There’s a certain glow one feels when you arrive at the ground for the Darjeeling inter-club Christmas match and the smiles that greet you are both friendly and warm.  But, if you look closely you can detect a hint of something else. As a child you’d share that smile with your friend just as you agreed to bunk off school; as a teenager, before you were about to get laid; a smile that promises tomfoolery to come with a soupçon of vice……………….nice.

Stark differences were apparent on meeting the two skippers of the day.  The Southern hemisphere skipper, Greg Moses looked stoic and fit (now that he can bench press his own body weight); Gary (True Grit) Turner on the other hand appeared at best grim and at worst like death after five seconds in the microwave (now that his two day marathon drinking session was over).  Imagine therefore, Gary’s glee of learning that our little warm-up session was to be a 100 metre dash across the pitch at the team briefing………but did baulk at the idea? Did he fook! Gary, Turner……..True grit!

A week ago or so, I sent around a mail requesting some of the players’ vital statistics which, I’m sure mildly irritates people (I thank yee all for humouring me), but all bar one was duly returned with some interesting results.  For those of you with an occasional fetish for useless information – below a summary of the stats:

  • The average age of the squads was 37.5 years old
  • Average height, 180cm (5’10¾)
  • The average BMI, 29 – which, if the Darjeeling Cricket Club Christmas Club squad were a country
    would make us the fattest in the world bar Tonga & Micronesia (well, it is Christmas afterall……!)
  • Members below 6 feet lie about their height…….Julius, 5’11”? ………per-leeease…!
  • The average time we’ve ever run the 100m (from the sensible answers) is 14 seconds
  • Our allergies include; pineapple, alcohol, non-alcoholic drinks, virgins (not sure how he found out about that one – would have been fun testing it though), Jagermeister, 4x4s with baby-on-board stickers, pollen, pretentious ar*eholes, Palestinian Bankers, furry dice, penicillin, top quality spin bowlers and a couple of Darjeeling members! (no names of course!)
  • The average weight is 94kg (14 stone, 12lb in old money)

The reason for acquiring the statistics was not to set up a dating site (as was suggested) but to set a handicap for our 100 metre sprint across pitch (which I once again miscalculated).  So after the team briefing and sweepstake draw we had a little pre-warm up session with Ben Jones’ camp scissor step manoeuvre catching the eye.  We lined up in our selected rows with poor young slim Jason Stewart looking to make up 8.5 seconds to the high-handicappers.  The young and fit never stood a chance, J Dot cut the ribbon first, Dommett pulled a hamstring and despite my best efforts of pulling him back, I was pipped at the line by Johno (….the shame of it). Coco came up the rear.  We then sauntered off to the changing rooms muttering & cursing under our breath between gasps of air.

GT won the toss and elected to bat, opening with Cockcrusher (Coco) and the Beast (Badger).

It being Christmas and Darjeeling having a penchant for playing silly-buggers, all batsmen took a swig of good-ol-Jagermeister before striding out and for all bowlers (and returning batsmen), a jager-jelly was dished out by the umpire complete with freezer bag over their shoulder.

Neither stuck around for long despite Etienne’s purposeful drop off Coco’s skied leading edge (he was later heavily-fined).  This brought Juggernaut Mooney and the Dominator to the crease with Julius in particular smashing fours to all parts of the ground.  Chris, with a knackered hammy, was less enthusiastic between the wickets than his usual scampering-self.  Chris Bridle was half way out to the square to act as runner before (you’ll never guess) Badger came bounding on to act as Chris’ legs (apparently, he wanted to get in the game…!).  Chris was visibly distressed/amused (delete as appropriate).

All in all, the North had three retirements (as we were playing Taverners’ rules); Julius, Dommett & Me).  There was a couple of memorable moments that exemplified/tested the ‘spirit-of-the-game’  Firstly, Julius claiming and GT awarding five penalty runs after Gully’s delivery was hit by Chris on to his cap lying behind/near the stumps and secondly, me being recalled by Greg and others after being giving out by Coco LBW some way out of his crease. Indeed, the exuded body language of the South at half time as they strode off avoiding eye contact and the offering of water was akin to that of the Australian’s during the Bodyline series against Jardine’s England (well similar to that from that series that was on the telly anyway).

