Watsonians 2s v Murrayfield DAFS
Saturday 21st May 2022
By Rob McAuliffe
Murrayfield DAFS (3) – 121 ao off 44.1 overs
Ramapriya 25, Tyagi 22,C Martin 3-17, S Ali 3-28, Ellison 2-4
Watsonians 2s (20) – 122 for 1 off 24 overs
P Neame 69, B Jones 46*
Watsonians 2s win by 9 wickets
The Friday evening before a game of cricket is punctuated with many things, trepidation, hopes, flatulence, dreams, mislaid kit and more often than that, one to many beverages than would be recommended by your physician. An addition to this heady mix of emotion, farts and poor life choices was an oblique communique from the Watsons skipper, Alan.
In the politest way possible Alan made it clear that the pavilion would not be open for DAFs, that if we could afford cars there would be no parking for us and that they wouldn’t even trust us to write in a scorebook but would provide a tablet (chained to a bench) for scoring purposes. The saving grace was that teas would be served, as long as we sat outside and didn’t make the place look messy.
Tyagi sensing a cunning tea-based wheeze ordered his troops to bring teas anyway, because if we were to sit outside in the drizzle, we’d do it on our own terms eating our own food. The instruction may have also been down to Hawkins interpretation of the word ‘teas’, which due to his south coast privilege, he took to mean just that. “Easy on the Assam old chap, don’t have any Lady Gray do you?” Hawkins also used his vast cultural understanding to teach us some Hindi and accidentally mangled the language, too much shared amusement in the chat. Hawkins had warned that his chat was awful, what we didn’t know was that he was bilingual…..
Of course, that’s how those whimsical Friday night messages were interpreted, Alan was just being his normal, diligent, accounting, self and was letting us know about the facilities available on the day. Which despite the pavilions on going state of disrepair, were very impressive.
Myreside is a lovely ground, it’s a simple as that. The pavilion is perched on a raised terrace and has a fine view over the surrounding field, changing rooms and scoreboard. Our game was on wicket six which had been very well prepared by the ground staff and upon closer inspection presented beautifully. Very dry and with the slightest tinge of green across its top, the track looked like it was good for batting and would offer something for the bowlers. The outfield was verdant, hard and flat and despite the sizeable circumference of the rope, it was clear that the big scores made and chased on this ground so far this season, where a fair reflection of the superb nature of the playing surface.
Unfortunately, all this counted for nothing as the illusion was shattered by Alan being unable to find the key for the electronic scoreboard (Something we would later be thankful for).
After a pep talk in changing room three (and the discovery of actual teas and not just a big urn, in changing room four) spirits were high in the team. It would be fair to say that the team selection was one of forced experimentation, with individuals playing who hadn’t played or trained together before, but crucially it was one that was already behaving as a team, i.e., taking the piss out of each other mercilessly. After Ross had engaged in a round of ‘smell my damp inners’, Tyagi ripped himself away from the banter filled changing room to take on Alan at the toss. Coming a very creditable second, we accepted the invitation to have a bat.
Trooping out to the picturesque benches nestled around the scorer’s hut, the team started to encourage and cajole each other into the right mental space for batting, there was a realistic attitude that today would present a challenge, but that with the players we had on a decent track there was cause for quiet optimism. Hawkins and Ramapriya opened up for the mighty MUFs.
Watsons opening pair where Martin and Pratt and although sounding like a 70’s tv cop show, they proved to be canny operators. Martin especially bowling a tight line and length and moving the ball in the air and off the seam. Pratt was also right on the money straight away and was no slouch. Hawkins and Ramapriya settled in and gamely defended in the face of a quality attack, sensible singles were taken off the first four overs and everyone was making this look like a much higher-grade game. Unfortunately for our man from the embassy, Martin nipped the fourth ball of his third over back in and Hawkins played on, chopping down on the ball with the inside of the bat and it bounced up, just flicking the top of off. This was unlucky as Hawkins had looked solid in defence and was playing sensibly. Credit should go to Martin for bowling three balls that moved away and then one that came back in, just rewards for the bowler, an early bath for our resident language expert.
