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(door Vijay Gomatam) No matter the age, it is hard not to fall in love with cricket! The early morning smell of cut grass, the summer sun in Netherlands, the sedate pace of the day, relaxing in a beautiful pavilion when your team is batting, the spanking new bats, the shiny new ball and but most importantly, the bond & good-natured banter you have with your team!  In many ways that has been the story for ACC-4! Our first season as a league 3 team for one of Amsterdam’s iconic cricket clubs! We always play to win but often times it’s the journey that has been far more enjoyable!   

The season began with 5-6 people resolving to play together & just enjoy each other’s company during summer Sundays! However, a good thing catches on fast…very quickly our tribe grew, and we had walk-ins wanting to join us and play. For example: The best bowler of our team & the division this season– Navin Saran walked in into our nets while out for a jog!  

And the season has been a season of many discoveries – We have deeply committed, thoughtful & passionate members – Axaya, Girish, Saju, Vishal, Rohit Sharma, we have a consistent batsman (well just one this season TBH ) – Rohit Kapoor, we have great all-round cricketers: Vivek Tiwari, Mayank, Raviraj & Navin who can do any role that is asked of them. And we have an always improving fun bunch who give their 100% every time: Sushant, Shankar & Vijay.   

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Most of us did not know of each other till about 6 months back but now we are a band of brothers with amazing memories of a winning season where we won, we lost, we argued, we joked, we drank beer but most importantly we had fun while playing our favorite game (Actually some of us love football more - but Indians & football – not a great combination…YET! )    

Oh, and a minor detail I almost forgot: We won the division and got promoted!    

Yes 13 people playing for the first time together won the division and got promoted tot he next level – that does not happen often! And no match represents our season better than our last match with the wonderful and sporting guys from Centurion over @ Zeist! We needed to win to top the league & what a nail-biter of a match! where everyone in our team was not at their best, but EVERYONE played a role!    

What a match it was – admittedly we went into the match very confident as we had won more matches than we had lost. On paper, our team had some big guns & thanks to support from ACC Zomi and Zami (Zuby, Musaf and Morne) who turned up to make the 11 for us!    

In a 40 over match, we got them out in the 35th for 132. None of their batsman got a big score and our bowlers did what they do best: tighten the scoring of runs and keep taking wickets: Mayank and Vishal gave us a great opening spell with a wicket to begin with and then came our famous middle over bowlers: Navin & Girish – 3 wickets each in a short period of time efficiently making short work of the top and middle order. This happened with almost a surgical consistency throughout the season! Ravi, Shankar were consistent and supported them with Shankar getting his first wicket thisseason!   

But that was the simple part – the tough part was to come! Centurions fought back valiantly and never gave up till the last ball.  

And the match situation can be simply defined: the entire seasons’ performance, promotion to the next level hung on one very simple calculation: 23 runs to get and 2 wickets in hand! All our batsman came in hit a few shots and promptly got out! Some unlucky, some shots just not executed well! However match pressure can do that to you!  

However, it was all on the shoulders finally of three people: Girish, Rohit Sharma, and Vishal. They slowly but surely navigated each one of the runs. I recall, one specific instance when we needed 6 runs, Rohit Sharma showed great courage and hit a four through mid-on, knowing fully well that if he missed or popped it in the air – the entire match is done for! But that’s what cricket does – buildscharacter and shows that risks are meant to be taken, else there is no glory!   

Achieve glory we did and celebrated like we always do – have beers together. This time with the friendly folks at Centurion – who were great sports & hosts! And it was befitting that we end the season on a winning note playing against true gentlemen and great hosts!   

Now on wardsto the next season, where it promises to be equally memorable & exciting. We will be the “promoted” team in a competitive higher-level league where our skills and temperament will be tested even more. But I think I speak for all in the team when I say, “BRING IT ON!” 

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