On Sunday 15th August, 2010, the Gentlemen & Players match was re-launched in an exhilarating new format at a gloriously stylish Wormsley – England’s most beautiful cricket ground.
For those of you who may not remember all the way back to 1962 when the fixture was last played, the Gentlemen and Players series is the oldest, longest running and one of the most prestigious first-class cricket competitions in history. It was established in 1806 by Thomas Lord and Lord Gordon of Strathavon, Marquis of Huntley, who together who had the vision to see that the cricketing format of amateur and often aristocratic Gentlemen versus the professional Players would be a huge hit with the Great British public.
On Sunday a new era for Gentlemen and Players began with new cricketers stepping into the historic shoes of the Gentlemen and Players teams under exciting Twenty20 rules.
In keeping with modern Britain, The Gentlemen were represented not by wealthy aristocrats but by a selection of under nineteen cricketers from Blackheath Cricket Club and state schools in South East London and the Tower Hamlets area.
The Players team was composed of an all star professional team made up of the Professional Cricketers Association Masters, captained by Robert Key of Kent and England.
It turned out to be the most astonishing match.
The Gentlemen, captained by Warren Lee, won the toss and invited the Players to bat.
Lou Vincent, New Zealand’s one day international and Ashes winning former England all rounder Philip De Freitas got the Players off to a deliberate start. The Gentlemen seam bowling outfit of Iwan Thomas, Sam Douglas Freeman and 15 year old Ahmed Akbari stemmed the flow of runs superbly well. The Players were 25 for 5 overs.
Then the Players established themselves. Vincent top scored with 28 with support from Kent and England A’s leading batsman Darren Stevens as well as some lusty blows from Devon Malcolm to end of the Players innings. The Gentlemen were determined and extremely athletic; and were well rewarded for their approach reducing the Players to 127 for 8 in their 20 overs. Off spinners Dipayan Paul and Adam Senn with impressive figures of 4-23 in his 3 overs were the most effective combination for the Gentlemen.
The target had now been set and it was now up to the Gentlemen to prove themselves against their heroes of Malcolm, De Freitas, Headley and Stevens.
The Gentlemen team were determined and extremely athletic in their approach reducing the Players to 127 for 8 in their 20 overs.
Ed Giddins, former Sussex, Warwickshire and England opened the bowling for the Players along with Philip De Freitas. Dipayan Paul and Alex Senn were removed in quick time by Giddins to leave the Gentlemen on a precarious 18 for 2. Jamal Patterson and Alex Price making a run a ball 23 steadied the ship for the Gentlemen. Ahmed Akbari intensified the chase with a brief cameo appearance.
It was left to Paterson on 52 not out and Medi Abbas on 27 not out including a towering six off Darren Stevens in the last over, to steer the Gentlemen team home off the last ball to an electrifying win with the Gentlemen finishing on 128 for 5.
An extraordinary major upset then with the Gentleman defeating the Players team for the first time since 1953!