Aroon with a Few, but Pacific left Wandering
Pacific v Dorset Wanderers at Hazelbury Bryan  Sat 07 Jul 2018 at 13:00
Lost by 75 runs
Tour fixture


Way out west there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Philip Korgaonkar. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. See, this Korgaonkar, he called himself "Aroon". Now this here story I'm about to unfold took place in 2018 - just about the time of our Brexit. I only mention it because sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? Sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about Aroon here – Aroon from Bow. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's Aroon. Aroon, from Bow. Sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Well, I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced it enough. 

At the time of going to press, almost three weeks after the end of Pacific's 2018 Dorset Tour, the 2018 FIFA World Cup is but a distant memory. The Jules Rimet trophy will reside for the next four years with our friends across the channel, and the Three Lions will lick their wounds and bury the pain of Mario Mandzukić's 109th-minute winner.  

But it wasn't always this way.  

There was a moment in early July, in the swullocking heat of remotest Dorset, when anything seemed possible.  Harry Maguire could head the winner in the World Cup final.  Football could come home.   Aroon could ton up. A nation dared to dream.

This story begins on Friday night. DC Phil Smith led Pacific's convoy to the South-West, stopping only at the Greyhound Inn in Blandford Forum to watch Brazil v Belgium, a match likely to determine England's opponents in the World Cup final.  The blokes on the next table addressed each other as 'Mush' and animatedly recounted captaining decisions from their previous weekend's cricketing action. Ben Burnham, all at sea having been cut adrift from the Waitroses of Crouch End, discovered that £50 goes a long way in Morrisons, and stockpiled 48 eggs, 24 Cumberland sausages, four packets of bacon, a couple of dozen tomatoes, and other supplies for the heartiest of pre-match breakfasts.  The stage was set.  

Alas, the Social Secretary's gastronomic pretentions were scuppered on arrival at our rural accommodation, as our affable farmer-host informed us that there were no cooking facilities.   Our devastation was tempered as the farmer opened up an extra barn for us, watched the end of the game, and pointed us in the direction of the chickens, pigs, alpacas and neighbouring guests on a Buddhist retreat (who every morning banged a gong).  We had a decent curry delivered (the driver had lived locally for 60 years and had no idea our place existed), and the initial crew of Smith, Stockton, Soden and Burnham was helped to eat it by Howes – the gluten-free man unsated by the Wetherspoon's dinner taken en route with Hussain and Woodland.  On arrival, Ahmed cracked open a keg procured from a local brewery, and we enjoyed a few rounds of Mölkky, the Finnish skittles game.  Woodland, a veteran Mölkker, was the undisputed champion.

As all this unfolded, Aroon Korgaonkar remained rooted to his spot in the Crooked Billet, Clapton, sinking a few jars in front of the football.  The cockney contingent (Tim, Shaz, Mutz, Aroon) arrived in Dorset in the dead of night, raki in hand, and in the absence of ice baths or the offer of spiritual sports psychology from our neighbours, the PCC men slumped into their bunks.

"What has all this got to do with the cricket?" you might ask.  Well, not much, to tell the truth.  I digress.

We set off the following morning for the picturesque Hazelbury Bryan, a couple of Pacifians having bravely stomached some microwaved eggs.  The ground was adorned by a handsome freshly-thatched cottage, and our opponents were an intergenerational mixture, including All-Time Pacific Great Jon Webley and his father.  The Wanderers also took on board Aly Duncan as their 11th man.

There's not a great deal to say about our bowling innings.  We did fine, but Wanderers' opening pair were a cut above, as flaxen-locked opener Shardlow eased himself to a chanceless, unbeaten 103.  Burnham took a decent catch on the boundary off Korgaonkar (our top wicket-taker for the day, with one), and a Webley cameo entertained the neutrals as he smashed 51 off three or four balls before running himself out on the last ball of the allotted 35 overs.  Stockton captained well but there wasn't really anything he could do stop a batsman who was in absolute control.  Probably we could have done a bit better with our catching and ground fielding.

The teams took tea around 2.15, and were treated to a sublime spread of homemade confections.  The cake and sandwiches were all classics (cheese and pickle, ham, egg mayonnaise, lemon drizzle, scones and so on), but more importantly, they were done properly, clearly prepared with love and affection.  It truly brought home the value of using locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients, and doing what you are best at.  While this author would never knock a Windermere Vada Pav or a Highgate Noodle, many pricey London tea-suppliers ("for your £95 this week you get frozen numbers and letters") would do well to take note. 

