Friday was the hottest day in recorded Shanghai history, so we the early discussion on Saturday was about the heat. Skipper said no drinking, then wechatted photos of himself and a giant teddy bear in the early hours.
The Pleasure numbers, at the Camel, were boosted by Rash, Tampon, and Swiper (nets were on at the same time). The key events of the bus trip out were the non-arrival of Mensa and the numerous subsequent messages/phone calls about his slow taxi, the address, whether he would make the bus or not, his final decision to go directly, and the bus driver’s adoption of the scenic route to allow Rash to break into his Australian Dr. Tim’s accent. Korean acknowledged it was the “longest” bus ride this year, so it must have been.
On arrival to SCSC, Skiddy won the toss, decided to bat, and the general team feeling was after 3 consequtive wins was almost as arrogant and nonchalant as the Australian team during the early 2000s. Oh how quickly that feeling evaporated in the 40+ heat… There was a nice sequence in the top four scores: 3, 2, 1, 0… and the Pleasure were soon 4/16 in the early overs. Tango, however, adopted a slow-the-game-down-to-my-pace strategy that got under the skin of the fielding side. He took guard (at least 4 times), had his shoe laces tied (no fewer than 5 times), withdrew as the bowler was bowling (twice), called for then changed helmets (twice), removed his thigh pad, took an injury break after a blow on the gloves, and generally took his time putting those gloves on each delivery. It’s fair to say also he wasn’t bothered to look for any third runs, mostly strolling through for slow singles (a la Sir Bolt).
At the other end Pope was playing strip-cricket. For every scoring shot he removed an article of clothing, and when he was finally bowled after an extended stay at the crease was reduced to his underwear (fortunately for the rest of the team there weren’t many scoring shots). That bought Bambi to the crease to inject a bit of annoying youthful enthusiasm, and soon after Pope was heard to painfully lament “he’s passed my score after only five balls”. Suddenly the Pleasure score began to climb almost as quickly as the temperature, and this made the fielders nervous. They had to ask the score every over just to stay sane, well arguably sane. The nets cricketers were by this time injecting some vocal support, and consuming frosty beers (among other things) on the boundary.
Tucker was padded up ready to bat almost ten overs, which was a good effort, especially given how badly sunburned he was from the pool on Friday. He didn’t get a chance to swing his almost-new bat, but on the other hand, his season average didn’t go down either. Bambi bought up (or didn’t, depending on who was scoring) his fifty with a six on the posh side, and the Pleasure had 5/157 off their 30 overs. That’s surely enough, and we were back to being the best team ever in Shanghai.
Swoop led some catching practice, while Bambi and Tango casually undressed (following Pope’s example). Skiddy had an extended discussion with the umpire, and it seemed both teams were to blame for the slow over rate, so somehow the result was 4 overs less, and 2 overs less run rate average score – and if you want to understand how it was agreed, then you better talk to Skiddy.
Swiper and Rash were drafted in to field, and play got underway. There were plenty of bowling changes, with the heat affecting the bowlers and fielders. Square Root bowled three overs and then had to sit down for 9 overs, effectively ruling himself out of a second spell. It should be noted that he almost bowled enough deliveries for six overs in that first spell though, and he did get a couple of wickets. Around this time some Leopards/Zalmi player decided to annoy the umpire with an air horn, and after some terse verbal exchanges, 5 penalty runs were deducted from the Leopards/Zalmi score. Mental note: air horns are frowned upon in Shanghai cricket circles.
Two-step Paps was bowling by this time, and followed up getting hoicked for four to cow corner, by bowling the batsman next ball with a similar delivery. Skiddy bought himself on and immediately worked out the batsman with an actual leg-spinner hitting top of off. Lovely, proper cricket. We’re in this… As if to reinforce this positive vibe, Bambi (now on the field) ran about macing people in the face with some vial of esky water… thanks buddy!
Unfortunately, the Leopards/Zalmi ground out a partnership, and a couple of grassed chances were all that was left in the Pleasure, before Tucker got a consolation wicket and Korean let an edge past him for four. It was a match that somehow got away from us… it might have been the grassed catches, probably was the wides, but at the end of the day, we played cricket and enjoyed some vocal fines into the evening. What’s better than that?
P.S. Basher #300 was finally named “Juice” – something about domestics, something about O.J., and a generally reluctance to call him “Pineapple”.
P.P.S. Swoop/Jonah has yet to win a match for the Bashers in ‘17. I hope he gets the chance next time around, as even the Hawks have won a couple of games this year!