MILAN CRICKET CLUB
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Never mind the match : what
about that medical ? Oh my God – talk about sexual humiliation ! Allow me to
elucidate ...... the fact that Nand said “ No problem the medical place is in
Piazza Udine” [ but it turned out to be in Corso XXII Marzo] was the least of
the problems – on arriving I was confronted by an improbably-busted receptionist
( the best kind ) who demanded a “specimen” and shooed me away into a bathroom
– I managed this in spite of having just been for a precautionary wee just
minutes before ... worse was to follow as , expecting only a cursory ECG I was
summarily ordered to strip off in front of another young female - and you
know how it is : in general you remove your trousers and then the natural
instinct to, er, how can I put this ? , er, “rearrange” yourself just cuts in –
so I absent-mindedly thrust my hand into what I hoped were my clean pants to
sort things out ... right in front of afore-mentioned female : the look
on her face was designed to communicate a message along the
lines of “ Well, if you have to do that , then ok, but it shouldn’t
really take that long as there doesn’t seem to be much down there.” I was then
instructed to jump on and off a box for a period of time that can only be
described as illegal – face to the wall and all, so I couldn’t see what was
going on behind me : I suspect my behind was being admired – and probably by
most of the clinic, as both the door and window were wiiiiiide open. And the
less said about the Marty Feldmanesque male doctor the better : he was going to
give me sight test before someone else took over !!!
Got up nice and early ( fined € 50 : Italian cricket federation rule no. 62,789 [ Article 474 Vol. VIII ] states : cricketers shall not get up early in a vain attempt to get everything right ). Had hot buttered toast for brekky ( fined € 20 : inappropriate nutrition ] , patted cat ( fined € 100 for being a big softie ), forgot to kiss wife ( fined € 200 plus added punishment of no sex ( or is it more sex ? I forget ) for a whole month ), drove to the ground singing some good drivetime songs ( fined € 50 for bad singing and scaring the birds out of the trees ). Got there and checked my kit
( fined € 25 : how come you didn’t check it before ? ) , put out scoreboard, chairs + tables ( fined €150 for trying to pass yourself as an efficient do-gooder) and practiced a few “airplay” forward defensive strokes with an invisible bat
( fined €
1,000,000 for never having displayed such strokes during an actual game ).
And so to the actual cricket.
The umpire arrived at 11:20 ( er- € fine ? ) – with hearts in mouths we all watched as he went through the laborious task of checking documents, medicals, shoe sizes and after shave ( I made those two up ) – the pitched had been correctly marked out, the opposition was given a clean bill of health, the toss was won aaaaaaaand – the whole thing ground to a halt : why ? Well – not only had the nurse that we needed turned up with no ID but he also had no proof that he was even a nurse – how can anyone be soooo stupid ?? – a period of high tension followed, frantic calls were made, and then the umpire graciously allowed the match to go ahead. Did the nurse (sic) apologise ? Did he heck !!
A 30 over game - Milan decided to bat, the short, dry grass suggesting plenty of runs were on offer – the opposition consisted wholly of Sri Lankans, colourfully decked out in navy blue and yellow, sponsored by their local nightclub (hmmm now there’s a thought !! Have we missed a trick here ? ) – openers Gurmel and Ruzwan ( one of 4 Pakistani players guesting for the Serie C jamboree ) were fast out of the blocks, thrashing 43 off the first 5 overs . In the 6th over Gurmel was bowled for 19, changing his mind in the middle of a stroke and losing his off stump for his pains. Sunil now in, and he and Ruzwan pushed the score along at 7 or 8 an over – the Veronese were pretty keen in the field, scampering around like demented rabbits, but not even they were immune to mistakes : they had already gifted Gurmel a rare”5” when they then dropped Sunil early on in his knock, backward point attempting one of those “leaping salmon” catches that doesn’t then stick ) – Milan went from 62 for 1 off 8 to 82 for 1 off 10 , with some nicely crafted fluid strokes on display at both ends. Must just mention that the score was helped along by 12 wides (more of this later). The fielders gradually retreated from the bat, the pace of the ball resulted in plenty of mis-fields and byes / leg-byes, and Sunil was moving up through the gears when he offered the wrong stroke to a straight one and lost all of his stumps for 30 : 2 down for 103 off 14. Gautam in, and then Ruzwan out, caught at wide long off for a top scoring 42. Bhupi in, Milan on 110 for 3 off 16.
Bhupi joined the list of batsmen bowled when he went for just 9, Milan 128 for 4 in the 19th. Ajmal in. The wides were fewer now, but the pace of the bowlers meant that the byes and leg byes kept stacking up. The batting powerplay
(3 overs from the 23rd to the 25th over ) produced an initial flurry of runs (and our only 6 of the day !), but also saw the downfall of both incumbent batsmen as the score went from 145 off 22 to 154 off 23, then to 168 for 6 off 24, Gautam bowled for 18 and Ajmal bowled for 12. 173 off 25, 182 off 26 ........ for a few moments it seemed that the runs would dry up, but no, the tail bashed and thrashed briefly, and Milan succeeded in batting out the overs to reach a seemingly respectable 208 for 7 – Verona’s fielding antics had cost them a few, but they reined in the wides with a final total of “just” 18 - a dozen or so byes, however......
Verona’s opening bat had one stroke- stride 3 meters down the track and whack the ball with an indecent level of violence – you really don’t expect the opening ball of the innings to go for 6, but this one did – straight back over the bowler, Sunil’s, head – the second went for 4, and at the end of the 1st over Verona were 12 without loss. Although the remaining Verona batsmen were not as “clouty” as Mr Paunch ( I have no Verona names to hand ), they all managed to keep to the RRR of 7 throughout the innings and all got into double figures to support the big scorers – without going into the details (that I don’t have) I will relate that the game went down to the wire : in the last over, with an ever-so-slightly inflammatory mix of Sri Lankans, Indians and Pakistanis on the pitch in an “ it could-go-either-way-on-the-last-ball” scenario, a keenly fought contest produced a moment of non-gentlemanly conduct after a bizarre run-out appeal was turned down by the (Verona) umpire – I can’t comment on whether it “was or wasn’t”, as I was not even on the pitch, but I believe that essentially a run was taken, the batsman made his ground, the attempted run-out throw-in hit the stumps, the batsmen set off for another run, the stumps were hit again with one batsman apparently a long way out of his crease - Milan jubilation was met by distinct lack of digit by the Sq leg umpire, and then all hell broke loose, the upshot of which was a lot of sulking + chuntering + equipment abuse !!
Anyway - once all the toys had been put back in the pram Verona only needed 2 more off 3 balls, then just 1 off 2 , and so duly made it home to claim victory by 3 wickets. Run out ( or not ) aside, the wides and byes (almost 40 combined !!) lost it for us, together with the dropped catches ( none easy, plenty of “skyer-on-the-boundary” stuff for the most part) - I know catches will win matches, but wides will also lose them. On a positive note – wasn’t Nand’s catch at widish mid on ( to dismiss Mr Paunch) a wonder, if only for the expression of pure relief on his face ??