One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs Buccaneers, Bradford Park #1, Presidents, 1st February 2014
"Snatched from the jaws of death" sounds far better than "self destruction" because the latter was what we were heading towards at one point in this game until two players stepped up for their team mates. This was a game that we just had to win with some more than useful reinforcements due to arrive in the next week for the seriously hard games coming up over the next month that will determine the success or otherwise of our season. Failure here would have made their arrival academic from the competition's perspective.
Since I missed the toss I have to take it at face value that Ralphy apparently won his first toss in his Sydenham career. I guess it's true because I hear he was apparently stuck for a moment because he hadn't contemplated that he might have a decision to make. Either way, if true, he made the right decision and batted because it was always going to be a track that would be difficult at the outset to figure out what was a competitive score.
And early observation quickly suggested that it didn't have to be all that many, such was the up and down nature of the pitch. This was one of the few games this year where the bowlers disappointed as a unit. I don't know if it was the warm English ale, or just the hangover of NZ Christmas puds, but the bowling and fielding was decidedly average - I note that the players who actually performed in this match seemed to be the ones who had fitted in some practices over the holiday period. Catches were dropped from our more reliable fielders, and some of the bowling was ragged from players who had otherwise performed well before Christmas. This was none better illustrated by Jeremy, who had bowled so well at Burwood the previous week, developing the yips and bowling 16 deliveries in his first and only over this week (come back Bertie, all is forgiven). To be fair to Jeremy these things happen but it was a once in a life time event especially when he picked up a wicket off the final ball. Some did bowl quite well, but on this particular track, as a bowling and fielding unit we considerably under-performed, no question.
A 164 run chase didn't strike me as comfortable, but with 36 off the first 4 overs that Laughts and Wildy faced, I seemed to have that wrong. They dispatched the Buccaneer opening bowlers to all parts of the ground, and when Laughts was out for 28, at least we had the run rate as no longer an issue. And that proved to be very important as the innings progressed because, as it did the previous week, the middle order again capitulated even to a greater extent than it did against Easts Blue. Wildly fell at 64 for a solid 31, but from there we saw a parade of wickets, six for a mere 18 runs and we were suddenly 82/8 and only halfway there.
That brought Ralphy and Ferg together in a vain attempt at respectably. Fortunately Ralphy didn't see it that way, and encouraged by the solid defensive display from Fergus at the other end, quickly decided that the game was still winnable. The two of them started to put a partnership together with Ralphy the main aggressor and Ferg just taking the occasional ones and twos and funneling the strike to Ralphy who seemed well in control of his game. Between them they progressively got the Buccaneers from complacent to concerned, and when Freg had got himself set and started taking advantage of the closer set field for him, that concern quickly turned into fear - you expect to win when the opposition has only 2 wickets and 82 runs to get on a difficult wicket.
In the end Ferg couldn't quite get the team through to a win himself, but his had been a very intelligent and vital innings, one that supported his captain initially and then almost took over the scoring role towards the end. But that left the No.11 to come to the wicket to join Ralphy with two runs required to win, and in "I'm never nervous" Phil Barclay, a genuine No. 11 who had yet to bat this season. His first two or three balls were scary from the sidelines, pull backs exposing the stumps and swings and misses, it was just a matter of time. But then, a lofted shot, a one, maybe a two, hell it's a boundary ....unbelievable, a win! - we love you Phil Barclay.
But nothing can take away from the Captain's innings from Ralphy with 35* (not for the first time that he has been instrumental in turning our fortunes around with the confidence that we could still do it), and Ferg who undoubtedly played a massive part in this win.
Man of the Match: Fergus Smith
Check out the scorecard from the game.