Having been to Alistair Cook’s Benefit Match at The County Ground last year it was a total no brainer to go to the T20 match between Essex and Ravi’s All Stars!  The evening promised a wealth of world class cricketers.

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In fact the morning after I still can’t believe such a plethora of cricketing superstars were on the same pitch and the same team!  Here’s a list –

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  • Saeed Ajmal
  • Kumar Sangakkara
  • Mahela Jayawardene
  • Shahid Afridi
  • Chris Gayle
  • Abdur Rehman
  • Sohal Tanvir
  • Moeen Ali

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Unsurprisingly  there was a good crowd – I was joined by Gary Bott and Phil Norton who were I have to say great company.  We had great fun, having their company really enhanced the evening.

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Morene Ali won the toss for the All Stars and chose to bat.  We were treated to an opening partnership of Chris Gayle – he of the mighty bat – and Hanuma Vihari.

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Vihari was out early with just 1 to his name caught by James Foster off the bowling of Matt Sailsbury.

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Gayle repeated his slow start at the County Ground before he got his eye in and started to swing his bat.

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He wasn’t allowed to repeat his big hits of 92 and 151 however – much to the crowd’s disappointment he was caught by Nick Browne from the bowling of Angad Nijjar – who I do believe is 16!

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The crowd Boo’ed and I joined in, I’d wanted to see Gayle score a pile of runs, but wow now I know the age of the bowler – great!  What a memory for him!

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Kumar Sangakkara had come in at 3 – his batting averages are stunning – he’s scored 12,203 runs in Test Cricket, 14,324 in ODI’s and in excess of 67,000 runs in total in his career.  This man is pure class!

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He scored 23 runs before Nijjar caught him from the bowling of Nick Browne!  Those 2 were having a great evening.

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Mahela Jayawardene had joined his Sri Lankan team mate, watching them bat was poetry in motion.  There is nothing quite like seeing a top class cricketer bat.  A few stats for Jayawardene – 11,814 Test runs, 12,650 ODI runs and a total in excess of 63,000 runs!

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Batting royalty were on the pitch! Jayawardene fielded near to where I was sitting and gave as many autographs and photos as he physically could.  What a great man!  He scored a great 48 before losing his wicket to a David Masters catch from the bowling of Adeel Malik.

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In the meantime another crowd favourite Shahid Afridi had come to the crease.  Popular really was the word, I imagine he’s a cricketing god in Pakistan.  He’d emerged with a bare head – a very unusual sight in cricket these days.

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Every move he made was cheered and as soon as he got bat to ball the horns blared out.  He put in a great innings scoring 62 runs and finishing the 20 overs unbeaten.  An All Rounder with 1477 wickets to his name he’s a very entertaining batsman!

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The man of the moment, Ravi Bopara had come on to bat and he certainly made the most of his time at the crease hitting some great runs! He scored a quick 55 before being caught by Tom Westley from the bowling of Nijjar.

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Captain Moeen Ali played a short cameo scoring 14 runs not out.  The All Stars had set a mean total for Essex to chase finishing at 224-5.

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There was another high profile international player present for the game – one Alistair Cook.  It was great to see him at ‘home’ – he always looks happy and content when he’s with his Essex Colleagues.

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Alistair opened the batting with big hitter Jesse Ryder.  Ryder was on a mission to show he has a very big bat too!  He went at the work of scoring runs with gusto – hitting a very entertaining 54 before falling to a catch by Jayawardene from the bowling of Ali.

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Cook was ticking away at the other end and was joined by the young Essex batsman Nick Browne – he carried on where Ryder had finished proving his prowess with the bat – before we knew it he was on 52!

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He fell to a catch by S Senanayake, Ali was again the bowler.  Cook had reached a steady 39 before he was out again to Ali – with Sangakkara catching the ball this time.

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James Foster reminded us he’s non too shoddy with the bat scoring 31 while his partners fell at the other end.  Nijjar was the next highest scoring for the home team finishing 24 not out!

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Monty Panesaar who hasn’t been featuring for Essex was in the All Stars team, he dropped an easy catch early on, taking a lot of stick.  But came back with a 4 wicket tally and the Man of the Match Trophy.  I can’t help but feel that a Young man playing for Essex was deserving of that accolade amongst so many Superstars.

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Essex fell short on the run chase finishing on 217 for 9  – it was a thoroughly enjoyable even, I’m so glad I went to see such high quality players in a small venue.

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Check out the Ravi Bopara Benefit website for details of the charities being supported and events to come.  http://boparabenefit.com

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One fact

  • Cost of Ticket    £15.00 – Money well spent!

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