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MCC vs Idle – April 14th 2013 

I found out last week that the act of listening to new music is good for the brain – so having spent the last 5 days trying to get to groups with Arvo Part and Stravinsky ( given the weather “ The Rite of Spring” is perfect !) it is with armed with a smug intellect and renewed sense of purpose that I take to the field. 

The fixture today was a friendly – a 35 over game against our old enemy, those super troupers from Lodi. A glorious day beckoned – the sun was intent on warming our bones, the air was redolent with the smell of new-mown grass - a good day to replenish your vitamin D stocks. Milan all there on time for the 12.30 start, expressing a desire to bat first, should the toss be won –which it duly was ( opposing captain Steve Osborne being undone by the use of one of Nand’s strange Indian dubloons ) - and off we went. 

You will recall that last week we nearly threw away a winning position - working on the assumption that the Milan team is populated with players and not goldfish ( famous for their memory retention span of 3 seconds ), it was hoped that everyone would remember the importance of a) not getting out and b) building partnerships. Not rocket science, is it ? Ramesh and Gurmel to open the batting, Ravi (+ Mohican haircut) from the river end, newcomer Malaga from the other.

Ramesh and Gurmel just about negotiated the first few overs safely enough, Idle spilling one chance when Gurmel was on just 1 – pacy bowling going hand in hand with the less-than-predictable mat (alternative adjectives available on request) combining to limit the scoring and make the batsmen play with caution -  there was a missed chance of a run-out when Gurmel was on 20, but hey, is this a partnership I see developing ? 10 overs gone, 40+ on the board – maybe this is the key : do we play better when we are under the cosh ?? It would seem not, as Ramesh then thoughtfully guided a rising ball straight into the hands of first slip (Steve O, I believe) – 45 for 1. A decent start, nonetheless.

Plenty of batting to come, and oh, so many empty spaces on the field for runs. Oliver took over where Ramesh had left off, while Gurmel was increasing his confidence and score....50 for 1, 60 for 1, 70 for 1, 80 for 1 .... this is how we should bat – no great hurry, plenty of overs and arguably the best batsmen still to come – what could possibly go wrong ? 

......everything( you’d guessed, huh ?). Milan slumped from 80 for 1 to 95 for 6 in next to no time – Gurmel  out for a most creditable 51, Oliver out for 11 having played some very respectable shots on the off side, Sonu and Nand both caught behind without scoring and Sunil + Brian for less than 5 apiece... true, the bowling was purposeful, Malaga in particular finding a fair bit of bounce – but all those key wickets in about 5 overs ? And now Steve Osborne was on at the other end, going about his usual very economical business –  I confess I was quaking in my boots as I went in, as Steve usually gets me out – but the person I fear the most is Ramesh when he is umpiring, as I have no chance whatsoever – better to save time and just walk off immediately ( “Bit unlucky there, Jonathan “ was Rob Hassan’s comment at square leg as I was given LBW to a rising ball on the thigh going down leg last year ) – back to the game ( sorry – just had to get that off my chest !) – so six down after just 22 overs, and now the batting was the largely untried Stuart and the start of the tail ( but no Ramesh umpiring !!). Stuart battened down the hatches while Jonathan just tried to survive – not many runs coming now : a few singles were eked out, but at least the wickets stopped falling.

Eventually to muted cheers the score limped into 3 figures, the Milan camp back in the Jabba ( the hut ? Do try to keep up) perhaps realising that a great opportunity to post a 160+ score had been spurned. Jonathan succumbed in the 32nd over, but Stuart and Vijay managed to bat out the overs. Milan finished with 133 for 7 – great credit to Stuart for a) top scoring with 20 and b) much more importantly not getting out.  Tidy, energetic bowling from all the Idle bowlers – Steve finishing with an exemplary and enviable 2 for 14 off 7 ! 

A frankly disappointing total – but Milan have successfully defended similar totals here before.  

Idle’s openers were Carlo and Umair – Carlo went first ball, gloving a spirited delivery from Yogesh to the keeper, and number 3 Marco came and went for a duck as well – lambs to the slaughter – Idle 10 for 2 after 3 overs. But if you know this opposition as well as we do, you will know that there was still plenty of batting to come – Sunny 1 now partnering Umair – and in the teeth of some pretty vigorous bowling from the pace quartet of Sunil, Yogesh, Brian and Oliver they just bade their time, picking off a few singles now and then : 3 – 3.5 runs an over. Good, intelligent batting. Thus Idle trundled on for another 15 overs. Could Milan have done anything to break the partnership ? Well yes – holding on to catches usually works – the one put down by Vijay at deep 3rd man was followed by half a dozen during the day – keeper catches, slip catches, deep square leg, cow corner etc etc (the unbelievable one is coming right up ) – Time to ring the changes – on came Nand to bowl from the pavilion end  and  he promptly bowled Umair, undone by the length of the delivery – but compliments to him for staying in for 17 overs – now Sunny 2 to partner Sunny 1, Idle approx 60 for 3 -  and then Sunny2 skyed one off Nand’s bowling – a classic straight up and straight down one – Nand wanted it, but was he blinded by the sun ? Had he run too far down the wicket ? Would the keeper have had a better chance of taking it ? Whatever happened the ball went through Nand’s fingers and struck him in the face – there was that distinct “ball-on-bone” sound, and down he went, as did the catch. The game was temporarily halted while some ocular assessment / first aid was carried out – compliments to Marco for applying the butterfly stitches and getting covered in blood for his troubles ! I believe that the ball had caught him ( shame it wasn’t the other way round )very close to the eyebrow bone – anyway, off he was taken to hospital ( some people will do anything to avoid paying a match fee ) and it was left to Chris to field in his place ( full match fee, please – don’t care how many overs you were on the field for). 

So where were we ? Idle 60ish for 3, about 15 overs still to go, and Milan without their talismanic bowler.  

Gurmel came on to bowl – and the balance of the game shifted – his deliveries were evidently considered more inviting by the batsmen and so they hit out ... to their cost – both Sunnys  (er, Sunnies ?) were out for 30, next man Malaga had only one thing on his mind – and that wasn’t defence – and after some early bashing to cow and being dropped twice was duly caught at gully – Shanta, having bowled appallingly earlier on in the day, batted without conviction and played on for just 6 (phew!) ... and so all the hard work of the Umair/Sunny1 stand was undone – in the 31st over Idle stuttered to 112 for 8, then moved on to 120ish for 9, but the tail was no match for the pace of the Milan bowling, Rob H. last man out bowled, with Idle some 10 runs short. 

Credit to Milan for bowling with fire and energy, but Idle could (and should) have just pressed on as they had during the first half of their innings,  and then made a final dash with the middle order some 5 overs before the end – easy as you like. Idle captain Steve shook his head angrily and then retreated into “silenzio stampa” - once again a lack of mental discipline by both teams coming to the fore.  

And what about some catching practice for Milan ?                                                                            The news from the hospital is that Chris, David and Nand spent a happy 7 hours in A & E yesterday evening – in the time it took for Nand to be seen David and Chris had enough time to have a drink, go out for a pizza, meet some girls, marry them, settle down and raise some kids ( who have just finished university )...... I am told that Nand is ok !  



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