I bid you fond greetings from the fair island of Staten, New York City’s “forgotten borough” and home of some dubious comedy vampires if TV is to be believed! It also plays home to one of the oldest cricketing establishments in the United States – the rather imaginatively named Staten Island Cricket Club. 

And so it was that on the same day as the late, great Shane Warne historically bowled the ball of the century back in 1993, one of the newest cricketing establishments in the US – the mighty Wanderers NYCC – came to attempt to win their first league game of the WSL season.

And WIN WE DID! Armed with a ‘punctual’ collection of players (and also Sonny), we set forth to first bowl and field like legends, and then chase down the target with the bat in a fashion as clinical as disinfectant in the ER. Get there. Do the job. Drink (not the disinfectant!). BOOM!

Having lost the toss to a captain who subsequently didn’t know what to do when he won it, skipper Harshan and team were made to wait for a SICC committee based debate that took forever to come up with the completely radical idea of batting first on a hard track in the sun. Obviously, decisions like that are really tricky to make. And so, we bowled first.

Sumit and Sonny opened up and contained the SI openers really well. Specifically, Sumit conceded just ONE scoring shot in his first four overs! Sonny would have been equally as miserly if it wasn’t for the fact that he was wided a number of times by the non-neutral umpire and chose to query the wides situation. Shaffi, the SI player standing as umpire, was less than impressed and, short of offering to start a fight on the pitch, continued to be glib in his responses and not too generous with his wide ball calls. Nevertheless both bowlers delivered really tight spells – Sumit picking up two quality wickets – and SI found themselves around 20-2 after 10 overs. Excellent start! 

The guile of Neil Harrison entered the attack and swiftly SI slipped to 26-4. Bang on top! A bunch of young pretender batters all dismissed cheaply… only for two ancient old duffers to come together at the wicket and begin dishing out some disrespect! Messrs Sunny and Sanka promptly set about fixing the total with some heavy biffing to the short leg side boundary and causing a bit of pain to the figures of middle overs bowlers Harshan and Brian. Both bowlers saw a number of their deliveries mercilessly dispatched into the trees. It seemed the two old timers were intent on trying to match their scores to their combined age! A solution was needed at drinks…

Cometh the hour, cometh the Amit! The flight and even more flight of Mr. Bhatia proved enough in his first over to dismiss both troublesome batters in consecutive balls! Two men’s eyes lit up brighter than the Northern Lights and both perished playing balls straight up into the air for solid catches to be taken. They will almost certainly not be the last to underestimate Amit’s powers this season! YOU MAY ALL APPLAUD LOUDLY HERE. Thanks.

Having thought the game might get away, these two dismissals brought a strong element of control back to Wanderers. SI stuttered along towards the 35 over mark, with a little bit of tail end resistance but nothing nerve jangling. Amit continued to flourish and finished with a fine four wicket haul, with Brian coming back to grab one and Rohan playing a nice and neat cameo role of medium pace at the close of the innings.

A nod to the team’s day in the field: Sujit kept wonderfully tidily and claimed a bunch of sharp catches, there were good catches taken by Andy and stand-in fielder Dre (fielding for Nischint while he popped his shoulder back into its proper place following a tumble at slip!), and Brian proved unequivocally that he is clearly younger than everyone else by running all over the place like a gazelle on Speed! We restricted SI to 141 all out, and for anyone who knows the Walker Park ground and its small boundary that constitutes a phenomenal effort. Part one accomplished. Now to knock it off!

Sujit and Andy opened the batting, playing together for the first time. Both played calmly and watchfully in knowing that a required run rate of 4 did not need explosives. And with the help of a stack of rather “Mitchell Johnson bowls it to the left, bowls it to the right” style wide deliveries they had moved the score along to 51 in 10 overs before Sujit was caught at long on, but not before carving a couple of hefty leg side sixes in the previous over. Nischint joined Andy and the two continued to move the score along until Andy carved a short one to gully, which brought skipper Harsh to the wicket. Some more lusty blows into the trees followed from Harsh until he too spooned one shot too many in the air. But then it was the turn of Rohan and Nischint to continue to drive towards victory. This entire paragraph seems very matter of fact and mundane, but that’s simply because the two of them got on with rotating the strike, maintaining the run rate and hitting the odd boundary to continually unsettle the SI bowling attack. By the time Nischint was dismissed for a highly disciplined 25, allowing newcomer and former SI player Charu to join the party, the damage was done and the last rites could be administered. The game was won with about 8 balls to spare. But that sounds close when really it wasn’t. The truth is that we were never behind the run rate, we only lost four wickets and the batters were calm throughout. What more can you say other than “WE NAILED IT”! 

This was one of those days when you looked around the team and realized that ALL 11 players (and Brian’s cousin sub-fielder!) contributed positively to a wonderful team victory. Days like these are memorable when you know it was a genuine all round team effort. 

So, a first league win of the season! I am reliably informed that this was also the first time Neil Harrison had found himself in a winning Wanderers side in a league game. And I count myself, your humble scribe, as very lucky to have won the very first league game I have played for the club! Long may this continue!

Till next time, I bid you salutations, good health, a couple of drinks and a nice lie down!