Taufkirchen are a new team in Germany and given the difficulties associated with setting up a club in DE, they have found a very pleasing spot. Much like the Hirsch it is set in a football pitch surrounded by a running track, but benefits from a viewing stand at one end. There are other things going on in this sports complex and it was noticeable that pretty much every MCC car that arrived was strategically parked in from of the beach volleyball area, despite being furthest from the cricket. It seemed to be ladies day…
Everyone assembled on time (which the skipper always appreciates) and difficult decisions were taken. With a twelve man squad and two games to play, someone was going to have to score for the first game. Craig had already indicated that he would willing sit out the second game, which helped make life easier. For the first game it was Imti who was rested, for no other reason than there was more competition for bowlers than batsman. Seam-up bowling being the most prolific.
The side for the first game consisted of Maxi, Mucca, Varun, Ankit, Sundeep, Argha, Waqas, Vishv, Mishra, JD and Craig.
The pitch was the expected wooden boards and carpet, bowling from one end. Taufkirchen won the toss and elected to bat.
It is a common tactic of mine to bowl a trio of openers when bowling from one end. The logic being that all three get a longer breather between overs whilst remaining warm ,but it is more testing for the batsmen to adjust to each in rotation than it is when in tandem.
Waqas, Ankit and Mishra were given the responsibility and although they each bowled reasonably well, the run rate was high. Taufkirchen are used playing tennis ball cricket, which seems to breed a confidence in swinging the bat. Just like a tennis ball, the white ball in the bright sunny conditions barely swings and the wooden boards bring very little movement on pitching. The boundaries are very small, combined with fielding restrictions, it is absolutely made to make a batman feel good. After 7 overs Taufkirchen had 56 runs.
Mucca accounted for the top three batters. The best was a screamer taken low down at cover by Varun, this removing their most dangerous batsman for 16. Mucca also bowled the #2, but the most fortuitous wicket was his run out of their #3, who was motoring along before Mucca palmed a wild return on to the stumps by mistake. The batsman, instead of running through, retreated back beyond the crease to protect himself from being hit by the ball. Run out! Another run out and two wickets for Mishra and three for Ankit saw the position bowled out in 20 overs for 157.
The calculation was that 10 boundaries made it a run-a-ball, plus whatever extras were gifted to us. This would be what was required.
Maxi and Mucca opened proceedings. Maxi played one of the shots of the day, piercing the off side with a beautifully timed cover drive that went all along the floor to the boundary. It is a very rare thing to say that a ball runs all the way to the boundary when hit along the ground in DE as the grass is kept so long. How sweetly must that have been timed?
The celebrations were kept short however as Maxi called for a single that was never on. Mucca caught between loyalty and reality was slow to respond with his “No!” And Maxi’s journey ended with a walk to the boundary.
Mucca continued in aggressive form, whilst Varun came and went for 6, adjudged LBW. Ankit also left early, his footwork deserting him as he was bowled for 2. Sundeep batted well for his 19, another LBW, though this one was clearly going over the top. Argha was another run out victim, 6 runs. Vishv had to swing the bat as the run rate steepled. A couple of boundaries and another run out. By the time Mishra walked out at #9 hope was a distant flicker. He fell doing the only thing that he could do, trying to hammer the ball to the boundary, caught for 0. JD and Barrett concluded the innings when the former missed a straight yorker, first up. MCC all out for 118 with an over to go.
The second game was a repeat of the first in many ways. Taufkirchen won the toss and elected to bat. MCC fielding a side that included Imtiaz and excluded Craig. The mid-game discussion was about taking pace off of the ball when bowling and stopping the soft dismissals with the bat.
There is no doubt in my mind (This is where I switch to the first person) that we have a fantastic side this season. MCC is a very transient side. People come and go every year and so every season is a period of readjustment. 2020 has been exasperating, due to the epidemic effecting us all. We managed to squeeze a couple of indoor training sessions in before lockdown and here we met several new faces.
The talk amongst those of us who have been at the club for a while was that we thought we had picked up some seriously handy players this year. Even better, some really good clubmen.
Consequently the mid-match chat included a few words about how we needed to turn this side in to a match-winning team. We haven’t had much cricket, but we hadn’t felt the warm glow of victory yet and we needed it. It becomes addictive.
Apart from Imti, the more gentle paced of our seamers opened up. Imti, Mucca and Sundeep bowling in rotation. Imti, frustrated from being left out in the first game bowled some lovely line and length balls, but whenever he strayed he was punished with the treatment his predecessors in the first match suffered. His two overs went for 21, but you couldn’t honestly say he did anything wrong, it was just that they like the ball coming on. Mucca struck in his second over, but was expensive, his three overs costing 37 – 1. Sundeep had learned from the first match and was concentrating on good lines plus variations. He was the first to strike a few balls in to his first, bowling their #2. Sundeeps’ three overs went for a relatively frugal 21 -1.
