Old Barbarians

Inaugural Old Barbarians Match

It was a blustery wet day at the Hippo with sun and showers alternating as the Baabaa openers Dungers and Tiffers strode out to bat. They had determined to show the Estonian invitational opposition the proper way to bat and heroically blocked and prodded at everything the top Estonian quicks could send at them. Taking inspiration from the great days of Boycott and Tavare they raced along at almost a run an over, Rammers helping keep the ship steady when he came in. Once they had seen off the new ball and the scary bowlers they did the decent thing and gave their wickets away so that the new chaps could have a bit of a go. The new batsmen Pilkers, Robbers and Bummers substantially sped up the wild agricultural flailing rate without making a big impact on the scoring rate, but Zimmers decided to show that even the older chaps can bat like a young’un, pinging a lovely waft over mid-wicket for six to bring up the team’s hundred. As tea and black clouds both hove into view on the horizon, Zakkers, Archers and Ruggers settled in for some attritional consolidation, building a solid platform for Pippers to take the match by storm from his hiding place at No.11 and spring a surprise declaration, sacrificing his chance at glory for another swift half in the tea tent.

Tea was a major highlight of the day all round as players, families and spectators huddled under the tent to escape the lashing of the storm, and the keen competitiveness of the Old Baabaas was seen in all its naked glory as Rammers’ cornish pasties took on Robbers’ potato salad and Dungers’ and Pippers’ cucumber sandwiches for the title of ‘Top Catering Effort’. Either way, the lashings and lashings of ginger beer – or at least something that looked like ginger beer but had a bit more of a kick to it – kept spirits up, and soon the sun came out and the Estonians were ready to start their reply.

Captain Bummers surprised everyone by opening the bowling with dubious rabbit-worrier Robbers, who benefited from the generous Estonian decision to reverse their order and sent their tail-enders in first to give him a couple of cheap wickets. Rammers plugged away from the other end supported by Tiffers and Zimmers and encouraged enthusiastically from behind the stumps by Dungers and from the deep by Ruggers. The youngsters team showed that they had been learning from the old masters by sending in their own Wall to solidify the batting and solidify the flow of runs, and trench warfare ensued with Baabaa bowlers taking it in turns to lob grenades dow`n, only to see them firmly blocked back into the covers. Eventually Pippers came on to make the breakthrough, lumbago notwithstanding, bowling his special slower balls, and occasionally overtaking them during his follow through. He did however manage the champagne moment of the day, setting a record for the slowest ever c&b as the batsman chipped a gentle return catch and had time to run three as Pippers dived forward and left in super slow-mo to scoop a one-handed catch with a dramatic forward roll that he had almost completed by the time the next batsman was taking his guard.

Ultimately such efforts were in vain as the Estonians ground out the winning runs and took the match. Big baabaa mentions in dispatches went to Plenders, Kogers and Ruggers for shoring up the numerically challenged oppo, to Pippers for his deckchair umpiring and distribution of fines, and to oppo skipper Mart Tamoja for his work in setting up the tent and the game. Congratulations went to both teams for their efforts and of course to the real winner on the day, the wonderful game of cricket.

Next Game

The July sunshine had been turned up to a high wattage for the Barbarians’ second fixture of the season, prompting smiles of equally high wattage from all participants. A good turn out ensured that both teams took the field at full strength, although the Estonian Development team did feature the odd heavy-accented Estonian who was pretty well developed already.

After the mysterious disappearance of skipper Bummers, stand-in Robbers opted to bat first, letting his men get stuck straight into the serious business of the day by opening up a sly tinny in the tea tent. Those who were made to wander out into the middle showed a dignified reluctance to overstay their welcome there, preferring the deckchair and the parasol to the white hot heat of the Estonian sun and the Estonian quick bowlers. The Baabaa decision to ape England by packing the batting with South Africans didn’t come off as guest saffer Markers fell early, leaving old stagers Dungers and Pippers to see off the new ball. The Baabaa middle order also preferred to put its feet up, Plenders biffing a quick boundary or so before taking his leave, Robbers heaving across the line of a few straight ones and not troubling the scorers, and Deaners being so keen for a sit down that he tried to give his wicket away first ball, only to be handed a Mulligan and told to get on with it for a bit longer because the barbecue wasn’t ready yet. Eventually the smell of sausages was too enticing and the Baabaas politely let themselves be knocked over, ending up all out for 130-odd.

