Gents edge us out on birthday weekend

Wycombe House CC, Osterley, Sunday 30 May 2021.

Gentlemen of West London 172-6 (26.2 overs; Pavan Kota 74, Wamsee Krishna 2-25, Sam Waddicor 2-42) beat St Anne’s Allstars 171 all out (39.3 overs; Sam Waddicor 36*, Paul Bowman 31, Sachin Singh 30) by 4 wickets.

Allstars debuts: Wamsee Krishna, Mubeen Mohammad, Syed Rizvi

Report by Pete Cresswell – photos by Garreth Duncan

After a May filled with cold, wet weather that caused the Allstars’ first rained-off fixture in 3 seasons, hopes were high for a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday to celebrate 20 years of Allstars matches as an organised team, against our longest standing opposition, the Gentlemen of West London.

Sunday initially dawned cloudy, and the Allstars awoke to news that Saturday sporting injuries were forcing 3 players out of the match. However the clouds cleared, and our kind hosts Wycombe House CC managed to find us three handy fill ins.

Skipper Pete Cresswell called correctly, looked at a lovely, hard looking pitch, and he and debutant Wamsee Krishna of Wycombe House headed out to bat. Cresswell started positively, only to run himself out for 6 trying for an ambitious second run. 7/1 quickly became 33/4 as Matt Biss played on a shooter for 10, Wamsee top-edged a pull for 7, and our second Wycombe House debutant Mubeen Mohammed was bowled for 8.

Sachin Singh and Paul “KP” Bowman came together at that point and added an excellent 66 runs for the fifth wicket, batting positively until KP was brilliantly caught in the gully for 31.

Sachin quickly followed skying a drive, and Tony Grant was bowled a couple of overs later, unable to resist attacking Hemin Patel’s flighted off-spin to reduce us to 99/7.

But even a depleted Allstars weren’t going to go down without a fight. Our final Wycombe House debutant, Syed Rizvi, went on the attack, well supported by Jimmy Scott. Rizvi hit four fours and a six in his sparkling 24, before falling to leave us 130/9 in the 33rd over.

At that stage the Allstars looked well short of a competitive total – but still we resisted. Sam Waddicor, who’s having an incredible start to 2021, set about the bowling with some sparkling shots, with Garreth Duncan ably defending in support and running hard to give Sam the strike. The pair added an invaluable 41 for the last wicket and had the Gents looking increasingly frustrated before “G-Drive” was bowled for 3 as he looked to attack in the last over. The resulting 171 looked a light, but possibly defendable score.

After tea the Gents’ openers strode to the crease, and Pavan Kota and Kumar started strongly. Their early positive attitude proved a touch rash as, in the third over, Matt Biss swooped in from square leg and managed a direct hit with to run out Kumar for a duck.

Following his efforts with the bat, Sam was quickly into the action with the ball, as he dismissed Puli LBW off one that kept low. But we know Pavan’s quality after his ton filling in for us against Crossbats in 2017, and he continued to bat serenely at the other end, adding 57 with keeper Sudireddy for the third wicket despite a couple of close LBW shouts off KP.

But this was a day the Allstars just would not give in. Sam grabbed a second as he bowled Sudireddy. Chattharaju added 12 before being trapped in front by Wamsee, who immediately repeated the dose to remove Gents’ stalwart Sanjay Patel. 113/5 in the 19th was starting to look interesting.

With Pavan looking serene, skipper Cresswell tried to change up the attack by introducing spin from Jimmy Scott and Tony Grant, but the well-set Pavan continued on serenely until trapped in front by a ball from Sachin that kept very low.

That brief flicker of hope at 139/6 soon died however as the Gents’ seventh wicket pair Karnekanti and Zahid Ahmed attacked the bowling, mindful that the pitch was developing a few gremlins, and they saw the Gents home.

