Essays, reflections and more

Lashings v Crab? No complaints

What happens when a team of international vets faces off against Sheffield's finest club cricketers for charity?

Kanishkaa Balachandran

September 5, 2011

Comments: 3 | Text size: A | A

A view of the Abbeydale Sports Club ground, Lashings XI v Crab CC, August 30, 2011
Abbeydale, where old pros go to take on chubby clubbies © Kanishkaa Balachandran
Enlarge
Related Links

If you bounced Devon Malcolm in a Test, chances are you would regret it for the rest of your life. What if you bounced him in a charity game? Joe Young decided to find out.

It was quite far removed from The Oval '94. These were the quintessential English surrounds of Abbeydale Park in Sheffield, where the celebrated Lashings World XI took on Crab CC for a good cause - to raise funds for the St Luke's Hospice. The Crab team, an assemblage of the city's club cricketers, was formed in memory of Tom "The Crab" Collins, a former club cricketer himself and a patient at the hospice.

After he took a knock on the shoulder from the seemingly harmless left-arm medium pace of Young, everyone wondered if Malcolm would respond in kind when he got the ball in hand. Did he seethe "You guys are history!" to the slip fielders?

A spectator announced he would donate £10 to charity if Malcolm - celebrated bunny with the bat - could hit a six off the last ball of the innings. The script was perfect. Young pitched it up, Malcolm took a swing and muscled it over deep midwicket. It was a postcard moment.

The game also offered a chance to see Henry Blofeld in the flesh. There were no double-decker buses or earrings in sight, but that wasn't going to dampen Blowers' enthusiasm. He did, however, spot a couple of pigeons. He also had another Henry for company: Olonga. The pair managed to hog plenty of attention off the happenings in the middle as they commentated over the PA by the sidelines.

For Crab's team of happy-go-lucky club cricketers, it was a chance to tell their grandkids how they square-cut Saqlain Mushtaq for four, or had James Marshall caught in the softest of dismissals. For the crowd, it was a chance to tell their disbelieving friends they saw Ian Butler score a century.

Self-deprecating humour was the order of the day. The slapstick fielding would have made the serious cricket aficionado frown, but nobody was complaining here. This wasn't serious cricket. This was a team of pot-bellied amateurs taking on an eclectic bunch of current and former internationals with a combined experience of about 350 Tests.

"I'm sorry I forgot to mention there was a bowling change," said Olonga at one point. "Well, they all have the same sort of shape." Peals of laughter followed, and the bowler in question turned around to acknowledge that the joke was on him. He wasn't complaining.

More commentary bloopers followed, perhaps more entertaining than the dropped catches.

In the first over, Blowers complimented Mohammad Yousuf on a glorious cover drive. It was Saqlain batting.

Olonga, after failing to identify a dibbly dobbly seamer, decided to name him Ginger Steps.

The pair couldn't identify what a particular spinner bowled. "Offie or leggie? We'll figure it out as we go along," said Olonga.


Henry Blofeld and Henry Olonga commentate, Lashings XI v Crab CC, Abbeydale Sports Club, August 30, 2011
"I say, Henry, isn't that a yellow-rumped warbler sitting on long-on's shoulder?" © Kanishkaa Balachandran
Enlarge

It was a matter of time before the guilt set in. "We've assassinated most people here, haven't we?" asked Blowers. Olonga replied: "I think I just saw a table of solicitors." Nobody was suing, though.

The two also took the mickey out of the each other for their less-than-stellar knowledge of local cricket trivia. When Olonga was asked how many Tests Sheffield's Bramall Lane had hosted, he replied 20. Five wides for that howler, Henry!

Olonga hit back when he caught Blowers out for being unaware they were at the ground where Michael Vaughan had learned his cricket. "I haven't got eyes above my head unfortunately," was Blowers' defence, referring to the "Home of the Michael Vaughan Cricket Academy" signboard behind him. Vaughan wasn't complaining (I think).

Ed Giddins, the former England fast bowler, took the mic for a spell, and did his bit to pump Malcolm up as soon as Young came out to bat. Chris Harris, who was bowling, had a hamstring injury midway through the over and rolled onto the turf, writhing in pain. The torn muscle miraculously fixed itself as soon as Big Dev took the ball to complete the over.

He fired in three consecutive bouncers, which sailed into orbit. Even Joel Garner couldn't have hooked them. Malcolm wasn't going to take another 9 for 57. Crab weren't complaining.

Earlier in the day, Marshall and Butler had hammered centuries to lift Lashings to 330 in 30 overs. One of Marshall's sixes cracked the windscreen of a parked Mercedes. The owner didn't seem to be complaining.

In the end, Crab were bowled out for 185, losing by 145 runs. A monumental mismatch. Again, nobody was complaining.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a former sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by jightymoe on (September 7, 2011, 19:01 GMT)

Nailed him! Finest moment of my (cricketing) life.

Posted by KieronJess on (September 5, 2011, 12:27 GMT)

Was an amazing day and also a pleasure to have played. Can't thank the Lashings XI enough for coming and playing us.

Same time next year?!

Posted by Auxxon on (September 5, 2011, 11:00 GMT)

It was a pleasure to have played in the game ;-)

Comments have now been closed for this article

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Kanishkaa BalachandranClose

    The cricket tragic who bowled Bradman

Former Australian PM Bob Hawke loved cricket. And he once left the Don speechless with the force of his political convictions

    'The worst thing about being a keeper is stinky hands'

Chris Read talks about how unprepared he was for Tests, and that slower ball from Chris Cairns

    Everybody deserves a second chance?

Switch Hit: Mark Butcher joins our team to discuss the new England coaches, KP, and a potential England XI

    England's Pietersen folly

Martin Crowe: Not getting rid of Kevin Pietersen after the texting saga in 2012 cost them greatly

Fizz, flight and loop

V Ramnarayan: Erapalli Prasanna was a masterful conjurer and perhaps the shrewdest of India's great spin quartet

News | Features Last 7 days

UAE all set to host lavish welcoming party

The controversy surrounding the IPL has done little to deter fans in UAE from flocking the stadiums, as they gear up to watch the Indian stars in action for the first time since 2006

The watch breaker, and Malinga specials

Plays of the day from the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it

'Sri Lankan fans embrace the team, not just icon players'

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara go over their World T20 win, and feel grateful to have fans whose support remains unwavering in victory and defeat

Crunch time for Sehwag and Gambhir

The former Indian openers haven't been shining lately, but the IPL presents an opportunity for them to show their class

News | Features Last 7 days