League Centenary Match - CCC vs Centaurs
By Doug Jones
Gopal had rung during the week offering to field first. When we arrived Keith Hemshall had the wicket keeping pads on. I insisted on tossing the coin because after all, this was an important match. Supporters had flown from all corners of the earth to see this event. Lord Lumber of
the Gower, recently of Cheshire (northern half) had left Lady Lumber guarding the castle near Tarpoley and winged his way via the middle east, Bangkok and every other necessary stop-over, such that Emirates were in fact paying him to fly with them rather than visa versa. Kevin
Gatsby Styles had left the lovely (when docile) Sergrie to guard castle Malacca in Yamba, on the banks of the Clarence river, brimming with brim but without baring Evatt's access to the supply of C2H5OH - naturally events at home stood more than an even chance of getting out of hand. Leaping Jim Hughes left the Barossa and Remy to support CCC and Centaurs as a member of both teams and willing to play for either, if selected.
When the youngest member of our team, apart from Grocer's mate, has already been for many years, and is still, a partner in a leading legal
firm in Hong Kong, then it tells you something of the age of CCC players. Suffice to say that the average age without Grocer's mate was 49 years (doesn't include our scorer, who might not disturb the average in any event) and that collectively our ages amounted to more than 500!
Is it little wonder that we lost? Of course Gopal Lalchandani (one L) would say that he accounted for nearly 500 years alone for Centaurs but
it was disappointing Centaurs didn't play Tony Turner, Jim Hughes and Bryan Hemshall. However even this would not have made it a more even battle, except in regards to age.
Important game - lost the toss, natch. Hemshall told to keep the pads on and Makka and Stead prepared to take them on in the middle.
It is of course with a great sense of pride that CCC, now the breeding ground for young players making the HK Six's representative side, sent out 'the man'. Overseas visitors were hushed as Stead swaggered his way to the middle. Makka faced and gave Gopal a maiden - I felt that was ominous sign. However it didn't take Stead long to put Ali to the fence and I ordered a glass of red wine to settle the nerves and enjoy the game. Stead was in a mental hurry as he put into place his game plan for the 6s and played a thoroughly reckless (non-Stead) shot at a wide ball without any foot movement whatsoever. A nick, which most batsmen wouldn't have got, flew to Keith Hemshall who held his only catch despite being given about 5 other opportunities during the match.
It was the one that counted and it didn't get away. No one hung their heads, but I ordered another red wine. The Berger was forced under duress to put his hand up and held things together for a while Then Makka faltered and Ahmed used his pads instead of his bat. Normally not out, but with Messers Walsh and Swift officiating, the finger fairly flew from the pocket to the air, as the umpires jumped at their chance to influence proceedings. We chipped and putted but without any real effect. Gatsby was caught 'nearly on the fence' off a top edge pull -
disappointed, he made to the hutch. Another great lbw decision saw Raymondo also on his way and we were down to the Rabbi and JoanZee to get us to the first batting point. The highlight for me was being dropped on a hat trick - doesn't get much better than that and the
unlucky fielder pulled the mental muscle.
Grocer of course scored at a run a ball and if their was anything good to come out of this match it is that all the CCC players could say they had a bat in the Centenary match, though none made a difference! 147 for 9 off our 35. Not much to defend but we had the Weatherman back after his rendition of 'the old man and the sea' having spent a week trying to catch the fish that had eluded him the year before. Stead, a tad disappointed, had fetched his way through half a dozen PP San Migs and was smiling broadly as we took the field. Team talk said "lets enjoy".
Weatherman steady as a rock, broke through with a wicket maiden in his 3rd over - caught in slip, and not by Stead - last happened in 1988. The game got away from us as Ahmed and Raymondo tried to chime in with a quick fire 5 for 0 but it was not to be. The Rabbi took a wicket and was rewarded by having the ball ripped out of his hand by the skipper. With Fred Titmus from one end and Derek Underwood from the other, the flow of runs dried to a trickle until, Berger, taking a leaf out of Raymondo's book, pulled the Ian Botham muscle and had to retire. You could not say that Berger Titmus was really giving the ball a rip, but whatever gave way really stopped him in his tracks - fortunately it was not his neck nor the crown jewels. Centaurs made the runs in 26 overs and everybody retired to watch the rugby. By far CCC's best bowler was.......after some thought.....the Weatherman, though Berger and I though he was a touch expensive.
Disappointing - yes in a way, but you wouldn't have thought so at the Dinner Dance to follow. On a fantastic night, brilliantly compered by
the Rabbi, 80 former and current CCC and Centaurs players, guests, wives and children celebrated the friendship that cricket has sporned in Hong Kong.
To all those old bastards who turned out for CCC on October 25, 2003, most looked like they played in the game in 1903. Please get the zimmers oiled for Saturday week, empty your catheters at home, arrange for correctional lenses like coke bottles, tape your hearing aid to prevent accidental dislodgement and DON'T take your viagra before the game.
Well done chaps.