One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs St Albans, Burnside Park #4, Presidents, 24th January 2015
Presidents Day at Burnside Park playing the undefeated top of the table side St Albans, the perfect day to stage an upset. And on top of that, a game that we couldn’t really afford to lose if we were to make the top four cut off at the end of February - life couldn't be better.
This was one of Ralphy's rare losses with the coin, but since we weren't convinced of what to do anyway, batting first seemed a pretty acceptable option. That was until Wildy and Laughts were both dismissed inside the first four overs for the same number of runs between them. To say that Saints were excited was understatement, and a comment of "game over" from a tiny Welsh voice probably summed up what most of the Saints boys were thinking. However, what they didn't realise was that, having got rid of our McCullum and Taylor, Sydenham still had an inform Kane Williamson for them to contend with.
Kev Moore has got better and better as the season has progressed and has definitely evolved his game over the past couple of seasons from an always aggressive big hitter, to someone who now crafts an innings based upon the game situation. Between himself and Ski they then proceeded to put on 72 for the second wicket with Ski's eight runs a sign of a man who really took to heart the concept that we couldn't afford to lose another wicket early. When Ski left at 85 Jon Robertson,making his debut for the side and first game in eight years, then impressed. His 51 partnership with Kev saw both scoring boundaries but Jon's ability to also rotate the strike made a mockery of Saints attempts slow Kev down with plenty of boundary riders that in the end just gifted him a multitude of easy singles. At the start of the last 10 overs we were well set at 127/3 and staring down a 200 total, be it probably the bare minimum required to test a strong Saints batting line up. But from that point on Saints really raised their game, and despite the strong hitters we had to come in the likes of Ralphy, Flem and Brownie, their death bowling took the final points of the innings. Brownie in particular made an valiant attempt, but in the end there was no doubt that we had failed to finish well. Kev battled on to be last out for a wonderful 118, with Flem left not out on 14, but the final score of 182 felt like a chance, but not a convincing one bearing in mind the quality of the pitch and opposition.
Jules went some way to evening that up a little when he had the always dangerous Hampton caught behind by Laughts standing up in the first over in reply. Alabaster and Read then got them back on track with a 53 partnership for the second wicket, but when Alabaster fell that still left Reed in command, and while he was there we were always going to come second. But when newcomer Warren Guy came on and took out Reed in his second over, it was game on. Others came in, made starts but then left without getting Saints into a comfortable position. Indeed at 104/5, and then 131/6, requiring sevens for more than 10 overs, Saints were clearly having their doubts as well. Jule's 1/17 off his eight, Fergus who went for only threes, and Flem with his 3/39 off his eight, had pulled the game back into our favour. Unfortunately top sides in these situations perform, and with their batting reaching well down, as they did with their death bowling, Saints dragged themselves back into contention with Hilary and Smith putting on an unbeaten 50 partnership to win the game with four balls and 3 wickets to spare. To compound the problem for us we let our standards slip in that final 10 overs with two or three comfortable catches going down (although the sun looked to have played a part in a couple of them) and with some untidy fielding that resulted in one or two critically unwanted boundaries. We were then hosted to an excellent President's Day event by Burnside who to their credit have raised the bar further for these occasions with over 100 staying in the club rooms until 8.30pm.
So whilst we are now most likely out of contention for a top four spot, there was still much to like about this performance; it was a huge improvement upon the hiding we took from Saints in the first round, Kev's form is providing a solid look to our middle order that can support arguably the competition's best opening pair, and in Jon Robertson and Warren Guy we have unearthed from our viewpoint two very good cricketers who we'd love to have as regular back ups, if indeed they feel they can't come into our full squad currently. So in the end a disappointment as to what could have been, a game where we played intelligently but where some human error under pressure towards the end cost us the game. But then, maybe not life, but such is cricket, a game of margins.
Man of the Match: Kevin Moore
Check out the scorecard from the game.