One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs East Shirley Gold, SCG #3, Presidents, 15th December 2012
This is our boggy team, last year's champions, and the team that many of us have never beaten more than once (a memorable victory at Burwood Park a couple of years ago). A few times we've had them on the ropes only to have them recover and beat us against the odds, the rest the time they've hardly broken a sweat. And all with good reason, they bat almost to number eleven, bowl consistently well with no real weakness, and are the best fielding side in the grade by far (despite a critical drop catch or two off Sammy in this particular match) - but enough about them.
There was a quiet confidence that this might be our week if we could get eleven players on the paddock (thank you Jeremy and Andrew). But that confidence didn't extend to when the skipper won the toss and sought views on what we should do - "it's the skippers's job to make that decision" was the most constructive suggestion, but Ralphy sure got it right. He elected to present our greatest weakness to the opposition early, and it proved a master stroke. East had every reason to be encouraged by the early dismissal of the always threatening Kev Moore, and Mr Cricket Dave Fleming, but that was to be short-lived. At 2/21 alarm bells were again ringing, but then Yogi (20) did a great job in stabilising the innings, and in conjunction with a massively promoted Julien van Dyke to four (28 and Ralphy's second inspired decision of the day), got the score through to 53, and then 86 when both were out. That set up the match winning unbeaten partnership of 110 between Sam Martin and Geoff Miller.
For once, Geoff's knock only provided the supportive role, and whilst taking the odd boundary himself, mainly spent time turning the strike over to Sam, who after carefully setting up his innings, gradually took total charge as the innings progressed. Whilst the front foot drives were classic Sammy, what took the eye of many of us were the carefully held back brutal drives off the back foot through mid-off and cover. Together they got us through to a competitive score of 196/4 with Sam finishing on 86* and Geoff 33*.
Competitive, but no means certain on a good deck and a reasonably fast outfield that had demanded 200. Jason Millar changed that balance in his first two overs when he castled both openers for 3 between them, and continued to prove to be our form bowler - advantage Sydenham. Another wicket each followed to both Jase and Ralphy to cement the advantage at 4/30, but some of us had been there before. Salkeld and bthen put on 50 at a good clip to get them through to the 80's, before Arthur Daly strode to the crease, and to the amateur's eye, in a 7/91 match losing situation. Having had the pleasure of playing soccer with Arthur for many years, I for one knew that the man never considers something a lost cause as he set out to raise some doubts by clubbing our bowlers to all quarters of the ground.
With 10 overs to go, Easts only had 60 to get, and with Arthur on heat scoring 8-10 per over, this was turning into a great game. But just prior to that, when Geoff had taken over the gloves following a very competent display from Yogi, I had first noticed that all 10 outfielders were bowlers of some differing merit (the first time I think have ever seen that on a cricket field) i.e. the skipper had a lot of options including Sam's four remaining overs that he'd kept back for such an event. As it turned out Sam wasn't needed as Ralphy turned to top order batsman, and sometimes bowler, Julian van Dyke, the man who had taken 6/15 the previous week. This guy is sure running hot into Christmas as he then took out Arthur immediately with a great match winning catch from Kev at deep mid wicket that had us all holding our collective breaths, and then run out another from a return hit (some unkind folks might suggest it as a drop catch), before claiming the last wicket to end the match. Four dropped catches off the unlucky skipper might suggest a ragged performance in the field when in truth few were easy, outside of that, the ground fielding was good and the likes Kev's catch, and Sam's diving forward catch at long-off, probably mean't we outshone East's in this facet as well on the day.
This was a match won by three of our classier players, the 3M's; Miller, Millar and Martin, and with two others still in reserve, Murdoch and Moore after Christmas, the future looks promising (Thommo, feel free to break the mould next week). So all that is now left for a very good Christmas is to get past Hornby next week, a team that tipped us up last season on a dung heap at Denton Park - lets hope it's not there.
Check out the scorecard from the game.