by Stephen Roberts
So April 18th the inaugural Banks-Elder trophy match took place to honour our good friends and two stalwarts of the cricketing community here in the Czech Republic, Hugo Banks and Stephen Elder. The tie was of course our good selves Vinohrady C.C. against the Prague Barbarians C.C. Having previously played for the Barbarians, this was a game I badly wanted to win and as there was a trophy at stake, even more so. As such it was a personal honour to have been named captain for the tie. Having a strong eleven of eager Vino’s ready to take the field against the Barbarian horde, this was always going to be an interesting encounter.
Arriving at the ground early on Saturday morning it was glaringly obvious we were not going to enjoy the same conditions we had the previous week. The cold northerly wind ensured it felt as though we were playing the beautiful game in conditions comparable with outer most Siberia. The plan was to win the toss, have a bat easily notching up a score of 250+ with everybody contributing a good score, then skittle them out quickly to return to the pub with stories of our great conquest. Unfortunately it appeared the cricketing Gods had a different story for us to follow as the Barbarians won the toss and decided to have a bat. So it was left for us to right this wrong with Ben and Brigham bombarding the opening pair from each end. It became obvious early on that Yash, one of the opening Barbarian batsmen, also had different ideas – he was dropped whilst in single figures and went on to get a commendable seventy one. The Barbarians though were not getting their own way, with Ben bowling economically from one end and Brigham taking a couple of scalps from the other. No Barbarian was able to settle in and assist in scoring. Then to the crease stepped Mr Elder to partner Yash, who was somehow still there. Something had to be done to remove this limpet from the crease - he had been dropped on more than one occasion so it was thought (in my head) something special would have to be done with the ball. With Brigham bowled out from one end the ball was given to Mik for a moment of magic. His first ball tempted the Barbarian down the track to take a swipe and miss only to see Chris collect the ball and remove the bails. I think Mik wanted to stop bowling at that moment.
The conditions played a large part in this encounter as you could see in the face of the Vino’s when the ball was thrown in their direction by colleagues or hit by the opposition nobody could hold onto the ball. Rumour is eight chances were not held by the Vino’s in the field. Eventually we managed to dismiss the Horde for 198 which is a respectable score but could have been considerably less if only we could hold our catches.
So Mik and Tarique took to the field chasing the 199 runs needed to win the game. Mik carried on from his ton the previous week, anything slightly loose being flayed to the boundary. Tarique intelligently finding gaps in the field. Mik raced to a score of 30+ and thoughts were of him repeating his previous week’s achievement. However, this wasn’t to be as he fell for 35 to be replaced by debutant (outdoor) Paul at the crease. Paul and Tarique skilfully began pushing the ball around the field making the Barbarians work to restrict the score before falling. Alex came and held up his end commendably frustrating the opposition. Marco and Hugo both came in for brief appearances at the crease, Hugo being bowled by his trophy’s name sake Stephen Elder. The score was finely balanced at around 100/5 when Chris made his way to the crease and set about taking apart the Barbarian attack scoring from every delivery he faced. Brigham had sensibly been supporting at the other end, building the score to 191 before Chris retired to give myself a go in the middle. With ten overs of the game left and eight runs needed. I blocked out the next over and Brigham and I met in the middle to say ‘nothing silly, just punish the bad ball’. Something however must have changed in Brigham’s head though as he defended the first ball. He had built his score to sixteen and decided it was time to punish their bowlers, dispatching the next ball to the boundary for four. Four more needed to bring home the trophy. Next ball smash, back to the Brigham we know, sailed over the boundary on the full for six. The trophy was ours.
Tw@t of the match – The weather. This enjoyable day would have been more enjoyable if it was not so arctic. We also probably would have held a few more catches.
Play of the match – Alex’s delivery to Bilal which was smashed to Paul and held at mid-off, one of two which he held on the day. Would have been Brigham’s catch which he took at cow corner but had to drop the ball back into play to prevent carrying the ball for six. Somehow the umpire judged he had carried it across the rope, I am not biased, he didn’t.
Man of the match – Several people should be mentioned here: Paul great debut, Alex, Brigs, Ben, Drakey, Hugo, Mik all bowled tight and economically but this award can only go to one person who took a stumping, a catch, three wickets and scored seventy seven with the bat, Chris Pearce. I take my hat off to you sir.
by Toby Haslam
Following the inaugural Vinos v Vinos match on the Saturday there were a few aching bodies and aching heads arriving at the ground for the season’s first friendly match proper… nothing a shot of homebrew Slivovice couldn’t sort out, and the mood was soon vibrant and full of optimism for the match ahead.
