One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs Merivale Papanui, Sydenham Park #3, Presidents, 4th October 2014
Well, let's face it, it could have gone better. In some ways it was a typical start to the season, showers and questions throughout the week as to whether we'd get a game, but then a game that was played in bitterly cold southerly on the field, and an outfield that was deathly slow - what was different however, and as the skipper described it, someone stole our wicket and replaced it with a good one. But in the end, the scores weren't exceptional, and for once that was more an indication of early season player rustiness rather than the conditions.
Ok, Ralphy did lose another toss, and since we would have bowled anyway, we probably got what we wanted. But equally full credit to Merivale who saw the same conditions as us, no doubt debated it, but decided to back themselves and bat at a time of year when you would never normally bat first - that decision probably won the game for them because it came at a time of year when runs on the board counted for a lot.
This was another case of a game of three halves, we lost the first, came back in the second, only to lose the critical third. And in that first half at 91/1 off just 12 overs, certainly it was a challenge. Ferris, playing his first game for Merivale, cracked 72 off less than that in balls, and at 102/2 when he finally departed, he had us almost out of the game. How we let this happen is an early season learning for us all. The man is talented with a very good eye, but only one shot, the wog over mid-wicket that in-veritably either results in a 6, 4, a miss for hit one or two, or a miss, either way rarely a defensive shot , and runs at far too fast a pace for our liking. Yet although we've seen this many times in the past, as a group were equally deathly slow to make changes; to implement a 6:3,or even a 7:2 field, to force a change in the way he played, to bowl radically different lines to a batsman who was mauling the norm, to change the bowling to something different, we were not thinking !
In the end it was Ski's introduction that saw Ferris' all too late departure for 72, and from there we took back control of the game for a period. It was hard to say who was the more impressive at the crease, was it Ski with his 5/15 that saw us eventually skittle the rest of the eight Merivale batsmen for 65 for a total of 170, or the impressive Presidents debut of Kane Whiteley. Although Ski was undoubtedly the star, Kane's 3/20 off six, a study of extremely accurate spell of leg spin bowling, was perhaps the highlight of the day as it highlighted his potential for the team over the rest of the season - Dave Fleming's back injury is equally undoubtedly a negative for us for the early part of our season, but the call quickly became for Dave to take his time, much sure that injury is right before coming back.
So back in the game at 122/8 but about to lose it again as the last couple of batsmen put on another 48 to finish at 170 after 33 overs, a score generally more than enough before Christmas on Syd 3 - but would it be so on a much improved pitch? Short answer, it proved to be plenty. But overall, other than our attitude of expecting it to happen, rather than making it happen, the bowling was generally good with Ski and Kane staring, and the fielding at this time in the season, exceptional - nothing was missed in the air and the ground fielding was generally of an excellent early season standard that bodes well for the season.
With last year's top performer in Ants falling for his second duck in a row after a smart return catch (yes success breeds a long memory back into last season) we were quickly on the back foot, and with Kev Moore, Bert and Ski then all gone in quick order to put us at 5/49. Matt Loose was then still a beacon of hope, and although Matt batted well with his 31 being the second highest score in the game and worth well more than that considering the outfield conditions, when he left we were up against it. Two brief cameos from the Skipper, and young Kane who confirmed his impression to us in the nets the previous week that he can bat as well as bowl, we were quickly at 74/5. From there, without some of our traditional lower order batting strength, other than one carefully crafted single to short fine leg, we were bowled out for dismal 76.
So a disappointing first game up, first game down, and with East's Gold next week, it doesn't get easier. There will be lessons learn't from this game, particularly in the field, and Ferris will consequently not get the same amount of runs in the return away match, but have we learn't enough to contain the next Ferris?
Check out the scorecard from the game.