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Lombardy League Cup
MCC vs Sri Lankan Gallarate – May 12th 2012
by Jonathan Legge  

Hey there Argie, up there in your refurbished den ( so where you are is not rubbish ),getting ready to watch England take on The West Indies in a Test series, wondering if Chris Gayle had his smile surgically removed at birth .... well, just to get you in the mood here is the match report for the last game.

We had : Controversy. Flashpoints. Resignations. Threats. Almost 400 runs plus 20 wickets.

.... and some houmous.

Without fear of contradiction – this was the game that not only produced the closest most nail-bitingest result in the history of the club but also encompassed all that is good – and bad in the game. Quite unbelievable. So strap on, er, in - as the elegantly seething Sir Alex Ferguson would put it, “It’s squeaky bum time !”
This game was chapter 4 in the 2012 Lombardy League – Milan looking good with 3 wins out of 3, now daring to dream, and Euratom looking spick and span in their blue/yellow kit ( note for the anoraks amongst you : Euratom is no longer called Euratom but Sri Lankan Gallarate Cricket Club). With the 5th league fixture against the unknown but supposedly fearsome AVP looming, and with an out-of-date set of results & points effectively meaning that no-one knew who was in the lead, it was imperative for Milan to rise to the occasion and win this one to be able to put one hand on the trophy. However, a cursory look at the match-winners of the 3 previous league games reveals a worrying trend : Irfan ( 80 not out ) and Saleem ( 34 ) helped us beat Kingsgrove, but 3 recognised batsmen (Bhupi, Gurmel and Sunil) failed; vs Idle Mandeep score 59 but the same 3 failed, and vs Settimo 1 of the 3 failed again – 2 of the run-getters were visiting batsmen who we may never see again – so Milan need more people to bat more consistently. The bowling picture is rosier, with a higher number of people taking wickets. So as mentioned before, we continue to bowl better than we bat, and we bowl better than the opposition as we concede 30 – 40% fewer extras.

* * *

Milan won the toss and opted to bat first on a hot, muggy day ( temperatures pushing 30°).Play got under way at 1320. Openers Gurmel and Simon, both itching to post good scores, saw us safely though the first 5 overs, accumulating 30 runs in the face of some so-so bowling from Lahiru ad Rashmi – then in the space of 2 overs both of them got out needlessly : Simon out for 11 chasing a wide ball outside off with the bat rather than using his feet and snicking one through to the keeper - Gurmel inexplicably played right across the line to a straight one, bowled for 15, afterwards freely admitting that he has totally lost his confidence this season and that he’s had enough of the game !! Well – this was his fourth failure in as many games...
So now Milan are on 44 for 2 after 8 overs. A pity, as the opening partnership had seemed so well constructed in terms of discipline. The next partnership of Irfan and Bhupi had just taken root when Irfan holed out to mid on for 26 – disappointing by his standards, and then Bhupi was bowled for 5 in the same over, producing a 3rd wicket and much yowling from Sumith – actually, as those of you who know him will readily testify, much yowling is what he does after every ball – immensely irritating and largely unnecessary : what is there to yowl about when you bowl 3 wides in an over ? Anyway, more of him later (unfortunately).
So although the run rate was a healthy 6 an over, Milan were now 78 for 4, four competent batsmen having amassed just 52 runs between them. A dire need for a partnership, then ...... and that’s what we got – Sonu played a sensible, unhurried innings with his customary strong, fluid stroke-play – he and Sunil put on 57 to wrest the game from Euratom’s grasp. Bowler Dulip, exhibiting a distinctly illegal-looking Mularitharanesque bent-arm action eventually trapped Sunil LBW for 18 – still, 135 for 5 ( RR still 6 an over ) put a healthier face on the thing, but sadly another below-par score for Sunil. And the tone of the game was starting to change, as Euratom had had to labour a long time to get the breakthrough : and then things got totally out of hand when Yowler Sumith threw a tantrum when denied an LBW shout – play was interrupted while a frank exchange of opinions was conducted in a most ungentlemanly fashion, resulting in interventions by both the President and Captain of the MCC – with the threat of a cancelled game hanging over his head Sumith eventually apologised, but he was bang out of order – who of us has not suffered some sort of injustice from an umpire ? But the umpire’s decision is final –let the ball do the talking !
Once the toys had been put back into the pram the game recommenced, but the episode had annihilated any traces of camaraderie between the teams – Milan moved on more slowly now, adding just 16 runs in 5 overs before the next wicket, Nand caught for just 2 runs. The next over produced 14 runs but at the cost of 1 wicket ( Milan now 166 for 7), Sonu finally departing caught for 59, by far and away the backbone of the innings, demonstrating that he alone is capable of producing some degree of consistency – the tail came and went, and Milan were finally all out for 195 – disappointing, considering that they still had 4 overs left to bat : a score of 200 would have looked nice ! Worth mentioning the 42 extras ( 30 wides ) conceded by Euratom.

