HAVERFORD, Pa. - Haverford College Cricket welcomed back 14 alumni for the annual alumni game on Saturday, April 21. For the first time in the history of the cricket alumni game, two formal and competitive cricket games were played out between the current varsity side and teams composed of alumni. Haverford College's current varsity team defeated the alumni in both contests. Haverford's batting was marked by impressive performances by senior captain Raghav Bali, junior captain Andrew Cornell, and first year Emile Givental. The bowling for the varsity side featured an excellent bowling debut by First year Jack Morgan and an excellent performance from senior Isfar Munir. The alumni were lead by legendary power hitters Garrett McVaugh '04 and Munik Shrestha '09 while David White '17 and Reid Sherman '04 bowled with menacing pace and accuracy.
On a damp and overcast day, Haverford College won the toss and elected to bowl first in the opening game against the alumni. Bali and Nathaniel Rolfe, sharing the new ball, dueled against the ever-comfortable Munik Shrestha at the crease. A tight performance by the new-ball bowlers contained the run rate of the alumni bagged a wicket when Bali slipped by a quick, full length ball through the gap between bat and pad to strike the stumps. Despite being well-supported by Sophomores Jake Kutchins and Daniel Van Beveren, not for a moment did Shrestha, a former international level player for Nepal, ever seem remotely uncomfortable.
Supported by Arunabh Gosh '03 at the other end, Shrestha struck boundaries at will, patiently waiting for balls pitched fractionally off-length. Powerful straight drives and timed cut shots were features of the innings. Sensing opportunities against Haverford's slower bowlers, Shrestha rampaged his way to his unbeaten half-century, hitting massive sixes on either side of the ground with pulls and drives.
Despite the onslaught, Sophomore Ethan Flicker found the breakthrough against Gosh, using a flat, quick delivery to surprise the batsman hit the stumps. Garrett McVaugh and Peter Taylor '90 arrived at the crease to lead the alumni's final charge. Taylor smashed a lofted straight drive back past the bowler's head for six, with McVaugh following up soon after with a belligerent slog-sweep that cleared the midwicket boundary line for six. A tidy final bowling display by Cornell and the returning new-ball pair restricted the Alumni to a competitive total of 131 runs for the loss of four wickets.
Haverford College found itself in early trouble when Kutchins slammed a glorious cover drive straight into the hands of Peter Taylor. Aided by inaccurate bowling, Rolfe and Bali made quick but risk-free progress in the innings. Rolfe's innings was highlighted by a destructive cover drive that hammered the ball for four. Bali showed of his ability to dominate the leg-side, sweeping and driving the ball for boundaries against all manners of balls.
McVaugh showed off his impressive bowling though, employing a quick bouncer against Rolfe that could only be fended straight back to the bowler for a simple return chance. With Cornell now at the crease, the alumni had a chance to wrestle the game away from the Fords but lost the chance as Cornell played with authority and dominated the crease.
With Bali hitting impressively, Cornell played an iron defense to a pacey Shrestha and Taylor. With this, Haverford raced away to the 100-run mark. Bali was finally caught out at this stage by an aerial ball that only just failed to reach the boundary, but new batsman Flicker shut out any last chance the alumni had of winning the game. Flicker motored along, hitting only four dot balls in the entirety of his innings. With Cornell and Flicker running well between the wickets and Flicker finding the boundary with a well-timed sweep, Haverford chased down the total with three overs to spare.
The alumni sent in a new opening pair in the second match, with Neilay Shah '14 joined by Reid Sherman to lead the chase. The duo got off to a strong start against opening bowlers Rolfe and Van Beveren Haverford's bowlers maintained tidy lines and lengths that limited scoring opportunities, but failed to make any dents in wickets column. After the alumni retired Sherman and Shah, Haverford introduced a bowling change to produce a wicket.
The move paid off, as Munir induced a high top-edge from Karan Shah '12 that was pouched by a lurking Nathaniel Role at long-on. The next wicket to fall came off a piece of fielding brilliance by Givental, who made a bullet throw from deep midwicket to destroy the stumps well before Samuel Gerstin '10 could make his ground. first year Morgam induced a bating collapse in his second over, removing the ever-dangerous David White with an out-swinging delivery that was only struck as far as Kutchins at long-off before inducing a mishit to Rolfe with a straighter delivery against Brian Rafferty '13.
Rolfe found himself in action again the next over, taking a superb one-handed catch after Alex Swan '70 attempted to pull a full delivery by Munir to long-on. The alumni were not about to let down without a fight though. McVaugh struck four consecutive fours with simple flicks to the on-side, changing the angle with expert precision on each of them to avoid fielders placed in the spot of the previous boundary. Not content with just simple boundaries, McVaugh creamed a pull shot that sent the ball well over the road ringing Cope Field or six. After McVaugh's incredible 32-run from 14-ball innings, the score totaled to 129 runs for the loss of five.
In the batting effort, Rolfe and Kutchins laid down a very stable platform for the chase. Unperturbed by average bowling and ably fending off a lightning fast David White, the duo put on an opening half-century partnership with minimal use of the boundary rope. Instead, both ran quick and hard between the wickets, with the sole boundary of the partnership coming from a muscular square drive by Rolfe for four.
After their retirement Cornell and Givental arrived at the crease to see the chase home. With Cornell dropping anchor for the chase and playing with care, Givental emulated McVaugh in his antics. The very ball he faced was mowed away to the midwicket boundary with an aggressive slog.
Cornell got into the act with an excellent sweep shot that raced the ball to the square leg boundary, but it was again Givental who pushed the tempo; marching outside his crease, Givental slapped back a thunderous straight drive to bisect the long-on and long-off fielders or four, before pulling a short pitched balls to the on-side trees for another four. Cornell fell to a remarkable caught and bowled dismissal by Sherman, who nonchalantly took to hand a powerfully drilled ball for the wicket.
This brought first year Malcolm Thompson to the crease. Not about to be outdone, Thompson scythed away his second ball to the midwicket boundary before clubbing the next delivery over long-on for another four. Givental cleared the trees for six with an expansive slog but found himself out the next delivery after being deceived by a swinging Reid Sherman delivery that trapped him LBW on middle stump. After the whirlwind 27-run from 14-ball innings, there was short work left to be done with the chase, with Thompson and Morgan bringing Haverford home.
The alumni in attendance included: Alex Swan '70, Paul Hensley '72, Paul Trapido '78 Peter Taylor '90, Arunabh Ghosh '03, Reid Sherman '04, Garrett McVaugh '04, Munik Shrestha '09, Samuel Gerstin '10, Karan Shah '12, Brian Rafferty '13, Matthew Smith '13, Neilay Shah '14 and David White '17.