Brown Bears (formerly Victor Trumper) v Exiles, Avery Hill, 14 June 1998

New Depths Plumbed!

On the fixture list this game was down as Victor Trumper Memorial XI but what we found upon arrival was that The Trumpers were no more and had almalgamated with The Brown Bears and taken the latter's name. Both teams had been having difficulty getting full teams out so the marriage was mutually convenient. It also meant that the strength of the new Brown Bears was greater than that of the old Victor Trumpers and more so with the return from South Africa of Miles, known colloquially to the Exiles as "WG" for his red-bearded resemblance to the late Grace and his similar ability with the bat.
After some confusion involving four Cricket teams, two council employees and a solitary prepared wicket, we drew the short straw and had to play on last week's pitch, which had had no preparation and was incorrectly marked up. Tony having won the toss on the previous pitch reversed his decision and fearing a green monster elected to bowl first.
Paul Shorrock and Naem Khean opened the attack, if that's not too strong a word. The first wicket came from a run out by Dominic Wood, almost on the square leg boundary, which gives some idea of the shortness of the boundary and the slowness of the Brown Bear opener. This brought Miles to the wicket and he was soon tearing into Naem's attempted bouncers, pulling and cutting to both square boundaries. Shorrock plugged up one end, his first seven overs costing only 13, parsimony indeed compared to the mayhem at the other end. Tony bravely brought himself into the attack, he would have to bowl sooner or later and Naem might do better down the hill. His first two balls were pitched more or less where Naem had been banging it in and were both despatched on the full over midwicket by "WG". His third ball was fuller and skied to deepish mid off where new guy James (perhaps best we never know his surname) decided to allow the damp turf to take the speed off the ball rather than risk the shame of dropping a sitter. Tony tried manfully not to show his dissapointment by stiffling a scream whilst holding his head in his hands, between his knees. Another clattered boundary, then a repeat of the third ball, an easier chance, less air, less distance to travel, less effort by James, same result. WG was on about 20, when he was finally caught by Soumitro Nagpal off the bowling of Dominic Wood he had made 140. I will gloss over those intevening runs , they were all much of a muchnesss really, bad balls hammered away over or through the field, it wasn't a one man show though, most of the other batsmen cashed in on the depleted Exiles bowling. Soumitro had a go, and Kieth Marchbank was brought out of retirement to ply his left-arm stuff. He might have had a wicket too if only he could catch! Dominic was most succesful, inducing two catches and some dropped chances. When the skies opened after 33 overs an early tea was taken and it was decided to change over then, which suited the home side most as by then the tail were in and the rate had slowed from around 8 an over to maybe 5. However Tony was so glad to be away from the mayhem that he accepted the terms. Brown Bears 232 off 33 overs! Nick Coleman was already sure of defeat and could was rolling it around his tongue to get the feel of it "...beaten by the Brown Bears!"
So it was with this stirring mantra echoing around their heads that the Exiles set about regaining with the bat some of the pride they had given away with the ball. Sean went first for a duck from a ball that popped from that the Exiles had failed to find bowling up the hill, gloved him and popped to Miles (who else) at shortish gully. Kieth continued in his nurdling way, working singles to fine leg, and flashing and mising at anything short and wide. I reckon if you set two fine legs for him he'd never score another run (any opposition Captains reading this are welcome to try my theory, it may induce him to learn another stroke!). But he does stick around, unfortunately with the rate required climbing toward double figures, stickiness was only half of the solution. Dr. Naem Khan promoted to three after his recent unbeaten run in the late middle order played with a degree of restraint that was as out of character as it was untimely. Admittedly the bowling was tidy, relying on those forgotten tenets of line and length, one side of the wicket and to a well set field. For perhaps the first time in his career the Exiles fell further behind the rate whilst Naem was batting. When Butter knocked his off stump back it was as if a trump card had been played too early. Dominic took an age to garner 10 runs, the lack of pace off the wicket stymied his no-backlift technique. Captain Tony Brook was dismissed by Ray Sheehy, a bowler who he had earlier described as rubbish, but whom he had to admit was much improved when he got a lifter that he gloved behind. Nick Coleman then made an effort to get with the programme, driving the bearded fellow straight when he over pitched and even Kieth played a few shots in front of the wicket, but still the rate required spiralled out of reach. Nick and Kieth departed to similar shots, driving at full length balls and losing their off stumps. John Morgan played a few crisp shots for the cause and Soumitro Nagpal stayed with him, playing correctly when only agricultural shots on an industrial scale would save the day. Waseem got a few shots out of the back of the wardrobe, on-driving crisply off his pads to the shortest boundary. Soumitro hit the sweetest straight drive all along the carpet that showed his potential for another day. When Paul Shorrock came in the rate required was 29.00 with four overs left, every ball that was not hit for six was a nail in the coffin (that was in reality nailed shut sometime around when WG was not caught off Tony's bowling). The easier bowlers were on so Paul accepted a rare chance to add to his aggregate and re-state the case that his batting is an underused resource, pulling to leg and driving twice to the long-on boundaries, and picking up some scrambled singles whilst Soumitro came to terms with damp English conditions, taking a knock in the box for his troubles and no doubt wondered if he had thrown in his lot with the wrong team. He will be at Lords for the first time next Sunday (watching England struggle against South Africa as they do against every visiting team at Lords) so he will not be around to watch a fully featured Exiles lay waste to The Strongroom by way of revenge. A loss to the Brown Bears has to go down as one of the darkest days in Exiles history to date, and if a turn-around is not forthcoming soon the Exiles are staring down the barrel of a long hard summer. New members where are you?

Where are the old members, come to that?

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