Pyrrhus of Epirus knew it well; sometimes there are victories that feel like defeats. On Saturday, the VCC Zamis asked the question – what’s the opposite of a Pyrrhic Victory?
Last season’s match against the same opposition was ill-tempered. A maelstrom of abuse was directed toward the umpires for every perceived slight and injustice. This year, happily, ACC were the perfect hosts – accommodating, competent, friendly. Or at least toward us they were. More of that to come.
The match itself had everything one could hope for in a Zami game. Stefan lost the toss, and so threw together a batting lineup that on paper looked strong. And if you were to only look down the left hand side of the scorebook, on paper that line up would remain strong. A top six of Vogelaar, Marthi, Parker, Bins, Brand, and Batra is strong enough to take on all comers. On paper.
A quick glance at the right hand side of that scorebook would tell you the real story of the top order. Harold looked excellent for 48. I think someone told him the beers were on him if he got to 50. Kaushal looked to be timing it nicely, hitting a 6 along the way. I think someone told him that he was also opening the bowling, so he bowled out for 10. Graham arrived at the crease feeling confident and left a ball later, feeling less so. Gijs looked good for 19, putting on 39 with Harold, until Frits decided he wanted to watch someone else bat, giving him out LBW. Derk-Jan got off the mark straight away, before he too decided it was someone else’s turn. Jatin, conscious he would be hopefully bowling 7 overs later in the day, also batted nicely, finding regular gaps in the field for his 19. Unfortunately, by the time the alleged top order had finished batting, we were only on about 100.
Luckily, we know Zami cricket. Batting orders are, of course, a nonsense. Leave it to the lower order to show the rest how it’s done. Martin (13*) and Stefan (15) had an excellent partnership, making the most of the bad balls while keeping out the straight ones (note to self – keep out the straight ones). Prem came in and tonked a few around for a brisk 14, selflessly running himself out off the last ball of the innings. The lower order got us to 167/9, and we felt in the game.
Evidently ACC thought so as well. At the interval, all hell broke loose in their dressing room. What started as a heated discussion turned into an argument, which almost turned into a brawl. It was down to Harold to intervene and break up the burgeoning fight. The exact details of the argument are uncertain, but talk of Saikiran surreptitiously spreading rumors about the strength of the VCC bowling attack abounds.
ACC came out swinging, though this time in the middle rather than in their dressing room. Prem seems to have developed a short ball over the winter, so he showed off his new repertoire early on. Kaushal made the ball talk a little, getting an important early wicket (c. Bins b. Marthi – the first of three such dismissals). Stefan picked up a couple of excellent wickets, and at 67-3, the game was evenly balanced. It was about this time that Jatin injured himself fielding a ball in the gully, taking away our slowest, and potentially most effective, bowler. Though Gijs successfully reinserted the finger, it was not enough. Get well soon, Jatin. Unfortunately, a risky but effective 68 of 51 balls from the ACC number 4 was the difference. And it was risky. Gijs found a thick outside edge 4 times, and had at least one catch put down. Richard bowled full and straight, and found the batter’s inside edge a couple of times as well.
With about 60 needed for victory, Pyrrhus must have had a word with the gods, as the heavens opened, offering the possibility of a draw, or maybe even offering a slightly spicier pitch on which to grab some more wickets. Sadly, all it gave was the batsmen a break, and the fielders a wet ball. Late on, Kaushal grabbed another 2 wickets late on when he decided running off a long run up was a mug’s game, so switched to spin instead. With 2 needed to win, we turned to Frits, who, despite having the batter in all sorts of trouble with his first ball, had the winning runs hit off his second.
Pyrrhus famously said that “if we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” So yes, ACC won the game, but at what cost to them? As for us, we played Zami cricket to a tee. E.X. Tras had a great game with bat and with ball, several players out to ungainly hoiks across the line, comedy run outs, injuries, dropped catches, a dog vomiting, friendliness, post-game festivities, no fighting. We have achieved far more in defeat than the opposition achieved in success. There is no word from the classics that encompasses this. So a Zamic victory it shall be.
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