Match (T20) played at Dulwich Sports Ground. KPMG CC won the toss and elected to bat. KPMG CC – 148 for 8. Arkadin CC: 149 for 5 (Lee J 88). Arkadin CC won by 5 wickets.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson: The Charge of the Light Brigade
Like Cardigan’s army, the brave cavalrymen of Arkadin were not given a prayer against the guns of KPMG on this warm June evening in South London. A rejigged and patched up Arkadin eleven, reeling from heavy, late casualties: in memoriam Corporals Cotterell and Synnott of the Irish Guards, both of whom had deserted us for a lesser, Marylebone-based club; RIP Major Buttleman and Gunner Price, who fell victim to the domestic requirements of ‘half term’ shore leave (these military metaphors are coming undone already – Ed.) and, sadly, valete last year’s 4-wicket hero Lieutenant Waterfall, fallen himself, at the hurdle of “a mate coming to see me for a night out in London”. Onward, half a league onward, rode the six hundred (well, ten of us…plus our promisingly named ringer, Dilshan, who was donated by the other side for the evening) but unlike the doomed Light Brigade at Balaclava…we prevailed! With an over to spare.
This now happily annual fixture against the offshoring, HMRC-dodging one-percenters of KMPG, is the brainchild of Chris Berry, proud Arkadian and possessor of some of the weakest chat ever heard on a field of play. An example:
– to cover fielder: “Paddy can’t hit it off the square, so stay close in.”
Paddy effortlessly caresses the next ball through extra cover for four
– “Okay, Paddy can hit it off the square, but he’s just not very consistent with when he’s doing that.”
collective groans from entire KPMG team
What we can give Chris credit for though, is organizing a very decent game of cricket AND staying very bright and chirpy despite his heavily-backed outfit absolutely Theresa Maying the whole thing up.
Having lost the toss, the steady seam of Jonny Lee and Dilshan opened up the bowling for Arkadin, largely in a defensive effort, to minimize the impending carnage from the KPMG openers (“Wild” Bill Holland and Eugene from Grease). Mission accomplished: a combination of gentle outswing from Lee and a slowish pitch prevented KPMG from getting off to anything that could remotely be described as a flyer. Lee bowled Eugene from Grease with one which nipped back and pierced his otherwise technically perfect defences. Then Bill went after our first change seamer Stephen “The Axeman” Hunter, spanking two length balls straight back at the bowler, who dropped both. (Hunter deserves praise not only for creating the chances in the first place, but also for not raising our expectations by looking like he was ever going to hold onto them). He eventually snared his man though, beautifully caught by Paddy Arnfield, diving, one-handed on the midwicket boundary. Wild Bill – always somehwhat put out when scoring less than 150 – politely asked the question of the umpires as to whether Paddy’s arm was on the boundary rope when he pouched it, but thought better of pursuing that line of enquiry once he’d seen the beginnings of the blaze of sanguinary controversy which threatened to ensue. [For the record, Dilshan (who let’s remember was “one of them”) was standing right there and he was clear that no part of Paddy’s body went near the boundary rope. The smile on his face as he confirmed this was a little disconcerting but we’ll let that pass.]
As batsmen came and went with the regularity of nil tax returns from the KPMG post room (Lee grabbing two more scalps in his four-over spell), the highest strike rate on display was ” sundries”: a bountiful cluster of no-balls and wides offered up by the rusty Arkadian attack, each counting for two runs. Nigel Slone bowled two overs as tidy as my youngest daughter’s bedroom (she’s pretty OCD) while seamers Paddy Arnfield, Trent Smith and George Dowson showed excellent promise, with their steady repeatable actions and solid seaming technique, frustrating the book-cookers who were looking to press on. Jacob Gilkes bowled an over of what could cautiously be described as leg-spin, during which time seemed to stand still and the entire planet seemed to fall off its axis. Once this bewildering, hellish vortex had ended, the scorebook showed that there were eight deliveries and sixteen runs scored: not nearly sufficient to adequately describe this veritable event horizon of an over, which really defies objective analysis and about which I shall say no more (except to remark that Jacob generously suggested that a single over was, probably, all things considered, enough).
