England vs Ireland (vs India)

27 05 2010

The Compulsive Hooker recently had an article published in that august and revered cricketing magazine, the Cricket Sadist’s Monthly (thanks Jrod of Cricket With Balls). As due time has elapsed and the next edition is now due out, we have reproduced the article below. A bit different to our usual output; but we hope you enjoy it nevertheless.

Bradders writes:

I live in Dubai which, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the seven Emirates that make up the U.A.E. I thought I awould relay a story of a fantastically gripping match that occurred in Dubai back in the summer months of 2008. In the way that you do when inviting people to come and see you, fully expecting them never to take you up on the offer, my wife and I had extended an invitation to old work acquaintances to visit us in Dubai. My wife is Irish and so our friends, Seamus and Rosie, being very ‘Irish’, decided to visit us in July when the temperature regularly exceeds 45 degrees Celsius.

On the first day of their stay we went to the beach at their behest. We were soon sweltering in the sun although truth be told, it was actually a milder day with a breeze but still forty degrees. The conversation soon turned to hurling. A primeval, and frankly quite terrifying Irish game, which is a sort of cross between Lacrosse, hockey and rugby. My wife plays and had a hurley (the stick you use) in the car. This resembles a flat and wider hockey stick although it is thinner. Anyway, the hurley was fetched and a demonstration for my benefit was embarked upon.

Tiring of this I promised to show Seamus a proper sport and using an old tennis ball I began to teach him cricket. Seamus, being a good sportsman, quickly got the hang of hitting my gentle full tosses and long hops and declared himself ready for a full game. The Irish I have discovered are nothing if not competitive and so I agreed, placing a wager of 3 Guinness’ on the game.

It was a Friday, the first day of the weekend in Dubai, and so whilst the beach was not empty, due to the heat it was not crowded either. The toss was held (the choice being ‘genies lamp’ or ‘Arabic writing’ on the Dirham coin) and Ireland, in the form of Seamus, winning the toss followed WG Graces famous advice, and batted first.

The stumps were a large blue bin about 5 feet high and a bucket and spade about 15 yards away at the other. Being a lazy Englishman with delusions of being similar to Virender Sehwag at the crease, I decided that we would deal exclusively in boundaries to save ourselves in the heat. A convenient running track on the leg side was decided to be the boundary with the seas edge forming the off side limitations. Straight; a palm tree provided a target and once we had covered other beach cricket laws (edges to an imaginary slip cordon, one hand one bounce, three misses in a row and a ball landing directly on the running track, all constituting valid ways of getting out) we were ready to go. Additionally it was decided that for every 10 runs scored the batsmen needed to alternate hands, batting first right then left.

Ireland, batting first, were all out for 24. Interestingly for someone right handed in everything else, left handed batting appearing to be a great deal easier for Seamus, which apparently is something to do with the hurling grip being reversed. (This could perhaps explain Eoin Morgan’s ability with the reverse sweep). England (in the form of yours truly) then began our innings and notched up 32. Had Daryl Harper been present I suspect the Irish bowlers would have been no-balled off the park for throwing, but he wasn’t, and with the left handed batting proved tricky, the lead was not as substantial as it might have been.

This is where it got interesting. Ireland resuming their innings were well placed at 22-2 when three Indian laborers turned up and without being asked took up fielding positions at gully, point and extra cover. Bearing in mind that Irelands wagon wheel demonstrated scoring shots only on the leg side this was far from ideal and my attempts to move them to more appropriate positions was fruitless. Eventually Ireland got a leading edge and was well caught by one of our fielders close in on the off side. Not realizing perhaps that Ireland were currently only three wickets down, he grabbed the bat and took up residence. After a hasty conference mostly involving an explanation of the declaration law, Seamus declared Ireland’s innings closed. England were left with 36 to win. What we hadn’t taken into account, was the fact that the Indian chap now batting turned out to be a reasonable approximation of Sachin Tendulkar and smashed ours, and the other Indian labourer’s bowling, everywhere. Tirelessly!

He also failed to bat left handed which under the laws of the game he was required to do. When we tried to explain this we were hampered by a language barrier and repeated demonstrations that he was right handed and that was the end of it. Despite the fact that when he eventually was bowled, he had probably scored a triple century, we only awarded 200 runs as every time he failed to use his wrong hand we adjudged him out. His friends then took their turn although with much less success, all three falling for either a duck or 4 solitary runs.

Eventually it was England’s turn to bat once more and I strode to the crease confident that I could score the 36 runs necessary to beat Ireland. I began well, following Ireland’s example of dealing exclusively in leg side shots, before, copping on to this trick, 2 of our fielders moved to square leg and mid on. Still I progressed relatively smoothly before, when on 24, our Sachin Tendulkar alike mimed the fact that he would like a bowl. Passing the bucket and spade, he marched a long way back before turning and running at high speed towards me. Bowling the ball with an arm much less straight than Murali’s, I managed to inside edge the ball through my legs, not scoring a run but keeping it out. Sadly this wasn’t to last as the very next ball I missed it altogether and was comprehensively bowled. With Sachin running gleefully towards me and ripping the bat out of my hands to have a second go himself, Seamus said to me “Looks like you’re all out!” Fair is fair, and so despite having two less wickets than Ireland in his second innings, the game was lost and Ireland had beaten England by 12 runs.

More convincing though was the fact that both Ireland and England had lost by an innings and 160 odd runs to India who was now beginning to flay his friends bowling around the beach once more. Trying not to look like we were violently throwing all our toys out the pram, we quietly but firmly removed the ball and hurley from our victors grasp and walked back to our wives.

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