The Business looked like it needed some players so I made myself available mid-week, but by Saturday night the squad had 12 players and it looked like I would only be required to film from the sidelines and occasionally bring out some iced drink from the chilly bin. So I almost reluctantly packed my kit on Sunday morning, and made my way to the Camel for the 10.30am timeline. I found only a few Bashers at the bar, and Filthy furiously calling first one, then another, Business players to scramble an eleven together.
In the Field
The eleven didn’t resolve itself, and so when Filthy lost a record fifth toss in succession and the Business were inserted into the field at 12 noon, we numbered only 9 players. Apparently Genghis, Tiny, and Paps were on the way and would arrive by 12.30. Some difficult field setting decisions later, and Poppy was steaming in with some blistering slow medium pace with a fresh cherry. He was content to bowl in his baggy blue, and refused all calls from the team to remove it. Filthy bowled from the other (really the same) end until the heat and numerous close calls from the batsmen left him as pleasant as ever.
The heat of the day intervened at this point – I vaguely recall being first at mid-on, then mid-off, then deep midwicket, but never at fine leg. Fine leg was left open for a steady stream of boundaries and even a top edge for 6, as the Pudong openers raced along at 7-8 runs an over. For some reason the ball was thrown to me to bowl an over against the well set batsmen, and three deliveries were instantly swatted to deep square leg resulting in 2 boundaries. It wasn’t pretty.
Smurfy came on and immediately created chances, but Tiny preferred to prevent any damage to his slowly mending fingers by cautiously allowing a slog sweep to deep square leg to continue over the boundary rope unchallenged. There were to be another four dropped catches by the Business, but that is of little consequence – after all, catches only win matches. The mere fact that Tiny arrived to play after his flight from London shows an outstanding commitment to the Bashers! He even injected some fresh energy to the bowling to claim the first wicket after 20 odd long and tiring overs. It got better, more wickets fell, but as I was fielding at short midwicket and then running back to field at deep midwicket each time batsmen changed ends, all I can remember from this period is a haze of running reminiscent of “beep” tests all the way back at high school.
Shandy bowled as well, just to make sure the Pudong batsmen were comfortable hitting boundaries off some spin/slow/prancy bowling, and the Pudong batsmen appreciated his efforts. Korean was meanwhile putting in a tidy performance behind the stumps, and he threw down the bowlers end stumps to effect an astonishing run out, to go with his catch and stumping. All together the Pudong team managed a staggering 252/9 off their 40 overs, but it could have been much worse without the Bashers fightback in the last 15 overs.
With the Bat
The Business got off to a great start, with Shandy and Stats putting together an 80-odd run partnership off the first 13 overs. Stats played some aggressive shots through the covers for 2s, and Shandy managed to find the middle of his bat often enough to pepper the leg side boundaries. Shandy strung together 23 runs off a particularly friendly collection of 8 deliveries, and even, against the run of play, managed a boundary on the off side, but it was off the back of the bat, and as he was trying to hit through the leg side, perhaps it doesn’t really count.
The best parts of this partnership occurred whilst Tiny and myself were picking up some additional drinks (non-alcoholic) to refill the esky. After returning to the sidelines, I found several Bashers taking some rest in the shade, and since it seemed a good idea – I took a short power nap. When Stats was caught by a diving wicketkeeper, Smurfy produced a run-a-ball 16 to keep the score turning over, but in the end ran out of energy as his religious fast prevented him from refueling during daylight hours. It was quite incredible he was able to survive such a taxing day of cricket. Shandy was obviously disappointed to be outscored by the usual no. 11, so was disappointedly caught behind for a 59-ball 61.
Poppy, with cheerleaders on the sidelines to support his efforts, looked out of sorts, so perhaps bowling 8 overs had taken their toll on his endurance levels. He fell to the XXL hop-and-turn spinner from Pudong, who immediately removed Tubby for a 3-ball duck. This bought Post-Op in to bat, who dispatched the previously mentioned spinner for a 6, then a 4, somewhere along the lines hitting the fielder at cow corner in the face and leaving a nasty, bloody mess of his cheek. This was the high point of the Post-Op/Filthy partnership as a horrible run-out left both batsmen at the bowlers end.
I joined Filthy with a tall order to resurrect the Business innings, even as dark, thundery clouds slowly advanced towards the ground. Pudong chose to keep bowling slow bowlers at me, which allowed a cameo of 20 off 14 deliveries to keep the Business in the game. Filthy was regularly strolling down the pitch to hit the ball to mid-on for singles, and even managed an edge past the keeper for four, on his way to 27 not out. The insane short singles Filthy was calling took their toll on me, and I was bowled on the charge-and-swipe after surviving 2 near run-outs.
Enter Korean, who continued the late charge with a couple of nicely timed pulls to midwicket for 4s. Unfortunately, in the dark of the impending thunderstorm, he was struggling to pick up the ball outside off stump and eventually got a good one that came back to bowl him. Paps had been umpiring square leg for most of the batting innings, but borrowed some whites to come into the game (finally), and faced a few deliveries before being caught behind. Business fought hard to get to 225/9 off 39 overs, but didn’t quite manage the win in the end.
Pudong members were already on the balcony at the now defunct Fat Olive, so it was only good manners to have a beer with them before a bus trip back to the Camel in the now heavy rain. The bus trip allowed a brief fines session (not at all as Cranky had previously described Business fines sessions), and festivities continued at the Camel, where the 3rd Ashes test was slowly meandering towards a draw. As I was leaving Tubby off-loaded the Lumberjack duties and generously commented that I had outperformed Genghis today, but then again, Genghis didn’t actually turn up.