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Sept 9, 2007 Friendly vs Old Wimbledonians Lost by 33 runs

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Played at Old Wimbledonians Cricket Club, Wimbledon

Batting for the other team*

(* A title suggested on no fewer than three occasions, post-match, by captain Sultanti. And who am I to go against his word?)

By Simon Tate

Imagine if you will a time many years from now. A man of advanced years, I sit with grandson on knee, by a fire crackling merrily on a cold winter’s evening. We’re watching some alternative television programme on Channel Four when the youngster turns to me and asks, ‘Granddad, did you ever bat for the other team?’

‘Certainly not,’ I reply and prepare to clout the young tyke to within an inch of his life. Then, suddenly, I’m stopped in my backswing by a decades-old memory long suppressed. A tear wells as I recall one glorious occasion on a wonderful late summer’s day; an afternoon of innocence lost in luscious green fields and youthful adventure. Then there was also that time when the Old Fallopians took on their annual foes, the Old Wimbledonian 3rds.

Yes, your humble storyteller was indeed called upon to play for the other team when plans for a 12-a-side disintegrated upon arrival due to the Dons being two musters short of a full complement.

Pleasantries exchanged, I remember the home side got off to a flyer as their openers capitalised on some early looseners from the initial Fallopian strike force. However, Messrs. Frisby and Roy soon settled into their respective grooves and, while the scoreboard ticked along, it was at a pace that caused neither captain much alarm.

But then came the visitors’ version of good cop, bad cop, otherwise known as John Shaw and Peter Henry. A wicket containing more spring than a moshpit full of teenage frogs had the latter licking his lips and the home openers were soon two-stepping to a rare rendition of Fallopian chin music. Henry’s first over yielded his and the innings’ first victim, courtesy of a snorter that found the edge and a gleeful Hemelryk’s big padded gloves. Cries of “just like proper cricket” were heard from the huddle of celebrating visitors.

At the other end, Shaw waved his ever-dependable magic wand, loaded with seemingly innocuous but devilishly accurate dibbly dobblers. This menacing yin-yang attacking conundrum flummoxed the batsmen, reduced the scoring to a crawl and no doubt played a part in the run out that promptly followed. That the pair only finished with one wicket between them was highly unlucky.

The innings wore on and in came Tennant, fresh from the previous week’s five-fer, to block up one end while first Venables, then Sultanti and a returning Henry mixed it up at the other. The home side were now solely reliant on the bludgeoning blade of Gardener to occasionally poke the scorers from their slumbers. A smart stumping here, an lbw there and the Dons were left hoping for a belligerent display from their number six. Unfortunately for them, that role fell to your trusty Fallopians twelfthie, a man whose best shot in the locker is the leave. An uncharacteristically aggressive seven-ball cameo followed, but Dimitri Mascarenhas it wasn’t and the innings ended on a tantalising 177 for six. Evenly poised.

Tea-time sandwiches munched, the Fallopians’ Smallman and Sweet walked out to face an opening spell of pacy, accurate bowling which kept them pinned to their creases and reliant on extras to get them off the mark. A running miscalculation did for Smallman, while a leading edge saw the end of Sweet. Two down and the score barely into double figures. Hemelryk shone briefly before being bowled, while both Press and Sultanti came and went without causing much of a flutter on the scoreboard. The home side’s opening bowler, Warwick, ending his seven over spell with an impressive two for just four runs.

Then came a sterling innings from Venables, fresh from his two-year hiatus, and aided at first by Tennant and then Roy. Some comfortable nudging and nurdling along with the occasional meaty boundary and suddenly the Fallopian scoring rate, which had been dangerously close to flat-lining, now beeped back into life. But the wickets continued to fall; and none more bizarrely than that of Frisby, who, in the confusing aftermath of an overthrow set off for an extra run despite the ball being safely in the bowler’s hands at the non-striker’s end. A late rearguard followed from Venables and Shaw, who with some fine batting and surprisingly sharp running between the wickets moved the Fallopians towards respectability. But unfortunately, both fell in the final chase.

And as I’m brought back from this dewy-eyed trip down memory lane, I look down to answer my expectant grandson thus, "Yes, I did bat for the other team once. And yes, so should you if you get the chance. Because, my son, you may return home with the words 'traitor' and 'turncoat' ringing in your ears, but you’ll also return home a winner. And that is far, far more important."

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OId Wimbledonians 177-4 (35 overs)
Old Fallopians 144 all out (32.5 overs)
OId Wimbledonians won by 33 runs
Old Wimbledonians
  How out Bowler Runs Sixes Fours
Harlen ct Hemelryk Henry 27    
Mukerjee st Hemelryk Tennant 28    
Irvine Run out   12    
Gardner Not out   61    
Brown LBW Roy 11    
Tate (Simon) Not out   6    
Extras  26  
Total 177    
  Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Frisby 5 1 22 0
Roy 7 0 39 1
Shaw 6 0 15 0
Henry 7 0 29 1
Tennant 7 1 35 1
Venables 2 0 15 0
Sultanti 1 0 10 0
Old Fallopians
  How out Bowler Runs Sixes Fours
Rafe Smallman Run out   3    
Chris Sweet Caught Warwick 1    
Simon Hemelryk Bowled Venter 8   2
Robert Press LBW Brown 3  
David Sultanti Bowled Warwick 6   1
Mark Venables C & B Venter 42   4
Will Tennant Caught Reed 13   2
Justin Roy Bowled Reed 14   3
Peter Frisby Run out   5   1
John Shaw Caught Laurence 13   1
Peter Henry Not out   1    
Extras  32    
Total 144    
  Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Warwick 7 3 15 3
Venter 6 1 21 2
Rolls 6 0 15 0
Brown 3 0 14 0
Reed 6 0 31 2
Ghafur 5.5 0 33 1

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