The day finally came. As Covid-19 restrictions were eased, the Dalkey Archives travelled into scary North Dublin to meet a formidable Chapelizod team – our first match of 2021.
Of the original 11 that were selected, only 5 could make it – leaving the team short of a few caps. The call to arms worked with four debutants (Bhowan, Singh, Simpson and Farmer) putting up their hands. Of course, one can’t forget Sibley and Walker who liberally sprayed on the WD-40, to remove any traces of winter detritus. Thanks for covering!!!
The Castleknock College ground provided a luxurious venue. A well-kept (sand-free) mat stood in the middle of a slightly stubbly outfield (ensuring only the best shots would roll all the way to the boundary). And of course, the weather did not disappoint – 25 degrees, occasional cloud cover, and a slight southerly pushing diagonally across the wicket – “perfect conditions for a bit of ball movement”.
Captain Sibley negotiated well, ensuring that we were allowed to field first, allowing our resident Ambassador (Burgess) to scoot off in time to make his flight to London for one of those ‘Ferrero Rocher’ trips. We agreed on a 30-over match, maximum of 5 overs per bowler and retirement at 30 (with the option to return at the end of the innings).
On debut, Singh opened the bowling, getting some real pace and movement out of his injured elbow. His speed and accuracy meant that more than half the runs scored off him came off the pads, though it was questionable whether any shots were played. From the other end Roberts kept the pace up, giving their opening batsmen no relief. Two missed chances were soon forgotten when the opening pair were separated by fast rising delivery that was taken by Wyatt, ‘the safest pair of hands in the team’ (the second time around). The second wicket soon followed a change of bowlers as Wyatt decided that he didn’t need the field, totally deceiving their other opener with his change of pace (slow to slower – but deadly accurate) rattling the bails. Burgess, even with a side strain charged in from the leeward end making sure that Wyatt’s bowling was even more effective as the batsmen sought relief from the onslaught and fell to Wyatt’s guile. Four down and the Archivers looked on top. Unfortunately, the Lizards brought out a South African secret weapon, who was ably assisted by another antipodean. The pair put on over 50 runs between them, keeping Bhowan, Singh, Simpson and Farmer all on their toes in the outfield. Walker came on with an impressive opening over of five dots and a lucky 2, working in tandem with Gupta, who managed to find a bit of swing and seam, taking their wickie’s off stump. Ringer Tim, of Cavs fame, came on to protect the Lizard’s tail. Gupta managed to inadvertently send SAFFA Mike back to the stands (by allowing himself to be clobbered over the trees); MoM Mike retiring his wicket on 31. Captain Sibley came on taking another quick wicket. Just when the end was in sight, the Chapelizod brought on their wicket keeper batsman, who together with Ringer Tim, put on another painful 45. Gupta and Walker came back on to finish up the overs with Tratalos perfecting an excellent stumping, sending Tim back to the picnic blankets. A final wicket fell into the waiting hands of Gupta, Chapelizod finishing on 180 – a makeable target.
Enter our kiwi juggernauts of Burgess and Bhowan. Eeek, a few too many dots and both were clean bowled. All the while, the scoreboard still managed to tick over relatively quickly - some officious umpiring by Singh led to a sway of extras. Simpson and Tratalos didn’t fair much better, poor Simpson run out to a direct hit from behind the wicket (did the keeper remove the bails first???? Hmmm, there was a history of it), while Tratalos succumbed to the movement from outside off to lose his leg stump. Enter Farmer and Singh. Singh was drawn into a shot on a ball that dipped and turned on him resulting in the horrible death rattle.
This is the point where the true spirit of Taverners really shone through – and we’re not talking about Chris (the Chapelizod captain) umpiring in bare feet a lá the old fella down at Oakhill.
Let’s just say that Farmer had a slightly unorthodox guard. Chris, sensing our weakness, brought on their weaker bowlers, giving the debutant a better chance. Then Cav’s Tim wandered over to Farmer and proceeded to tutor Farmer on how best to defend his wicket. Unfortunately, they all forgot to tell Farmer about how he had to remember to back up when running between the wickets – he succumbed to a dreaded run out.
So there we were, Sibley and Roberts at the wicket, six wickets down only 20 or so overs left and about 160 to get! Let’s just say that both Sibley and Roberts retired on 33 and 30 respectively.
Both Walker and Wyatt were unlucky to get edges, well caught by a very well-drilled fielding side. Enter Gupta at 11. Luckily, Sibley and Roberts were allowed to return to make the score respectable!
MoM Sibley was caught (not before adding another 12, six of which came from one imperious straight drive that Ricky Ponting would have been proud of), while a tired (unfit) Gupta swung and missed one to be clean bowled for 18, leaving us 36 runs short.
We left the ground with our heads held high as we managed to cement a strong relationship with a very talented and generous sporting team. Hopefully this will result in a long rivalry between our two sides (there was even talk of a possible future tournament).
To quote Tim Paine after the recent series loss to India "They played bloody well...outplayed us".
[Written by: Hari Gupta]