Carib Beer XI v Dodgers - 26th June 2014 - Battersea Park.

We play three teams a year, of whom tonight’s opposition, the Dodgers, are one, that generally thrash us to within an inch of our lives every time we play them. Only the rule that their batsmen must retire at 25 saves us from an even worse humiliation than would otherwise be meted out to the motley group of pensioners, ringers and other assorted reluctant long hop bowlers and nurdlers that go by the name of the Carib Beer XI. However, in an inspirational move by our fixture secretary, the fine leg fielder Carib Moss, we were able, prior to the match, to impress upon the Dodgers captain that not being the most accomplished of cricketing teams, they would be helping us out considerably if they would agree to the consumption of copious quantities of alcohol both before and during the match in order to make the game a little more even.

Additionally, it would also be useful if they could spread the bowling around so that we weren’t dismissed within the first five overs of the game. Counting on the fact that, although we can’t usually give these kinds of opposition a particularly testing encounter, at the very least our rather less than youthful exuberance, and obvious enjoyment of the game, would, if they were drunk enough, make up for our lack of talent and give them a chance to enjoy a rather more sociable encounter than is generally the norm for them.

Thankfully, they agreed to these playing conditions, so it was with some optimism that we arrived at the ground, in the shadow of Battersea power station, with initially, the sun still high in the sky, believing, somewhat hopefully, that these playing conditions would also apply to us. As we approached the ground we spied our captain, and leader, Martin Haigh, chatting convivially with a member of the opposition, beer in hand, and we were hopeful that the message had hit home and that they were already engaged in the process of rendering themselves insensible, as had been planned. However, for the plan to have worked successfully, we should have been alert to the fact that it could have become known to our relentlessly professional captain, and leader, Martin Haigh, that the Dodgers were also planning, as per a secret accord within the agreement, to continue in their consumption of beer on the field of play itself, and not just restricting themselves, as we are generally forced to do, to the boundary edge.

Our Captain, and Leader, Martin Haigh was having none of this, and informed the opposition member that, in his belief (and in his belief alone, it should be stressed) the consumption of beer on the field of play was decidedly unprofessional, and against the spirit of the MCC membership conditions (or words to that effect). Nevertheless, as more and more people showed up, it was now time for the toss to be taken, which of course our Captain, Martin Haigh, promptly lost, and we were asked to field. Given that, in the unlikely event of our captain ever winning the toss, this would be his first course of action, none of us were particularly surprised, and it does at least give the opposition the chance of a full 20 overs batting.

Opening the bowling would be our chief selector, and occasional beamer bowler, Carib Nag (Ken), along with the aging, and a long way past his best, medium pacer, Carib Rogerson. What was soon to become apparent, however, was that the pitch was suffering badly from what could generously be referred to as possessing “variable bounce”. Some full length deliveries passed the batsmen at head height, while short balls would skate along the floor. It was likely to be this fact alone that explained the rather muted start of the Dodgers top order. However, it wasn’t until the 4th over that the old medium pacer, Carib Rogerson, was able to take out the middle stump of the Dodger’s skipper, Dodger Carr, with a ball that pitched way outside leg stump and we had our first wicket. Unfortunately, following a quick bowling change, things went quickly downhill as the number 3, Dodger Laken, began to carve out a very useful innings, taking our unfortunate skipper, Martin Haigh, for several juicy boundaries along the way.

From the other end, the occasionally useful spinner, Carib Tungate, toiled away usefully for little reward. However, the problems with the pitch meant that the fall of another wicket was only a matter of time. Eventually, the other opener was induced into missing a straight one, and fell to a fine LBW shout by Carib Tungate. From the other end, our captain and leader, Martin Haigh, was also able to snare himself a Dodger, having Dodger Mohan caught by the Dodger’s sub fielder, which is lucky as these substitute fielders are generally the best catchers on the team. Sadly, however, Martin’s return of 1 – 41 from his four overs demonstrated that it was certainly possible to score on this wicket, something which we still doubted we would be able to achieve ourselves.

The two ringers, Darren & Ben, were now given a chance to turn their arms over, for the first time in several decades, or so they said. Both attired in shorts and t-shirts, they nonetheless acquitted themselves well against the Dodger’s middle order. Ringer Darren even managed to snare himself two wickets, one to another skied pant soiling catch in the deep by our aging Vice Skipper, Carib Rogerson. Nevertheless, their two overs apiece completed, and with the Dodgers innings drawing to a close, it was time for the return of our opening bowlers, the beamer bowling Carib Nag, and aging medium pacer, Carib Rogerson. Although both were able to snare another wicket each, in Carib Rogerson’s case, with a delivery that barely got above ankle height, we sensed that the Dodgers were closing in on a very respectable score, under the circumstances.

However, about now, the skies began to darken over, and rain could again be felt in the air, something that would continue, off and on, for the remainder of the game. However, we were able to complete our stint in the field before the heavens opened, and as we arrived back at the boundary, we were to discover that the Dodgers final score was 127 – 7, which on such an awful pitch, and, if our agreement had been adhered too, several cans of beer down, it was a good performance and one that we would surely struggle to match.

Opening the Carib’s reply would be our newest member, Carib Alex, along with our most reliable nurdler, the statistician and treasurer, Carib Berry. Unfortunately, Carib Alex didn’t last long and was on his way back to the boundary after only 3 balls, suckered into missing a straight one by the loopy opening bowlers. From the other end, however, our chief nurdler, Carib Berry, began to hit his stride almost immediately, carving two boundaries from the second over, and another one from the fourth. Sadly, the number 3, our Captain and leader, Martin Haigh, was unable to keep pace, and after several tortuous dot balls was also on his way back to the boundary, his stumps splayed across the turf.