So the 42-11 Trophy returns to the Gents once again. Overall, it was a good day’s cricket in the sun at a lovely ground against friendly opposition. And post-match we were (finally) able to physically present the first of last year’s end of season awards, with Matt Biss collecting his Allstar of the Year award as our leading run scorer in 2020.

The match also served as a farewell to Allstars’ stalwart Paul “KP” Bowman ahead of his family’s relocation to Belfast – and he deservedly collected his Long Service award. We wish them all well, and hope to see KP making tour appearances in future.

A good day was brightened further as our club founder Maxie Allen and his partner Rosalind announced the birth of their daughter Francesca. Congratulations from all of the Allstar family!

We’ll be back in action soon as the Allstars fixtures come thick and fast in June. Next up, we travel to Hove on 13 June to face our friends the Zambuca Tigers. What do Vivek and his team have in store for us?

Corridor stunned by Allstars’ Jag and Wad

Great Missenden, Saturday 1 May 2021.

St Anne’s Allstars 96-3 (19 overs: Nic Knight 42; Sam Perera 26*) beat Corridor 94 all out (24.4 overs: Jagath Dasari 4-14, Sam Waddicor 4-31) by 7 wickets.

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Amit Deverathippa, Nic Knight and Jon Ryan

Corridor are a team very much like the Allstars in spirit: of roughly 20 years vintage, they were formed around a group of friends who played cricket for the sheer love of the game. The core of the team originally worked at Sky Sports, and their name stems from the impromptu games of cricket they used to arrange in the corridors during breaks. This was our third fixture against them, and after the first two, the score stood at 1-1 with two close contests. But this time was different as, courtesy of two champagne bowling performances from Jagath Dasari and Sam Waddicor, we cruised to victory with nearly half the overs to spare.

The venue, which Corridor hire from Great Missenden Pelicans CC, is one of the most picturesque on our fixture calendar – hidden deep in the Buckinghamshire countryside, with fields all around and a cracking pub, the Nag’s Head, right next door. Allstars legend Jon Ryan came along to support us for the day, as did Sam Perera’s mate Roshan who had turned out for us against the Tigers in 2019.

The pitch looked decent, on the edge of the square and on a slope that would make Lord’s look flat. Corridor skipper Duncan Mallard called correctly and decided to bat first. Shanmugam Sama and his neighbour Amit Deverathippa opened the bowling for the Allstars, both continuing where they’d left off against Superstars the previous week. Shanmu bowled a probing line once again, and was unlucky to go wicketless in a fine spell. But Amit, working up a decent pace, troubled both openers and was rewarded just before the first sanitisation break as Zorba was dismissed by a magnificent leaping catch by Sam Waddicor at point.

Smurf and keeper Damo both looked dangerous, and with the openers off, Smurf began to accelerate, hitting Sam Waddicor’s first over for 17. At the 10 over mark Corridor were 49-1 and looking good. But Sam showed tremendous character as he found his natural length and claimed his first Allstars wicket as Damo, looking to drive, was held by Nic Knight at short mid-off.

It was a brilliant piece of all-round cricket, and was to prove the match’s turning point as we seized control of the game. In the next over, Jagath followed up with a cracking delivery to knock over Smurf’s stumps, and then Sam struck again in his next over by bowling Swiss. In the blink of an eye, Corridor were reeling at 56-4.

Now brimming with confidence, Sam and Jagath continued to rampage through the Corridor middle and lower order. Sam took his third wicket in successive overs by trapping KC LBW, and Jagath replied with the ball of the day, a stunning fast off-cutter that took out Forge’s off-stump. Corridor hadn’t seen this coming, and Jagath struck twice more as Paddy was pinned LBW by a full, straight delivery and skipper Mallard clean bowled. Corridor were 82-8 and we were all over them like a rash, as Tony Grant produced a miserly spell to keep the pressure on.

