Well... I suppose someone has to write something about this game, though 20 hours after the completion of the game my left knee has locked up and the result still lays heavy in the heart.
The game could not
be faulted, as I suppose the result shows. The fact that the game was
won off the second last ball with nine wickets down should show how
tight and tense it became.
I thought winning the toss and batting
was a big bonus for us. The outfield was dead slow, however, and we
just couldn't get away to a target that was formidable enough to defend
I thought the Blues bowling was superb. Mark and
Hooky bowled great line and length, giving nothing away, and especially
with the slow outfield the batsmen were lucky if they could find a
single. Steve Hudson and Matt Clapham batted well, and in the long run
lost their wickets more out of frustration than anything else.
Park and Frank Weir were also terrific, changing their pace well which
made it even more difficult to score under the conditions. It is still
an underrated ability to bowl good medium pace with a bit of swing or
seam, and both these two guys did it perfectly. With our young blokes
looking for quick runs in the final ten overs, no better example could
be made for the success of bowling straight and full in those final
overs than Chris' bowling figures of 7/30. He bowled perfectly for the
situation and fully deserved his success.
Special mention too to the
other two bowlers for the Blues. It was the first time I had faced both
Vaughan Thistlethwaite and Adam Czulowski, and both bowled well. Vaughan
was quicker than I expected, and he bowled good line and length. He has
something. Adzy also bowled a good spell when i was required in the
middle of the innings.
For our guys, Jani played the most
responsible innings I have seen from him. He picked the right ball to
hit on most occasions, and didn't allow any frustration at the slow
outfield to discourage his batting. It was only when we reached the
final ten overs, and required a kick along that he took some risks, and
was eventually dismissed. His 26 was worth at least 50 to our team in
The ever reliable Jason Wills top scored with 31,
and played his usual hand, scoring quickly at a time when the team
needed a lift.
With Jani and Jason getting the team to the 41st over
before being dismissed, the kids batting lower had no chance to play
themselves in, and as a result their scores bear no reflection on their
ability. They all took on the role without any thoughts of their own
'stats' which was gratifying.
112 mightn't look like many, but
conditions were the same for both sides, and the message to our guys was
that singles would be difficult, and that if we kept the pressure on we
could get our opponents to make the mistakes.
This was also the
first time I had seen Mitch Nevins bowl, and he was pretty impressive.
He bowled full and straight, and gave nothing away. Given that, as with
all our kids, they can only bowl short spells, it was unfortunate for
our side when he had to be relieved after his 5 overs cost just 5 runs.
Fitzsimmons replaced him, and saw two of his first three balls go for
four to the deep fine boundary. Next ball, he plucked out Chris park's
off stump. Smiling all the way, Maxy could only say "I can't believe he
took those two balls from off stump for four!!" Maxy bowled well until
he had some no ball trouble in his fifth over that then seemed to take
The next two wickets were identical. The Blues
had already had a couple of flirtations with run outs on the slow
outfield, where direct hits would have seen them out. Their luck
couldn't hold (we told ourselves in the field) and sure enough, Tim
Delaney hit a ball toward cover and straight away. Matt Clapham dived
superbly at cover, stopped the ball and fom his knees threw the ball to
keeper Jan Haubruck to complete a brilliant run out of Ernie Church. Two
overs later, and new batsman Vaughan Thistlethwaite played the exact
same shot... for the exact same result, this time Tim being the victim.
Terrific stuff. Matt has proven himself to be one of the best fieldsmen
inthis Academy team, and thes two run outs were as good as I have seen
in a number of years.
At 3/21 we had our noses in front, but a
great partnership of 65 for the fourth wicket changed all that. Brad
Church summed up after about an over that hitting the ball along the
ground was going to result in no runs, and correctly began to go the
aerial route instead. Moving around his crease, picking the right ball
to hit, and also seizing upon gaps inthe field to pick up easy singles,
he changed the course of the match. He was well supported by Vaughan,
who was keeping the ball along the ground, but keeping out the good
balls and turning over the singles when he could.
Jake Ashley had
replaced Maxy at the Kendall's end, and took a bit of tap in two overs
from Churchy. However, he continued to bowl straight and full and gave
nothing easy away, and he came back from this really well. He could
easily have let it slip away, but he fought back well and continued to
ask questions of the batsmen. Very impressive.
With the last
throw of the dice we brought Gavin Hartley back into the attack, and he
got Chruchy to tickle one down legside that was well caught by keeper
Haubruck. Jani was going to be one of our bowling weapons, but with the
late defection of our regular keeper (and is it true he ditched us to go
on a camping trip? If so, he may struggle to come straight back into a
side where everyone else is keen every week... anyway... I digress...)
he filled in more than admirably with the gloves. In particular his
keeping to myself and jason was excellent.
Hooky lost his middle stump, and suddenly our guys knew we were back in
with a sniff of victory, and they lit up again.
The guy who now
had the most pressure on him was Jake Lee. I had left him late, more
through necessity, but now he was going to have to bowl his off spin at
the death. And he did so absolutely superbly. He showed no fear, he
tossed the ball up to the bat, and asked questions of al the batsmen.
Given the situation of the game, his spell was the one that impressed me
the most all day. he may not have taken a wicket in his 6 overs, but
bowling in tandem with the veteran Wills at the other end, he kept the
pressure on and wasn't afraid to give the ball air. Great stuff.
Jase's end, wickets were tumbling, but we were never able to
convincingly stop the flow of runs as well. Vaughan was terrific and
solid, though I felt we were a chance to get him through inexperience...
until his father came in to bat, pulled him aside and gave him some
encouragement. I didn't hear what was said, but I can guess that it was
"don't throw your wicket away, we can get this in singles" or something
along those lines.
Anyway... into the last over, just Vaughan and
the almost immortal Frank Weir at the crease, and we had tied them down
until the second last ball, when Vaughan calmly took a step down the
wicket and hit the ball straight down the ground to the unprotected
bounday for four, and the game was lost (or won, depending on your
It had been a terrific game. I was, and am,
tremendouly proud of the effort our guys put in. We were pretty much
behind all day, but were never out of the contest. Apart from maybe four
or five overs during the Church/Thistlethwaite partnership, our guys
were up and and the ball, keen and sharp. Steve, Jason and Gavin were
terrific, unflappable under the difficulty of the chase, and were
constantly upbeat and helping the young guys stay focused. Jake Ashley
and Matt Clapham in particular were great in the field, and Jani
terrific with the gloves on. More than anything, we had taken on a side
that made the semi-finals last season in Third Grade, and fought them to
the wire. For our young blokes, they did themselves proud.
Brendan and his boys go my congratulations. It was a competitive game
with neither side giving any quarter - but without the nastiness you get
when playing certain other teams. With so many kids on both sides
playing well, our Club's future would appear bright.
And just in
case you are wondering... despite all this glowing optimism and back
slapping - yes, losing did hurt. Moreso when I got to the Club, as the
only 3rd Grader, and the skipper of the losing team, and everyone asking
"What happened in 3rds?" i got sick of that after about 65 seconds.
Once I had gotten home and kicked the dog and smashed the washing
machine with my bat I guess a little bit of the frustration leaked
already ensuring I am available for the rematch in March. We may have
lost this one, Blue Team, but we'll get you next time! *shakes fist