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Carib Beer XI vs Old Boys, Regents Park,

Thursday 28th July 2022

On a sunny but cooling evening, the Caribs assembled for one of the longest standing and much-loved fixtures, that against the Old Boys. Side note: in the early years the side was still directly from AEAT Rail; you can see the first match, on 23 June 2005, detailed on this website, with an impressive five of the AEAT Rail names turning out this evening 17 years later.

In the preamble to the match, Carib Moss had proposed that numbers could be evened up by Carib Haigh turning out instead for the Old Boys, with his being qualified for both teams. This had raised constitutional questions: Caribs are only to play for the Caribs. The topic of having well-matched games has been on the agenda for the last few AGMs, and this particular suggestion for Carib Haigh had arisen at this year's AGM. Unfortunately without any minutes of the meeting yet available, there was still room for doubt about whether a special exemption had been agreed to or could be granted. As it turned out on the night, the Old Boys had a surge of interest, whilst the Caribs suffered from several last minute drop-outs. The Old Boys had a squad of 12, whilst the Caribs were down to 8.

Creditably, one of the first to arrive at the ground was Ringer Gemma (a.k.a. Mrs Moss), making her debut. Despite being a rounders captain and a primary school teacher (which includes teaching indoor cricket), she was keen to downplay her cricketing abilities. It wasn't clear if she was there entirely of her own volition, but Mr Moss was keen to point out that he fully supports freedom of choice and had used no degree of coercion, manipulation or subterfuge in "inviting" his wife to play.

The time rolled closer towards 6pm, the Old Boys were doing well on numbers (and 10 spectators!) before even half of the Caribs had arrived. Ringer Gemma was telling Carib Haigh about the unpleasant effects of excessive alcohol and hooliganism that had put a blot on the experience of the European Championship Final at Wembley this time last year. Moments later, at a minute to six, and despite giving stern instructions to the rest of the team to arrive by 5.45pm at the latest, Old Boy Captain Steve turned up with the most enormous cooler full of alcohol.

Before we got under way, it's worth noting that Steve said how sad it was that Carib Goochie had not been able to make the game, always one of the larger-than-life characters of the game. Possibly for the first time, bar the Covid summer of 2020, Carib Goochie has not been able to make a single game this season (yet).

Ringer Yusuf came out to film the toss, a new first we think. Carib Haigh won and elected to bat. It was an easy decision: the Caribs were still waiting laggards to arrive. Carib Moss and Ringer Yusuf opened up against the tried-and-trusted Old Boy attack of Fuller and Chapman. Carib Moss made cautious progress, including an early reprieve from the first of what was to be an evening of several drops at gully. Yusuf blazed a trail at the other end, racing to 29 in just 16 balls, including four swashbuckling fours. The last, to get to 29, was thanks to a scoring omission (or ambiguity) that delayed his retirement.

Carib Moss was replaced by Ringer Gemma. Unfortunately, the captains had forgotten to discuss whether in a friendly fixture like this there would be no golden ducks and Ringer Gemma was bowled first ball. Next in, Carib Haigh steadily made it to 23 before being clean bowled trying to swipe his way with a big hit to retirement. In the middle, he was lucky to survive Mr Fuller's spin bowling, playing and missing at all six balls. Captain Haigh's comment that the dustbowl conditions from the drought were making it a dream spinner's wicket were met with studious disinterest from Umpire Lee, saying that he was in no position to judge from square leg.

Carib Horn came in at 5 and made his way to a very steady 26 not out. The word is getting out that he has special powers. Just like a game last year, at one point in his innings, the ball hit his stumps without the bails coming off, to everyone's befuddlement.

By then, time was running out in the innings, and Caribs Weaver and Kant, and Ringer Akansh hurried some quick runs in the final overs. This was especially so from Carib Kant and Ringer Akansh who were running singles and twos to the infield - all successfully.

Sadly, Carib Cordey had had to cancel last minute. One of the entertaining features of the Old Boys game is the tussle between Old Boy R Moss and Carib (Northern Bakery Magnate) Cordey. But sadly it wasn't to be this year. Nevertheless, Old Boy R Moss turned his arm over for an over. Old Boy (& Entrepreneur) J Bell turned up just before the end of the Carib innings and was immediately sent in by Captain Curtis to bowl. The legend of his pace in his opening bowling back in the day for the Rail OR precedes him. What maybe is a loss of a yard of pace these days is more than made up by the entertainment value that he commentates throughout his over, possibly just pausing in the delivery stride.

The Old Boys ended up giving away 41 wides (it was 2 for a wide), helping the Caribs to finish on a strong total of 139 for 4. Probably on reflection, the Old Boys had been unlucky not to take more wickets, as we could all remember several just missing the stumps.