Jagath richly deserved a five-for, but couldn’t quite manage it as Shivige blocked out his final four deliveries. But his day wasn’t yet done as, with just one stump to aim at, he ran out Shivige with a direct hit from mid-on. Sam returned to finish the job in style with his fourth wicket as Rory was plumb LBW. It was the first time in many a year that we’d dismissed an opposition for under 100, and Jagath and Sam deservedly led the Allstars off the field.

Small targets can sometimes be tricky to chase, but the best way to approach is to be positive from the outset. Following a very handy debut against Superstars, Nic Knight was quickly into his stride once again, hitting some crunching cover drives off opening bowler Paddy. Club captain Pete Cresswell was initially happy to push singles, but he then began to find his touch with a lovely boundary. We were almost halfway to the Corridor total before KC had Pete caught and bowled with a ball which stopped on him.

Nic followed soon after, just missing out on a maiden Allstars fifty for the second week in a row as he was smartly taken at slip for a well-worked 42. But nothing was going to stop the victory charge as Sam Perera launched into the Corridor bowling, showing the form of his stellar debut season with two monster straight sixes. Paul Burgin struck a couple of boundaries before Rory disturbed his stumps, but Sirmad Shafique, also making a welcome return to the team, took us over the line with ease for one of our most comprehensive victories in many years.

A cracking day all round – topped by a call-out on local radio as Wycombe Sound’s DJ played Sweet Caroline in our honour, evoking memories of our great tour to Portugal in 2019. Remarkably, our second radio appearance following our famous call-out on the Talksport lunchtime news as we headed to Newquay for our maiden tour in 2002.

Corridor’s skipper Duncan is a top bloke, and he and his team joined us in the Nag’s Head as we celebrated victory. We wish Corridor all the best for the rest of this season. Next up, we face Valley End at their scenic ground in Surrey. We’ve only beaten them once, but with players now in cracking early season form, can we do it again?

Thrilla in Mill Hilla

Mill Hill Village CC, Sunday 25 April 2021.

St Anne’s Allstars 169-5 (35 overs, Nic Knight 44, Hywel Roberts 26, Steyn Grobler 23, Pete Cresswell 21, Purana 3-13) lost to Superstars CC 170-8 (34.5 overs, Sears 67, Gigg 44*, Sheahan Arnott 3-18, Shanmugam Sama 2-20, Paul Bowman 2-35) by 2 wickets.

Allstars Debutants: Nic Knight (no not that one!), Amitkumar Devarathippa

Report by Pete Cresswell – Photos by Nic Knight and Shanmugam Sama

On a sunny (but chilly) late April Sunday, an impressive 13 Allstars converged on Mill Hill Village Cricket Club to start the 2021 season against new opponents, Superstars CC. With a herd of cows spectating from the next field over it was hard to believe we were in London.

Club captain Pete Cresswell was held up by both South London traffic and Thameslink delays so Hywel Roberts stepped up to make his Allstars’ captaincy debut. He got off to a good start by winning the toss and elected to bat on a green but hard-looking surface. Our strip was on the Hertfordshire side of the block, meaning a short downhill boundary on one side, and a long uphill one on the other.

The (finally arrived) Cresswell and Paul Burgin padded up and headed out to face the new season. Superstars’ opening bowlers proved accurate, and used the slope of the two-paced pitch well, tying up the openers initially with 5 consecutive maidens from the 2nd over. When Burgin nicked off to change bowler Kumar the score was just 15 in the eleventh.

The first of our two debutants, Nic Knight, strode to the wicket and immediately accelerated. With Cresswell pushing singles to feed the strike, the pair added 65 in 12 overs in the face of some unorthodox but impressive bowling, Sears managing to swing the ball up the hill bowling pacey left arm around the wicket. Knight nicked off (sorry!) after drinks just 6 shy of a debut 50.