Hawkins departure leaving MUFs 6/1 in the fifth
Ramapriya had looked to be aggressive against Pratt when the bowler slightly strayed off line. While this led to a few play-and-misses, it also signalled that Ramapriya was starting to come out of his shell and the eyes were getting bigger. Pratts forth over duly went for six after some good on-side strokes. The first boundary of the game did two things. It confirmed that the outfield was indeed rapid, and it also introduced us to George.
George was one of the younger players in the Watsons team and was sporting a fine head of blond curls. The curls were so magnificent that they had to be restrained by an alice band and pulled back into a ponytail. Both of these facts were gleefully pointed out to George by his less fashion savvy teammates. Aside from his excellent hair, George also had remarkable cricket ball attracting abilities and he was very much in Ramapriya’s firing line. Unfortunately for young George, his abilities to attract the ball, did not extend to actually catching or stopping it, not that MUFs or Ramapriya minded.
After Hawkins unlucky departure, Donald strode out to the crease, resplendent in a Cricket Scotland gilet that ignited the Watsons chat. Speculation was rife that Donald was either ‘very handy’ or ‘very handy on ebay’. Earning his chance to bat at three in the ones is no mean feat and the team was hopeful that just like his erstwhile football team, Donald would show the same spirited qualities. With his gilet and unique guard (Asks for middle, sets up outside leg) he was certainly cutting a dash at the crease. Unfortunately for Donald, Martin was also cutting things and had really found his stride. After a difficult first three balls that were negotiated well, Martin bowled a slightly wider ball on a length that looked safe to leave, Donald was as aghast as the rest of the field when the ball drifted back in and clipped the top of off. A tough break for the young man, but more chances to shine will surely come his way.
Donald’s departure left MUFs at 6/2 in the sixth.
For what was not to be first time today, Ross took up the team’s mantle when others had failed to perform and perfectly balanced by the chips on both shoulders, he set to work with the bat. Ramapriya was now starting to look settled and runs where starting to come from some powerful stroke play. Ross and Ramapriya started to build a partnership as the combination of styles and heights caused issues for the Watsons bowlers. After Ross nudged Pratt around and Ramapriya deposited him back from whence he came a few times, the unfortunate Pratt was removed from the attack. In Martins next over Ross showed why he is tricky to bowl at as he picked up two balls that were marginally short of a length and punished them through the leg side with lusty pulls Infront. Martins’ length had not changed, but Ross’s low centre of gravity was allowing him freedoms that the previous batsmen had not enjoyed. Bukhari proved to be an excellent bowler and was very hard to get away in his first over. However, Ross got him away for two boundaries in his second over as his length let him down. Ramapriya was now in and looking well set and as Martin tired slightly consecutive boundaries came. Ever watchful though, the Hawk soon went back to diligent play as Martin went back to a tighter line. Martin, now in his sixth over, started to wander again and Ramapriya started to sense an opening, and attacked. A lovely shot through the covers took him to 25 and it seemed that he was about to cash in after some hard work at the crease. Alas it was not to be as fortune was not on his side. Martins next ball was similarly wayward, but Ramapriya clothed the ball to mid-on. Watsons were jubilant, MUFS despondent.
Ramaprya’s untimely departure leaving MUFs at 29/3 in the eleventh.
Wadekar was the new batsmen, and as a handsome man he is used to hostility from both genders. His temperament, fluent batting and salt n pepper beard where just what the MUFs situation needed. Ross had stuck around and played well, not looking troubled and crucially, knowing where his off stump was, no doubt due to his engineering degree. Bukhari, stung after his expensive last over, had clearly been thinking about how to bowl to Ross and changed his length just enough to put Ross in two minds about playing across the line, as he had successfully been doing up to that point. After one ball hit Ross is the midrift, bounced of every padded limb there was and just dropped wide of leg stump, Bukhari knew he was on to something. The next ball was similar and although Ross played down the line the ball snuck through and he was bowled. A well made 11 being ended with a broken bail.
