The Trinidad Test
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Carib Beer XI vs Old Boys - July 31st 2008

Our penultimate game of the 2008 season saw us up against one of our oldest foes, the AEAT old boys. Although in previous years the contest has proven to have been one of the most keenly contested encounters of the season, due to the ongoing battle between arch nemesi flame haired Carib Phil Cordey and completely useless bowler Rob Moss, it has always proved to be one of the most enjoyable. Unfortunately, on this occasion, neither of the two protaganists was present, one being slowly converted to blond Ayranism, and the other, more than likely faffing around for no discernable reason somewhere else. The absence of these two characters was likely to mean that we would have to settle for a more sedate contest for a change, with the obvious exception that our Captain and Leader Martin Haigh would likely have his own scores to settle with his ex work colleagues and team mates.

So, on a rather humid and warm July evening, with dark clouds overhead and with the threat of rain, we headed off for Regents Park, beers in hand, ready to enjoy a couple of hours of beer and on field sledging against the "Old boys" of AEAT. For once, the Carib Boys managed to arrive at the ground mostly on time, with the usual exceptions, and were busy swinging cricket bats and smashing imaginary sixes as the opposition slowly drifted into the park. We have often been on the receiving end of the same experience, turning up late to find the opposition, fully changed, practising and wearing cricket tops, to know the debilitating affect this can have on an opposition. The clear advantage afforded to the team wasn't lost on our Captain, leader and best batsmen, Martin Haigh, who, sensing the chance to press home his early advantage, approached the 4 opposition players and suggested that it may be best if they batted first, given that we already had a practically complete fielding team. Their worries that they may run out of batsmen prior to the arrival of further players further added to our captain's obvious tactic of "mental disintegration".

Nevertheless, they agreed, or where brow beaten into it, and we headed out into the middle to begin our spell in the field. Our attack was bolstered by the return of the aging and veteran bowler Carib Rogerson, but sadly missing the assistance of medium pace Newly Brazilian Carib Stevinho and Young, but somewhat erratic, Ringer Uttam. Rumours, probably scurilous, claim the existence of some ephemeral wonder bowler by the name of "belal", even quicker, and, amazingly, less erratic that Pacey But Erratic Ringer Uttam, who had led the Carib Bowling Attack in the absence of the 40 year old veteran. Unfortunately, this ghostly figure also failed to make an appearence, so his actual existence can only be guessed at. Nevertheless, with the absence of so many young fast bowlers, it was likely that the veteran of four Carib seasons, recipient of last year's bowling award, and the Carib's most accurate bowler would have to shoulder the attack.

In the event, our Captain, Leader, Chairman and Best Batsmen, Martin Haigh, threw the ball to Dependable line and length bowler and entertainment committee member Carib White to take the first over. Old Boys Ford and Thomas strode out to face him. For the next four overs, both batsmen managed to keep the score ticking over. Whilst neither would have been seriously considered for a Geoff Boycott batting coaching manual, both could easily have produced a few pages for a book produced by his mother. Technique was sacrificed in favour of a keen eye, clubbing anything wide, missing anything in the corridor and getting a bat on anything heading for the stumps. Our captain and leader Martin Haigh admitted later that he was seriously concerned by their progress, which explains his decision to bring himself on in the fifth over, hoping to break the partnership. However, in the sixth over, aging veteran fast/medium bowler Carib Rogerson was able to induce Old Boy Thomas to spoon a catch to Useful Ringer Tungate, and the Caribs had their first wicket but with the AEAT Old Boys alread on 41.

After two overs, and a frankly embarassing attempt to prevent four byes by the veteran 40 year old Carib Rogerson, Martin Haigh demured in favour of Somewhat Biased Deputy Stand in Match Reporter Carib Willis, while from the other end, the veteran opening bowler completed his four overs without further success. At the end of 10 overs, the AEAT old boys had progressed to 57 for 1, not in itself a great score, but the boundary had by this time become populated with virtually the entire opposition team, some of whom, given half a chance, would be likely to seriously trouble the scorers once they got in. Stand in Carib Cordey, Carib Willis, eventually snaffled Old Boy Read, to a sharp catch by New Member and Keen Wicketkeeper Andy Bowen, and Old Boy Gilbert arrived at the crease. Looking like a proper batsmen in his whites, he smashed his first delivery for four, and after four balls, was already on 7 and looking dangerous. Martin Haigh's response was to order the field back in the hope of catching him on the boundary, while he himself, bravely patrolled the inner ring, hoping to keep the singles to a minimum.

