Gents, great game.
Sudarshan organised a star-studded over 50s team for the 2017 Royal Thomian. Names on the team sheet included super stars and stalwarts. In the team were Mathi, Aruna, Shanthikumar, Dinesh, S.Rajkumar, Ravi, Gavin, Janaka, Channa, Sandesh and David.
Missing in action was our fearless leader Radesh - last seen in some dodgy part of the world on the way to no-one-knows-where.
On a nice balmy day, as MC Duke Hammer put it, the skippers skipped out to the middle, much to the dismay of the over 60s players who were still in the middle of their game. While the bowler was mid-flight, the umpire called a halt to proceedings and politely inquired as to the cause of the disruption. He was duly informed that the over 50s skippers wanted to toss and needed the pitch to do that.
The umpire quickly called off the security that was assembling on boundary and the toss was tossed. Exactly what happened after that is not yet clear. The Thomians won the toss, that much is clear. But when asked what they were going to do, they said they planned to either bat or bowl. Then their skipper skipped off and was not to be found anywhere. In the absence of a decision, while the TV channels cut to a commercial break, we decided Royal will bat and bowl, in that order. And bat we did.
Mathi and Gavin strolled out to the middle. Gavin called a quick single. But at the prime age of 50, sound travels much slower than it used to. So by the time Mathi got the message and drafted his response, the wicket had been broken and he had to head back to the hut. Shortly after Gavin edged the ball to slips. At our age, the ball also travels to slip much slower than it used to. Fortunately slips didn't look at all interested, but unfortunately the keeper tripped at an untimely time and got in the way of the bloody ball which got lodged in his outstretched glove.
This is when things got interesting. Dinesh strolled out to the middle. As we all know, Dinah is used to fixing problems other people create for him. His partner on the other end told him that it was all up to him and he better not let his alma mater down. He calmly took guard. The first ball he faced went to the left, then to the right, the it went straight past him and his bat, and fortunately his stumps.
That was that. Dinesh decided to deposit the next ball on the next grounds, where the Open match was going on. That confused those poor buggers who are only used to seeing one ball on the field. As you know, seeing two or three balls coming at you at our age is normal, especially after a night on the amber liquid.
We got the ball back and got on with the next ball. That too was launched into orbit, eventually landing on top of the Thomian tent. Spectators were seen asking for helmets at this point.
Suffice it to say, Dinah scored his 30 runs in 7 balls. That pretty much guaranteed to make the remaining batsmen look bad, no matter what they did.
Even the umpire agreed. Sandesh, who decided to restore order with some solid batsmanship, was relieved of duties by the umpire who gave his one and only LBW of the day. Shanthikumar, who is used to opening the batting, came in and played some swashbuckling strokes along with Ravi who showed what a proper forward defence looks like inbetween some sweetly timed boundaries. Aruna who looked as solid as a tree hit some scintillating cover drives. Raj contributed quick fire, finding gaps and over the top before a premature end. David said not to worry and joined the parade with a beautifully crafted 30. Channa and Janaka, who were playing for the over 60s as well, then finished off the innings although we ended up with a couple of overs to spare. We had 204 on the board. That was a solid effort.
It was now up to our bowling. We got off to a good start with Dinesh and Gav. Gav got a wicket early. Unfortunately that set the cat among the pigeons. It brought Richie to the crease and he appeared to be a bit upset with us. He clocked the first ball for six and then pretty much every ball after that. Before we had blinked he had his 30.
We thought that was good news until a few other Thomians decided to follow suit and also hammered the ball to all parts. But at the half-way point we were half-way there. They needed another 100 runs and we needed to get a few wickets. Sandesh and Gav swapped keeping duties so Sandi could bowl. The field was spread all over the place until the umpire started setting the field for us because he was not happy with our field placements. He told us fielders were not allowed to hide behind trees.
Finally, to our pleasure, the Thomians started running out of batsmen. We had Duke and Shan at the crease and we tightened the screws. At this stage, we needed 2 more wickets and they needed about 16 runs. It came down to the last couple of overs. The Royal flag was being flown on the boundary by the Opens captain who was also offering some sage advice.
The art of bowling at the death had fallen on Shanthikumar and Gavin, who ended up with 3 wickets and bowling honors. Unfortunately, it was not to be as Dukie found the middle of his bat (something he was convinced didn't exist) and clocked a six. He leapt in the air, much like Warner upon scoring a century, except only one-tenth as high and in slow motion. And it was all over red rover.
As one of our great presidents of the OBA said, no matter what the scorebook says, Royal wins all their matches. This was a great match and it was a winning performance - no matter what the scorebook says. Now, if only we can locate Radesh!