New batsman Steyn Grobler wasted no time, picking up a four first ball, and with Cresswell also accelerating (nearly collecting Grobler with one blistering straight-drive, and hitting the bowler’s stumps with another) the scoring rate continued to rise. Cresswell eventually played on for 21, to queue the start of the slog. Grobler, Roberts and our second debutant Amit Devarathippa all added handy runs, Roberts planting a superb six over mid wicket. Some tidy running between Amit and Paul Bowman saw the Allstars through to a competitive-looking 169-5.

That score quickly looked very good indeed as Allstars opening bowlers Bowman and Shanmugam Sama quickly removed the Superstars’ top order, reducing them to 28-4 off 7, including 2 good catches in front of the wicket by Sam Waddicor. Number 6 bat Harris smashed a six and a four before being bowled by Sheahan Arnott, which brought Sears out to join Superstars’ captain Gigg at 45-5 in the 11th.

This proved to be the match-winning partnership for the Superstars, as Sears immediately teed off, while Gigg rode his luck pushing singles and finding gaps in the slip cordon. Sears survived a couple of strident caught behind shouts, but continued to slog away as Roberts rotated the bowling, trying Waddicor, Jagath Dasari and Sean Jun before bringing back Bowman and Shanmugam. By the time Amit, generating impressive pace, yorked Sears for a 65-ball 67 the pair had added 113 for the sixth wicket and the Allstars cause looked lost, with the Superstars needing just 11 off 5 overs with 4 wickets in hand.

But the Allstars never know when they’re beaten, and some tight bowling from Amit and Arnott built some pressure, which told in the 34th over as Arnott bowled Thomson and trapped Kumar in front first ball. Purana blocked the hat-trick ball and the rest of the over. That double-wicket-maiden left Superstars needing 3 off the last over, but with the well-set Gigg back on strike. After 2 dot balls he managed to scramble a 2 to tie the scores, and on the 5th ball he tipped the ball out just wide of point and the pair sprinted through to end an epic match.

There’s never any disgrace in losing a fabulous game of cricket like this. Superstars were a really nice team to play against, and we wish them all the best for this season and look forward to seeing them again in 2022. Next weekend takes us to beautiful Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, where we resume our gripping contest with Corridor CC.

The second Allstars decade

As we look forward to our 21st Allstars season, here’s a look back at a highlight from each of our second 10 years as the Allstars … click on the links to see the match reports and photos!

2011, Barnes – KP goes nuts as Gents beaten

Victories over our great friends the Gentlemen of West London are the ultimate prize for the Allstars, and we began our second decade in some style by beating them for the second time. Paul “KP” Bowman was the star of the show, taking two wickets in a disciplined bowling effort to limit the Gents to 181-6, before playing one of the great Allstars knocks, a magnificent 91, to take us to victory with 7 overs to spare.

2012, Rock – Wedding bells in Northumberland

Only the Allstars would organise a cricket tour around the wedding of two of our own. After we celebrated Tristan and Liz tying the knot, we faced Rock on their beautiful rural ground in north Northumberland. Tony Grant’s brilliant 5-39 and a hostile three-wicket burst from James Hindle helped us restrict Rock to 135-9. Felix Haddow-Allen played the perfect anchor in reply, batting right through the innings for 21 not out while all around him swung merrily, as we chased down the target to win by 6 wickets.

2013, Ham – A stunning win over Baker Street Irregulars

Baker Street Irregulars have been a well-matched opponent for the Allstars over the years, and this contest of two innings of 18 overs each was to prove a classic in which everyone contributed. Matty Boa’s 37 led the way in our first innings of 123-6, but despite wickets being shared all round, Baker Street edged to a narrow first-innings lead of three. A dashing innings of 44 from Sam Macdonald and a second handy knock from Haroon Khalid set up a victory target of 123, and it was James “One Dart” Devlin who held his nerve with three wickets at the death as we got home with 15 runs to spare.

