–Report by Morgan Times Special Correspondent
Thanks to SCCC: On behalf of all the SCCC veterans, Morgan Times would like to thank the SCCC (particularly Shahab and co.) for organizing this event at short notice and making this a wonderful experience. We hope that the thrashing you received on the field will not be taken too seriously. We look forward to a follow on match later this summer after an extended period of intense healing on both sides — for us it will be our sore muscles, while for you, we appreciate the need to recover from a traumatic defeat at the quivering hands the “really old guys”. And now the gory details….
It was near perfect weather — the veterans had shown up on time (many of them in whites!), the outfield was full of grass (now that Bombay is in India, sounds like no one mows the outfield anymore!), TR, Shrikanth and Pradeep were tiring themselves out at the nets until someone reminded them that there is still a match to play — all in all a perfect setting for a wonderful game of cricket. On paper, the veterans team appeared extremely well balanced. The big question was about how much of that on-paper strength would translate into noteworthy performance on the field. Surprisingly, this potentially fictitious on-paper strength was enough to scare many of the current SCCC A and B players, who signed up but didn’t show up. While the SCCC veterans had 11-13 players, Shahab the SCCC captain was left scrambling to make a 11, thanks to many of the SCCC A and B players who “chickened out”. After some intense maneuvering, and the arrival of the “eternally late” Ram, the teams were formed, the SCCC team won the toss and elected to bat.
SCCC opened the innings with, “tough on wides while umpiring” Fazil and “powered by Malboro” Rajesh . The veterans chose to open the bowling with Naresh and Bharath. Man, this guy, Naresh, is a miracle. He hasn’t bowled in years, never cared to even bowl at the nets this morning, and yet was bang on target from the very first ball. He looked the same, not an ounce of extra fat, not a sign of rustiness, even his pants looked the same, except they had shrunk and now become shorts, and developed a yellow tinge. His line and length was immaculate and understandably he gave absolutely nothing away. He bowled about 5 overs in all, 4 in his first spell and one at the death, giving away a total of 5 runs for 2 wickets.
At the other end, the veterans started off with Bharath, who politely turned down subsequent overs after a first spell of 2 overs. Kiran, the veteran’s captain donned the keeping gloves with ease and rotated his bowlers so well that everyone including himself got a chance to bowl. Clearly, this was rotation at its best and true to its word. His philosophy was very simple, if you have started to bowl and still look like you can stand upright then you are good to continue bowling. After Bharath’s two over spell, Killer Krish was brought in. He promptly sent in a few sizzling shooters to announce his arrival. The more shoulder he put into the delivery, the greater the skidding effect. After a fiery spell of two overs, Kiran decided it was time to give the SCCC batsmen a respite from the intense sizzle. In fact, they were so unnerved by that spell that Krish had to be walked off the field and placed in charge of baby-sitting duties. He was then replaced by Altaf and Naresh was replaced by TR. Once again, two veterans who found their rhythm right way were steadily applying the breaks on the SCCC innings. Throughout the SCCC innings, the veterans kept a tight leash on the run rate. Runs came in a trickle, barring some fireworks from Ram who led a charmed life and Puneet, who struck a few blows at the very end.
The highlight of the SCCC innings was the fielding of Sourav — SCCC’s Spiderman. He grabbed three truly brilliant catches as substitute fielder. Its almost like he spins a web around any ball the travels in his vicinity and before your realize the ball is safely in his hands. This kid has some special powers or he has developed a strange knack of strapping welcro to his hands as and when needed. His entertaining display of fielding was brought to a premature end after Shahab politely reminded him that he better cool off if he has any aspirations of bowling during the veterans innings.
In the latter part of the SCCC innings, Babu essayed a brief, but impressive cameo as the keeper. Wickets fell from time to time and the SCCC innings wound up at 96 for 15 (the last 6 wickets can be attributed to Ammi (who was out about 4 times) and Puneeet (2)) in 40 overs.
SCCC Scores: (96 all out in 40 overs; Puneet 15, Ram 9, Shahab 8, Souav 3, Fazil 2, Rajesh 6, Ammi 2; Lbyes 2, byes 1, wides – 13);
The veterans opened with Bharath and Shrikanth. The strategy was for Shrikanth to steady one end while Bharath slowly but surely unleashes his conventional “shock and awe” therapy. The SCCC opening bowlers Puneet and Rajeev had meanwhile worked out a strategy of their own. While Puneet would focus on moving the ball both ways, Rajeev would interspere his gentle TLC (tender loving care) deliveries with some deceptive full tosses and super-slower ones. As it turned out the shock factor was certainly there, though one of an unintended kind, as an “halwa” of a delivery from Rajeev, crashed into Bharath stumps. The veterans were clearly off to a bad start.
