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Serie C

Milan vs. BanglaGuidizzolo - May 29th 2011
by Jonathan  Legge

Our third Serie C outing – and I am magnificently underequipped to tell all ( no book nor any notes - but that never stopped me before !).... I had plenty of time to take it all in during the game as I ambled up and down from long leg to deep third man, listening to the green woodpeckers and admiring the trees – larches. Or poplars. Or willows? No, that’s never a willow.

Our opposition, on their 3rd year of Serie C participation, had turned up at 10.00 for intensive catching practice. And some huddling.

A beautiful setting – the ground part of a large sports facility some 20kms south of Bologna in town bemusingly called “Medicina”, which may explain why there was an ambulance in attendance. Well equipped changing rooms, very healthy turf, and a seductive Appennine backdrop. The umpire looked like that fat kid with an inappropriate beard from all those “American Pie” type films ( there’s always one, isn’t there ?), and whoever had marked out the boundary lines had clearly decide that using a snake with Tourette’s syndrome was the way to go : shall we be charitable and just call it wiggly ?

Milan lost the toss and were instructed to field : and although once again our opening attack of Sunil and Yogesh had the same problems getting line and length, in the 3rd over the no. 2 batsman gloved the ball to Vijay at ( sort of )leg slip. I should say that I thought the bowling track looked very good, but was reliably informed by those who know better ( i.e. real cricketers !) that the wicket was springy, with a tendency to hold the ball back and then release it faster than you would expect. ( this makes no sense to me at all, but then what do I know ?) - vociferous support for the boundary accompanied every shot (missed or not), and the Bangla boys seemed eager to move the score along –but just like last weekend it all went off the rails for them : Milan mixed the bowling up and in spite of all the gaps in the biggish field the no. 1 Bangla batsman saw 6 of his compatriots depart for single figure scores : one insane run out, one bowled and 4 catches, 3 of which to Gautam ! The no. 1 guy then got himself out for 30 + runs, caught off a free hit following a no-ball, Gautam getting his 4th catch of the day; I do know that one other batsmen made it to double figures but the others seemed intent on “the big shot” and Bangla finished their innings, overs in hand , all out for 135 – 7 of them caught ! Milan held all their catches, conceded fewer wides than usual (but still plenty of room for improvement here) and had the rare delight of telling the umpire he was wrong when he announced that a powerplay was 4 overs long (for the aficionados amongst you, a Serie C power play is 3 overs.)

With a modest total to aim at, it was with dismay that Milan watched as Bhupi was out in the first over, fending a rising one to slip, and then Sunil followed suit in the 3rd , doing more or less the same thing : 22 for 2 off 3 ! 2 batsmen capable of winning this thing on their own back in the pavilion..... Gurmel, however, was having none of it, and pushing the score along at 7 or 8 an over, once again put together a customary well-styled innings – he eventually was out caught for a 50+ score, which left Milan on 85 for 4 after 12 overs – Ajmal and Gautam played themselves in, then with the score on 101 for 4 after 15 overs, Ajmal cut loose with a series of soul destroying strokes ( soul-destroying if you are a Bangla boy, that is !) – 3 sixes and 1 four in one over to take Milan to 130 for 4, followed by the required 6 more in the next over saw Milan romp home, winner by 6 wickets in less than 90 minutes, with not even 17 overs completed. Plenty of wides conceded by Bangla, and a fair few mis-fields as well : overall not very cutting edge in the field and some very unintelligent batting.

And I’d forgotten how noisy a woodpecker can be !





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