The ruthless traitor Paul “Edward Snowden” McKechnie came in for the opposition at five, looked very smooth as always, but was run out by a tracer bullet throw from Dilshan at square leg for just one run, which made us feel a bit sorry for him for about three seconds. Archie Marr, having fully recovered from last year’s elbow surgery, span the ball sharply and bowled a tight line, all of which kept a firm lid on the potential onslaught which was threatening to explode at any moment. At this point, I think everyone present would also like to thank Archie for bringing along a supporter (named Lily) who was not only the most charming company, but also showed bewildering levels of interest in the game: an extremely rare and very welcome occurrence.
Late in the order for KPMG, came a man who shall only be known – largely because I never thought to ask his name, which was probably Cobus or Faff or something – as “The Saffer”. Just from the way he wielded his weapon, one could sense the potential for heavy damage. He negotiated an over from Allen (manifestly the slowest bowler he had ever faced) before tucking into Marr in the final over and spoiling Archie’s hitherto impeccable figures like a particularly plentiful splash of bird guano on a newly polished E-Type Jag. KPMG’s innings closed on 148.
“The Saffer” would return during the Arkadian innings, his tussle with Jonny Lee providing the fascinating centre piece of the match, giving everyone else on the field the rather misleading impression that they were actually taking part in a proper game of cricket. The Saffer immediately announced his intentions (and considerable wheels) with two 70mph snorters, bravely kept out by Arnfield. Lee then kept out a vicious yorker of his own, before glancing a stray one to the long leg fence. Game on. What followed was a succession of thrusts and parries (steady on, innuendo-lovers) between two very fine cricketers. The Saffer responding to each forcing shot from Lee by tucking him up or imposing a false stroke thereafter. A climactic moment in the skirmish came when the Saffer pointedly moved third man into the leg side, only for Lee to open the face of the bat and guide the next ball to the vacant third man boundary: almost ungentlemanly conduct. Chris Berry sought to profit from the Saffer’s parsimony at the other end with his succession of what he called “doosras” (very straight slow balls which grew little knees, dropped down upon them and positively BEGGED to be laminated for six) some of which bamboozled Lee so completely that he offered two catches to Eugene from Grease who, for the good of the match, dutifully shelled them. [He would gain his revenge by running Lee out for 88 with three overs to go, forcing a squeaky-bum time ending to the contest.]
Paddy Arnfield got us off to a positive start.
Aussie Openers Trent Smith and Paddy Arnfield had done us proud with a positive start never letting the KPMG-ers settle into a rythmn. Having moved to 39, with 110 to score off 12, Jonny Lee was joined at the wicket by Dan Hyde, who hadn’t walked onto a cricket field in 22 years, but it didn’t show. Actually let’s be honest, it did show. But he still did bloody well, 17*, negotiating one thunderbolt from the Saffer before hitting one of their seamers for six over square leg. His support for Lee as the latter opened his shoulders was invaluable. Dilshan perished for 0, looking to disrobe one short delivery from KPMG’s opener only for it to clip a bail on its way past him. Thus it fell to Stephen “The Axeman” Hunter and Archie Marr to score the fifteen needed from two overs, and the Axeman obliged – releasing the pressure with a powerfully struck cut shot and a handsome drive – taking us past their total with a handful of deliveries to spare.
As the sun set over the trees, a barbecue dinner was served with jugs of beer and the players congregated outside the pavilion for an al fresco post mortem. I’m sure all those present would agree that if anyone knows of a better way to spend a summer evening with your clothes on than the way the twenty two men (and one woman) of KPMG and Arkadin spent yesterday evening, then do keep your description of it brief, because we won’t believe you.
Sincere thanks to Chris Berry for devising the fixture and organizing the facilities. Please don’t read too much into the levels of obvious disrespect being displayed here. We love you and we love KPMG. Until next year!
Nothing awkward about this handshake at all…