It was the introduction of Argha and his spin after six overs that really slowed the taufkirchen charge. The fielding restrictions removed, Argha wasted no time in claiming his first with his fourth ball. Bowling their dangerous #4. He then removed their opener, who lofted a catch to Imti. Argha finished all four of his allotted overs with 20 – 2.
Believing that pace off was working, the skipper tried his arm, bowling his quarry in his second over. 2 overs 14 – 1. Meanwhile, Waqas was upping the heat and he had clearly recognised the need for a restrictive line and length. His three overs were razor-sharp. He clean bowled #6 with a beauty, finishing three overs 15 -1. Mishra was on for the last over, three wickets in had. His first two balls resulted in removal of #7 & #9 one caught Vishv the other clean bowled. A scrawled single off the last ball saw Mishra collecting a wild throw but athletically diving to complete the run out. Taufkirchen again all out, this time for 153.
Things were starting to get a little fraught at times, with all manner of weird hold-ups occurring from the opposition. Anything from drinks being brought on for batsmen who had only been batting for three overs, shoelaces coming undone, requests for players to change their clothing as it did not match the rest of the team, requests for hats not to be used a run-up markers (even though this is the advice whilst umpires as unable to take them)… You name it, the day was hard-going.
It was not made better by a clear run-out not being given by the partisan square-leg umpire. Then on leaving the field we found that the scorebooks did not add up. That is to say that the MCC book, scored by Owen Davies who had turned up to support his club, tallied perfectly. The Taufkirchen attempt didn’t tally and had them 4 runs further on. The umpire, recognising that a tax inspector would only be happy with one of the two sets of accounts opted to trust in ours and the score remained on 153. Tempers were fraying and it was getting late in the day.
The batting line-up was rejigged a little, Maxi opening with Vishv. A steady start was made, but boundaries were not forthcoming. After 6 overs 28 runs were on the board, but no wickets. Vishv, recognising that a rise in tempo was needed started to chance his luck. The luck never came and he was caught on 8.
Varun took charge as soon as he arrived at the crease. Off the mark immediately he then miss-timed a six over deep mid-on. The next ball was a full toss dispatched way over the leg side boundary. Another six soon followed over point, the much needed run injection had arrived and the game was on!
Seeing where the runs were coming from, Maxi was keen to get Varun back on strike, but his subsequent run out meant that the impetus was soon lost and Varun’s short stay had yielded 28 when it had threatened much more.
Maxi was caught soon after and the scoreboard registered 82 – 3 – 12. Plenty left to do. Mucca and Ankit were keeping things steady, but the rate was creeping up again. Cleaned up for 16, Mucca departed and the game was teetering on the brink of unachievable. Imtiaz marched to the crease in determined fashion.
Six (Dead straight drive), Six, (Hoofing great hit over deep midwicket), four (Disappointing in the circumstances), four, single, single, bowled. 22 runs in ten balls from Imtiaz was an inspirational sight. He wanted to make the point and he made it. “DON’T DROP ME FROM THE SIDE AGAIN!”
Waqas was sent in for some more quick damage, but a run-a-ball three was his return after being caught trying for more. We were back amongst the more conventional batsmen.
Sundeep met with Ankit and they resolved to continue the chase. Boundaries were hard to find but the two picked gaps in the field and the running was excellent. As we neared the total required the opposition made regular request for score updates. The pressure was now on both sides. A ragged ball down the leg side visibly crossed back of the running track which formed the boundary, but the fielder claimed that this was not four. Play was suspended as the stretched nerves on both sides broke in to angry exchanges. Confirmation of the boundary edge had been requested before a ball was bowled at the start of the day and the resulting answer was unequivocally that it was the back of the running track. Yet the umpire sided with the home teams explanation that this was only for the area where the viewing stand was, not for the end behind the keeper. Unbelievably only one run was given. This would surely be crucial to the outcome of the match as MCC needed 18 from the last two overs.
SIX! Straight back over the bowlers head, the perfect response from Ankit. More runs and the final over left us needing 8 to win. Sundeep facing, attacks the straight boundary, but only a single. Ankit back on strike, SIX! Heaving it over the mid-wicket boundary. One to win and the blower shoves it down leg for a wide. Job done!
I was asked who was man of the match, directly after the game. It didn’t seem the time to think of such things, as this was a team win and there had been many crucial individual contributions, from Arghas’ 4 overs to check their innings, Waqas and Sundeep too. Varuns’ cameo, followed by Imtis’, Sundeep again in holding things together at the end. Ankits’ resolve and determination to make the win real just about pips it and I’m pleased to says so. He’s been a clubman from the moment he arrived and he takes his responsibility to the team seriously. That makes it all the more deserved.
We do have a lot of very good players in this club, but it’s relishing the pressure moments and knowing you can come through them, that makes a winning side. We all felt that we were good enough to beat any side, but we needed this win to start the engine.
Take a bow MCC 1’s. That was a terrific effort.