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Carib Beer XI vs St Martins,

Regents Park, Thursday 29th July 2021

In a blustery evening at Regentís Park, the Caribs secured a dominant victory over a weakened St Martinís side. The story of the match was one of the Caribsí most extraordinary innings in the field in the teamís 17 years.

St Martinís were missing their long-standing promoter and grand organiser in Giles, over an unfortunate diary mix-up. Not only did this mean no appearance for Giles with his trusty Bradman-era bat (or was it the bat that Giles played alongside Bradman with Ö?) but it meant that Giles had not dipped into his infamous Indian phone book to bring in a few players taking a break from the IPL. However, under Rolandís cheery leadership, St Martinís as ever took part in great spirit. Despite that, moving from their familiar turf in Wandsworth may have unsettled the St Martinís side. The normally sizeable crowd that they bring to home matches in Battersea Park resolutely had resolutely decided not to travel north of the river to Regentís Park.

Without pre-match encouragement / tongue lashing (delete as preferred) on the virtues of punctuality from the captain on WhatsApp, the Caribs drifted in at or (mostly) after 6pm and so proceedings were a little late starting. Once we were just about quorate, captains Merz and Haigh went out for the toss. Roland called correctly and within 0.2 seconds announced that he would bat.

Captain Haigh offered Mr Jain the first over and choice of ends. Given the force 5 blowing from the hub end, Mr Jain decided to switch from his trusty zoo end in the hope of picking up yet more pace. Despite very tight bowling both from Mr Jain, and Mr Tanveer bowling from the zoo end, the St Martinís openers, Roland and David, were giving little away.

For the first time in a Carib game, the full force of the Carib elite bowling attack was all on the field together. (Credit to Mr Mossís excellent memory and acute observation for this.) So with no luck from the first four overs, Captain Haigh had the luxury to turn to Mr Kant and Mr Runacres for first and second change. Yet the St Martinís batsmen were up to it, even if they were finding it difficult to score runs. The fact was that all the pacemen, whether with or against the wind, looked to be battling the wind conditions.

Batsman David retired after a solid 26, Captain Haigh came on, and the first wicket fell, a fine catch by Mr Moss, ever alert in the field, lunging forward at point. Then after the medium pace intermission from Captain Haigh, the alternative Carib bowling approach of flight was tried. And work it did. Where pace had come to nought, flight proved devastating. First Mr Moss, bowling with the wind, but still offering his characteristic flight, secured a fine wicket, in extremely economical bowling (his first maiden?) with a catch into the trusty hands of Mr Berry at point. Of course, if youíre a flight bowler, the bowling into the wind is the preferred end. What followed from the zoo end turned heads around Regentís Park. First Mr Horn and then Mr Berry ran through the rest of the side. Mr Horn began by bamboozling and bowling out the opener, Captain Roland, that the quicks had been unable to dislodge. The Caribs feared that the devasting collapse that ensued might backfire as St Martinís opener, David, came out after retirement. But he was swiftly despatched by Mr Berry, with a very finely judged delivery. Finely judged that is so as to be just inside the waist-high-no-ball level, but lofted enough to bamboozle the batsman, together with pinpoint accurate enough to strike off stump. After no wicket down at 9 overs, St Martinís were all out at 18 overs.

A word of credit should also go to Mr Banarjee behind the stumps. Standing in for Mr Bowen, incapacitated following the recent London floods apparently, Mr Banarjee did a fine job handling the barrage of pace, providing an anchor in a ring of tight fielding all round by the Caribs.

With an outfield so unfavourable to batsmen, having such thick grass that it resembles the famed grasslands of Assam, it wasnít at all clear to the Caribs that a score of 70 would be readily overcome. Yet openers Mr Horn and Mr Banarjee set off apace. With such a long opening stand, Goochie was able to regale the Caribs on the boundary at length of his latest exploits, always a cause of great entertainment. He was revelling in the enthusiastic reception of his recent match report. Our occasional match reports from Essex invariably bring out the Carib lawyers in a cold sweat. Yet this time, Goochie explained how he had secured a positive reference for his report, and that there was absolutely no conflict of interest with the referee being a colleague homeless as a result of a housing mix-up and otherwise destitute but for the kindness of the offer of accommodation at Goochieís villa.

After Mr Banarjee retired with a quick 25 Ė especially impressive under these ground and wind conditions. Goochie moved up the order and went in number 3. Perhaps suffering from an unfortunate experiment with a gluten-free Bakewell tart, Goochie was bowled for 3 by St Martinís Ramesh, complementing some fine bowling from Mark and David. Mr Jain then took to the crease with a particular spirit of determination, to guide the Caribs home alongside Mr Horn with nearly 8 overs to spare. The Caribs had maintained a very respectable scoring rate well above 5 an over, always a benchmark at our level.

So, with a dominant victory over St Martinís, the Caribs wrapped up one of their most successful seasons for years. The final tally for the summer was four wins and just one loss. Whether itís the Carib Covid Recovery Programme proving more successful that other clubsí efforts, or whether all the opportunity for extra practice under the guise of (supposedly) running home schooling in those back gardens from Essex to Hertfordshire to Maharashtra was time well spent, or whether itís a return for a youthful hunger to play their best cricket after over-indulging on Bakewell tarts during lockdowns, the Caribs have shown their versatility to different pitches and conditions. The word about the Caribsí success clearly got around quickly. When the Caribs arrived at The Globe at Baker Street after the game, there were only a few people around. By the time we left, the Caribs were surrounded by a buzzing and joyful throng.

Long may it continue. How wonderful and what a privilege to be able to be back playing cricket once again alongside such a fine group of men.

Carib Beer XI Win by 8 Wickets

Scorecard

St Martins      
Roland   B Horn 13
David   B Berry 26
Scott C Moss B Haigh 1
Dan C Berry B Moss 3
Max St Banarjee B Horn 2
Mark   not out 3
Ramesh   B Horn 4
Scott (2) lbw B Berry 1
       
EXTRAS   2b 1lb 4nb 10w 17
TOTAL   (18 Overs) 70
       
Jain 3-0-11-0 Tanveer 2-0-9-0
Kant 4-1-13-0 Runacres 2-0-11-0
Haigh 2-0-5-1 Moss 2-1-4-1
Horn 2-0-14-3 Berry 1-0-4-2
       
Carib Beer      
Rishi Banarjee   not out 25 (18)
Tom Horn   not out 24 (35)
Glen Rayner   B Ramesh 3 (8)
Nitin Jain   not out 10 (10)
Archie Runacres      
Gordon Berry      
Andy Moss      
Martin Haigh      
Adam Tanveer      
Swanand Kant      
       
EXTRAS   3b 0lb 4nb 2w 9
TOTAL   (12.3 Overs) 71-1
       
Ramesh 4-0-17-1 Mark 4-0-20-0
Dan 2-0-21-0 David 2.3-0-10-0