Rich Hallows, Lee Dawson and Julius (on his second innings) all chipped in, but the total of 158 after the North’s 22 overs always looked 30 runs short.  The South had three notable bowlers to speak of namely (Velvety) Etienne (3 overs, one wicket for 10 runs), Jason Stewart (3 overs for 14) and Jason (Breathless) Brown (3 overs, three for 14)….well bowled Gentlemen.

The Southern Hemisphere opened with (Sensitive) CD & Nathan (Caring) Cartright and for a while it looked they were making a game of it.  They scrapped and scrabbled about and were just 20 odd after 6 overs.  Chris Bridle (great to have you back in the squad by the way) forgot he was playing cricket as he chested one down from CD’s miscued drive (both umpires heard the distinct drumming sound of leather on ribcage).  CD eventually found himself (to be joining many others) in Badger’s famous hutch as Nathan fell to……err someone else…?
Potty, usually effective, failed to impress and one Mr. Nick Lloyd was less than impressed after being run out cheaply.  When cordially reminded of his duty to take his obligatory jager jelly whilst marching off, was heard to retort “well f**king bring it here then…!” (ooooo-oooo!).

Andrew Kirk, managed to better his previous Darjeeling batting effort (by facing a ball) and just made it to double figures
but was dismissed before reaching twenty.

The winner of the sprint, Mr. Breathless Brown was next to the crease and from the minute he took his jelly and guard, looked purposeful and determined to make his twenty and retire.  Joined by Ben Jones, the big guns had definitely arrived. In reply, True Grit whipped out his cock-crushing secret-weapon and Ms. Caroline Toussaint was thrown the ball. Twenty minutes later, both Big Guns were back in the paddock, both falling victim to Coco’s charms in spectacular fashion.  Firstly, Ben, playing forward was bowled with Coco getting the best of his length and secondly, Jason, honey-trapped in as he smashed Coco (Jason’s length, definitely shorter than Bens’) in to the deep only to pick our Richard Hallows with laser-point-accuracy.  Both J Dot and Richard wore the same “WTF??” expression (both in total disbelief…..for different reasons).  But in the end Mr. Brown had to go and take his goodbye jaeger-bomb.

Next in was the South’s skipper, Mr Greg Moses who’d been swaggering around all day with his chin raised more above horizontal than Agmal’s arm is bent.  He marched to the crease and took very little time in stamping his authority on the game with True Grit falling prey to a very brief but very brutal onslaught (with Greg’s 20 coming in just 7 balls).  The North lost 22 runs in that over and the tide had tipped.  In short, the South’s tail didn’t merely wag but beat the North’s bowlers to all corners.  Etienne, too finding the middle made his retirement runs thereby, bringing Kymbo & Gully (10 & 11) to the crease.
True Grit looked deep into his arsenal and brought Coco back into the attack with Badger chirping away to Gully about being dismissed by the fairer sex.  Gully’s reply was to play a beautiful slog sweep off one knee from a Miss Toussaint full toss that looked to be heading straight to the awaiting Badger at deep backward square leg.  There are two-sides to every story and I think it’s only fair to share both.
Badger:                                                     “…it flew well over my head and miles over the boundary”
The Entire Southern Hemisphere:         “…it went through your hands mate”
Personally, I believe Badger.

That shot did, however, make the run chase far simpler with both Gully and Kym finding the boundary fence.  With two and a half overs to go Gully was dismissed (for the second time that over) which brought back Mr. Moses and the game was all but lost.  There was a bit of hand-bagging round the boundary and on the pitch over bowlers and batsmen not used (I felt …….it was just the right amount of animosity) as the last few deliveries were bowled.  But with the winning runs hit hands were firmly shaken and bums warmly slapped as we headed off to the changing room to read out the book and the fines.
Sugee won AED 400 on the sweepstake for pulling out Breathless Brown and I wish I could remember more about the fines (duly punished Vodka and yet more Jager shots) of which some were brilliant.  Afterwards, I think all bar two or three then headed to the Els club for dinner and the promise of AED10 drinks.  A great session was had including a revival of obscure Darjeeling XI’s – this time we had the Psychologists’ XI (as, in those of need of seeing one).   I believe it was Ben Jones that picked up on a running theme, i.e. that the majority were South African (and all agreed most were decent players….!).   Perhaps, a new question to be added to the membership questionnaire?

DCC Xmas
Before the festivities really got going.

On a personal note, congratulations to the South (again) on winning the match and thank you to everyone for being such a good sport and making it such a memorable day (and night).