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Brigands v Old Tablelands of New Zealand, 25 June 2024

Updated: Jul 3

You know you are in for a challenge when a team turns up in smart blazers, with their own chef, and have a pre-match warm-up routine.

Midway through a tour of the finest grounds in Yorkshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and London, Old Tablelands CC had a playing squad of 20 that was already down to 14 fit men. Meanwhile, Brigands had their own travails with injuries and dropouts and were thankful the three Manns (father and two sons) stepped up to complete the line-up which featured 5 debutants.

The first wicket came off a Dave Henderson floated ball that was hit high to the square leg boundary where debutant Charlie Wilson declared loudly he couldn’t see the ball in the sun, and then proceeded to take a diving catch.

Off-spinners Oscar Mann (1-18) and Robbie James (1-15), another debutant, were the pick of the bowlers, with Richie Hay providing good support. When an over was needed, team man Paul Whittle bowled for just the second time this year. Old Tablelands reached 168 from their 25 overs.

James Stratford Tuke, like many before, was out for a duck on his Brigands debut and then a procession of Brigands batters hit the ball in the air to fielders who could actually catch a cricket ball; it was so unfair! With the score at 24-5 it was down to David Mann and Paul Whittle to restore some pride. The inform Neil Wood entertained the crown with a handful of boundaries too and Brigands, in the end, fell just over 30 runs short.

Presentations were made, ties were exchanged, and stories were told of cricket and wine in rural New Zealand before a pub supper at the Bat & Ball.

The Kiwis saw a photograph of Kane Williamson on his visit to the cradle of cricket in the display cabinet and they remarked how proud they were of his reputation as the nicest test player in world cricket. The Brigands who left the pub at the end of the evening declared Old Tablelands the nicest club in world cricket.

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