* * *

Surprise surprise – the score book doesn’t relate the mathematical unfolding of events : the essential figures were hastily copied in at the end of the game.......

So here’s what is rememberable – opener Saranga, he of Michelin man proportions, is begrudgingly trying to learn how to play a defensive stroke ( usually just tries to clout everything ), but he was no match for Sonu – bowled for 10. The other opener Sampath scored regularly with some lusty blows, succeeding in keeping the run rate there or thereabouts. Milan’s bowling was decidedly odd : Brian, Sonu and Nand all bowled very well, given the attacking stance of the batsmen, but Sunil was all over the shop, as was Irfan, who time and again offered up full tosses – essentially for the first half of their innings Euratom did what they had to do : keep the RR up at about 6 : a few wickets were lost on the way, but it was impossible to say who was in the ascendancy. 2 key overs : the 19th and the 20th – Brian and Nand bowled 2 stunning overs for 1 run apiece, and the game swung firmly in Milan’s favour - then horror of horrors, a combination of bad luck and bad bowling saw an over of Sunil’s go for 20 runs : 5 wides, 4 from a missed catch to the keeper plus 2 other doughty blows to the boundary, plus other runs ..... and the game swung back the other way – this frustration and the inability to definitively break Euratom’s resistance led to more ugly scenes, with bowlers and keeper alike vociferously contesting umpiring decisions – Boys, no point claiming the moral high ground from Sumith if you do exactly the same thing...
Anyway : toys / pram bla bla bla …. Let’s cut to the chase ( pun intended ) – after some rollercoaster bowling in which Nand, Sonu, Irfan all claimed 2 wickets in their 7 overs, Euratom embarked on their final (35th ) over needing 10 runs to secure victory with just the one wicket in hand. Brian had shown consistency throughout with the ball, so there was the feeling that even if he couldn’t get the final wicket
(the 2 batsmen had their eye in and were looking very settled), then at least the scoring could be restricted.

1st ball of the over : 2 runs. 8 now needed of 4 deliveries. Brrrrrriiiiiiiiaaaaaaaannnnn…….

2nd ball of the over : Whump !! Calamity !!!!!! : massive 6 thwacked over mid wicket by the
number 11 batsman. 2 runs now needed for victory, 4 balls remaining. Game over
surely ? Euratom, needing 196 for victory, were on 194 for 9.

What would a sensible batting strategy be at this point ? – the speed of the deliveries suggested that any kind of contact would produce at least a single, so all the n. 11 had to do was drop the bat and make contact, which he was clearly capable of doing, as he had already scored 20.

………. but it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings …………

3rd ball of the over : Brian begins his run up ( please no more no balls !!) – the batsman, seeing not
only victory but also personal glory beckoning went for the big heave-ho to a
straight delivery – and was clean bowled !! Euratom all out, 1 one short.

* * *

Compliments to Sonu ( 2 for 32 off 7) and Brian ( 2 for 34 off 7), but I raise my hat to Nand, who finished with commendable figures of 2 for 18 off 7, a performance which definitely kept Milan in the game. Compliments also to Sonu for his batting.

Had this been a Serie C game I can safely say that the verbal shenanigans would probably have resulted in bankruptcy for both clubs – last year we were fined €100 for abusing a stump ( ouch) - how much would the disgraceful scenes witnessed have cost ? Thankfully we have a long way to go to get to the Joey Bartonesque levels of thugger, but have you ever been in a situation where the umpire has said “Actually –you know what ? I think you’re right – I will give him out LBW !”


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