Stomachs lined, the teams decamped to the pub over the road from the ground, and watched England dispatch Sweden in the World Cup quarter final with ruthless efficiency.  During two hours in the pub, many of us couldn't resist the ale.  At half time we were even treated to a meat raffle, administered by a fearsome landlady.  A few of us were bullied into buying tickets.  Aly Duncan won a bag of pork scratchings.

Partially intoxicated (although never toxic), we went out to bat and by and large chucked away our wickets to benign bowling. It was ludicrously hot, and we were mostly just tired and a bit drunk.  One man who was clearly buoyed by England's win was Aroon Korgaonkar, who played an epic innings of 93 not out.  Korgy caressed the ball elegantly around the ground, holding our inning together as he fended off seven straight overs of Aly Duncan's bowling and repeatedly issued his trademark calls of "yeah, come on!" 

We were never truly in the reckoning and came up 75 runs short.  After the game, we dropped the cars a couple of miles from our accommodation, and enjoyed an exuberant pub dinner.  Several of us faded early, exhausted by an afternoon of beer and subshine.  Aroon, having started drinking later than most owing to his batting travails, carried on late into the night and cracked open the raki back at the ranch.  Smith and Garrett were the last men standing, setting the world to rights into the wee hours.

To be continued….


Dorset Wanderers v Pacific
Toss won by Dorset Wanderers
Dorset Wanderers innings Runs Mins Balls 4s 6s
  Hoare c Burnham b Korgaonkar  83  0  0  0  0  
  Shardlow not out  103  0  0  0  0  
  Jon Webley run out Stockton  51  0  0  0  0  
  Held not out  0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 5, lb 3, w 4, nb 0) 12    
 TOTAL (35.0 Overs) 252    
 Fall of wickets: 
Bowling O M R W  
 Sam Howes 4 1 9 0  
 James Soden 4 1 17 0  
 Sharan Timbadia 7 0 40 0  
 Phil Smith 4 0 36 0  
 Tim Garrett 4 0 25 0  
 Ahmed Hussain 4 0 54 0  
 Ben Stockton 6 1 37 0  
 Aroon Korgaonkar 2 0 34 1  
Pacific innings Runs Mins Balls 4s 6s
  Ben Burnham c & b Crate  0  0  3  0  0  
  Mark Woodland c & b Crate  6  0  12  1  0  
  Murtaza Siddiqui† b Webley  14  0  18  2  0  
  Tim Garrett b Crate  4  0  10  1  0  
  Aroon Korgaonkar not out  93  0  74  15  0  
  Ben Stockton* st b Shardlow  18  0  10  2  1  
  Sam Howes b Wood  1  0  4  0  0  
  James Soden b Shardlow  11  0  12  2  0  
  Phil Smith lbw b weld  11  0  12  2  0  
  Ahmed Hussain not out  12  0  20  1  0  
  Sharan Timbadia did not bat  0  0  0  0  0  
 Extras (b 4, lb 1, w 5, nb 0) 10    
 TOTAL (35.0 Overs) 177    
 Fall of wickets:  1-0 [Burnham ] , 2-7 [Woodland] , 3-17 [Garrett] , 4-25 [Siddiqui] , 5-56 [Stockton] , 6-71 [Howes] , 7-99 [Soden] , 8-128 [Smith]
Bowling O M R W  
 Crate 4 0 20 3  
 Webley 5 0 8 1  
 Wood 5 0 28 1  
 Shardlow 7 0 51 2  
 Weld 3 1 17 1  
 Aly Duncan 7 0 39 0  
 Webley senior 4 1 10 0  

Other matches:
 A return to winning ways, Sun 05 Jun 2016, Hazelbury Bryan, Won 75 runs
 Webley's hunger for runs leads to onion argy-bargy, Sat 04 Jun 2016, Plush CC, Drawn
 Sat 05 Jul 2014, Plush CC, Lost 5 wickets
 I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying, Sat 07 Jul 2012, Plush CC, Cancelled
 Stonehenged, Sat 09 Jul 2011, Chetnole CC, Lost 2 wickets
 Go West (Part 2) ;-), Sun 28 Jun 2009, Compton House Cc, Won 68 runs
 Go West (Part 1), Sat 27 Jun 2009, Charlton Down, Dorchester, Lost 75 runs
 Joy in the Country, Sat 28 Jun 2008, Hindon CC, Won 4 Wickets