Carlton U14 Sizzlers 171-7 (H Barrett 39no; C Kentish 25no; F Kentish & R Ledingham 20no) bt Edinburgh Barbarians 123-9 (H Barrett 2-11, C Kentish 2-12)
It always seems a shame that the junior league season takes a break when July comes around: the weather is warm, and junior players are off school with time on their hands. So this year, we decided to do something about it, and invited Gala to visit Grange Loan on the second Monday evening of the holiday for a friendly game, accompanied by a Sausage Sizzle. How could anyone resist the lure of a sunny evening at Grange Loan, mildly competitive cricket and sausages? “Sunny evening” is an exaggeration (or maybe simply a fib), but the other two definitely existed.
Sadly, about 24 hours before the game, Gala found that the lure of summer holidays had proved too great for their players (or at least their families), and realised that they could not raise a team. A day of emailing and texting junior cricket contacts across Edinburgh, and some ruthless recruitment in Carlton’s nets (while watching the 1st XI playing Aberdeenshire in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup) revealed that there was indeed an appetite for friendly under-14 cricket in Edinburgh in July. With huge thanks to Jamie Grant at Grange, a competitive-looking team was assembled from Grange, Watsonians, Edinburgh South, and a strangely-familiar opening batter, spinner & captain. One of the risks of recruiting teams at the last minute is that they may end up with not-11 players, and so it was today: the Edinburgh Barbarians numbered 13; so a 24-over game was agreed, and the Carlton Sizzlers quickly recruited Harry Barrett, from Edinburgh South, to make this is a pan-Edinburgh game.
An order of play was negotiated, I think by observing that the Sizzlers were more quorate than the Barbarians, and should therefore take to the field first. More importantly, the Carlton barbecue was wheeled out, and a selection of sausages were set a-sizzling on top of it. Ewan (the strangely-familiar opening batter) and the very-familiar figure of Grange’s Hood strode out to open the Barbarians’ innings. Kyle opened the Sizzlers’ bowling with some canny range-finders. Unfortunately, Hood also found his range quickly, and clattered a couple of 4s. In the very next over however, Kyle got his revenge, catching Hood impressively at short cow off Fergus’ bowling. It was a truly magnificent catch: Kyle used more parts of his body to complete it than are usually recommended in the training guides, indeed more than I have ever seen used in one go before. However, a catch is always good, and that was a particularly notable one. Kyle’s match quickly got even better: after giving up a boundary to Ewan, he trapped Grange’s dangerous Rajagopal LBW, and sent him back having caused only a minor inconvenience to the scorer. Ewan and Grange’s Hussey settled in to regroup, scoring regularly but not very quickly against good overs from Fergus, Mark & Max, until Ewan retired off 20 balls for a sparkling 21. Grange’s Grant replaced Ewan. The pace of the innings slowed, as the batters found it hard to score off Mark, Max & Shaun. Charlie came on to bowl, and winkled out Hussey for a fine 20. Grant was joined by Watsonians’ Hogg, and the two batted carefully through overs from Shaun, Charlie, Dougie & Robert.
At the end of the 16th over therefore, the Barbarians had reached 86 runs for the loss of only 3 wickets. It’s always hard to judge a par score on a damp Edinburgh-evening grass pitch, but a little over 5-an-over, with 9 wickets in hand, felt like quite a strong position from which to build an imposing total. However, the pace of the innings changed, and wickets began to fall with some regularity. In the very next over, Fraser had Grange’s May caught by a tumbling Harry; off the first ball of his next over, Fraser ran out Grange’s Si-Griffiths. Harry came on to bowl and induced an edge to have Edinburgh South’s McLeod smartly caught by Rory behind the stumps. Charlie bamboozled Watsonians’ Khan, who was looking dangerous; Harry returned to clean-bowl Grange’s Millar; and Max twirled a 3rd over in which he had Grange’s Welsh caught by Shaun. This brought Ewan back from retirement to face the final ball, off which he stole an anticlimactic single. The Barbarians had reached 123-9, probably below par for a 24-over game.
The interval chat: how good were those sausages! Players, spectators, umpires and scorer tucked in enthusiastically.
Shaun & Kyle padded up and marched purposefully out to begin the Sizzlers’ reply. Khan opened the bowling, only to find Shaun in a brutal mood: bang, bang, bang – three boundaries crashed off his bat. Rajagopal continued from the other end, and restricted the batters to exchanging singles. Khan continued, and kept the batters quiet, with only 4 byes added to the score. Shaun decided to speed things up: bang, a six! Two balls later, Rajagopal bowled him, trying to repeat the shot, but he’d scored a quick-fire 19 off 10 balls to get the innings off to a fine start. Max joined Kyle, and the game settled down for a couple of overs, until Max was smartly run out trying to turn a single into a double. Two balls later, Kyle missed a straight one and was bowled.The new pair of Harry and Fraser started circumspectly, a mere 2 runs off their first over. The next over, they exchanged singles, then Harry launched a huge 6 over long off. Not to be outdone, Fraser crunched two fine 4s, then Harry really got going: 4, 6! 6! A new over: 6! 4! Having completely changed the complexion of the match in 10 balls, Harry generously retired to let other batters have a turn. The Barbarians were 93-3 in the middle of the 11th over, and in complete control of the game. Charlie joined Fraser for a few balls, before Fraser retired on 20 runs. Dougie came in briefly and top-edged a steepling catch to short mid wicket. Mark joined Charlie, and this pair calmly knocked off the remaining runs. As it was a friendly game, the Sizzlers had 4 batters unused, and the Barbarians 3 eager bowlers, we agreed to carry on until either all Sizzlers had batted, or all Barbarians had bowled two overs. Mark helpfully nicked the very next ball to the keeper to allow Isaac to come in … and Isaac kindly nicked the very next ball to the keeper to allow Fergus to come in (although whether bequeathing a hat-trick ball to your younger brother is actually kind is a matter for debate). Fergus however was undaunted, defended the hat-trick ball stoutly, and gradually grew in confidence, unleashing some proper cricket shots. Charlie powered on to 20 balls and retirement, and Robert came to the crease. These two found it hard to score, and eventually the pressure told, and Robert was run out attempting to move the score along. Rory came out to the middle, and he and Fergus clattered their way entertainingly to another 30 runs in the gathering gloom. The Sizzlers had long-since won the game, but the final reckoning was 171-7. Everyone left the pitch in high spirits to finish off the remaining sausages.
That was a lot of fun: an entertaining game of cricket, and the discovery that there is indeed an appetite for junior cricket in July.
At the end of the day, cricket was the winner.Thank you very much to loads of people: Caroline, Frances, Karen & Kerry for delicious sausages; Alasdair for preparing a grass strip for us; Paul for umpiring patiently; but most importantly to Jamie Grant, and players from four Edinburgh clubs, who turned out at short notice and enjoyed a game of cricket.