2014, Ham – Allstars take spoils after pitch Ham-up

For the second year in a row, Baker Street Irregulars brought out the best in the Allstars. After a change of venue to Ham Common (having arrived to find the original pitch triple booked), Ben Hampton, with three wickets, and Tony Grant, with two, led the way with the ball as Baker Street posted 220-9 off their 35 overs. It looked a challenging target – but a stunning unbeaten 136 from Clarence Marshall made it look easy, as we cruised to victory by 8 wickets.

2015, Barnes – Mighty Wanderers kicked into the long grass

On a difficult Barnes Common pitch with an uncut outfield, we avenged a humiliating defeat by Mighty Wanderers the previous year to win back the James Abrahams Trophy in an epic, low-scoring contest. Miserly bowling and fabulous fielding – including two direct-hit run-outs – put the squeeze on Mighty Wanderers’ innings as they limped to 83-8 off their 35 overs. Mighty Wanderers were to prove a much greater force with the ball, as our old nemeses Steve Tjasink and Maggie “the Cat” Page brought about a top-order collapse to leave us reeling at 17-4 – but a gem of an innings from Sam Macdonald, well supported by Chris Burke, took us over the line for a 4-wicket win.

2016, Aston Rowant – a strike out over Heartaches

Sir Tim Rice’s Heartaches have long been the glamour fixture on our calendar, as we rub shoulders with knights of the realm on stunning rural grounds – but they’re a strong side and we’ve suffered some heavy defeats. But this time was different, as we prevailed in one of the closest finishes in our history. With only 130-odd to defend, it looked like Heartaches would stroll to victory once again. Heartaches’ opener Torquil Riley-Smith has been a tough opponent over the years – we still haven’t found a way to get him out – but we showed there’s more than one way to win, starving him of the strike while drying up the runs at the other end, to edge to victory by just 3 runs.

2017, Mill Hill – Record-breaker Langridge stuns Edgware

2017 saw the beginning of the great rebuild of the Allstars on and off the pitch, and our new recruits combined with old hands to take us to a memorable victory over Edgware. On a tricky pitch, a classy 71 from Sachin Singh, well supported by debutant Darren Curry, saw us to 161-4 – but Edgware had got more than halfway to our total with seven wickets in hand. Enter Martyn “Lofty” Langridge to turn the game on its head with a superb hat-trick, finishing with figures of 6-20 – the best analysis in our history – as we won by 40 runs.

2018, Twickenham – A grand finale with the Weasels

Having finished the previous year in style, we did it again in 2018 with a close fought victory over our great friends the New Barbarian Weasels on a sunny September day at beautiful Marble Hill Park. A lightning fifty from Sachin, with good support all the way down, took us to 232-6. The Weasels fought bravely in reply, led by a hard hitting 80 from their league cricket star Iyas – but we weren’t to be denied and finished the job to win by 28 runs.

2019, Ealing – Allstars shine in epic victory over Gents

Our third victory over Gents – and, in contrast to the solo efforts which won the previous two, this one was an all-round team performance to rank amongst the finest in our history. After a sticky start, contrasting fifties from Sam Perera and debutant Vikash Choudhary got us to 178-3. The game looked up when the Gents were 98-2 at the drinks break – but spin twins Ashwin Rattan and Joe Silmon brought about a stunning collapse, taking seven wickets between them, as we went to a famous victory by 25 runs.

2020, Barn Elms – A New Hope

Perhaps the most important game we’ve ever played, as we showed that even a global pandemic can’t stop the Allstars. With barely a week’s notice from the ECB of recreational cricket resuming, we scrambled together an eleven for our fixture with Corridor CC and put all the COVID-19 safety protocols in place – and the game was to prove a classic. With fifties from Matt Biss and debutant Stuart Bruce and handy contributions elsewhere, we racked up an impressive total of 258-4 – but at one stage even that didn’t look enough on a perfect Barn Elms surface. In a nail-biting conclusion, Stuart Bruce proved the match-winner – finishing the innings with a hat-trick – as we scraped home by just 12 runs.

