One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs ES Gold, St Albans Park, Presidents, 23rd March 2013
If there was one game, and one win, that we'd all love in the last game of the season, this was it. For the players such as myself, you've played in this competition over the past 5-6 years, it would be because we rarely beat Easts Gold, at best once every 2-3 years - for some of our newer players, who are less used to the individuals involved, that desire seems to be more driven by the fact that Easts have one or two of the lesser enjoyable players to play against, admittedly something we share with some of the good East guys about those same players.
This the first time most of us have played at St Albans Park, and after one quick look at the wicket, we are all hoping it will be our last. The bouncy ball test proved to be correct; dead ankle height bounce everywhere, but one area just short of short of a length into the southern end that not only bounced waist high, but was full of "tuffy" weedy grass. Ralphy had a job to do with the toss, but failed again. So with some apprehension, not only for them but also the team, Kev and Spency reluctantly strode out to the wicket with the expectation that 150 would probably be hugely competitive, but with a lot of uncertainty as to how to achieve it, and the full knowledge that an early wicket had every chance of turning into a rout.
But that wasn't to be as the two openers played the early stages of the match exactly as it should have been - with extreme caution, playing straight always, well forward always, and putting the occasional bad ball away for twos and fours. It wasn't easy, as Spency will testify with three deliveries in one over, throat high off that same spot at the southern end - a lesser man would not have thought that through and adapted. So despite the caution, the approach had them both eventually scoring comfortably at around three's, and at 80 without loss had placed us into a match winning position. When Spency was out for a hard fought 40 (and a rare outscoring of Kev), Kev Moore knew that he had to push on and indeed he did. He nursed the rest of the batting innings through until he was finally at the 5th wicket for 73, with the score already at that 150 target number. Wickets were lost in that final rush, but when we finished at 163/8 we knew that we were well and truly in the match.
Not that Easts thought they were out of it as years of success breeds a confidence that, when the going gets tough you just have to play a little bit better, and initially they did. Gibb and Albertson looks very solid as they crafted an opening stand of 57 at the required rate. But the wicket was no better for them, and when one ball from Ralphy died on Craig Gibb, and Albertson came down to inspect the spot, the comment of the day came from Sam at first slip when he piped up "lookout, here comes the heavy roller" - its not often Alby is stunned for a rely. And then the game turned, Ralphy took out the dangerous Gibb, and Sammy cleaned out Albertson, always a popular wicket. And just to emphasise the change, Sam then proceeded to take out the next two for a single each, amongst them, one a great short-leg diving catch by Kevy who was having a very good day indeed. From that point we remained on top throughout most of the innings with all the bowlers bowling well and with some confidence with the departure of Gibb and Albertson. Wickets kept falling to a number of other excellent catches, two from Jules; one at wide mid-off and then a dropping one at long-off, and a difficult one to his left at gully by Flem (appropriately, and over the top, celebrated as we're come to expect from Flem). But Easts weren't completely out of it, and with 10 overs to go they only needed sixes with four wickets in hand. Yes they had four wickets in hand, but we had Sammy with three overs left and the ball already in hand - game over, Sam Martin finishing with an excellent 5/15
This was a game won for us by a gutsy opening partnership and a very demanding bowling spell from Sammy in particular. It is a win that we will savior for six months and look to repeat from a higher table position next season - it sure makes for an even more enjoyable season's end awards dinner on the 5th.
Check out the scorecard from the game.