Monday, January 10, 2011

Kiama Academy v Jamberoo

On what will probably turn out to be the hottest day of the summer, the Kiama 3rd Grade Academy side travelled to the sweltering cavern of Keith Irvine Oval to take on the Jamberoo team in the first match of 2011. Though missing a couple of key players (batting, bowling and wicket-keeping options) the Kiama side were cautious but optimistic against their 10th placed opposition.

Skipper Joe Murphy again managed to win the toss and bat, giving Kiama the upper hand immediately. Gary Koks, facing the possibility of picking up the nickname "Audi" if he managed to register a fourth successive duck, was beaten by the first ball he faced (a pretty handy away swinger on a good length) but then slogged into the gap to get off zero and put his mind at ease. With this challenge completed, he moved on his merry way before edging behind for a quickfire 25. Quickly to follow was Jan Haubruck, who mistimed a sharply rising short ball to top-edge to square leg. Another good partnership developed between opening bat Liam Case and Joe Murphy. Joe played in his usual upbeat fashion before holing out to deep mid-wicket for 29, and in the same over Liam's excellent innings also ended when he played with hard hands to short mid-wicket. Liam had played well on a difficult field to penetrate for runs, particularly middling his pull shot with regularity.
At 4/76 the innings was evenly poised. Enter Jake Ashley, who played what I consider to be one of the smartest innings I have seen from the team this season. The slow outfield meant that it wasn't easy to penetrate for more than singles, but he played each ball on its merits, and took into account the fact that if runs were flowing from one bowler, it wasn't necessary to take risks at the other end. He dabbed the ball short when the field was back, and called for quick singles as a result, without taking risks on big extravagant shots. He played nice drives, some good cut shots, and worked the ball off his pads excellently. His valuable efforts ensured a fifth wicket partnership of 88, which got the team into a position of strength before his dismissal for an excellent 24.
Closing off the innings with style was Gavin Hartley's 40 off about 20 balls, including four sixes and two fours. His clash with elder brother Merrick brought the large crowd to its feet, especially when Mez's last ball was deposited into the neighbouring house's front (not back) yard. Bickering from the crowd over the huge six saw Mez reply "Hey! I kept him off strike for this over! I did my job!" (hard to fault really). A bit of indoor cricket skills, where a three was almost completed from a shot that went about six metres concluded Kiama's innings at 9/219 off 50 overs.

With a good total to defend, the reshuffled bowling attack set about getting into the Jamberoo batsmen. Both wickets and runs were hard to come by. 2011 was met with the first surprise - Maxy Fitzsimmons has developed a run up! Of at least six paces too! After getting over this shock, we met with pleasure his full delivery that rapped the opening batsmen on the foot, and our shouts for LBW being rewarded with the umpire's finger being raised.
After the opening pair's initial spell was extinguished they were replaced by the Two Jakes (not the movie starring Jack Nicholson), Lee and Ashley. Jake Ashley backed up his great batting with another fine spell of medium pace bowling, swinging the ball both ways in a manner that would have shamed the Australia bowling attack. Though he went unrewarded with six overs costing just 14 runs, he beat the bat often and put a real clamp on the Jamberoo batsmen. At the other end, Jake Lee (not Jake E Lee who played guitar on two albums for Ozzy Osbourne in the mid-1980's) tossed up his tempting off break floaters, and caused mayhem early. Having had a look at the first ball pass him by, Mr N Smith duly charged the second ball, gave a long groan as the ball passed his bat and gave stand-in keeper Jan Haubruck about two hours to take the bails off to complete the stumping. After a few lofted shots, a couple of overs later Mr D Smith played almost the exact same shot for the same result.
A partnership developed from this point, and though not a particularly fast-paced one, it was an annoying one for the Kiama lads who were hoping to wrap up a quick victory. Given the miserable efforts from the over aged leg spinner who had replaced JA at the northern end this probably was not surprising. Once Pig had completed his great spell from the southern end (2/38 from 10 overs) he was replaced by Josh Simpson, who proceeded to bowl the spell of the day. Bowling at a good pace with an excellent line and length, Josh finally put an end to Pat Hardman's innings and Kiama's agony by ripping his off stump out of the ground. Josh proved to be almost impossible to get away, and finished his six over stint with 1/11, and an impressed audience.
Given Jamberoo's reluctance to push harder for a victory, Liam Case came on to show off his own spinning wares. Though a nervous first over was pinched for ten runs, he picked up a wicket with his final ball in that over. With his nerves gone, he finished bowling three overs for the fine figures of 2/15, and impressed with his own style of spin bowling. There might be a drought of spin bowlers in the higher grades at the moment, but in a few years we'll be like Sri Lanka picking four in each team!
After the customary one over per season from Gary Koks (including some dodgy leg spinners, may I say...), Jamberoo finished at 7/158 off their fifty overs, leaving a tired but happy Academy team as winners by 61 runs.

Once again, the kids did themselves proud, and the elders managed to survive another 100 over Saturday (though I haven't moved without pain for 48 hours).