Cricket is a wonderful game when you can work on something specifically at training, and then see that hard work translated into perfect harmony on the cricket field that weekend. This is what happened for the Albion Park Gold Under 11 Team this week, when their intense fielding drills became the winning formula for them in their match against Shellharbour Blue at Dawes Park this morning.
With their opponents winning the toss and inserting the Eagles team, it was important to keep wickets intact and keep the scoreboard ticking over. It wasn’t easy against a team that fielded well, had good arms in the field and bowled straight and full. Still, the Eagles first three batters all kept their wickets intact, until in all three cases they were bowled off their seventeenth and final deliveries. Charlotte Rodda was again solid in defence and played a couple of nice shots that went straight to fielders. Once she starts to find the gaps her scoring will improve. Bodhie Rodda again showed great improvement in his stroke play, and though he only managed three runs he was again impressive in the opening position. Kane Rex played well against the better bowlers of the Shellharbour team, and was only undone by a fast full toss from his final delivery. He too managed three runs to his total.
Blake Ison was good again, playing some lovely shots along the ground including three boundaries, but still needs to try and keep his head and not try and hit the ball too hard and he will improve his output. His 18 runs was well made. Max Scibberas also had to face the better half of the bowling attack and also did well to keep them out when they were bowling fast and straight. He was bowled once in his innings of one run, but he can be pleased with his application today. Lucas Brown also found the going tough, also being bowled on one occasion, but a couple of nice strokes in his nine runs, including a last ball boundary, should have him in better form next week. Josh Peters again suffered from the slogging bug, head to the clouds and through the shot too early. He was fortunate not enough balls were fired at his stumps. His two best shots of the day were when he played real cricket shots, something he will no doubt hear about all week from his coach. He finished on 19, and was dropped once in his innings.
After 20 overs the Eagles had made 82 runs for the loss of five wickets, with 53 of those runs coming off the bat.
To win the match, the Eagles had to bowl and field spectacularly, and it would not be unfair to suggest that they did this amazingly well. The fielding was superb. They fielders were in to the ball quickly cutting off runs and causing the batters confusion, they backed up and threw wonderfully, and they supported each other magnificently in voice. They did everything that could have been asked of them, and it was terrific to see how well they took into the game what they had practiced on Wednesday. After the first ten overs they had Shellharbour at 5/31. Josh bowled the first batter with his fourth delivery, another wonderful piece of deception. Charlotte carried on from where she left off last weekend, with another fast straight ball knocking over the middle stump. Then came some wonderful fielding from Josh at mid wicket in consecutive deliveries from Lucas. He ran in and threw both balls accurately to Lucas who had returned over the stumps, where he calmly took the bails off, with the result being two run outs in two deliveries. It was great stuff and warmly appreciated by the excellent Eagles fan base who had gathered at the ground. Then in his second over Josh enticed a drive from the batter who hit it straight to Lucas at cover who took a good catch. It was just wonderful cricket from a young team who is taking all before them.
The great work continued in the second half of the innings. Charlotte picked up her second wicket exactly the same as her first. Lucas showed the persistence of straight bowling by picking up two wickets in his third over, one caught and bowled and one clean bowled. Blake followed this up next over by bowling a wicket of his own, and there were great cheers as Max fought through a tough couple of overs to pick up a great wicket with his final delivery, bowled middle stump. Ten wickets was exactly what the team needed to do to put themselves in with a chance of winning, and they had done so magnificently. Despite this, all looked lost as the final batsman took it upon himself to win the game, scoring 20 runs off the final seven deliveries of the match, and it was a tense time waiting for the scorebooks to be added up.
Of their twenty overs, Shellharbour had scored 91 runs for ten wickets, with 58 having come off the bat (yes, with 23 of those off the last two overs).
Both Bodhie and Max were a bit off with the ball today, Bodhie finishing with 0/17 and Max with 1/15. Both are still getting the hang of this bowling game and will continue to improve with more practice. Charlotte was again fantastic, finishing with 2/14 from three overs. Kane was economic but a bit too much down leg side to threaten the wickets column, with 0/3 off his two overs. Josh was still unplayable, putting a tizz through the batting line up and fully deserved his figures of 2/9 from three overs and two run out assists. Both Blake and Lucas were good today without being at the top of their game, and both suffered in their last over. Lucas finished with 2/12 from four overs, along with two catches and two run out assists, pretty fair day. Blake bowled four good overs for 1/16.
After wicket penalties had been added, the Eagles had run out winners by 122 runs to 111, to complete their sixth win in succession, this one against the team who had been running third in the competition. The kids fully deserved this win after the hard work they have put in, and you can see how much they are enjoying it. They had fantastic support today from the biggest supporter turn up of the season, and it sounded as though they enjoyed the performance as well. It was also great to see that the Albion Park Green team knocked off second place Oak Flats Blue today as well, a fantastic result for the Eagles. The kids in both teams are making great strides forward, and it is a boon for the Albion Park Cricket Club. Let’s hope there is even more success to come as we head into February.