Ashes 2003

MCC v Munich Aussies

Episode XI, September 6 2003

A delayed clash for the Munich Ashes due to earlier fixture congestion. The very late doors of September – an end of season autumnal affair with almost the air of a friendly social gathering about it. Almost.

Ultimately a rare loss for MCC at the arse-end of an ultra-successful season. The Club winning the 2003 South-German (Bavarian) Cricket League Championship, as well as bagging international cricket tournaments in Lodi (Italy), Zuoz (Switzerland), Bardolino (Italy) and Brunswick Village (England). Rumblings have failed to cease though – seems this was not enough for some.

For the first time ever in the 10+ meetings between the 2 sides, the Munich Australians have managed to string together back-to-back victories, following up last years lucky win with another impressive team effort. Although MCC do still have a large overall lead in the keenly contested annual affair.

In a change of format to the previous season’s „Ashes”, the MCC were allowed to field players of non-English origin to ensure that ‘most’ club members could be involved in one of the season’s most eagerly anticipated and competitive games. It goes without saying that most of the Aussies were of British origin anyway so the new format seemed pretty fair at the end of the day.

However the Munich Australians relished the challenge, coming from a seemingly hopeless batting position at one stage to eventually run away decent winners. Umpires Dave Buggerall and Billy Bowden Bostock did a good job too I am told.

The game started with Aussie captain Bunty Blades winning the toss and surprisingly electing to bat first. Opening the batting for the Aussies were Hazza and McGree. They faced a fired up opening bowling combination from the MCC of Scott and Van Damage. Both bowlers probably produced their best efforts of the season, bowling with a consistent line & length (which particularly for VD was a fine achievement). Maybe his newly acquired magic carpet helped him. Or maybe he has turned all religious on us? Scotty was also bowling with great pace for a man clad in 7 jumpers in the blowy conditions. Scott produced the early breakthroughs, dismissing both openers. Hazza caught well by Sembi in the gully and Rowdy Mcgree caught behind the wicket by Lovell. Rumours are that Mr Mcgree even thought about walking for a split-second.

Andy Hebel was batting at first drop and got off to a promising start to his innings only being dropped once. But things were about to turn sour. Rocket Rod was cheaply caught-behind off the wily bowling of Scott. The big-hitting Roid Grier came to the crease, in his last game for the Aussies before escaping back to Sydney to live. Bizarrely Grier followed in the footsteps of „The Don”, being dismissed for a duck in his last innings of cricket before retirement, bowled by a superb inswinger (best ball of the day?) by The Power for a golden. Then Hebel with his score on 15 got a very straight one from Pramod to be LBW and was sent back to the hatch to get the tea boiling. These were critical wickets for the MCC and the Aussie innings was hanging by a thread at 5 for Dave Bugger all. The MCC were playing the perfect game so far and had reduced the Aussies innings to tatters, with half the batsman out with only 36 runs on the board.

Ringers/Non-Regulars/Old heads Kev B & Jules Kann, both playing their first games for the season, now represented the Aussies at the crease. They saw the innings through to the drinks interval, with the score at 5 for 40. The focus for the Aussies was simply to bat out the remaining overs and try to scramble a reasonably competitive together.

And the plan worked brilliantly! As each new over approached, both batsmen grew in confidence without even the need for a ciggie break – finding the gaps regularly to keep the scoreboard ticking over after the break at a healthy 5 an over. The pressure in the field was also eased a little bit, with the MCC struggling to find a 5th bowler to bowl tightly and make it that little bit difficult for the batsmen. In a crucial match-winning partnership of around 70, the guys saw the score pass 100 before Jules was finally dismissed by Sembi caught behind for 28 valuable runs. Kev B, (a former Pro now plying his trade as a bookmaker at an Aussie Bar near you) was also out not long after, for an excellently composed 46 runs, falling just short of a ‘deserved’ 50. Blades hit a quick 16 not out at the end, to take the final score to 8 for 148 off 40 overs. A great recovery from their dodgy position earlier in the day. For the MCC, Scotty was clearly the best of the bowlers, with figures of 3 for 11 off his 8 overs (4 maidens). Lovell also kept well behind the stumps taking 3 catches, but the fielding by the MCC around the ground fell away in the 2nd half of the innings. Very sloppy indeed Rich. Could it be that VanDamage also dropped a catch…? Certainly a rare event.

The MCC opened the formidable chase with Van Damage & Parry at the crease. The opening bowlers for the Aussies were their footy stars Jules & Nathan. In a repeat of the first innings, ball dominated bat early – due to the great line & length of the opening bowling combination. Jules got the critical wicket of Van Damage for a duck in the 2nd over of the innings, with a great catch by Kev B at 2nd slip. Was the game over already, with the MCC’s star batsman back in the pavvy blaming the blinding low-level sun? Jules was rewarded again for his great line shortly later, getting new batsman Pramod trapped in front for 0. Soon it became 3 for 10, with Nathan striking at the other end, to dismiss Sembi for only 4 runs. Lovell joined Parry at the crease and managed to stay together for a while and see off the tiring opening bowlers. However they had tremendous trouble in scoring runs, with Parry in particular frustrating everybody with the number of times of „playing & missing” (or was he just swatting flys?). The pair made it through to the drinks interval, but the score was only 3 for 29 off 20 overs. An aggressive attack was needed by the MCC after the break, as the required runrate approached around 6 an over. A few good overs after the resumption did give the MCC a glimmer of hope with Blades straying to Lovell’s legs. But it was soon thwarted somewhat by the continued tight bowling of the Aussies. The score was around 50 when Parry was finally dismissed for 18 runs off the bowling of Blades. Dangerman Dan (no6) came and went, dismissed cheaply after being caught on the boundary off McGree trying to go for quick runs. MCC’s last hope in Lovell had progressed nicely to 33 well-made runs, before the run-rate pressure became too much. In trying to dispatch the ball to the boundary, he was stumped off the bowling of Gligorov. Glig really enjoyed that one…Rocket Rod doing the honours with the gloves. Very tidy.

The MCC battled out the remaining overs, but were never really a chance to win after that. Power made a useful 21 runs. Hebel chipped in with a couple of wickets, with the final score of the MCC reaching 8 for 122 off their 40 overs. As a result, the Aussies win by 26 runs. Best bowler for the Aussies was pro earnibbler Julian Kann, finishing with the incredibly miserly figures of 2 for 4 off his 8 overs (4 maidens). To go with his 28 runs, possibly a man of the match performance.

Later on a lot of the participants headed down to the Aussie bar „The Outland”, to join Grier in his farewell party & celebrate/commiserate the earlier events well into the night. And we will all be looking forward to next year’s match, where the Aussies will be gunning for the hat trick.