Down Memory Lane – Youths v Veterans 1994
by San Gore
This was The First Kensington Challenge Match, the result of the “youngsters” being fed up of the “oldsters” saying how useless were the youths of today! The date, the last game of the season (1 October 1994), and venue, the Roehampton Cricket Club, were fixed. The format was agreed by rival captains, Chris Ledger and San Gore – 40 overs each side, all players to bowl, maximum 4 overs and minimum 2, each batsman retires at the end of the over in which he reaches 25 but can resume his innings later, last man bats through. The exact definition of “veteran” was never quite established, but the line was drawn so as to ensure equal numbers – hence 39 was considered “OLD”!
The Veterans got off to a poor start even before the match – the fall-out rate had been dramatic during the week. No less than four key Vets cried off – Robert Smith (work), Peter Flinn (holiday), Ian McLean (broken finger) and Vinoo Nath (lovesick) – leaving a desperate San and Sunil to conjure up some wrinkly ringers!
San lost the toss and the Vets were put in (with only 7 players initially present) on a damp and very green pitch. Oldies David Grey and Sunil “Bapuji” Amar began with a flourish, putting on 45 in 6 overs before David (15) was needlessly run out on an over-fair decision(!). Bapuji duly completed his 25 and Ravi “Sher Khan” Kannan (suddenly putting on years for the occasion) savaged the offerings of Stockton and “Tracy” Brijnath to retire on 30 after only 4 overs. Chief Vitalstatistix (San) consolidated the innings with fellow geriatrix, Michael Blumberg (14), who swatted a few lusty blows before being given out lbw – unhesitatingly. San then shepherded the new old recruits, Simon Carpenter and Michael Stevenson, but good tight bowling from Woody, Brijnath, Ranga and Rocholl contained the excesses. Once San retired on 30, late-comers John Storey and Nutan Shah were unable to break the stranglehold and lost their wickets to Will Hamlyn and Simon Collins respectively.
At this point Bapuji returned on a mission of goodwill, refused to run for an easy two to long-leg, then provided a simple return catch to a grateful Collins without adding to his score! The Vets suspected some sort of deal had been struck with the oppo, or was it that Sunil thought he was ‘young’ again! Tony Rickard, being Tony Rickard, meanwhile ran himself out for the fun of it, and it was left to the old lions to set a sensible target. Both Ravi and San crashed the ball to all parts to add 48 and 18 to their scores. They put on 89 in 10 overs mainly off the serious bowlers, “Asterix” Ledger and his side-kick, “Obelix” Cobban! But Obelix had the last laugh by inducing false strokes from both batsmen to end the Vet innings on 233 in the 39th over.
After an early tea (3pm), the Youths got down to business. But Blackbeard Brijnath immediately holed out at mid-off and was accompanied by sounds of “Quack” all the way back! Will Scarlett (Hamlyn) and Friar Tuck (Stockton) picked their merry way through the gaps until Baldy Bill (Rodwell) tempted Will once too often with his wily leggies and had him caught at mid-wicket.
50 in 10 overs was a good start, and although younga Ranga was rung out by a direct throw two overs later, Stockton (retiring on 25) and then Collins and the indomitable Ledger kept the run-rate for the next 15 overs at just about 5 an over.
The Vets were getting worried. Spin, the bête noire of the younger generation, was not having the desired effect – both Nutan Shah and Michael Blumberg were seen off for 22 runs each. David Greyhair was brought on earlier to slow the rate down. Once both batsmen retired (Collins 29, Ledger 35), efforts were made to keep the new batsmen in, but green Woody aiming a big hit off crinkly Rickard was smartly stumped by the ever-competitive Carpenter. With 9 overs to go the Youths required 76 and promptly lost Derek Rocholl, caught and bowled by Bapuji (another goodwill gesture?). This brought in Ralph Cobban to face 4 overs of Sher Khannan and Sunil in the oncoming gloom with no sightscreens – the Vets had this in the bag… or so they thought.
They had not reckoned on mighty Obelix (who had been dipped in the magic potion when a baby). He set upon fire-breathing Ravi and an over-generous Sunil with equal ferocity, smiting 28 out of 43 in 4 overs, including a towering six off Ravi over long-on, leaving both tigers spluttering helplessly. Hearty Hayles (30) was all the while giving healthy support to Ralph (28) and both retired to glory together. It was left to late-arrival Geoff Fisher (16*) and the returning Friar Stuckton to scramble the last few runs, but not before a couple of “close” run outs were survived (appeals turned down unhesitatingly by Shakur Ranga) and tempers frayed in the heat of battle! Kannan and Sunil in their four overs had gone for 33 and 32, and with only 4 to get in the last over, even David Gray could not prevent the knock-out punch in the third delivery for the Youths to clinch the win by 5 wickets.
And so to end an excellent day and a most successful season, Sunil and Manju had organised an Indian “Burrah Khana” at the clubhouse. The feast was very well attended and much appreciated by so many of those connected with Kensington, past and present. The jugs flowed freely and the atmosphere was warm and convivial. Asterix was triumphant and Obelix disclosed the secret of his magic potion – Snakebite, a combination of lager and cider (and what else, Ralphie?)!!
The Youths had proved a point – they could actually perform when they were motivated! So, no excuses next season!
And what of the losing captain Chief Vitalstatistix, found sitting drinking disconsolately at the bar after the defeat of the old, wise and worldly ones? Well, the sky fell on his head!!