On Saturday, May 7, the Munich Cricket Club XI Sekunden headed to their Englischer Garten pitch to face off against the Freising Falcons. Because it was the first match of Cricket I have ever played in, logically it is up to me to report on the proceedings. I encourage the reader to regard any inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or apparent contradictions to reality as a product of their own failings. It certainly isn’t my fault.
Practice the day before had been canceled due to rain, and the morning’s cloud-filled sky left us wondering if we had any chance to complete our matches. (Did you know you must still show, even if you feel it might be too rainy? This has been your Cricket-PSA for the day.) When the rain fizzled out at about 11:30, MCC got their warm-ups in laying out the flicx.
Though everyone’s weather apps showed rain approaching, it wasn’t raining right then, and we were able to proceed. MCC started in the field after Captain Owen lost the toss (I was told this was to be expected). We tried to ignore the damp grass and soft ground, and focus on taking wickets.
P. Scott (4-0-19-0) and S. Saini (3-0-22-0) started the bowling attack. Though they bowled solidly, giving only a few extras, the Freising opening batters, S.K. Gundabioina (64) and Shashidharan HV (30) played well. After the first few overs, they were able to start hitting the occasional boundary, and the runs were climbing. Though the rain remained light, the water already on the ground was not helping us, as the wet ball was hard to catch, and the batters took advantage of a couple drops. After the 10th over, the umpire had us change the ball to a dry one. Then it touched the ground and was wet again.
Our breakthrough finally came as Freising reached lucky number 111. V. Gattinger (4.1-0-35-3) managed a c&b in the 15th over when the batter gently bounced the ball off the base of the bat, right back into Veith’s hands. On the next over he bowled, Gattinger took another two wickets, bowling the set batter with a slow, full delivery; and then causing their replacement to hit it very high to deep fine leg, where LLLL was waiting and took an impressive catch. Gattinger was unable to complete his hat-trick, but after the first high-scoring partnership was broken, MCC managed to slow the scoring down. S. Sadar (3-0-21-0), in addition to bowling, was able to get a run out a few overs later, and in the final over R. Foster* and V. Viswanath both took one as well. V. Seshadri (2-0-23-0) and B. Erhardt (4-0-40-0) rounded out the bowling for MCC. In the end, Freising finished 160/6.
After that solid score, the Sekunden were excited to chase. Our opening pair of S. Sadar (8) and V. Viswanath (3) were able to warm the pitch up, but were both caught in the 2nd over. After A. Iyer (0) was dismissed with a controversial stumping (after the ball was caught by the keeper, Abhishek went to adjust his stance and apparently should have done it more carefully) S. Saini (25) and O. Davies (25) were able to establish a solid partnership and decided to share the honor of highest scorer. Apparently in Freising they practice lobbing the ball from 15m, because twice this game the fielders managed to hit the stumps from about that distance. With that amount of skill, they ran out Shivam in the 10th and Owen in the 12th, and MCC was left at 91. We were, theoretically, still in with a chance. Unfortunately, the lower order batters were unable to close. V. Seshadri (2) was unable to get settled and D. Llewellyn (0) was run out without facing a ball. B. Erhardt (6, n.o.) was the anchor for the back-end, but the runs were slow to come. The American in his first innings, R. Foster (3), was able to avoid a duck, but also ate up a large number of deliveries before being bowled. P. Scott (0) was caught and V. Gattinger (0) was bowled to end things for MCC in 17.5 overs, leaving us with 113/10.
Between matches, we continued to watch the skies for rain, but things were actually looking slightly better in that regard; some small patches of blue were even spotted. So, with the sun “shining”, Owen managing to win the second toss, and being able to actually field a full team (Varun had to leave after the first match, but Prabal stepped up to complete the team), we were feeling great! What could stop us now?
We found out what in rather short order. V. Viswanath (3) was the first to fall from our side (to a run out), when he again faced his dreaded foe, the 2nd over. P. Subedi (7) was able to knock the ball around for quite a while, allowing S. Saini (11) to get settled. Unfortunately, Prabel was bowled in the 7th over, and Shivam (who again had the high score for MCC) joined him on the sidelines during the next. Well, as you might imagine when the high scorer is just into the double-digits, wickets fell regularly after that. O. Davies (0), who had done so well in the first match, was bowled for a duck. D. Llewellyn (2) managed to face a ball this time, before being given an lbw which, if we had a review system, would certainly have been checked. S. Sadar (6) had a solid knock, defending well while facing a large number of balls. B. Erhardt (8) again anchored the back-end well, coming in at 7 but staying until the end. He also hit the only boundary of the innings, a solid hit to deep cover that rolled to the fence. Sameer was finally stopped by a catch at mid-wicket. His replacement R. Foster (0), was bowled for a golden duck, as is to be expected of an American. P. Scott (1) managed to fend off the hat-trick, but was bowled not too long after. V. Gattinger (9) was not in for long, but managed to hit well and hard while he was. He even got a second chance at life after being bowled on a free-hit ball. A. Iyer (0) only had the chance to face 1 ball before Bene was caught, ending the innings after 17.2 overs, and giving the Sekundens a score of 64/10.
We knew this was going to be a tough total to defend, and felt that our only chance was to take some early wickets. P. Scott (4-0-25-1) and S. Saini (4-0-19-1) again led the bowling attack. Although they kept the batters in check at first, it took until the end of the 5th over for us to take the first wicket, when the ball was hit straight to Capt. Owen, hitting him square in the chest. The third batter was the Falcon’s wicket keeper, who liked to chatter quite a bit. The Sekundens were happy to meet him at his level, and kept their spirits high with some friendly banter whenever he was at the crease. It apparently worked, because after facing 7 balls he hit it to Veith, and Shivam took him for a duck. But, while we were taking out their other batters, S.K. Alur (42) was facing more than 64% of the balls being bowled, and was using them to great effect, including 5 boundaries. He and S. Silvaraman (3) managed to finish the Falcon’s innings, getting to 65/2 in just 9.5 overs.
While we rolled up the flicx and drank a few beers, we reflected on what could be learned from these matches. Perhaps that we should work more on our catching, or maybe lobbing it at the stumps from 15m out, or even that there are some young players with great potential on the MCC team. Those are all great, but I think the lesson that hit me the hardest, the thing that will really stick with me going forward, is that when I hit the ball well, I should probably not just watch it, but actually run.
*Not Fisher, whatever the scorecard might tell you.