Rewind to … 2006 – Allstars’ first Northumberland tour

In July 2006, the Allstars added a new venue to our touring schedule, as we headed north to Northumberland. It was to be the first of a number of enjoyable tours to the North-East, combining cricket in beautiful rural settings with Newcastle’s lively night life. Club secretary Garreth Duncan tells the story of our trip to his homeland …

Our team at Rock. Back row, l-r: Tristan Haddow-Allen, Rob Jackson, Roger Pordes (joint captain), Garreth Duncan, Ian Fisher, Dave Halladay (joint captain), Chris Gould. Front row: Maxie Haddow-Allen, James Terrett, Richard Stephenson, Nick Chadwick, James Devlin.

Before launching into the story of what did happen on tour, it’s worth remembering that it almost didn’t happen at all. Although opposition, travel and accommodation had long been sorted out, the trip came close to being torpedoed by Bob Crow, leader of the RMT union, showing his usual contempt for the travelling public by calling a rail strike for the Friday and Saturday of the tour, prompting a frenzy of increasingly desperate contingency plans. Thankfully, as predicted by our insider Richard Stephenson, the action was called off on the Wednesday and we met up at King’s Cross on Friday lunchtime in good spirit.

The Allstars boasted a new face for the tour in Rob Jackson, our latest recruit from the world of patent law. Having studied at Durham, Rob was keen to revisit his old haunts in the North-East and eagerly responded to my eleventh hour request to the Informals list for an eleventh player. He quickly got the flavour of the Allstars banter when it emerged he was travelling to Newcastle first class (all of the cheap second class tickets having long been sold out), prompting a query as to whether the Allstars were returning to the era of Gentlemen and Players travelling separately.

Our accommodation for the weekend was in Jesmond, an upmarket area of Newcastle with some lively bars. The hotel had recently been refurbished and was certainly a vast improvement on those of previous tours. However, in view of Newcastle’s popularity as a venue for stag and hen parties, upon arrival we were confronted with a request for a cash deposit of £25 each to cover for one or more of us trashing our rooms. In the rooms themselves, a card prominently displayed the fines for bed-wetting, vomiting and many other things a bunch of thirty-somethings clearly get up to when away from home:

Editor’s note – if you know exactly what dastardly deed an ‘iron centre’ constitutes, please let us know.

After a couple of pints and a curry in Jesmond, the tour party headed for the city centre to get their first taste of Newcastle’s famous nightlife. The legendary Bigg Market, inspiration for a whole host of Viz characters, was our destination – and did not disappoint.

On Saturday morning, suitably woken up with caffeine, we headed off to our first match of the tour. Eglingham is a tiny village deep in the Northumberland countryside, with a lovely ground to match. “The field”, as the locals refer to it, was in good nick – even though the pitch had a lot of grass on it, this was still quite a contrast to when I last saw it on a scouting trip in April, when there were still sheep grazing on it.

From left, excluding the girl: Richard Stephenson, James Terrett, Dave Halladay, Nick Chadwick, Roger Pordes.

Having lost my third toss out of three as Allstars captain, I was relieved when Eglingham skipper Maurice Graham put us in to bat. Initially, it looked like he would pay for his generosity as, aided by some loose bowling, Tristan and James Terrett got us off to a flyer. Though James was soon caught at slip, Rob Jackson helped continue the momentum as he immediately looked to play shots on his Allstars debut. Rob middled a couple before he too was taken at slip, Roger, somewhat surprised to be promoted to No 4, following in a similar manner soon after.

Rob Jackson, making his Allstars debut.
Tristan Haddow-Allen batting.
Garreth Duncan, umpiring.

Dave Halladay joined Tristan in the middle, and the pair took us past 100 with the halfway mark still to come. They were beginning to construct a useful stand before Dave was run out. This proved to be the match’s turning point as a dramatic collapse followed, the last seven wickets going down for 19 runs courtesy of some accurate bowling and awful shot selection, with Chris Gould being the only of the remaining batsmen to reach double figures.