Once again the keen competitive spirit of the club was on show at lunch, with subtle but firm use of the elbow and the phrase “well if you insist old chap” to see Rammers’ supply of bangers polished off in no time, leaving some to reflect that if they could score runs at the speed that they eat sausages, the Old Baabaas would truly be a force to be reckoned with.

Suitably refreshed with a swift round of G&Ts, the Baabaas took to the field and Markers, Tiffers and Rammers quickly pinned the oppo down. Eyes narrowed, shoulders hunkered, gamefaces on, the Baabaas set out to prove that they too can take their cricket seriously. Not too seriously however, and the decision to put Paul-Nixon-a-like Ruggers behind the stumps necessitated a quick reminder that Bat-Before-Wicket is not technically a legitimate way of getting out and didn’t merit appealing. The sun was still blazing down, and the effort of actually standing up was proving wearing for many of the players, who were visibly contemplating how they could get away with fielding sitting down. The Estonians once again put up the shutters, and the game became an attritional grind as Dungers, Pippers, Matters and Deaners all turned their arms over, keeping things tight but not breaking through the Estonian Wall.

Eventually it started to dawn on the Baabaas that the stolid Estonian middle order was slipping behind the run rate required, and that their best hope lay in not actually taking any more wickets and not letting the rapid-firing tail in. No sooner had this gamesmanship tactic been adopted than the breakthrough came, the Wall fell, the run rate increased, and the Estonians managed to overhaul the Baabaa target with overs and wickets to spare. And so the Old Barbarians chalked up another defeat in terms of the actual score in the match, but another victory in terms of the jolly japes and fun in the sun that make up the spirit of Old Barbarian cricket.

Match Report 4

The fourth match of the season was another game of hit-and-giggle but the start was rather delayed by horse-racing which blocked access to the pitch for over an hour, letting some Old Barbarians have a flutter on the gee-gees and others have several swift halves of Pimms. Eventually the racing was over and captain Matters led the specially recruited Old Barbarian Campanologists onto the field. The Baabaas fielded first with Ranners and Kallers opening at full throttle and showing that all the talk of slow-medium was just a canny ruse. The oppo kept the scoreboard ticking over at a rate that would be obscene in traditional cricket but was barely par for the course in the modern truncated version. The batsmen used their edges well, scoring backwards of square on both sides, but essaying nary a cover drive, let alone a good old classic forward defensive. Indeed one of the few proper shots in front of the wicket fell to Robbers in the covers whose lob back to the bowler was a bit off and crashed instead into the stumps, sending the oppo opener back to the hutch. Robbers atoned for his fortuitous fielding later on though, dropping a dolly at third man off Vinners. Matters rotated his bowlers well, bringing on Glebbers and Valners, who picked up a wicket each, and rotated his shoulder too with some tight overs. However, the oppo were playing it sneaky, and while the batsmen were wearing genuinely Baabaa style kit borrowed from their Grandfathers, their batting tootled along with a series of pings and wafts leading to quite a hefty chase for the home team batting second.

A swift rub-down in the pavilion later, the Baabaa bats were on their way out, led fearlessly by skipper Matters. They hunkered down and determined to take the game to the oppo, profiting from a cameo guest appearance from Nanders who snuck onto the pitch and clipped a couple of quick boundary clearances to put fear into the visitors’ attack. Ranners also held up his end well, while Netters put in a sterling performance, showing that batting is like riding a bike and it all comes back to you even if you haven’t done it for fifteen years. Dungers saw his wickets shattered by a new bowler with a vicious in-ducker that put a quick end to his dreams of a century, or even a respectable score. Kallers then notched a few runs before Valners was out for a golden duck, giving up a catch from one of the weaker strokes witnessed at the Hipo, before collapsing on the wicket in the hope that the oppo would act as gentlemen and give her another chance. But mulligans were not forthcoming and Matters’ twin brother had to stride out to fight a rearguard action. The visitors showed no quarter though, and after two wickets had fallen in as many balls, they offered to lend a spare batsman to the numerically challenged Baabaas, so that the bowler was able to complete his hat-trick.

Ultimately the oppo clung to finish with slightly more players and slightly more runs, but the final act of the game, the post-match round of G&Ts, showed that the Baabaas still had plenty of fight in them and effectively rendered the match a score-draw and a reminder that it is not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts in Old Barbarian cricket.

