One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs Hornby, Sydenham Park #2, Presidents, 15th February 2014
Close games are exciting, but let's face it, there are only so many that you want to go through in a row. After Merivale Pap last week, and particularly the Buccaneers the week before, we really were in need of a nice comfortable win without much stress, and fortunately that's what we got here.
Needless to say, the opposite turned up, decided what they wanted to do first in this match, and being the good hosts we are, as usual we gifted them that opportunity, in this case to bat first. But for the game's sake, that was probably Hornby's big mistake. Since they have entered the President's grade a couple of years ago Hornby have had a pretty good record against us, but not his year. They have had few wins this year with their batting being their main problem, so in making their decision to expose that weakness first against a bowling attack that remains the unquestionably the best in this competition, one had the feeling that they were probably only extending how much time we had for beers after the match. They got off to a very slow and cautious start against Jase and Sam until about the 6th or 7th over, when with the score at 9, the opener was run out and in doing so opened the flood gates to a succession of batsmen who then came out to confront Sam in particular. A yorker cleaned out the first drop, and then an identical delivery took out the no. 4...his was an interesting return to his team mates on the sideline where he was over heard by this reporter to utter:
"F@@k that just swung in a mile..F@@k that guy's too good to be in this grade..F@@k he's just too good, for me anyway"
So at 9/3 the next batsman, the no. 5, came out timidly to the wicket to face Sam's hat trick ball. Hat tricks are extremely rare in cricket, and indeed some players have not played in a team that's achieved one, nevertheless no one' s money in this case was on the batsmen for that next ball. It only had to be a fast yorker, and Sam can bowl those seemingly at will. So a hat trick all bowled (Sam's third for Sydenham), and at 9/4 the game realistically dead as competition. Its hard to disagree with the No. 4's comments...Sam is an athlete, and short of the ability to now grow hair, which he wasn't yet capable of when I last played with him in our previous lives, Sam still remains a huge challenge to batsmen. A bowler who bowls well within himself, who looks easily capable for finding another yard or two of pace if he needs to (Saints next week?) but who knows that with an immaculate line and length, and a seeming ability to swing the ball at will, that's all he needs to do to achieve what his team requires in a match.
In the end, between them, with Sam spare heading, Jase, Jule, Flems, Ferg and Laughts (the latter in a impressive first spell of the year) bundled Hornby out for meagre 90. The fielding maintained last week's high standards with another sensational Wildy catch at long-off, and although a couple of low ones behind the wicket were missed by Yogi at keeper and Matt at slip, Matt's other two that he did take took his record to 75% over the last two matches in a fielding position where traditionally the success rate in Presidents is so low that many captains vacate the position fairly early into a match.
So having done the job more than professionally with the ball it was important that we also did so with the bat, Spency ensured we did. Wildy set the pace with a controlled but typically hard bit 32, and despite Matt falling for 21 when again he looked set to bat through, Spency took us quietly through to the end heeding last week's always sage advice to "do it himself". When Yogi lifted the last ball of the match for six we had won convincingly by eight wickets leaving us ample time to sit on the sidelines to share and support our fellow Club mates Hospital as they beat the Buccaneers beside us on Syd #3 for their second win of the season - we suspect not their last as there ere some encouraging signs in that performance by them.
So an excellent day with not a lot of cricket for a few, but plenty of time for a few beers with the Hornby guys afterwards who are always sociable, and a good set up for our likely clash with league leaders St Albans next week.
Man of the Match: the smiling assassin, Sam Martin
Check out the scorecard from the game.