After the holiday break, and the regrading of the Under 11 competition, the Albion Park Under 11 Golds have found themselves in the A competition after their four straight victories, and now set to face much stronger and sterner competition for the rest of the season. And it began with today’s local derby match against The Rail Red at Albion Oval South.
The Eagles were a player short today, meaning they had more to do with the bat but also had more area to cover in the field. Skipper Josh Peters tossed the coin and The Rail called correctly and inserted the home team in steamy and sweltering conditions. Bodhie and Charlotte Rodda opened for the Eagles, and put together a very handy partnership, holding their wickets intact throughout. While Charlotte again played a determined and solid innings, brother Bodhie showed his attacking intent again, and cracked his first ever boundary with a lovely pull shot to the square leg boundary. Charlotte finished 0 not out and Bodhie 5 not out.
Max Sciberras and Kane Rex both played some solid and excellent shots, especially off drives which is pleasing to see. Most of these unfortunately for the pair tended to go straight to the fieldsmen which hindered their scoring ability. Eventually Max decided to take on the field, calling yes immediately that he hit the ball, and was only undone by a fabulous pick up and direct hit from mid off. The Rail ground fielding was terrific and kept the run rate under control. Both Max and Kane finished with 1 when their innings concluded, but with some practice in hitting the gaps their run output will improve.
Blake Ison and Josh Peters both collected several boundaries in their innings, but left quite a few runs out on the field from trying to slog and taking their eye off the ball. No doubt a post-Xmas hangover from taking on younger siblings in the backyard. When they hit the ball with concentration they both looked good. Josh in fact hit the first six by an Albion Park Gold player, though it was to a noticeably shorter boundary than usual. Blake’s only blemish was doing exactly what Max did, by hitting straight to mid off and calling for a run, but again being undone by a direct hit at the bowlers end. Apart from this, both batted well, Blake finishing with 22 and Josh with 25.
From their 20 overs Albion Park Gold finished with 2 wickets for 92 runs, with 54 of those off the bat.
From the outset two things were noticeable – that some kids had been working hard since the last game, and that The Rail were confident of chasing down their target. Max’s first over was a gem, conceding only one no ball, and none that bounced twice. A terrific start. Then Charlotte Rodda arrived, and not only off the long run having spent all season off just two steps, but straight and full! An amazing improvement in just four weeks, and with no help at all from the so-called coach of the team. It was obvious that father Will for Charlotte, and parents Simon and Karen for Max have been keeping their hands in, and for me it was the best part of the day, a real pleasure to watch them bowl with such accomplishment and style. But The Rail batters were looking to force their hand, and they took advantage of any loose ball and hit it to the boundary. They looked the team to beat when they had reached 50 runs in the tenth over, but Charlotte got a just reward just before drinks, bowling a wonderful off cutter that took middle stump and sent the bails flying. Fantastic, wonderful stuff, and the smile on her face told the story. With ten overs to go the score stood at 1/50. Charlotte took her leave of the bowling crease to take over the keeping duties from Bodhie with a wonderful spell of 1/16 from three overs, and she probably deserved better.
For the Eagles to win they had to take wickets, but after 13 overs had the score at 1/63, things looked grim. However, three wickets in three overs turned the game on its head. Kane bowled a little short today and found himself pulled to the legside a bit, but he redeemed himself with an excellent caught and bowled in his third over which brought the Eagles back into the game. Blake was also a fan of the licorice allsorts today without conceding too many runs, but a good straight full ball was hit in the air straight to Kane at mid-wicket, who took a terrific catch to give Blake a deserved wicket. And, from the coach’s perspective, it was nice to finally see an outfield catch held. In the next over Josh, who was spinning the ball about three feet and confusing every batter, decided to throw in his variation, the faster ball out of the front of the hand. It may not have been a flipper but it was as close as a ten year old is going to get, and it hit the stumps before the batsman had even begun his downstroke. That earned him an excited high-five from his coach, which may have been inappropriate from an unbiased umpire but the coach was unable to contain himself after witnessing such a brilliant dismissal. This was followed three overs later when Kane “The Destroyer” bowled the perfect away swinger that pitched on leg stump and took middle stump to produce the fifth wicket for the innings.
It all came down to the last over when The Rail needed a thunder of runs to win, but Josh bowled the perfect over again – having brought in a first slip the coach was tempted and conceded to bring in two – which left The Rail’s total at five wickets lost for 97 runs, with 51 runs off the bat.
For the first time this season, the effort in taking more wickets than the opposition proved to be the turning point, for although The Rail scored 5 runs more after the 20 overs, after the wickets penalties were added, the Eagles Gold team had proven victorious by 112 runs to 105.
Charlotte’s figures of 1/16 was the star of the show today, she can be very proud of her efforts. Max also bowled probably his best spell of the season, and his figures of 0/18 off four overs don’t reflect his efforts. Kane added another two scalps to his season tally, finishing with 2/18 off four overs. Blake was miserly again with 1/8 from three overs. Once he gets his mojo back he will be taking bags of wickets in the weeks to come. Bodhie only had the two overs, but he too showed improvement in his bowling with several dot balls. He finished with 0/12 from his two overs.
It is impossible to convey how well Josh bowled today without being there to see it. He bowled 24 deliveries, two of which pitched on off stump and I had to call wides because they spun so much. He had two catches dropped off his bowling, the batsmen hit two others for a single and a two, and the other 18 deliveries they couldn’t get bat on. His four overs cost him 1/5. I know I am biased and I try not to be. This was the spell of the season so far bar none. If he was bowling at 14 year olds he’d have taken a bagful.
That’s five victories in a row for this Albion Park Gold Under 11 team. None of us thought we’d be in this position, and the good news is that there is still so much improvement in these players to occur. The bubble will no doubt burst once we take on the teams at the top of the ladder, but this team is ready to compete with them all, and maybe… just maybe… there are a few surprises yet to come…