We’re at the mid way point of the 6th annual Wham-Gip Festival and emotions are high. Today, for the last time ever, the legendary opening partnership of Syed Burki and Kris Evans walked out to bat together. The festival is interestingly poised. Whamo won yesterday’s BT20 opener and a victory today will seal a rare Wham-Gip title before tomorrow’s FC game even begins. At this point the Gipsies have set Whamo 222 to do so, but today is about more than just that, it’s about Burki and Evans. While the Gipsies held a similarly fitting tribute for Whamo hero George Grewcock last year, Whamo are now returning the favour for these two.
In terms of OD competitive matches, Burki tops the run scoring list with a whopping 11521 runs, while Evans is second with 9202. Lunt, currently placed 3rd on the list only has a meagre 4911, showing just how much the pair have contributed to Gipsies cricket. Had the FC and BT20 formats been in place during the pair’s first stints at the club there is no doubt they’d be topping those lists as well.
While today was always going to remain competitive due to it being part of the now prestigious Wham-Gip Festival, really it was all about these two men. Whamo won the toss and sent the Gipsies legends out to bat.
A star studded crowd greeted the two with rapturous applause, and the guard of honour, containing both the Whamo and Gipsies squads as well as former Gipsies teammates, led the two out to the crease and delayed the start of the match by 8 minutes.
Evans managed a trademark cover drive for 4 before succumbing to the inevitable. As he walked back he thanked every corner of the crowd with a raised bat, a beaming smile and a glisten in his eye. It was a slow walk off and it seemed as though the crowd could have kept the appreciation going even if he was walking all the way back to the Gipsies own pavilion two counties away!
For Burki, a man who has encountered so many different challenges in the game, including U19 national honours, it was a case of having to play in conditions he’d never previously met with. The flow of tears from the great man’s eyes wouldn’t cease and so, playing almost blinded, he managed just 20 beautifully crowd pleasing shots of typical style and swagger, although few of them actually made contact with the ball.
At one point he had to ask for a hankie from the dressing room. To roars from the crowd out came former team mate Terry Hankey. Another delay in the game for a funny moment couldn’t stop the flow of tears, and Hankey left the pitch as Callum Ramsay came on with some actual hankies.
Neither Hankey nor the hankies made any difference and Burki’s 20th attempt, another elegant air shot, saw the ball wrap him on the knee roll. Both an appeal and a finger went up and Burki left the field for the last time in a OD match.
Unlike Evans, Burki tried to march of quickly but was hindered in doing so as hoards of fans ran on to the pitch to say their farewells to their hero. Some parts of the crowd also let off fireworks and it marked a truly historic moment in time.
It is thought Burki may feature one last time in the final game of the festival, the FC match starting tomorrow. However, Evans has made it clear that today is his last.
While Whamo, set to come out any minute now, will try to get the 222 to win the game, Burki and Evans will be seen for the last time standing side by side on a cricket pitch as wicket keeper and first slip. Who knows what we’re to expect and, with so many delays, whether this game will actually reach a conclusion before the FC game is scheduled to begin tomorrow…!