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The secret weapon

VRA zami – ACC zami/zomi 219/6 – 220/9

[Door Joost Bakker] Friendlies against VRA are always a bit special. Sure enough, the old enmity between the clubs has not been what it once was, but relationships are always such that neither of the teams want to lose. Having this in mind, captain Abubakhar Muhammad of the ACC friendlies team decided to reach for a secret weapon. On the Friday before, playing a friendly against a Melbourne side of veteran cricketers touring Western Europe, he knew he needed something special, especially since the subscription for Saturday had already fallen below 11. The Aussies, impressing the ACC side with full-bodied gamesmanship (we but mention the full-body catch, involving every single body part imaginable, or the flying stop of a sure four where literally everything went flying) offered an option. Not that it would be Abu's first choice as the offer involved, allrounder Wayne, wicket keeper without pads, batter without fear, barely impressed with his measly single before playing on[1]).

Anyways, Abu must have thought, we'll have whatever we can, and the Saturday friendly on the VRA main pitch went under way. Of course, VRA groundsmen cannot remain uninvolved, and the current extracted the promise none of the players would lick fingers or ball, raising the question what steroids are used to grow Amsterdam's only grass wicket.

Abu won the toss and decided to field first, allowing secret weapon Wayne to guard the stumps, characteristically declining the use of leg guards. Batsmen #1 and #2 started to pepper the field with strokes, and the fantastic field conditions, helped by sometimes lax fielding, resulted in two near fifties before batsman #1 (or was it #2?) stranded at 49 being bowled by an angry Rahul. We will later encounter a sleepy Rahul, a key ingredient in what comes to pass...

Batsman #2 made it to fifty, and, even though subsequent batsmen did score rapidly, none of them made it to 50, and VRA's score was 219 when an excellent lunch was enjoyed.

Enter the secret weapon. Handing Youssaf a partner with a score to settle, not just that of erasing his high score of 1 on Dutch soil, but more importantly winning a AU$ 50 bet he would not make a fifty, Wayne (him of the played on) started fiercely. Unfortunately, rapidly scoring runs was accompanied by rapidly losing batting partners. Nevertheless, Wayne was able to entertain the VRA side with balls all around the park, and fairly soon, possibly inspired by the rest of the Aussies having come down to Amstelveen to witness and/or abuse their star player, Wayne was able to do a horse-riding dance, and collect his betting earnings for a resounding 6 brought him is fifty. After a few more knocks, his cricket career on Dutch soil came to an end, and Wayne was bowled.

Not being able to witness the end, the Aussies left, and it did not look as if ACC's remaining batsmen were able to stem the tide. With two overs to go, Nagesh Danturti saw his batting partner Michael Dukker play a top edge and being caught. Next man in, Rahul Jitt, was, as alluded to above, a bit tired. Sneakily his place was claimed by Paul Hagebeuk. Fear overcame the terrace: what could come of this? Paul, unaware, uncaring and unwavering took the strike. Legs a bit bent, with the look of a hyena, he struck fear in the VRA hearts, who prepared for the worst and set the field defensively on the boundary. VRA quick bowls the ball: Paul stick out his bat and the ball goes square leg and Paul runs for his live, awarding Nagesh the strike. Nagesh booms a six and the last over commences with 8 runs required.

Again, Paul on strike. Again, a quick single that allows Nagesh to take control. A four follows, and Nagesh hammers another one over the covers into the outfield, but not quite into Badhoevedorp, which at VRA means one must run. "Run, Paul, run!" it sounds from the terrace, it sounds from Nagesh, it sounds the stands. And Paul runs. As ACC1 duly learned later that afternoon, Paul should run two allowing Nagesh to bat the last ball and the team home. And Paul makes the run of his live, reaching the dead wicket. Here, the fairytale would be perfect. Nagesh would take the strike, and finish the match fittingly with a six. But Paul knows our friend Nagesh for some time now. Sixes and fours are Nagesh' forte, not singles. So Paul runs. He runs for his life, and makes the first three in his life, and his single most important run of his ACC cricketing life: Paul runs into ACC-VRA history, beating expectations, beating VRA. Talk about a secret weapon....

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[1]Abu himself fared barely better, showing a legendary played-on, involving bat, shoulder, butt and heel. Alas, no frogbox to capture the feat....