The all-powerful cricket administrators excelled again in their work and we found ourselves on a balmy June evening at the Perse School, ready to lean into the weekend.
This was a significant occasion – a pink ball, a rare Friday night fixture and Ken Siddle’s 50th game for the Philanderers. It also followed a remarkable day at Headingley with England’s nascent Stokes-McCullum partnership ushering in a new brand of (even more) attacking cricket. A mouth-watering prospect, an utter pleasure.
Rob Gill, the most junior of the Fuhrer’s leadership contingent but by no means the least influential, was to lead us into battle – and, by jove, Gillo is a man anyone would follow. He conspired with the Masters’ captain and so it was that we would bat first, Mel Ragnauth and Ben Cassels getting us underway.
Both were soon back in the pavilion in tricky opening batting conditions – the usually impeccable Mel nicking off second ball to a very wide one – was he too under the influence of ‘Baz Ball’?
Unsurprisingly Phil had picked a strong side and numbers 3 and 4, Gill and Fullarton, fresh off a partnership of 193 the previous Sunday at Exning Park, set about their rapid run scoring work. Gill bludgeoned; Fullarton unfurled silky drives. It was reassuring stuff and we felt safe enough to tuck into the beers being offered by the school catering team on the boundary.
With the score soon on 85-2, the staff needed to stem the tide and they did so by bringing on Mahendra, the demon SLA from Granta Foxes. Gill’s swede promptly melted and a wild swing saw his timbers rattled and his departure for 43.
This brought our hero Ken to the crease – after a cautious start, Ken ran himself ragged between the wickets and his five singles in the scorebook did not do justice to his swashbuckling stroke play, whacking the ball over midwicket with panache.
Fully holed out for 32 on the boundary before Pete Richer and debutant Louis McManus inflicted some painful blows on the opposition including a couple of huge sixes clearing the very long boundaries.
Eventually we mustered 140 from 20 overs, which seemed a slightly above par score for the conditions.
How would the Teachers fare in response? Previous encounters had seen tense run chases, even defeats. With a fairly weak bowling attack and quite a few beers consumed, we were wary.
Gill threw the ball to C Pearson and Hegarty, Philanderers veterans, seasoned warriors of the midweek side. They had been here before and were not rattled.
They were slightly more rattled when the opening Teacher flayed their bowling and raced to 33, including a dropped caught and bowled from Charlie. Heggers’ shrewd tactic of bowling long hops was not working.
But at the other end wickets started tumbling. Foster and Goodson were cleaned up by Charlie who bowled beautifully and skiddily.
Science teacher Ingram attempted a suicidal run and Hegarty’s throw to the keeper’s end was far too good.
Gill decided to twist the knife, introducing strike bowler Coteman to the attack. What followed was merciless wicket taking and wicket purchasing. The staff had no answer to Gerald’s accuracy, the safe hands of the patrolling boundary fielders, and Gill’s glovework (which to be fair, had been slow and clumsy at times). We implored Gerald to produce the second hat trick of the season after taking two in two. He narrowly failed, but finished with 5-8, having ripped the pedagogues batting line up to shreds.
Prior to completing victory there was time for some comedy overs from Pimblett, and a return to bowling tall tweakers after a decade-long hiatus for Fully.
The Domini were thus dominated. 84 all out and a crushing 56 run victory.
In the pubs of Cambridge after the game, as well as the heroics of Coteman and Siddle, the talk was of the Dirt Trackers starting their own unbeaten run. On this form, and with Phil’s continued impressive recruitment pipeline of former premier league cricketers into the club, no one would bet against them.
The exultant Gerald Coteman with his five-for pink ball and bottle of medication
Ken Siddle showing little sign of exhaustion after scampering singles in his 50th appearance
In play at the Perse School