The annual Highgate Taverners’ fixture has become something of a grudge match after the touring side described the Philanderers in one of their match reports as a “homoerotic bunch of young public schoolboys”. However accurate this may have been in the past, the Philanderers XI assembled for the 2017 fixture was suitably diverse and only Ed Dodson and his Ibiza suntan would have fitted this stereotype of old.
The dynamic opening pair of David Pimblett and Ben Nunez faced down the tight new ball bowlers before Nunez (6) was caught chasing a wide one, bringing “The Big Show” Rob Gill to the crease. Usually more a ‘hit’ than ‘miss’ cricketer, today was not Gill’s day as he (and potentially the Philanderers hopes of victory) were swallowed by deep square leg and Rob departed for a duck. New recruit Chandrekar was hastily sent in while the first-choice number 4, Ed Dodson, hurried back from his 7-day Balearic bender.
Chandrekar (1) only lasted a couple of overs before his off peg was uprooted, bringing another Sunday debutant, the Australian Alister Reed (31), to the crease for the first time in 5 years. Doing his best to hide his rustiness, he battled with Pimblett (61) to build a slow but ultimately crucial partnership. Ignoring boos and whistling from the sidelines, the two inched the Philanderers into a position of relative strength, and when both departed the cavaliers in the lower order had licence to swing. Dodson, on a massive comedown, failed to contribute, but some characteristic hard hitting from Sir George got the Philanderers to a par score of 173-8.
The Taverners openers looked to make mincemeat of this total, racing to 50-0 from about 6 overs. Heads began to drop – was our circumspect innings woefully short? However, when the two openers were dismissed in quick succession by Davidson, confidence began to rise. A beautiful 7 over spell of legspin from Chandrekar (3 wickets) turned the screw, and a combination of rare high-quality fielding and catching, and increasing levels of hungoverness from each touring batsman put the Philanderers in control. A typically exciting spell from Sir George yielded a further 3 wickets leaving Hegarty and Nunez (1 apiece) to finish off the Taverners, who were bowled out for 116. A fine team performance.