Milan C.C. vs YMCA C.C.
14th April 2012
By Karthik Duraisami
From the 13th man
It didn't rain. The intermittent showers that
were predicted for much of the day stayed away. Apparently Nand had predicted a
rain free Saturday. How we managed a 35 overs a side game on a day like this is
anyone's guess. The pavilion, nicely painted and all, was inaugurated by David
and the visiting team was given first use of the facility.
On Friday, before start of play, Sunil pointed
out to Van der Merwe as the international player we'd be up against. He left out
a certain Alan Lewis, who I was to later find out, a legend with 120 odd
international appearances playing for Ireland. Alan and I - yes, name dropping
at its very best - stood in as umpires for the game. He did not partake in the
T20 game that day obviously saving himself for the bigger game that was to
follow. Alan assumed I too had, like him, saved myself for the bigger occasion.
The very thought of that, no doubt, would have most in the MCC in splits. How I
wish all umpires were cut from the same cloth.
As Alan, after the game, pointed out, a fairly
one sided T20 game had lulled the visitors into a false sense of confidence. The
visiting team had assumed that we were not capable of a much better showing. But
MCC had put together the finest team possible with the exception of you know who.
But then given the clubs origins, its history, past captains merit a place. I
stand by that previous sentence. Sunil, despite his poor showing on Friday,
belonged. Nand, captain, owner of the biggest monstrous looking SUV, put YMCA to
bat. Nand, speaking in Hindi, asked everyone to step it up a notch and at the
same time to tone down on the appealing. A duality MCC managed with some style.
YMCA got off to a snails start scoring at less than two an over for the better
part of fifteen overs. The bowling was spot on. Both opening bowlers maintained
an impeccable line and length and were backed by some superlative fielding. Sonu
didn't let anything get past him at Point. Ross put in a dive, and even had a
bruise to show for it. Bhupi, twelfth man for the game, had said before the
start that Imran and Amir had it not been for the fact that they were in Italy
would have played professional cricket. How true. Sunil, mercifully,
rediscovered his touch and even almost pulled off a tough caught and bowled
chance. Nand bowled well, continuing from where he had left of the other day.
Moon and Sonu pitched in with economical spells. Van der Merwe was the first to
be dismissed, caught at slip by Irfaan off the bowling of Amir. Shami, who has
played with the likes of Afridi, was the next to go adjudged lbw for not much.
Strydom and Alan batting in tandem did up the scoring rate for a while but their
dismissals put an end to any thoughts of YMCA posting a decent total.
With only a sub-par 101 to chase, MCC was never
in any doubt of getting across the line given our formidable batting line up.
After Sonu got out 'trying to invent a shot', as Bhupi put it, Vikas and Irfaan
batted sensibly putting together a partnership that got us close. So convinced
of victory were the rest of the batters to follow that they helped themselves to
second servings of biriyani and sandwiches. While the two were going, anything
pitched short was pulled with disdain. Vikas, in fact, hammered three fours, all
pull shots front of square at that, in one over from Umar. Gurmeel, busy body
that he is, at the crease following Irfaan's exit, tried his best to unsettle
Van der Merwe's constricting line and length by shuffling about in the crease
and threatening to walk down the track. He got the better of Van on one occasion
lofting him for a huge six, but Van had the last laugh. Moon sent in at
Gurmeel's fall, with not much required, dead batted everything that came his way
for a couple of overs to justify the distance he had traveled for the game.
David recounted his beginnings with YMCA and how
his time with the club had instilled in him a lifelong passion for the game. He
then spoke movingly about how it was everyone's responsibility to give back at
some stage for the benefit of those to come after us. Chris did the honor of
presenting the manager of YMCA with a plaque. David, noble soul, had brought
along bottles of wine, Nebbiolo - if my memory serves me well, with the logos of
the two clubs imprinted on them for the occasion.
Both teams having clearly over estimated the
number of new recruits for the year, and with plenty of shirts lying about,
decided to remedy the 'excess' situation by showering each other with jerseys
and caps as tokens of appreciation. Camaraderie and warmth flowed, the wine
helped obviously. The beneficiaries from Milan were Irfaan and Vikas for their
match winning stand, Nand, Chis, Gautam and Sunil for chauffeuring the visiting
team around. For YMCA, Shawny was handed a cap for his good spell as much as for
his prettier sibling, Strydom for his hard hitting 50 of the previous day, and a
cap each for the lanky fast bowler and muscled wicket keeper whose names I
Ross then took center stage and did his Maori
Haka impression followed by a song from 'Fiddler on the Roof'. His Haka was spot
on. Tim Robinson would have stood up and applauded. Actually, Tim would have
bettered that. He would have, if in a position to do so, conferred him with
honorary citizenship of NZ. His second act, Tevye's impersonation, was
interrupted twice. First by the arrival of the second fish course and then by a
drunk, inquisitive, Swedish guy who for some reason seemed extra keen on letting
us know of his viking roots. Ross unperturbed by waiters and vikings gave a
shirtless rendering of 'If I were a rich man'. Given that most were in an
inebriated state and the mood was joyous, almost celebration like, the situation
called for 'Lechaim, To Life' but Ross pulled off the more sober and reflective
'If I were a rich man' without dampening the mood. If anyone can pull it off, it
On a completely unrelated note, I seem to have misplaced my MCC cap that was
handed to me that morning, without fanfare, without the customary team huddle
and applause that follows on such occasions, with only Nand's demoralizing words
for company, 'The cap comes with the rest of the outfit you paid for, here you
go'. If someone knows of its whereabouts, do let me know. Although I came in its
possession in less than ideal situations, I'd still like to try out the routine
of having the cap under my pillow before game days. I am told such absurdness
pays off. My wicket less streak (this season) might come to an end.
Also, after due consideration, I have decided to
hang my batting shoes. Henceforth I'd be available for team selection as a
bowler alone. This, I must tell you, was a very hard decision to arrive at. This
weekend I realized that when Sunil went about with his shadow practice he
accompanied every swish of the bat with a 'click' sound that was a close
approximation of the middle of the bat or thereabouts meeting the ball. I, on
the other hand, could not reach that note. With bat in hand, swinging away at
imagined full tosses, when I raised my tongue to make contact with my palate, I
could only manage the sound of ball thudding on to the glove or at best the
sound of ball hitting the toe end of the bat. It is an omen, a sign of things to
come. It is time. Karthik, the batsmen is dead. I plan to focus on my bowling
and in my spare time designing nail clippers with a long reach. I hear there is
a market for that.
A great evening overall. In all probability, the
next time around the guys around the table won't be the same lot - there is talk
of some getting married and some others relocating to palm fronds in distant
lands. But this night will long be remembered.
Inaccuracies/incompleteness in reporting have to do with being
allowed only occasional glimpses of the action in the middle in between some
less than glamorous heavy lifting and having no access to the score book.