Ross left with MUFs on 53/4 from eighteen
As replacements for Ross go, Mulholland is a decent one. Similar in stature and with his junior pads on he strode out to set about the Watsons attack. Martins excellent nine over spell, in which he removed the MUFS top three for seventeen runs in nine overs, was finished. Wadekar was playing nicely and looking very classy, George was jealous that the attention had shifted away from his hair. Having seen off Martin, Jones was brought on. Jones had been on the verge of penning a deal with MUFs last year, but the lure of a pavilion and other plummy accents proved too strong to resist and he was snapped up by Watsons for several gold sovereigns in a deal that Lord Wellington described as a ‘bloody coup dear boy’. Jones, recognised as a very good bat was a surprise bowling change but one that proved to be fruitful. Despite being a spinner that doesn’t spin the ball, he caused havoc in his first over trapping Wadekar LBW after he uncharacteristically played across the line to a dead straight ball. Smouldering, Wadekar departed for 7.
MUFs now 53/5 in the nineteenth.
Tyagi came in next having dropped himself down to order to spend a few quiet hours studying for his second driving test on Tuesday. Tyagi played watchfully batting for fourteen balls before troubling the scorer’s pen. Mulholland on the other hand was looking busy, looking for gaps in the field but rarely finding them. His mission was simple, score more than Ross and it was a good day. Alas it wasn’t to be as new bowler Ali struck in his first over, trapping Mulholland on the crease LBW. Mulholland was upset by the decision, feeling that he hadn’t had the rub of the green on that occasion. Thankfully Tyagi was benefiting from that rub at the other end.
Mulholland leaving put MUFs on 61/6 in the twenty seventh over. Watsons could smell blood, a lot of it.
Choudhry was next up, and his super languid style coupled with Tyagi’s on going stoicism meant that runs started to slowly seep through the Watsons field as Ali and Jones toiled away. Choudhry looked to attack Ali and had some joy. Ali’s extras were also helping the score as MUFs started to threaten to start moving the score along in the later stages of the innings. This threat was shattered by an extraordinary piece of fielding by young Ali, who took a one-handed grab over his head, off his feet, after Choudhry had firmly driven the ball back over his head. It really was a catch he had no right to take. Singh was in next and immediately departed next ball having been adjudged to have gloved the ball down leg to the chirpy keeper. Singh was soon back at the benches and really not very happy. He sat with Mullholland, they discussed burning a gilet.
With Choudhry and Singh gone, MUFs were looking desperate at 99/7 in the thirty-fifth over.
McAuliffe was the next man and Tyagi had a clear message for him at the crease. “Just stay here, we have to bat the forty-five”. The look in his eye as he said this had a glint of steel in it that told McAuliffe that if he got out to big swish early on, he better hope he wasn’t crossing the road in front of learner driver on Tuesday. Tyagi now adopted a more aggressive approach, as was the sensible thing to do. He had played well and was very much in. The Watsons bowling was not as tight as it had been and there were runs there if he could find them. Instead, he unluckily found the safe hands of Ali the Salmon in a similar dismissal to Ramapriya’s. With the skipper’s departure, hope of an even semi-decent total was now lost, scattered to the winds of Myreside. Unless of course it rained.
It didn’t rain and Tyagi trudged off, head in his hands as MUFs were left with 10 and 11 in on 100/8 in the thirty-sixth.
As is the conversation between all tailenders the equation was simple. All we had to do was biff a quick fifty each in the last nine overs, show those ‘batsmen’ how it’s done then come back on and bowl Watsons out. Sorted. Except it wasn’t and Ritch and McAuliffe knew it. We had to bat the 45, so caution was the order of the day. It nearly worked as well, the last pair restraining their slap-happy instincts to add 21 in the last 8 overs. Ali put down another very tough chance off his own bowling (What are they feeding him?) and Travis Head, sorry, Ellison was bowling line and length from the other end. Ali was relived and the unfortunate Pratt brought back on to bag the wicket that he surely deserved. It wasn’t to be though as the MUFs tailenders took each over at a time and what singles they could. The innings was brought to a close on the first ball of the 45th as McAuliffe finally succumbed to his hormones and holed out on the fence at cow, Ali predictably taking the catch. This was much to the amusement of Ritch, who had just talked to McAuliffe and distinctly heard him say “I’ll watch the first ball before having a swing”.
Ritch finished on 5 not out and MUFs on 121 from forty-five overs. We were glad Alan hadn’t found the main scoreboard key.
Not a great batting display on a decent pitch, but credit to Watsons bowlers who all played to their strengths and were backed up well in the field, even by George.