However, as can so often happen when you get your field placings correct, our Captain, leader and best batsmen Martin Haigh had positioned himself in the perfect position, at short extra cover. A Carib Willis delivery was bludgeoned in his direction, head height. Martin, poised, realised with horror the risk to his head, and flung his hands up in front of it, hoping to save at least some of his nose for another day. A Quantum Physicist, or Chaos Theorist, could likely have predicted that sometime this century such a random clash of alternative outcomes would have eventually produce such an encounter as the ball thudded into Martin's hands. However, what they could never have predicted was that Martin would actually hold onto it, his hands clasping the ball at the very moment it would otherwise have smashed into his forehead. The rest of his team held their breath, hearing the shriek, first of fear, then of exultation, as he, and us, realised that he had held onto the chance. He tumbled, backwards, in slow motion, his hands raised to the heavens, but crucially, with the ball still intact, producing what must be one of the most amazing catches in our history. As he lay on his back, exhausted, his team assembled around him, amazed at the spectacle we had just witnessed, as the dangerous Gilbert trudged back to the boundary with the Old Boys, finally, two wickets down.

After the excitement, we, and the opposition settled down to some tough cricket. AEAT Old Boy Hort looked dangerous, but while troubling the scorers with dot balls, failed to really loosen his shoulders and was eventually bowled by accurate line and length bowler Carib White. Ringer Tungate provided some useful overs, taking a sharp caught and bowled and bowling veteran Old Boy Luciani to complete a miserly spell. Old Boy I Edmondson hung around for a few overs for a slow, gritty, 10, and returning to complete his overs, Carib White also dismissed Old Boy Piner. As the end of the AEAT Old Boys innings approached, the calls from the boundary indicated that they were just short of the 100, and with 2 balls left, Old Boy D Edmondson, playing his first game in a year, came to the crease. Amazingly, he was able to smash the penultimate ball for six, off hapless bowler Carib White, taking the Old Boy's score just past the 100 mark, leaving us with 103 required for victory.

Our captain and leader Martin Haigh then began the usual job of coralling volunteers to open the batting. Eventually, Tour Manager Andy Weaver and Improving Batsmen and Nurdler in Chief Carib Berry were chosen to begin our reply. Martin Fuller, the previous recipient of an offer to actually join the ranks of the Carib Beer XI, opened the bowling for the Old Boys with his unique combination of long hops and full tosses, reinforcing our contentment that he had failed to respond to both offers of membership. However, with our two most accomplished dot ballers at the crease, we failed to capitalise on the obvious opportunities for taking out a few endangered species in the zoo and settled in for a long slow chase. Tour Manager Andy Weaver, in particular, hogging the strike, pushed a few singles here and there, and with accurate Old Boy Hort bowling from the other end, we slowly began to push towards our target.

In the fifth over, after having faced 9 balls, useful single scorer Carib Berry was bowled by Old Boy Gilbert, and Stand In Club Secretary Carib Willis arrived at the crease, to begin what would become a long vigil at the crease and the backbone of our innings. Tour Manager Andy Weaver, having almost outlasted the pyramids for his 16 runs, and with the team well behind on Duckworth-Lewis, eventually fell to an Old Boy Gilbert pea-roller, bringing middle order bludgeoner, Graham Gooch Look-alike and 15 stones of hitting power, Carib Glen to the crease. He began with some circumspection, perhaps to make sure of the bounce, but after six balls, cut loose. His first scoring shot was a pushed single, but with the hapless Old Boy Michael Thomas flinging down wide after wide, after full toss, our heavy set middle order stalwart opended his shoulders and began to smash a series of fours, one after the other, bettered only by the players on the next pitch, who were by this time, peppering our ground with sixes. As he ran to the non-strikers end, someone on the boundary was heard to ask "how can we get Barry off strike", testament to the confidence that now surged through the veins of the assembled masses on the boundary. If we were behind the run rate when he approached the crease, we were well ahead of it by the time he was eventually out, for a powerful 13, and with the run rate now under control, our captain, leader, chairman and best batsmen, Martin Haigh, strode out to complete the innings.