Match Report, Super 8s Game 2 vs Saaremaa

It was a hot day for the Old Baabaas’ second game of the 2011 Super 8s tournament, made even hotter by the absence of the more aristocratic members on Her Majesty’s service. An energetic recruitment drive saw the Barbarians return to the origins of the club name and half a rugby team was drafted in, the Tallinn Tigers finally supplying as many bodies as the Old Barbs.

Skipper for the day Robbers opened the batting with pinch-hitter Stiffers and the pair got off to a blazing start with the bat hurled at everything and a run rate of almost two an over. Slightly surprisingly, the two loudest mouths in the club proved ineffective at calling for runs, and when Robbers advanced for a mid-pitch conference with a call of “I dunno, what do you think?” he was stranded and sent back to the hutch. Tiger Barbarian Finners demonstrated enthusiastically that cricket is not quite suited to the batting style of Finnish baseball, and he was shortly replaced by Deaners. Deaners’ bat is as straight as his spine, and he stood tall to the oppo’s pair of Australian spin twins – or more accurately the Australian slow-but-not-actually-spinning twins – showing the maker’s name on a couple of beautifully straight-batted cover drives to the fine leg boundary. This so unnerved the opposition bowlers that they adopted a line well wide of leg stump, deciding that giving away three for a wide was better than being clipped to the fence again. Ever the gentleman, Deaners saw through this dastardly tactic and carefully got his bat on every ball, pushing honourable singles in place of cowardly extras. The Barbarians now launched a major three-man partnership, with Deaners being joined by sparkling guest player Gorgers and the Saaremaa Wide Boy, who outscored everyone else on the team. Tiger Reekers got wides under control when he came in, taking guard half way to the square leg umpire and stepping outside the line of everything that was flung behind him to return it gunbarrel straight past the bowler.

It was brought to Deaners’ attention that there is actually no tea break between innings, so he gracefully retired for the final over to take quick refreshment, allowing Tiffers to stroll in and demonstrate his extensive repertoire of wafts and woofs for a few deliveries. The Old Barbarians closed the innings on a thoroughly respectable 99, quite aware that attaining three figures for two matches in a row would seem excessive.

Having opened the batting, Stiffers and Robbers also opened the bowling, Stiffers plying his military medium to keep things tight, and Robbers sending down his lazy lobs at a speed not so much blink-and-you’ll-miss-it as blink,-read-War-and-Peace,-circumnavigate-the-globe-and-confirm-the-Higgs-boson-and-you’ll-miss-it. His lazy arm and even lazier line and length were enough to fool the oppo’s Aussie opener S’Ashes into popping up a maiden catch for Reekers behind the stumps, and to trap feared number three The Heathen into clipping one to Stiffers at square leg, which would have been a dolly if only Stiffers were three feet taller. The Heathen took advantage of the life he had been given, pushing Deaners, Gorgers and Finners around the ground, but not troubling the boundary markers too often. Tiffers came on to twirl his shoulder, and having failed to find the rope as a batsman, he decided to take advantage of rookie keeper Reekers standing up to the stumps with no third man, and pushed a quicker one straight through for four byes. Saaremaa decently felt that it was unfair for the Barbarians to be scoring their runs for them however, and so when Tiffers tried to slip another one past him, the flying Dutchman sent it straight back where it had come from and down Deaners’ throat at mid-on. Extras was in sterling form again for the batting side though, and with The Heathen bullying his way towards a retirement total, things were not looking good for the Barbs, especially when Tiffers revealed that it was actually supposed to be a competitive game played to win. This bombshell sparked Deaners and Robbers into life, and when The Heathen retired with only two runs needed from four overs, the skipper called all his men in round the bat for the new batsman and instructed them to start chirping like canaries. Deaners responded like a man inspired in true “Mind the windows Tino” style, and the new batsman clipped Finners’ looping lob straight to Gorgers at square leg, although the score book must clearly record him as sledged out. With the last Saaremaa bat making her way to the crease, the fielders remained close in, but they realised that although taking one more wicket would give them a moral victory, it would also bring The Heathen back to the crease to deliver the final blow, so Finners speared in a lob that was clearly going down, the captains shook hands, and Mr Extras had scored the final runs of the game, appropriately enough given his major contributions to both teams’ scores.

The final result saw the Barbarians in their traditional silver medal position, but far more importantly, a fun time was had by one and all.