While deserving causes in Sri Lanka were the big winners in the Jersey Side by Side ding-dong between hosts JICC and an International Veterans XI, there were precious few in the large crowd who will have left the windy but sun-drenched arena disappointed to have chosen live cricket over Wimbledon on the television.
The Twenty20 match had much to offer, although in the end it was a comfortable seven-wicket victory for the visitors, forged by classy half centuries from Sri Lanka’s greatest ever batsman Arivinda de Silva and former England opener Bill Athey.
Good humoured throughout (JEP columnist Mark Saralis, as match commentator, spared no one his famous barbs), it was still competitive enough to keep the 500 or so who ignored the early morning rain fixed on the star-studded field.
The bulk of the international side were drawn from England ranks past, bolstered by de Silva, worthy representatives from match sponsors Barclays and PricewaterhouseCooopers, and one Chris Hill who paid £1,000 for the honour.
An eclectic mix, but one that worked well, with Chris Hill obviously pleased that his charitable contribution had ‘left me with something to tell the grandchildren.’ That ‘something’ included a worthy performance in the field, including the wicket of JICC powerhouse Chris Scott, and seven runs as de Silva steered the visitors to the 156-run target with an over and a half remaining.
The hard-hitting Scott, too, left the field at the end well satisfied with the day, having hit 33 runs.
The batsman, approaching veteran status, said: ‘I’m of the same generation as most of the internationals and they are heroes of mine.
Hopefully, the youngsters in the JICC know a lot more about them now.
Take Bill Athey, I watched him score a ton once and he hasn’t lost it – his six was one of the biggest I’ve ever seen at Grainville.
A great experience for me and the rest of the team, who made it competitive.’ Athey also enjoyed his knock, though he’d not admit to any preparation past ‘those five hours in the nets/bar last night.’ The JICC, faced with former England international bowlers of the class of Gladstone Small, John Lever, Mark Ilott, Peter Such and David Capel, did well to gain a 155 total for five wickets from their 20 overs, with Tom Minty top-scoring with an excellent 37 before being bowled by de Silva.
The reply, opened by Athey, and Naveed Rafique of PricewaterhouseCoopers, was solid with the bowling highlight being Bobby Minty’s stumping of Athey off the bowling of Andy Brown.
The openers scored 57 and 26 respectively to secure a winning platform.
But it was fitting, no one would deny, that it was Sri Lankan de Silva that was to the fore when the match was decided, his unbeaten 55 including some delightful strokeplay that was worthy of a man who will long be remembered as one of the world’s top batsmen.
Jersey Island CC: Nigel Crocker (captain), Ian Crocker, Tom Minty, Bobby Minty, Peter Blackburn, Andy Brown, Richard Gomersall, Peter Scott, Danny Bertram, Mark Reynolds and Carl Moyse.
England/Sri Lanka: Aravinda De Silva, John Lever, Keith Fletcher, Bill Athey, Glastone Small, Mark Ilott, David Capel, Clive Radley, Peter Such, Naveed Rafique and Chris Hill.