The day of the Baabaa’s first ever away match started in fine style with everyone actually turning up at the ferry terminal in due time for departure and all equipped with a passport whose photo bore some vague resemblance to the person clutching it. As there were only ten Old Baabaas making the expedition in the first place, it was of some relief that the comedy of sailing away a man down was thus avoided, and so the full complement installed themselves in the comfy seats and tucked into coffee and Marmite sandwiches, or in Pippers’ case imitated an MCC member post-lunch.
At the ground, skipper for the day Chizzers took one look at the coconut matting and the lightning fast gravel outfield and in the style of Nasser Hussain at The Gabba decided to have a bowl. And in the style of Steve Waugh’s mob, the Finnish oppo started to relentlessly pile on the runs. It was an afternoon of hard yakka in the field for the Baabaas with the Old Boys constantly playing tip and run in the infield and scoring them in singles, while every time an Old Barbarian ventured from his station on the rope he was pushed back by a cunningly placed boundary. Bevvers and Garners launched gamely into the attack, Bevvers bowling tight and testing fast-mediums in a style that was Hadlee-esque in everything but the facial furniture, while Garners showed a real enthusiasm to get after the batsmen with his chin music, beating a tattoo on the middle of the pitch. Unfortunately he got his hands mixed up and mostly hit the middle of the pitch with his front foot, but the legitimate deliveries sent down by both opening bowlers proved difficult to get off the square. With the batsmen using their knowledge of the pitch conditions to score almost exclusively behind square, Chizzers decided to take the speed off the ball by bringing on the swing-and-wobble twins Vickers and Bummers. The move worked, with the ball now being dispatched to various boundary points all around the wagon wheel, and not only fine leg. The pace was slowed down even more by the grenadiers Koggers and Robbers, but after a couple of overs of that filth everyone agreed they’d be better off drinking G&T, so a mid-innings break was called.
The opening bats had had enough and decided to extend the break and send in the Finns’ deckchair brigade, a move which the Baabaas countered by bringing on their on-loan supersub Poppers who returned the middle order whence they had come. That done, the Old Boys batsmen returned to clipping Bevvers, Garners and Bummers around the ground, so the Baabaa fielders decided to switch from playing cricket to playing musical statues instead, clinging motionless to the boundary as the catching chances landed a few yards inside the rope. Eventually the bowlers made the breakthroughs with Bevvers’ attempted bouncer producing an LBW, and Garners surprising two of the oppo by not only bowling from behind the crease, but doing so with yorkers. This brought the resting big hitters back to the crease, but both fell promptly to Robbers’ gamesmanship, one for snicking the mat in a postcode adjacent to that of the ball, and one to the two-card trick of beamer and daisy-worrier. Their job had been done however, and the Baabaas were facing a chase that would trouble them in a fifty-a-side timeless test, never mind a 40-over match with only eleven wickets in hand.
After a stonking curry lunch, Pippers and Bummers strode out to do battle for the Old Barbarians. Ever the peacenik, Pippers decided battle was not for him, and he promptly quacked his way back to the hutch letting Bevvers take his place. Bummers and Bevvers had been on the receiving end of some tap, and now got their own back, scoring steadily in boundaries and eschewing the hurried single, and building a solid platform for the innings. When they both sent through edges in consecutive overs, skipper Chizzers stuck his nose over the parapet, but after biffing a quick boundary he decided he had other things to do and let Dungers and Koggers take on the hard work. They set about their task with relish, but eventually fell victim to the fielder who always slyly throws to the other end, and an ambling Dungers found his end wasn’t the safe one and he had to amble all the way home. At drinks, the Baabaas were halfway through the overs and a bit less than halfway through the wickets and runs, a position that even Sir Geoffrey might approve of, but he would probably not have approved of what came next. The ball after Vickers had edged the dibbliest dobbler in the Old Boys’ team behind, Garners played his favourite Chinese cut straight onto his stumps, leaving Robbers to face the hattrick ball. Emulating the great batting feat of his namesake Robin Marlar, Robbers managed to be stumped first ball off a wide to complete a hattrick that was waiting to happen the moment the batting order was decided. Novice bat Feathers tried to show how it should be done by hanging around and giving star batsman Koggers some company, but when they both fell, Garners and Pippers went for another go to see if they had learned their lessons. Garners had, and he punched a boundary. Pippers hadn’t, but at least he ended up as proud owner of the new Baabaa’s record for most ducks in a single innings.
The winners trophy thus resides in Helsinki, but the level of all round merriment was such that there is no question but that this will be a much-anticipated and eagerly-awaited date on the annual fixture lists of both the Finnish Old Boys and Estonia’s own Old Barbarians.