As last year, our fixture against the Carib Beer XI was slated as an opportunity to bring together former Dodgers and other friends against a usually weak opposition. As last year, also, the opposition turned out not to be quite as weak as expected, but the Friends Reunited part of the evening was extremely successful as we were able to welcome back talented regulars Bilal, Tim and Komal plus say hello again to our equally talented guest players Aamir, Peretz and Abbas.
Dodgers agreed to let Carib bat first, in view of the fact that they had even fewer players at the Regent's Park ground for 6pm than we did, and we opened our attack with the experienced combination of Chairman John and Peretz (joint age: 131 years). Despite the artificial strip and extremely short off-side boundary, our initial overs proved very economical, and the same discipline marked the arrival of Tim and Bilal for first change. Stand-in captain Mike D rotated the bowling nicely, with Abbas, Aamir and Ralph all contributing to a tight performance. Yet three of the top four Carib batsmen had powered their way to 25* retirement and our extras total had gifted them a further 30, so that we reached the half-way mark facing a rather ominous target of 137 from our 18 overs.
Komal and Mike Mc started smartly with 11 off the first, but Komal was soon surprised by one that stuck in the pitch and holed out to mid-wicket. He was replaced by Bilal, who swiftly reminded us of his exceptional talent with bat as well as ball, cracking four boundaries (including a six) on his way to a rapid retirement. Abbas showed similar intent (two fours and two sixes) before being bowled, while Jatinder was unfortunate to pick out one of the best Carib fielders with a lofted straight drive to long-off. Mike Mc anchored the innings securely from the other end and retired with a well-earned 25*, but Ralph, Mike and Aamir all perished in their effort to drive the run rate back up again. This left Tim to perform a glorious cameo of 12 off 6 balls, including a majestic long-handled six over long-on, before he too was dismissed by a straight one and replaced by John. The departure of Peretz to a first-ball yorker brought Bilal back out to the middle for a last-gasp attempt to chase down the Carib total, but even his heroic 16 off 7 balls (including a spectacular six off the last) left us 4 runs adrift of our target. A close finish to a most enjoyable game.
Man of the Match votes: Bilal 10, Abbas 1