This years 50th Anniversary Clare Hall Cricket Match took place on the 22nd June at Leckhampton Sports Ground.
THE MATCH 2016
A summer of rain and nicknames. But at 11 a.m. on the great day of Clare Hall’s cricketing referendum, 22 June, between the President’s XII (this year) and the Students, the rain, having been in for an hour, was declared out, the Corpus groundsmen miraculously prepared a wicket and the players swopped umbrellas for bats.
In spite of all the grey, there was promise of a golden year for the cricketing. “High Roller” Lam and “WACA” Strong had come half-way across the world for the occasion. The club had a new logo: a goldfinch. And there was even a gold standard apology for not being there: “Go Back” Bardolia having to play for the M.C.C.-U.
At 2 pm President “Judge” Ibbetson tossed a 1966 Queen’s shilling and the Students, confusingly leavened by a trio of golden oldies, were sent into bat. Umpiring Blues, “Enforcer” Taylor and “Stodger” Shah took their annual stand and “One-of-Our-Own” Lennard and “Not Out” Drew strode out to take the shine off the ball or, put it another way, be tied down by the bowling of “Rabbit” Warren and “Rash” Regan.
The runfest that was expected to follow this opening never materialised. A decisive over from “Triple A” Milne accounted for both “O-o-O-O” and “Boony” Villiers while “Backfoot” Jalia was not fleet enough of foot to avoid a run-out.
Total disaster was averted by “Wild” Williams, blooded in Cuppers, and returnee baseballer “Babe” Borchert, who hit the only boundary of the innings. Any sort of a score depended thereafter on a marathon innings from “Runner” Fretwell, who scored off half the balls he received and was the only Student to reach double figures. One wonderful moment in his innings captured on camera was that of his standing rooted midway down the wicket watching while his partner, “Grafter” Black, contemplated, commenced and completed a run.
“Terminator” Cottage did full justice to his new nickname by taking a couple of wickets and whipping off the bails at the bowler’s end in several close run-out calls. One highlight off his bowling was “High-Roller” Lam running in from China to catch out stalwart octogenarian “G.O.M” Tipper. "High Roller" himself spent a distended over inventing a new Shuttlecock delivery. The sixteen overs closed out with “Keeper” Kulkarni on 2, one-good-armed “Pitcher” Nishida waiting to get off the mark and “Slasher” al-Asali waiting in the wings. With a total of just 67 for 6 on the board, Aftab’s team were on the back foot.
Rain clouds lowered during the ensuing tea interval but “Stitches” Farnan kept them at bay by means of a copy of the Duckworth-Lewis Method lodged in his pocket as talisman.
The Students decided the best form of defence was attack and “Boony”, streaked optimistically in sun-cream, was stationed at silly mid-off to conduct a sledging operation that, along with his hostile bowling and the tight bowling of “Pitcher” Nishida, turned the heat up on openers “Cutter” Smith and “WACA” Strong. Unfazed, they performed almost identically to their Student counterparts but the President’s hitters who followed them did get runs, three reaching double figures.
“Triple A” Milne, as capable with bat as ball, was going well until brilliantly caught in left field by fellow all-rounder “Babe” Borchert while “Comeback Kid” Collini, taking his bat to the ball in place of the handkerchief he had used while fielding, dispatched it for three 4’s in a top-scoring 13. Between the boundaries, however, there were a lot of dot balls, three maidens even, and while “High Roller” Lam, who was delighted to score at all, and “Doctor” Dockter, performed most creditably as newcomers to the game, the run rate was falling behind.
Another newcomer, “Slasher” al-Asali, essayed an over to a thunderous peal of appeals from “Keeper” Kulkarni, all to no avail. Twenty-five runs were required off the last three overs and “Rash” Regan, smarting from a bad back and last year’s duck, looked as if he might get them until “Boony” clean bowled him in a dramatic final over. “See Ball, Miss Ball” Martensz came in too late to play a captain’s innings while, at the other end, “Stitches” Farnan had only had time to hit one 4. Waiting on the boundary, three other strong hitters, the Terminator, “Rabbit” Warren and “Thunderbolt” Buttle, didn’t have a chance to do even that.
The President’s team closed out at 56 for 4 and the Students went into a huddle to celebrate their victory with a dance. It was 5 o’clock and there was some consensus that a 20-20 match might have allowed all a better chance to bat, though in truth, with all the season’s rain, we had been lucky to get in any sort of a match at all. Astonishingly, in such a low-scoring game, nobody had been out for a duck.
But had the Students won? At the Club Dinner in the evening, “Judge” Ibbetson, in his capacity as Match Referee, pointed out that the scorebook, so ably kept by “Notchers” Ramsden and Ghelani, showed that the President’s team had scored more runs than the Students, 46-42, and that, according to ex-Captain Collini’s interpretation of the Club’s “rules”, they might be said to have won. Special pleading or casuistry as this may have appeared at the time, discussion continues on the moot point whether an accumulation of Extras eccentrically acquired is a proper basis on which to claim victory.
All said and done, the “Judge” awarded the Winner’s Shield to Aftab, Student Captain. He then declared “Triple A” Milne and “Boony” Villiers Men of the Match and proceedings closed with a roaring toast to all the cricketers who might carry on the good spirit of the club until the college reached its Century.