Mul-V for Victory
By Minesh Patel
Caius looked at the list again. Lips tight and head nodding. He read each name out loud for a final time: “Jack Bauer. Jack from Lost. Jack Welch. Jacques Chirac. Jack Eve. Jack Sparrow”. “They’re all natural leaders. It makes sense”, he said to himself in the mirror, as if to convince himself one final time. Without further pause he pressed send on the email. “Jack Ensor is making his debut as captain this Sunday vs our auld rivals Kings Road Cricket & Social Club. If you’d like to play please let Jack know! Captain Jack?! The winces across the globe were audible. In meeting rooms, at desks, in studios, on planes and in caves, confusion and worry amongst the Bloody Lads alumni was rife. “This is too much power in the wrong hands! It’s Trump all over again!”, mused one Lad as he self-enrolled into witness protection. “No way I’m playing under Jack Ensor”, said another, adding, “…he’s just a specialist fielder these days”. Enthusiasm wavered, excuses rolled in and people opted out.
Hmmm, is that you hindsight? How cruel you can be…
Roll-forward Sunday and picture the jubilant scene at The Clapton Hart at 6.15pm. A team of maroon capped-men gathered around a long table in the corner of the pub celebrating their win. Kit bags strewn and piled on the side. Frosty beers held aloft and clinking together. The sound of back-patting and cheering. Phones vibrating on the table with the BLCC WhatsApp thread coming alive. The tale of victory had spread, any doubts over Ensor’s captaining abilities had firmly been put to rest, and there was one burning question: “WHO is this James Mulvey megalegend?”. #FOMO. Oh, to have been there that day… Earlier that morning, things were running smooth. A very hot sun was shining down on a perfectly prepped wicket. The eleven-strong team were well-rested and prompt arrivals meant that catching and fielding drills began early. Athletic dives etching the first of the day’s grass stains on neatly ironed cricket whites. Meanwhile, at approximately 12.45pm in Millfields Park eight BLads stood under a tree. No stumps, bails, balls to warm-up or coin for the toss. Amongst the group weaved one grinning man; Captain Jack. Hands in his shorts pockets, bare-chested and shoeless. Any concern over the apparent disorganisation masterfully disguised. The arrival of Max Bennett, however, bought some semblance of order. “This is the worst I think it’s ever been”, he strained. An Uber was called to ferry the stumps and balls were procured. Meanwhile, Kings won the toss and elected to bat. The distinctly-Antipodean flavoured BLCC team took to the field and, remarkably, the game started on time. Opening bowlers Karl Mathiesen and NZ newcomer (soon to be legend) James Mulvey, did well to suppress any early momentum serving up tidy deliveries from both ends. Both were unlucky to go unrewarded in their opening spells as batsmen Cocken and Robinson ground out the overs. The first change bought spinner and another NZ newcomer, Jordan Healy, into the mix who started his spell immediately with a maiden over. The Mulvey/Healy combination, aided by nimble fielding, held Kings back and after 13 overs they had only notched up 32 runs. First blood was drawn by Healy in the 17th over, a wicket-maiden to end his first spell, cleanly bowling Cocken for 18. Inspirational risk-taking by Captain Jack, saw Minesh Patel and Patrick McGuinness asked to join the bowling attack. It was short-lived. Some risks don’t pay off, eh? Normal service returned with Healy resuming with the ball. Toby Chausseaud joined at the other end, his first over catching Robinson LBW (33), leaving two new batsmen at the crease to rebuild their innings with the score 75-2 after 22 overs. Kings’ third bat, Mancico (21), looked destined for a big score, notching a few early boundaries, but disciplined line and length from Healy (8-20-2) yielded another wicket, a straight drive finding Patel’s hands at short extra cover. A commendable 8-over spell from Chausseaud provided the spine of the bowling attack (8-42-1). Dynamic field settings from Captain Jack kept the side engaged and the run-count low, a hokey-cokey concertina over a number of overs proving quite effective. Looking for change against an assured middle-order batting line-up, Captain Jack called upon another NZ newcomer (spot the pattern here), Josh Martin (3-13-0). In his first over, during a caught behind appeal, ever-the-astute wicket-keeper, Max Bennett was able to capitalise, rather mercilessly(!), on a stumping opportunity to dismiss danger-man Sherman for a respectable, but perhaps cheap, 29. Second-spells from Mathiesen (6.5-18-1) and Mulvey (8-37-0) were enough to claim another wicket, but a late flurry of shots from Shamboodien (28) and Brown (26) added to the team’s total, helping to notch up 181 for 5 at the end of their 40-over innings. At the break, the BLads were relieved to find that tea was not “ket on toast”, but rather a trove of Subway sandwiches, another clever call by the skipper, choosing instead to delegate to girlfriend, Poppy. Diamond rings available here: www.tiffany.co.uk/engagement. The weather starting to turn, the BLads openers, Chausseaud and Mulvey, strode out to the wicket sharpish; the latter having sought a “license to thrill” from the skipper. Thrill he did. Mulvey announced himself at the crease on his second ball with a hard hit into cow corner for 6, drawing woops and cheers from supporters on the boundary line. Another 6 with the next ball drew cheers louder still. With Mulvey’s intentions clearly signalled, the Kings bowling attack scampered to conjure some composure. If it was ever found, the scorecard did not reflect it; opening bowler Brown (5-38) faring only slightly better than Khan (3-33). First change bowler Isham was the most economical of the day (4-24), but it wasn’t enough. The pace continued relentlessly with boundaries seemingly found by Mulvey at will. Boundary shot selection was somewhat limited, with a clear preference for cow corner being shown, but the crowd were thrilled regardless and the scorecard ticked-up up-tempo. The 50 coming up after a mere 8 overs and the 100 after only 13. With a BLCC batting average of 120+, the casual observer of BLads cricket could be forgiven for keeping an eye on Chausseaud’s innings from the outset. A delight he was to watch too. Determined, delicate and gracefully balanced. Shots neatly placed around the field, punctuated with the occasional authoritative boundary, revealing a power that is masked, deceptively, by poise. If Chasseaud exuded Bond-like elegance, then Mulvey channelled Rambo’s killer instinct; his awesome power-hitting continued until rain stopped play with his score teetering on 93. During this time the Kings’ team vibe had remained admirably high. Notably, Shaboodien remained vocal and rallied the side as he kept behind the stumps. Both the batting onslaught and the rain crescendo would be enough to dispirit lesser teams, but theirs was one made of steelier resolve. Indeed, the team’s commendable attitude and good-sporting nature were on clear display as they enthusiastically retook to the field with the rain having barely thinned. The short interval energized Mulvey and not before long, his 100 was uncharacteristically bought up with a single run from a cut to a gap near point, followed by a necking of the umpire’s Red Stripe. An eruption of cheers from the crowd followed and one man repeatedly said “hat” in French. The acceleration in pace thereafter was notable, Mulvey hitting 34 off the last over, in a string of shots that read: 6-6-4-1-6-6-6-4-6-6. The game won with 10 wickets to spare and more than half the overs remaining. Chasseaud, 24 not out. Mulvey, 155 not out.
MOTM: James Mulvey. First club 150. Highest score on debut. Quickest 50, 100 and 150.