Vinos drew first blood with captain Voijta winning the toss (well done skip) and elected to bat with what (on paper) looked like a strong batting line-up.
Certainly the opening partnership went some way to prove that with Mik and Rahul demonstrating some disciplined batting, seeing off the new ball and picking their way through the wayward deliveries with some fine strokes. Unfortunately just one run shy of a 50 opening partnership Rahul was trapped right on the toe of his size 10s to go lbw for 18 runs. Still, the foundation was laid and duly added to when Tarique joined Mik at the crease. Playing a perfect Boycott-esque foil to Mik’s attacking play, Tarique eventually fell for 11 but between them they had put on over 50 for the second wicket.
Unfortunately the fall of the third wicket signaled a middle order collapse of which England would be proud. No.’s 4-8 came and went with only adding 26 runs to the Vinos total. The only highlight during this batting debacle was of course seeing Mik notch up a well-deserved century eventually caught at mid-wicket for 104. Warm applause rang around the hallowed mouse-ridden turf of Vinor, as P.C.C. and Vinos players alike acknowledged a great knock indeed.
The remaining batsmen also struggled, until a gutsy last wicket stand of 24 between Louis and young Jody Druce dragged the Vinos score over 200 to post a modest total of 212.
So the Vinos took to the field knowing that a tight bowling performance was needed. A defensive field was set with the hope that the P.C.C. batsmen would become frustrated with picking off the odd singles and go for some flamboyant strokes straight into our hands… that was the plan anyway.
To be fair, we started well with Rahul showing good pace, bowling two maidens in his first 3 overs. At the other end Brigham (who narrowly avoided my nomination for Tw*t of the Match, purely for his Monica Seles style visor; the like of which I’ve not seen since watching Wham’s Club Tropicana video in 1983) was also causing problems for the P.C.C. opening pair.
It was in fact our Andrew Ridgley wannabe who made the breakthrough in a terrific fourth over taking two wickets for just two runs. The first a great catch at mid-off from Vojta with the ball travelling at a rate of knots, and the second clean bowled. At this point P.C.C. looked rocked and the game looked winnable for Vinos.
Unfortunately, from that point things just didn’t go our way. P.C.C. hit a number of balls high that just dropped short, there were a couple of drops too and the exertions of the previous day’s cricket were beginning to show on some weary Vino fielders. Arshad, Rahul and Benji all bowled good spells unrewarded and the frustrations were well summarized by Benji’s exasperated cry of “How the f*ck did that f*cking ball not hit the f*cking stumps?!”… It was one of those days in the field…
Highlights though for Jody who managed to get two wickets towards the end of the game; the first outlined in the ‘Play of the Match’ and the second a really great piece of bowling which left the batman bamboozled and slogging a top edge straight up in the air to be snaffled up by Mik.
P.C.C. won the game comfortably in the end, but plenty of positives to be taken, and lessons learned, from this early season friendly. From a personal point of view in my first competitive match for Vinos, I managed to get a golden duck, knackered my knee so couldn’t bowl, subsequently spent my time in the field hobbling over mouse-holes… but still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Don’t you just love cricket?!
Man of the Match (MOM) – Probably the easiest decision in the history of sport… Mik, for his fantastic 104. A combination of patience and attacking stroke play; assurance and confidence… bodes well for his season ahead.
Play of the Match (POM) – The bizarre manner in which the PCC batsman Bilal was given out. After pulling a short ball for four, the ball was returned to the middle, and it was only then our eagle-eyed keeper Mik noticed one of the bails had been dislodged and was laying in the crease. Right enough, he enquired of the umpire “How was that”? What followed was quite amusing as a confused Bilal insisted it wasn’t him who’d knocked the stumps… Mik was standing three feet away so couldn’t have interfered… by this time the rest of the Vinos had all come to the middle to put in their two-pennies worth and after about 5 minutes of arguments for the prosecution and from the defense, the judge and jury finally condemned Bilal out ‘hit wicket’ for 64!
Tw*t of the Match (TOM) – After the top three Vinos batsmen set us up in a great position the Tw*t(s) of the match really must be the Vinos middle-order for failing to contribute sufficiently enough to put us in a match winning position... What a bunch of Tw*ts!