Tigers sharpen their claws at Brighton

East Brighton Park, Sunday 18 August 2019.

Zambuca Tigers 140 (40 overs; A Chauhan 64; P Bowman 3-13; M Langridge 2-24) beat St Anne’s Allstars 59 (36.3 overs; Brookshaw 3-6; Ryan 2-13) by 81 runs.

Report by Vivek Seth – Photos by Pete Cresswell

Allstars debuts: Roshan Herath; David Nandi; Jan Roussouw; Simon Hemelryk.

An (eventually) sunny afternoon saw the first encounter between my two truly tremendous village cricket teams: the London-based St Anne’s Allstars, and the Brighton-based Zambuca Tigers.

For much of the week leading up to the game, this author did not know which team he would be playing for. Both sides had seen fluctuating squad numbers caused by work clashes, injury, a Tigers game the previous day, and a desire to watch the final day of the second Ashes Test… Anyway, 22 players eventually arrived at East Brighton Park, theoretically ready to play a game of cricket. Jon Elsom would lead the Tigers, and me skippering the Allstars.

Heavy rain earlier in the day made it a definite bowl first day. With Elsom’s toss-losing reputation having continued, the Allstars went out to bowl. Paul Bowman and Martyn Langridge began the proceedings, providing the Allstars with pace at one end and guile at the other. Both proved to be reliable as ever. Bowman took the early wicket of Andy Clarke in the third over before Elsom and Nigel de Silva steadied the ship. De Silva in particular continued to find the boundary with ease before being bowled by Langridge for 17. That sparked a mini-Tigers collapse, losing two further wickets for only 7 more runs. Elsom was run out by a truly extraordinary throw from debutant Roshan Herath, while Langridge trapped Nick Straiton leg before to leave the Tigers 34-4.

Apurv Chauhan then launched his expected counter-attack with good effect, ably assisted by Al Tomlins who shored up the other end. The Allstars’ bowling change brought Sam Perera and debutant David Nandi to the attack. Both caused the Tigers problems. While Nandi was very unlucky not to take a wicket, Perera took the wicket of Tomlins which sparked another Tiger mini-collapse, going from 53-4 to 81-8. Adding to Perera’s wicket was a run out, an LBW from Sachin Singh in his only over (injury preventing him from bowling an extended spell), and a great ball from debutant Jan Roussouw whose pace and accuracy provided similar levels of ‘X Factor’ that Jofra Archer offered at Lord’s the same day.

That brought Joe Brookshaw to the crease who alongside Chauhan proved impossible to dislodge. I brought myself and Pete Cresswell on to try and change things but all to no avail. Indeed, getting Brookshaw and Chauhan out proved to be more difficult for Cresswell and I than keeping our floppy sun hats on. The windy conditions at East Brighton Park meant that the pair of us spent more time chasing after our own hats than we did running after balls!

Eventually, the return of Bowman to the attack helped bring the wickets of both Tigers but not before a fine partnership of 44. Chauhan was bowled for a truly impressive 64, and Brookshaw for 24. The Tigers were 140 all out, only ten minutes short of the declaration time.

Tea was very well received although my contribution of Mr Co-op’s Colin the Caterpillar birthday cake was no adequate replacement to the sadly-missing Elsom lemon drizzle. The number of doughnuts was especially welcome given the Allstars’ penchant for cake-heavy teas.

Buoyed by news that England were making decent progress in the Test, the Allstars went out to bat. Singh made a promising start, creaming a drive through the covers for 4, only to be bowled by Mahmood Alam the ball after. Soon after, Joe Brookshaw took the wicket of Cresswell with a truly unplayable ball that pitched on middle stump before nipping back and clipping off. It was Brookshaw’s 200th wicket for the Tigers and a fine way to mark such a milestone. Indeed, Brookshaw’s bowling proved to be a constant menace throughout, eventually finishing with figures of 3-6 from 8 overs, including four consecutive maidens at the start of the spell.

Some quality Tigers bowling coupled with a pitch that was providing increasingly low bounce meant that batting was tricky for the Allstars. No-one was able to stay in for any meaningful time. Brookshaw quickly took the wickets of debutant Simon Hemelryk and Sam Macdonald leaving the Allstars 13-4 and battling for a draw. Herath and Perera helped steady things with a partnership of 25 before Perera succumbed to the typically menacing bowling of Si Ryan. Roussouw only lasted two balls before Ryan claimed him as his second victim.

With 20 overs to go, the Allstars were 40-6 with Herath and Nandi both at the crease looking just to bat time. Both looked remarkably comfortable until Herath was run out for 13. Yet more panic spread through the Allstars’ ranks with Bowman falling to Swapnil Vartak with 18 overs to go, and Langridge being caught off Elsom’s bowling with 15 overs to go. That left me (a specialist no. 11 for both the Tigers and the Allstars) and Nandi to try and see out 15 overs for the draw. Remarkably, we survived ten overs but not without several scares off the tidy bowling of Tomlins, Straiton and Clarke. However, with all eleven men around my bat (in a manner strangely similar to the one that Jack Leach adopted at exactly the same time to Pat Cummins), Tomlins took the final wicket with me hitting across the line. With the Allstars bowled out for 59, the Tigers secured an 81 run victory.

Both sides agreed that this was a very enjoyable day and a fixture worth keeping. Particular thanks to the four debutant Allstars (David, Simon, Roshan and Jan) for bringing their cricketing skills and sense of fun to the match – we would gladly have you back. My thanks also to the all the Tigers for being such tremendous hosts and for making the Allstars so welcome – we look forward to hosting you next year.

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