Altaf and Shrikanth steadied things and started to step up the run rate. In fact, emboldened by the fact that his loose pants (see Sidelights at the end of this report) were now held firmly in place in the midst of protective gear, Altaf launched into some exciting stroke play and just when he looked certain to tear the SCCC bowlers to shreds he was caught by Puneet of Sam. At the other end Shrikanth continued to score at a steady pace. SCCC picked up three more wickets that of Shrikanth, Pran and TR and the veterans were at 50+ at the half way mark. Shrikanth top-scored for the veterans with a fine knock of 21. Then, Radha and Pradeep came together for an entertaining partnership that carried the veterans score close to the winning total. Finally, a tired Pradeep was stumped for a well made 17. Radha scored a fine 20 before he ran himself out just like old times. Then, Kiran, Bharath and Babu had a final go at the SCCC bowlers in the remaining overs. By this time the match was already won, but overs remained, our statisticians were off the hook, and everyone sat back and enjoyed some cool fireworks, particularly from Bharath.
Babu made an ambitious attempt to challenge Ammi Amarnath, and was successfully out a handful of times, but was unable to meet Ammi’s consistency and precision in getting out. For SCCC, Ashok enjoyed a good day behind the stumps and was instrumental in a couple of stumpings and run outs, while Puneet bowled 9 of the 40 overs in an attempt to restrain the veterans. Fazil, Sam, Ram, Rajesh, Shahab, Imran, and Sourav formed the rest of the SCCC bowling attack, which was tortured by the really old guys.
98 in 33 overs; Bharath 3, Shrikanth 21, Altaf 9, Pran 7, TR 6, Radha 20, Pradeep 17, Kiran 5, Wides 6, LByes 4;
ProCricket: Did you ever think that you could play cricket in the US and get paid for it? Well, that dream of yours can now become a reality and the man you need to play up to us none other than our near and dear, Laks Sampath, SCCC’s answer to Jagmohan Dalmiya. While speaking with MT correspondent earlier this week, Laks was repeatedly interrupted by frenetic aspirants vying for a berth in the procricket circuit. For more info, check out http://www.procricket.com. For fast-track access to Laks, please make a generous donation to the MT Global Peace Fund.
My God, where’s my guard!: Naresh padded up to open the innings with Bharath, then realized that he didn’t have abdomen guards to wear. He thought for while, (and even looked around to see if there might be anyone willing to share — we are not sharing, nana-nana-naa-naa, you guys are mean!) — and decided it ain’t worth it, despite the intense desire of the veterans to win.
What do I catch?: Ram skied a Radha delivery hard and high to the deep mid-wicket area. Altaf covered a lot of ground and managed to get completely under the ball. However, he was caught in an unusual predicament and left with only an unfortunatte split second to make a decision. Years of not having taken a catch had taken its toll on this veteran. He was so excited at the thought of latching on to one, that his pants started to drop! He could hold on to his pants and save himself the embarrassment or kiss his pants goodbye and latch on to the catch. To the dissappointment of the other veterans, he chose to grab his pants over what might have resulted in a truly outstanding catch.
Look me in the eye, wil’ ya: The Ram-Sam duo while at the crease were heard discussing whether to resort to the age old SCCC trick of eye contact for singles as opposed to the more practical yet relatively tactless “calling for runs”. Ram reminded Sam, “With your helmet on, I can’t see your eyes!”.
Can I raise my finger!: Ammi Amarnath broke all previous records for the number of times one could be out in an innings. He was first caught, then bowled, then caught, then bowled, then bowled….until umpire Brotherman cried, “Please stick your pads in front, I want to have the pleasure of giving someone out!”.
Match fixing: No match involving cricketers from the Indian subcontinent is complete without cries of match fixing. To be fair to the accusers, there were a number of players seen talking on cell phones while right on the field!! (Babu and Sam to name a couple). When asked about this the veterans skipper countered, “Boss, gimme a break, did you see the number of times Babu and Ammi got out? Do you think we can ever fix that? That’s the kind of rare talent (or lack thereof!) that even money can’t buy!” (One of the players who was seen talking on the cell phone, later confessed over margaritas that he was actually convincing his wife that he was at work)