounts available upon request!) strode purposefully to the crease. A contrasting start, with Jonno finding the middle of the bat immediately whilst Peter struggled with the swing and bounce that the” Karama” special ball we had given them was producing. After scoring just 2 runs Peter missed a swinging full toss and was out LBW. In trotted our” steady eddy” number 3 , Andrew Laing who from the outset knew the wisest thing was to give Jonno the strike and thus our innings started to accelerate with Jonno playing some delightful pulls, cuts and straight drives and as the temperature in Sharjah climbed to 46 degrees the ABB team wilted in the sun.
Drinks where taken when the” Karama” special shed its skin after only 9 overs and we were well placed at about 80 for 1.
After drinks and so dominant where we that our score prediction rose alongside the Mercury and of course that alerted the great Cricketing god to become involved! Andrew played a very un Laing like shot and was out for a patient 14 out of a partnership with Jonno of 107 , then Jonno himself aimed a long hop at a fielder at fine leg and all at the ground were amazed when the chap actually caught the ball!! Jonno gone for a well-played 84 . Poignantly , Jonno confirmed that throughout his innings he was repeating the mantra of his coach in his early days at Darjeeling , Simon Fowler , “play straight , every ball play straight”. I think Simon would have been very proud of Jonno,s innings.
Nick scampered as he always does for a quick fire 14 , AT did not waste any balls with his 5 off 3 balls and David also kept the scoreboard ticking over for his 14 not out. Gully had to face 2 balls at the end and his bat remained untouched as he was bowled neck and crop off the last ball for a duck! No doubt the great Cricketing gods justice was served on him for being late!!!
So with Nick needing to leave early to attend a posh “DO” at the BurJ Al Arab , he was given the chance to rattle through his overs quickly from the water tank end with Gully appearing from his favored University end. Nick struck in his first over with the extra bounce of the new proper UK made cherry hitting the batters gloves and looping kindly to the ever agile Gibby behind the stumps. Gully should have had a wicket himself but Nick downed a very quick chance at first slip. Nick bowled a nice line and length finishing with 1 for 15 off his 4. Gully had a rest and a chunder after his opening spell of 3 overs and then David and son Rohan where given the chance to make it the Mariadson family show and they did not disappoint!! David managed to get the ball to bend and swerve and completely bamboozled the batsmen who never really knew where the ball would end up. He struck twice in his first over and with Rohan effectively tying up the other end it really was a Family Affair. Rohan finished with 4 -0-26 but bowled so much better in applying the squeeze. David finished with 4-3-33 and 17 of them came from one over . So the rate had climbed to over 12 an over when Ash and myself where tasked with the last 4 overs of the day.
The skipper of ABB , Aman was now on 51 when he decided to charge down the wicket to my first ball , result 1 wide and 1 stumping! Au Revoir Aman ! Another wicket later in the over with Rohan taking a fine catch in the deep and the game was surely ours. Ash bowled the penultimate over tightly to finish with 2-0-19 and when Rohan took another fine catch the game was ours and I finished with the flattering figures of 2-3-9.
So DCC won by 28 runs against a team that had beaten us recently at the ICC.
A few ambers and pales , including a couple of chilled Spitfires as Ash read the book and then a few of us retired to the Polo Club to further raise our glasses to absent friends.