With Carib Willis still there in the middle, pushing around the odd single, Martin Haigh began too to push the score along, and although we had begun our innings slowly, we began to sense that victory was now in our grasp. Martin played another of his Captain's innings, smashing the bad balls for four and pushing singles to keep the score ticking over. Although progressing slowly, our stand in Secretary Carib Willis was by now approaching 25. Although he had failed to set the game alight in the manner of our 15 stone Essex bludgeoner, he had managed to anchor the innings, allowing the natual stroke makers to play around him, a thankless task the value of which any wannabee Chris Tavare would appreciate. Nevertheless, he passed 25, with three consecutive singles, and trudged back to the boundary, fully expecting his efforts to be awarded the "man of the match award", apparently blind to the massive contribution provided by his fellow Essex Boy, also up for the award.

Last man in for the Caribs was very useful Ringer Tungate, who had joined Martin at the crease on the departure of Carib Willis. Ringer Tungate, a quite useful batsman, was able to hit the last couple of fours required to push us over the line, and although our Captain and Best Batsman Martin Haigh was to fall on the cusp of another not out innings, for 22, bringing the slow scoring Ringer Andy Moss to the crease, we were able to pass the Old Boy's score in the 19th over, securing a useful fourth victory on the bounce for the ever confident Carib Beer XI.

Although the arguments over the "red bag" this week threatened to unhinge team harmony once and for all, we eventually settled on a victim, and headed off to the pub for a well earned drink, with Barry's cries for the man of the match award ringing in our ears. In the event, the award has to be given to our heavy set middle order bludgener Carib Mr Gooch for his smashed 13, including 3 fours in 3 balls. Although Carib Willis's innings did hold our reply together, it was the smashed boundaries of Mr Gooch's innings that made victory possible, and so therefore, there can only be one candidate for the award.

Next week sees our final encounter of the year, and although we have won four games on the trot, our opposition next week is a proper team, who, if they decide to, can beat us easily in a few overs, so our fine run of form is likely to come to an end. However, it's been a great and successful season so far, in fact, one of our most successful, but one that we should enjoy while we can.

Carib Beer XI Win by 8 Wickets


AEAT Old Boys      
D Ford Caught & Bowled Tungate 20 (20)
M Thomas Caught Tungate Bowled Peter Rogerson 20 (24)
N Read Caught Bowen Bowled Barry Willis 9 (26)
T Gilbert Caught Haigh Bowled Barry Willis 6 (5)
P Hort Bowled White 11 (17)
I Luciani Bowled Tungate 1 (6)
I Edmondson Not Out 10 (17)
H Piner Bowled White 4 (4)
D Edmondson Not Out 6 (2)
EXTRAS     15
TOTAL   For 7 (20 overs) 102
Rob White 4-0-26-1 Peter Rogerson 4-0-17-1
Martin Haigh 3-0-14-0 Barry Willis 4-1-14-2
Ringer Tungate 4-0-10-2 Andy Weaver 1-0-8-0
Carib Beer XI      
Andy Weaver Bowled Gilbert 16 (25)
Gordon Berry Bowled Gilbert 3 (9)
Barry Willis Not Out 25 (35)
Glen Rayner Caught Edmondson Bowled Luciani 13 (13)
Martin Haigh Caught Thomas Bowled Hort 22 (20)
Dan Tungate Not Out 11 (8)
Andy Moss Not Out 0 (0)
EXTRAS     15
TOTAL   For 5 (19 Overs) 104
Martin Fuller 4-0-20-0 P Hort 4-1-15-0
Gilbert 3-0-15-2 D Edmondson 2-0-11-0
D Edmondson 2-0-11-0 Michael Thomas 1-0-18-0
Luciani 2-1-7-1 I Edmondson 2-1-11-0
Howard Piner 1-0-6-0