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.