However, despite the tumbling Carib wickets, we were at least thankful that the Dodgers had opened with their slower bowlers, as doubtless the carnage would have been much worse by now. Nevertheless, another new member, the beamer bowling Carib Nag, now joined chief nurdler Berry at the crease and between them they began to push the score along, albeit somewhat cautiously. When Carib Berry was eventually dismissed for a useful 16, he was joined at the crease by one of our ringers, Ringer Darren. If we had been scoring slowly up to now, the scoring rate now tumbled off a cliff like a hapless lemming, screaming as it crashed into the rocks below. This isn’t to give the impression that the ringer possessed any kind of Boycott-esque defence, but that with none of the looping twirlers actually directed at the stumps, every huge heave he attempted, and missed, resulted in yet another dot ball going into the scorebook. After facing 20 deliveries, he had advanced to only 2, and we had now begun to fall seriously behind the run rate.

However, there now came a turning point in the match, triggered it seems, by a change in the bowling from the Dodger’s second string attack, to their third or fourth, and both the resident Caribs, Caribs Tungate and Ringer Darren, both began to zero in on the loopy deliveries and the scoring rate began to creep back up. Before long, they were both in on the act, Ringer Darren finally connecting with two deliveries that sailed over the boundary for 6, and along with another couple of boundaries, he was soon closing in on his retirement score. Sadly, on 24, he was to miss a straight one, and trudged back to the boundary after his mammoth stint in the middle, with his final 22 runs having been scored from only 12 balls. Carib Tungate, after some lusty hitting of his own, was also closing in on his retirement. However, in this case, he was able to pass his milestone and retire with a very useful 27 to his name, and amazingly, the calculations showed that the Caribs were, mathematically, still in with a shout of overhauling the Dodger’s score.

If we were to win, we would need to scrape together another 20 odd runs from the final 3 overs. Sadly, we were going to have to rely on the ageing medium pacer, Carib Rogerson, along with another ringer, the stout back-stop Ringer Hayes, to do the job. The only thing in our favour was that there was still no sign of any pace in the attack, something that could very quickly have ended our hopes, while a few lusty blows off their spinners, and we were still in with a chance. Carib Rogerson was able to keep the score ticking over with a few singles, while the portly Hayes also managed to scramble a few useful runs to keep us in the hunt, although still a little way from the finishing line. As the required run rate edged up, it seemed we were out of the game after all, but in the space of two balls, the sometimes useful backstop, Ringer Hayes, managed to smash two boundaries off what was still pretty easy bowling, and although he was dismissed in the penultimate over, we found ourselves facing the final over only requiring 11 runs for victory.

The first ball was a wide, wisely left alone, then 3rd ball, there was another, 9 required from 5. The next three balls were scrambled singles, leaving us with a six required from the final ball for victory, with the old Carib, Carib Rogerson facing. The final ball, however, landed half way down the pitch, directly in the firing line of the old vice skipper, who rocked back on his heels and heaved it towards mid-on. As it sailed through the air, we momentarily thought that by some miracle, the old boy had prevailed, and we may just have snuck a highly unlikely victory. Sadly, however, as its trajectory became apparent, it tumbled from the sky to land just inside the long-on boundary, and rolled across the ropes for 4.

So, we were one run short, and had sunk to the defeat was had always believed was inevitable, but we had got very close to victory, and we all felt that just another mid innings push could have seen us home. However, as the rain was still falling, and we were all far from home, all that was required was a quick exit to a local drinking establishment to ruminate over our near victory and sup a couple of well-earned light beverages. It seems that the Dodgers had also enjoyed the experience, and we appreciated that they had kept to their word, and had obviously spread the bowling around their team as agreed, even risking a loss in order to fulfil their pledge. Given that we had almost given up the fixture due to the heavy defeats they usually inflicted on us, we had come close to victory and, daresay, enjoyed the game, and will surely be playing them again next year, should they agree to the same playing conditions again next time.

Peter Rogerson

Scorecard - Carib Beer XI Lose by 1 run

Quereshi LBW Bowled Tungate 18 (26)
Carr   Bowled Rogerson 5 (16)
Laken   not out 26 (14)
Mohan C sub Bowled Haigh 1 (4)
Shimoga   not out 27 (11)
Hilary   Bowled Rogerson 16 (14)
Palmer   Bowled Darren 10 (14)
Dollin C Rogerson Bowled Darren 0 (2)
Priest   Bowled Nag 2 (11)
Taylor   not out 9 (3)
McBarron   not out 1 (1)
EXTRAS     12
TOTAL   (20 Overs) 127-7
Nag 4-1-5-1 Rogerson 4-1-23-2
Haigh 4-0-41-1 Tungate 4-0-22-1
Davies 2-0-26-0 Darren 2-1-8-2
Carib Beer XI      
Alex LBW Bowled McBarron 0 (3)
Berry   Bowled Hilary 16 (14)
Haigh   Bowled McBarron 2 (9)
Nag   Bowled Laken 14 (20)
Darren   Bowled MJ 24 (33)
Tungate   not out 27 (21)
Rogerson   not out 11 (11)
Hayes Stumped ? Bowled Quereshi 10 (7)
Weaver   not out 2 (2)
EXTRAS   2b 15w 3nb 20
TOTAL   (20 Overs) 126-6
McBarron 3-0-11-2 Taylor 3-0-19-0
Hilary 3-1-4-1 Laken 3-0-17-1
Mohan 2-0-29-0 Dollin 2-0-13-0
MJ Shimoga 1-0-5-1 Priest 2-0-13-0
Quereshi 1-0-9-1    
Carib Beer XI Lose by 1 run