Cricket Stumps

July 13, 2013, by ICCSR

Staff vs MBA: Match Report – The smell of victory in the afternoon

In cricket, catches win matches. Runs are nice and economical bowling not to be sniffed at. But the true art of cricket is catching. Keep that in mind.

The game began amid the kind of low hanging cloud that makes an MBA pace bowler salivate. Yet, favourable bowling conditions could not stop Simon M (24) and Vicky (21) producing impressive knocks for the staff team – both retired at 20 and sacrificed their wickets in the last over. A solid platform had been laid down by the opening pair of Tim Bailey (10) and Simon M. Thanks to some generous wicket-keeping and buttery MBA fingers, they guided the staff team to 35-0 from 3 overs (top scorer: ‘Extras”). Then, horror. No sooner had stand-in captain Marek gloated than two wickets fell in quick succession (Tim caught playing one too many shots and Malay run out at the non-strikers end). It was left to Vicky to restore order. After a flurry of wickets (Simon B for 0, Ryan the ringer for 4, Rob for 0, Marek for not very many), she found the perfect foil in Chris, who carried his bat for 11. That took the staff total to 97 all out. Of course, this would be for nothing without top-notch catching.

Tea was delayed so the second innings began with empty tummies filled only with the pride, inspiration and direction provided by Marek’s team talk. “We can win this”, he cried. But could we? The staff team has a terrible record, added to which we were missing our regular captain and regular wicket keeper. To win, we’d need catching of superhuman standards.

Marek sensibly placed his faith in Ryan the ringer to open the bowling along with Tim Bailey. Ryan the ringer repaid Marek conceding just 3 runs from 2 overs. Tim was more expensive going for 15 runs in his first 2 overs but made the all important breakthrough, tempting their opener into a loose drive straight down Marek’s throat at point. With catching like that, maybe we could win. Simon B and Rob took first change. Rob conceding 1 run off the bat in his first over before the batsmen got to grips with his gentle tweaks and carted him for 10 in his second over (which could have been reduced had Marek listened to his bowler – only inexperience could explain Marek’s decision to field a fine leg for a slow left armer). Simon B hit the ground running and contained the MBAs in his first over before tempting a loose hook from the batsman at the start of his second over. The ball spooned high into mid-wicket. Rob ran in a few steps and bagged it. The staff went wild. “With catching like that, who cares that he was bowled for a duck! And spanked by the batters!”, the crowd cooed (possibly).

Marek and Vicky took over the bowling. Marek set increasingly defensive fields hoping to build “scoreboard pressure”. This allowed him to return tidy figures of 11 runs for 1 wicket and Vicky 14 runs for 1 wicket. Around this point Vicky retired for the school run – showing the kind of commitment to the staff team that has led to our impressive losing streak. Ryan the ringer returned for 1 over, living up to his billing again by conceding a single run, missing a run-out thanks to a very questionable umpiring decision and taking 1 wicket – another spooned shot bagged by Rob in the in-field. What catching!

That left the MBAs struggling on 70 for 6. With two girls, definitely not dressed for cricket, now at the crease, the bowlers queued up for the ball but it was Simon M and Chris that Marek turned to finish the job. With four men round the bat for both bowlers, the pressure was unbearable. The staff were clearly effected as their previously impeccable fielding showed signs of strain. But, it was only a matter of time before Chris’ nagging line returned him wickets – 2 for just 4 runs. It was then left to Simon M to clean up the tail and he left the best until last: a skilfully delivered “magic ball” looped a good ten foot into the air, giving him time to apologise to the batswoman before the ball gently nestled down on the base of middle stump. The MBAs, 77 all out (although half the staff team didn’t realise, thinking there was no way Simon’s magic ball could be legal. Marek, the captain, had final say – upholding his appeal by running off cheering like a teenager at a Harry Styles tweet).

Finally, tea arrived, giving us time to ponder some big questions: Can the staff team replace Malay behind the stumps after his faultless debut? Can Dave expect to walk back into the team, let alone tug the captain’s armband from Marek’s excitable grip? Yes, some had questioned Marek’s defensive fields but the figures don’t lie. It was, I think, Napoleon who said that if the choice is between a skillful general and a lucky general, take the lucky one.

By Dr Robert Cluley
Lecturer in Marketing, Nottingham University Business School

Photograph taken by Britanglishman and reproduced under creative commons (CC BY 2.0) Source:

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