NB: some of the statistics quoted below are approximate.
A crack team of Arkadian mercenaries assembled in Dulwich last night for a superb game of T20 against the evil offshore tax avoidance specialists and occasional cricketers of KPMG, finished off in the gloaming with Arkadin needing 6 off the last ball but falling agonizingly short. Losing the toss with bad light scheduled for 8.15pm was the second worst thing Allen did all day, after demanding everyone wear white then turning up to the game with not one single suitable item of clothing to wear on a cricket field.
The heart of any well-connected Arkadian will have sunk lower than Simon Danczuk’s reputation at the first sight of “Wild” Bill Holland, scourge of Highclere, opening the innings for KMPG. Six overs in, they had 142 on the board and we needed a miracle of the Jesus Christ variety, as opposed to one by Derren Brown which wouldn’t do. Cometh the hour, cometh the man: Arkadian stalwart Alan Synnott, whose two ‘warm up’ overs had gone for 39 and 43 respectively. He displayed the class and resilience of a real competitor, promptly despatching both openers, including Bill, foxed and bamboozled (hard to do both at once – he’s a multitasker) by one that danced and spat, caught clean by a nonchalant Pup at lazy mid on without breaking stride (because he couldn’t). The other poor fellow, stumped Allen: one more desperate soul for the roll call of shame.
The game was now well and truly afoot. We began to turn the screw as neo-Arkadian Chris Berry, KPMG captain, beard-flexer and the only man ever to be turned down by the Australian paralympics team for being “just too paralympic”, came in at 4, reducing the overall run rate by 2,300%. Gerald Waterfall drilled home his steady medium pacers with the precision of someone who hadn’t bothered to warm up, while Synnott rediscovered the majesty of his Arkadian pomp at the other end with that rarest of appearances at a T20, a maiden. A few streaky blows by KPMG tax return fiddlers and some truly nugatory fielding efforts meant the runs still came, but it looked at one stage that we were at least going to keep them to under 500 for their 20 overs.
Joe Cotterell, perhaps unaware that he would need to come out and bat in the dark, took five minutes to set his field before bowling a 33mph head high beamer which got laminated for four by a KPMG batsman who had only taken up cricket fifteen minutes before the match started. Joe later settled down to a good rythmn and snared another clueless shylock with a genuine leg break which actually hit the deck before taking out the middle stump. The fact that it pitched a couple of centimetres in front of the stump is really neither here nor there.
Then Mark Price arrived. Which was nice.
The book-cookers’ last pairing, including Arkadian blood traitor Paul McKechnie (whose leg-glance for six was a highlight) traded a few bustling singles and fruity blows, closing on 488. Quite a task for Arkadin, then, but greatly assisted by the use of a pink ball for our innings, half of which was played out in the sort of light which would have a Chilean miner politely suggesting to the umpires that this really was getting a bit much. Star man Danson cuffed a couple of early length balls to the fence, then top bats Lee and Clark settled down into a veritable underground orgy of painful punishment spankings. KPMG haven’t chased so much leather since they had to bailiff the Backstreet Bar in Mile End for not paying their accounting bill. Lee’s exquisite off- and cover-driving was matched only by Pup’s corn-fed cross-bat power-blasting over long on.
Then Arkadian opening batsman and all round great bloke Paddy Armfield (umpiring, by now) decided he had had enough of watching Lee bat, so he triggered his sorry arse like a cold hooked fish and sent him back, which – now bear with me here – was a really good move if you think about it, because it made it into a really close game which everyone could enjoy…so we’re all totally cool with this, right? Luckily Joe Cotterell and Richard “Creepy” Crowley were on hand to keep the rate going, Joe with a succession of flicks and glances out of the Dermot Reeve playbook and Creepy rediscovering the look of a long haired, loose-shirted Ian Botham and caning the holy living fuckoons out of anything vaguely small pink and spherical which came his way. Solid support from Nigel (disgusted with his own performance, as all great players are) and Mark Price…oh, hi Mark, you made it? – and above all, an exquisite cameo by Jim “don’t call me Si” Howells, who vaporized two late ones over cow corner, ensured Arkadin got as close as dammit to the total but needing 6 off the last three balls, from which we scored the rather more decisive figure of 0.
A thoroughly good time was had by all, except Paddy, of course, who will take his decision to the grave.
Post scriptum: if anyone else OTHER than Joe needs a lift next time, please say so. Joe whined all the way down about “mincing around in a gay car” and “looking like cnuts”, then accepted a lift in a fucking Datsun Sunny to get home, without so much as a by your leave.
Post post scriptum: many thanks to Chris Berry, Bill and all the lads at KPMG for hosting us so well. We look forward to seeing you again next year. And some of you in Arkadin colours too…
Post post scriptum: we’re playing Hampstead on 4 September. Sign up.