Cricket is back! The Philanderers are back. Normality is back. Or is it?
From a (social) distance indeed all seemed normal enough… things though were not quite as they seemed. The most obvious changes were of course the plethora of hand sanitising stations and other measures to ensure we complied with the ECB guidelines relating to covid-19, however some detected a slightly more subtle difference in the selection of The Philanderers XI. The Fuhrer turned centuries of sporting tradition on its head, to move the club to a ‘selection on application’ process, rather than the more standard ‘selection on invitation’. Phil explained “you see I have so many players asking to play now, I just don’t need to ask anyone”. This certainly is a new normal.
We won the toss, and skipper Pearson had a bowl, the fear of losing the 5-year-unbeaten-on-a-Sunday-except-in-France, like a coughing man awaiting the result of his covid test, weighing heavy on his mind. Phil remarked on the subject that whilst of course he enjoyed having the record, even he wondered if it was time for it to be lost, though he’d rather it wasn’t that particular day. A policy one suspects he will keep in place until such time as the record, and all subsequent caveats, falls. Tilbury, the best thing to come out of Whittlesford since David Henry John Baker back in AD602, took the new vector of disease and opened up from the school end. The Foresters began well, with their left handed opener, Odunule swinging, with much success, at everything that came his way. His luck eventually ran out, hitting one in the air from Davidson to Jonah Munday who took a good catch at mid-on. The score at this point was 46-1 and the other opener, Brown, having had plenty of the strike, was on a chanceless 3 not out.
Davidson ran out the number 3 batsman with an excellent throw from the deep to bring Daneel to the crease. The bloke could clearly play, as his four appearances for South Africa at the U19 world cup a few years ago attest. Anyway the bloke was a gun and he soon had Phil licking his lips as it was revealed he too was Cambridge based. Straight into the side for the following Sunday he went (invitations still forthcoming for those of international pedigree, of course). He eventually departed for 56 to a catch in the deep by Cox. There having been very little sniff of a wicket for several hours Jonah promptly got another one next ball, Foulds caught Wright for a golden. Brown was however still enjoying his middle practice, making no effort to up the scoring rate as the Forrestm’n moved towards a declaration. He eventually bought his 100 up, and personal milestone achieved, decided it was time to let someone else have a go and charged his next two balls, being clean bowled by Munday on the second which duly signalled the end of the innings. At least he had a good day out I guess.
Frankly The Philanderers reply never really got moving. Cox fell for 1 and Wright was then run out by half a pitch after being called through by Ragnauth for a run he never considered was there. Gill didn’t fire and Mel failed to atone for the sins of running out Wright, both falling for 18. Skipper Pearson came to the crease at number five (five places too low if you ask the Fuhrer, which we didn’t) and we entered one of those strange are we trying to win this or draw it passages first with Gadsby (2) and then Chandraker. The fall of Pearson for 25 bought with it the acceptance that our best option was a draw which Mihir and Davidson admirably achieved, batting out the last hour with minimal scare, and Chandraker finishing on a typically accomplished 49*. Your correspondent doesn’t remember much of a contribution from the Foresters ‘keeper, Hyde, but he too did enough to gain an invitation to play for The Philanderers later in the season.
104 overs bowled and no winner to be found. Cricket might be a funny old game, but isn’t it brilliant to have it back.
Footnote: Also worth noting how great it was to be back playing ‘home’ matches at The Perse School, alma mater of the majority of the club. Thank you to all at the school, especially Ravi Mahendra, for making it possible.