Jonathan Hammond (1975-85), captain of the Old Nottinghamians' Phoenix XI, reports on the Robin Hood XI 2021 match...
Not since The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes has such a raggle-taggle group of individuals been assembled, at the last minute, to do battle with a well-oiled and tough-to-beat opposition: the Robin Hood XI. 28 players had said yes, but then no, either showing Covid symptoms or being pinged. The selector had only 3 players on Tuesday lunchtime for a match due to start at 6pm on the Thursday.
He sent over 170 emails; WhatsApp, Facebook and text messages. He made urgent calls to friends, local cricket clubs, the 'Hamians, and even Phoenix stalwarts who thought they had hung up their boots for the last time. All were implored to turn out at Adbolton, as cancelling the fixture was not an option.
By 3.37pm on the day, the full XI was in place. By 4.10pm, we had 10 again. Chris Padwick then took the opportunity of not just watching history, but making it. Thus the Dirty Eleven for the evening were: Jamie Hahn, Richard Hayes, Matt Nixon, Richard Clay, Nigel Hampson, Robin Fisher, Chris Padwick , Jonathan Hammond, Tom Giles, Demari Benta and Essan Warner.
Phoenix XI v Robin Hood XI 2021
Robin Hood XI won the toss and chose to bat. Umpire Andy Sullivan walked onto the pitch with six stones in one hand and a tin of beer in the other. The expected Phoenix weather appeared: sunshine and blue skies. Making his Phoenix debut, Hahn bowled the first over from the River End. What a perfect start for the youngster! A maiden over to Shoebridge. Briggs scored a couple of 2s and a sweetly hit 6 off Hampson. After Padwick bowled the third over without success, Benta, from a short run up, fired the ball down at speed. Both batsmen used the pace to score boundaries. With Briggs on 24, there was a run out chance, but the ball whistled inches past the stumps for four overthrows. Briggs therefore retired on 29.
Warner's over of perfect line and length yielded only 1 run. Nixon, too, achieved five dot balls. Fisher then delivered the best over of his Phoenix career: 4 dot balls, a mere 3 runs and no wides. Shoebridge retired on 25. Turner and Scott faced tight bowling, and the run rate dropped considerably. Giles hurled the ball down the 22 yards. Hayes produced a successful over. Hammond's first ball, a full toss, went to the boundary, but 4 dot balls and only a single followed. 68-0 from the first 10 overs.
Phoenix had their first wicket of the innings when Hahn bowled Turner. The arrival of Matt Brindley saw the scoreboard rattle on. Nevertheless, Benta's bowling was a joy to witness and Warner’s line and length caused all sorts of problems. The match reporter at mid off gave a successful one-handed fielding demonstration; the sting was still being felt some 3 days later. Brindley was out, played-on, to a ball from Nixon. Benta made a spectacular attempt at a catch on the boundary rope off Fisher, reducing a 6 to a 4. Giles removed Scott's middle stump. Hayes narrowly missed a caught-and-bowled. Hampson ran out Rajiv. The Robin Hood XI innings ended on 144.
Phoenix XI v Robin Hood XI 2021
Hampson opened the Phoenix innings with 2 boundaries from the first 3 balls off Amba. Hahn opened his account with a 4. The second over yielded 12 runs, including a 6 from Hahn. Hampson was caught by Scott for 9. The fireworks display then began with Warner scoring 4,6,2,2,2,4,2,1,6 from only a dozen balls. Benta followed his fellow Antiguan into retirement after scoring 4,6,6,1,3,6. The rattle of the scoreboard was deafening as the Phoenix reeled in the target of 145.
Hahn's debut ended in retirement on 25 with 2 sixes and 2 fours. The youngsters were putting on a wonderful display of shots and placement. Could the more mature and experienced cricketers continue in the same manner? No. Quite frankly, no, they could not. Briggs bowled Nixon for 6; both Hayes and Clay returned with only a single to their names. Giles, though, was building a wonderful innings with 2s and 4s. Hammond clipped a single to cover point as his contribution to the total. On 24, Giles sent a 6 soaring over the ropes, and the target of 145 had been reached. Giles took the plaudits. Hammond was not out for the third time in 3 matches; the winners' speech was going over and over in his mind for the third time, too.
Huge gratitude is due to our sponsor and supplier at www.adventurebeer.co.uk for the post-match beer. Players and spectators were enjoying pizza as well. Thanks to Andy Sullivan for umpiring and for checking that the beers were ok for us to sample; to Dave Vickerstaff and John Coates for preparation of the pitch and pavilion. Hammond’s Heroes had another win. Could this be the season when we remained unbeaten?
Captain, Fixture Secretary, Team Selection Manager, Kit Man, Head of Post-Match Catering, Scorer, Team Photographer, Match Reporter, Head of Social Media & Beer Barrel Tapper