We needed early wickets in reply, and got them, Graham (jr) falling LBW in Nick Chadwick’s first over and Huganin being bowled by Tristan shortly afterwards. Chadders continued his immaculate opening spell by having Ord caught behind by Chris. However, this was one of the few catches to be taken on a shocking Allstars fielding afternoon, no fewer than five slip catches being dropped despite most of the team being tried there.

Eglingham withdrew from the local league last year in order to concentrate on friendlies and developing local youngsters, and Maurice had informed me before the game that he would “play some kids”. I was surprised to find out that this meant that at least half the team they fielded was under 16. Given that we couldn’t see their faces under the now-compulsory helmets, some wondered whether the succession of lads coming out to bat were in fact one and the same player.

James Devlin bowled his usual whole-hearted spell down the slope and was rewarded with two scalps, both caught at mid-wicket, and at 70 for 5 we were still in with a chance. Though I produced one of my better efforts with the ball, despite being hit for 6 just over Roger’s head at mid-wicket, our lack of a regular fifth bowler (not to mention our lack of runs) told as Eglingham got home with 13 balls to spare without losing another wicket.

Our disappointment was quickly forgotten, however, as soon as we hit the pub. The Tankerville Arms is a great pub renowned throughout the area for its food, and we returned to Newcastle in good heart, singing along to Terrett’s dubious taste in 80s pop. A lively play of our now-traditional tour game of 21s in the hotel bar rounded off the day in style.

In the beer garden, and at dinner, at the Tankerville Arms.

Sunday saw us head to the north of Northumberland once again, this time to the tiny hamlet of Rock, with many wondering whether we’d all fit on it, or if we’d be graced by the presence of the WWE stars. The ground was once again superb, though we were treated to the slightly surprising sight of full-size sofas and armchairs on the boundary instead of the usual plastic fold-away chairs. These were soon occupied by most of my family who kindly came to support us for the day.

Dave and Roger, elected joint captains for the day, promptly lost the toss and condemned us to field first on another scorching day. We once again got off to a good start, though, as Tristan and Chadders took a wicket each. But Rock are a proper league cricket side with some quality batsmen, and with the last two nights catching up with us, left-hander David Gray (one of four with that surname in the Rock side) and right-hander Tom Parkinson (a dead ringer for Paul Collingwood) put our attack to the sword. Parkinson was particularly ruthless against Devers and me as he raced to a hundred before being retired by his skipper. Following one massive six out of the ground, he helpfully assisted our search for the ball by telling us “it’s in the wood near the tree”.

Having lots of fun in the field at Rock.

Rob and Chadders relax by the pavilion…
..while Devers limbers up in the nets.

We faced a seemingly impossible target of 234 off 25 overs, but had another turbo-charged start as Tristan and Dave smashed 66 off the first eight. Tristan gave Parkinson some of his own medicine as he hit him back over his head for four, prompting his skipper to quip “if you’d had a pie less at tea-time, Tom, you’d have caught that”. But Dave’s departure, caught at wide long-on, signalled the end of a game as a contest: although all the remaining batsmen hit out bravely, the Rock bowlers showed an amazing accuracy at knocking over middle stump.

There was still time for Chadders to deliver the tour’s champagne moment, a huge six over long-on into the adjoining field, and for Ian Fisher, brought in as a reinforcement for the day, to mark his debut in the traditional Allstars fashion with a comical run out, going for a suicidal second run. I briefly gave the gathered Duncan/Smith clan some entertainment with a couple of fours, but it was all over when Maxie became the eighth victim bowled and we had lost by 81 runs.

A couple of sneaky pints followed before the party headed off to Alnmouth station for the train home, to conclude one of the best Allstars tours (if I don’t say so myself) and hopefully one to repeat in 2007. (And we did, and many times again …)