Teas were then served on the grass as we awaited the predicted downpour, however the sun broke through and while this meant a lovely tea, it did mean that it was looking like we would have to save ourselves. Tea was excellent and despite not letting us in the pavilion, car park or showers, Watsons put on a decent spread catering for all tastes. Sheila had done them proud. During lunch the single men gave themselves away with some awful chat about the merits of Tupperware and everyone had a good giggle at the MUFs WhatsApp group. The group had a good feeling around about it and the team seemed up for the fight, especially after Tyagi had declared that the field was going to be tres aggressive.
Due to the now very hot and sunny ‘rain’ that was pervasive, suntan lotion was applied, a team talk was had, spirits were stoked, and the chat furnace was ignited. Ritch opened up to Jones (BOOO) and Neame. Neame was the chirpy terrier like keeper and a few of the MUFs fancied his wicket.
Ritch was bowling nicely, and Jones looked watchful due to the pace. Singh, still smarting from his dismissal was also finding a rhythm and things looked promising for the MUFs as we were restricting the scoring with good bowling and fielding. This however, changed in Ritch’s second over as Neame showed his intent with consecutive boundaries, straight out of the biscuit barrel. Singh also learned that any slight dip in length was punished by the two decent bats on a firm pitch. Chances did come though as Neame, on 8, walloped a Singh indipper to Tyagi at mid-on. Going with one hand the skipper got there, but the ball popped out. A tough chance no doubt, but once not taken the repercussions were severe.
In truth, the bowling was then simply not on a par with what Watsonians had produced. While there where very good balls that troubled the batsmen, we let them score from the bad balls and the pressure lifted. Singh was replaced after three overs and Tyagi took over the mantle. Bowling two maidens in his first three overs stemmed the scoring rate and showed the MUFs that discipline was the key to restricting scoring on a pitch like this. Ritch was also making things happen at the other end and was unfortunate not to pick up Neame twice as he nearly chopped on to balls cutting back in. However, Watsons batted well, Jones in particular looked a class act and they were soon on 48 in the twelfth.
Tyagi then rolled the dice and threw McAuliffe the ball, keeping himself on at the other end. A tidy first over was marked by a short ball slapped in front of square by Neame, an ominous sign of what was to come. Tyagi kept it tight at the other end and then McAuliffe took the ball again and bowled an over that was later, kindly, described as a “f@@@@@g disaster”. The third ball being a full toss Neame slammed for six, the pained added to by McAuliffe falling over in his follow through and landing flat on his face. The next ball went for 4 no balls about 6 ft over Hawkins head and the next one was dispatched by Neame for another boundary.
Head in hands time for the skipper Tyagi.
He then nearly had his head taken off as Choudhry, desperate to get the skippers attention threw the ball at him as the ball went back to the bowler. Tyagi, eyes closed, rubbing his furrowed brow, jumped out of his skin as the ball hit his shoulder and for the second time in the afternoon, put down a difficult grab.
However, when MUFs need a man to stand up and be counted they know they can always turn to Fergusson. Without him in the team Tyagi was instead forced to turn to Ross, who by this time was looking pretty annoyed with the world. Channelling that righteous anger, the world’s smallest sumo, top knot glistening in the sun, ran in and closed the gates of runageddon that McAuliffe had so carelessly opened. Ross was unlucky not to pick up both batsmen on the drive, with Ritch letting the team down by not being tall enough on two occasions at long on. Disappointing from the young man who clearly needs to eat more for breakfast. After bowling a solid 5 overs for 13 Tyagi replaced himself with Choudhry who bowled 4 overs for 26 and crucially picked up the wicket of Neame, who was caught in Wadekar’s Blue Steel for a very well made and aggressive 69. The game was up by that point though and Watsons hit their target in the 23rd over. The only solace for MUFs being that Jones finished on 46 not out.
So, a deserved victory for a well organised, skilful and hardworking Watsonians side. The game was played in an excellent spirit with both teams enjoying each other’s company and conversation. We hope to have our pavilion and the south stand open for the return fixture.
What next for the ones? Practice, practice, and more practice. It is clear that while the team has spirit, we need to knuckle down and make sure that we train together as a squad as often as we can. The spirit is there and in the cold light of loss the seeds of victory are sown, but we have to work at it together and in that respect the future looks healthy with the determined and committed squad that we have this season.