Exiles CC v Brown Bears CC, Honor Oak, 19 September 1999.

Exiles v Exiles as Bears stand around and watch in end of term thriller!

Actually that assessment is too harsh, but it was Exiles players who made the biggest contribution in the Brown Bears cause, not least Effie, top scoring with 83 and two wickets, and Vishal with two catches, Faisal also chipped in with a boundary catch to dismiss Sean O'Connor. How can that be you ask yourselves? Well, a late night phone call from Peter Galloway (the Lee Marvin lookalike) suggesting calling off the fixture brought a decisive response from Skipper Paul Shorrock along the lines of "The Show Must Go On!". I offered them the services of whatever ringers we could find, in the final analysis that turned out to be Vishal Khatri, but it was enough to give the fixture momentum. In an attempt to balance the sides a bit the skipper asked for volunteers; opening bowler, frustrated batsman and chief barracker Effie Usman stepped forward. It was a bold move that proved to be the making of a brilliant contest. The Brown Bears are a team in a constant state of flux, and lacking a website they are not attracting much young blood. They had played a game the day before and any team would struggle to put out two elevens in September. No matter, the promised rain stayed away, the toss was won and The Exiles decided to bat, all the better to get Sean to the record aggregate for the season.(set by Soumitro Nagpal last season at 409) So the seven Bears, plus Effie and Vishal and a sub fielder were ranged against The Exiles X,

Sean and Tony started solidly enough, Effie bowled with more venom than most can remember this season, beat the edge a few times as he always will with his outswingers. Tony managed to drive him straight to the sightscreen but next over he had a mad yahoo at one from Kevin (The Bamber Gasgoine lookalike) and was clean bowled. Steve Brown is always likely to do well against teams that don't catch well, and today he stretched his luck as tight as a drum, we lost count of the chances he gave, but his 33 included a flat-batted six that hit the sightscreen high up, causing a shower of paint flakes like a firework. Sean at the other end was homing in on the record like it was his destiny, when it came it was dramatic! Effie dived and failed to catch him off the bowling of Miles, the Bears' Captain, right in front of the scoreboard and his erstwhile teammates and it ran through for four. Effie went face down and skinned his nose and came up covered in dirt, The Brown Bears cannot say he didn't try. After reaching the record Sean set about trying to lose the ball, or so it seemed as two towering sixes brought about long delays to recover the ball. He eventually fell on 44, caught at the fence by Faisal, it would have probably been six had he missed it, but he never does! Nick Coleman back after his retirement got into the swing of things and scampered to 14 (I think) before clipping one to Vishal in the covers that stuck. Steve was still giving catching practise and eventually found a pair of safe hands to end with a very creditable 33. Naem and John had a bright partnership including a six from Naem that crossed the South Circular barely missing a passing car. Faisal came and went quickly and Phil had one ball at the non-striker's end and it was time for tea, Exiles 203 for 6 in 35 overs. A big total, but Miles has scored big against us in the past and Effie knows our bowlers better than most.

Effie opened the batting too (are the Brown Bears trying to woo him away on a more permanent basis?) and after a calm start and the departure of his partner to Waseem he began to open his mighty shoulders. Miles too applied the hammer but he was always in Effie's shadow. Between them they raced to a potentially match-winning partnership, full of boundaries, including sixes to match those earlier. Eventually Effie's confidence got the better of him and Naem ran him out brilliantly. Even more brilliant but just as crucial was Naem's deadly slower ball that bamboozled Miles when he was well set, bowling him after his shot was completed. After that the field came in again, Stephen Brown began his spell as occasional fifth bowler and did pretty well in the tense circumstances, picking up the wicket of Vishal caught at mid-on by Paul. Faisal at the other end was always a handful and between them they chipped away at the Bears middle as the run rate required crept back to around five. The last few overs are a blur to me and without the scorebook I can't remember who got what and how but the finale was two overs left, 13 runs needed, last pair at the wicket. Steve's bowling had got a little wayward so the skipper backed himself for the penultimate over. The first dot ball notched the tension up just enough for the next one to elicit a panicky single, but Faisal's throw was deadly accurate and the decelerating Peter Galloway was yards out when the wicket was hit from short square leg. A fitting end to the season. The game of Cricket was the real victor but next year it will impossible to explain to Effie why he can't open the bowling and the batting every game. Not my problem though as I shan't be standing as Captain next year, instead my efforts will be invested in bringing up the baby (due in November) and getting my business on a squarer footing! Both teams mingled in the bar afterwards as the light faded on another great season, sharing a few jugs of IPA and some of Effie's noxious Indonesian "Garam" cigarettes.

That's all folks!



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