The Old Boys got off to a torrid start. First, Old Boy Francis suffered the same fate as Carib Ringer Gemma, clean bowled for a golden duck. Soon after, Old Boy Ringer D Bell (brother of Old Boy legend J Bell) tried to up the pace and fell victim to a run out mix up with his partner, Old Boy Sparkes.

Comical run outs are often a feature of Old Boy games, and soon afterwards, Old Boy M Wood was run out in one of the biggest suicide missions in Carib cricket history. Captain Curtis was generously fielding for the Caribs, but by this stage, it looked like the effect of the Old Boys' generous alcohol allowance was getting the better of his judgement. Can in hand, as the ball fell just to the keeper's left, Mr Curtis called urgently for Mr Wood to run. By his own admission, Old Boy Wood is not a seasoned watcher of the game, but hesitated at what looked an optimistic call in anyone's book. Old Boy Captain Curtis continued his emphatic calls to run, so Old Boy Wood thought that loyalty was the best policy and duly set off. Needless to say, Old Boy Sparkes was having no part in this nonsense, and sent him back when he was only a few paces outside the crease by which time keeper Weaver had recovered the ball and made the run out.

There was a steady fall of wickets, including two fine wickets from Carib Horn, in an over, helping him to the best figures of the night. There was a rare drop from Yusuf along the way, albeit salvaged by a good catch later. But the standout innings were from Old Boy Sparkes, for his first ever retirement, making 26 not out, and Old Boy J Bell eventually falling to a catch by reliable pair of hands, Carib Horn. Between them, they put on an impressive stand of 43.

As the years take their toll on some of the Old Boys (and Caribs), the use of Law 25 (Runners) comes into greater use. Always a controversial Law, and for the last 11 years, banned in international cricket, the Old Boys are able take advantage of the fact that they are still permitted in domestic and recreational cricket. A little liberty was taken over Law 25.5.1 (that the injury is during the match) so as to encompass Old Boy Madden's injury during a 5-a-side game earlier in the week.

An extra degree of confusion arose this year over Mr Sparkes's need for two runners. During one frantic, scampered run, Old Boy Sparkes cried and fell to the ground as his hamstrung went. To his credit he managed to make his ground and complete the run. He was determined to carry on for turned out to be a heroic innings. It seemed a great boon for efficiency to have the next scheduled batsmen as Mr Sparkes's runner. However, after the striking batsmen was out and then simply swapped places with Mr Sparkes's runner, it caused no end of befuddlement about who was running to what end on behalf of whom.

Swapping gloves with Carib Weaver, Carib Kant turned his hand at keeping wicket in the most enthusiastic style and rewarded spectators with a comedy dismissal of Old Boy Captain Curtis right round at short leg. This was after Old Boy Captain Curtis had looked threatening, hitting two fine fours and looking intent on chasing down the total with big hits.

In the end it wasn't to be, but the Old Boys finished on a creditable 104 for 8, 35 runs short.

The effects of the pandemic and the lack of cricket showed after the game as many seemed to have forgotten the layout of Regent's Park and took circuitous routes to the pub afterwards. There was only space on the edge of the pavement outside, by the time many of us arrived. Right on the edge of the group, there was a constant back-and-forth for Carib Haigh and his bike as the two pub staff trying to enforce the public right-of-way law took differing interpretations of whether the right-of-way should be on the outside or the inside of the lamppost. All in all, it was a fine evening, and long may this most traditional and most entertaining of fixtures continue.

Carib Beer XI Win by 35 Runs

Scorecard

Carib Beer XI      
Andy Moss   B Chapman 6 (12)
Yusuf   not out 29 (16)
Gemma Moss   B Chapman 0 (1)
Martin Haigh   B Brown 24 (27)
Tom Horn   not out 26 (32)
Andy Weaver   run out 3 (5)
Swanand Kant   not out 1 (3)
Akansh   not out 4 (2)
       
EXTRAS   5b 0lb 0nb 41w 46
TOTAL   (20 Overs) 139-4
       
Fuller 4-1-22-0 Brown 4-0-30-0
Chapman 4-0-26-2 Curtis 3-0-21-0
R Moss 1-0-12-0 Sparkes 2-0-9-0
J Bell 2-0-16-0    
       
Old Boys      
D Bell   run out 4
J Francis   B Kant 0
A Sparkes   not out 26
M Wood   run out 0
R Moss C sub (Toman) B A Moss 4
C Madden hit wicket B Horn 0
T Rawlings C Yusuf B Horn 0
J Bell C Horn B Weaver 23
M Chapman   not out 10
S Curtis C Kant (wk) B Moss 10
S Brown   not out 4
       
EXTRAS   3b 0lb 0nb 20w 23
TOTAL   (20 Overs) 104-8
       
Kant 2-0-5-1 Akansh 3-0-12-0
A Moss 4-0-32-2 Horn 2-0-6-2
Weaver 4-0-23-1 G Moss 1-0-7-0
Haigh 2-0-8-0 Yusuf 2-0-9-0