One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs St Albans, Ilam Park #3, Presidents, 23rd November 2013
It may well be an old cliché but it certainly held true in this match, catches winning matches, or in this case, drop catches lose them. We turned up on a coolish day at Ilam 3 to play St Albans with the memory still fresh of a last ball loss there in the previous season which was so dramatic that it permanently scarred one of our players who left in a rush afterwards in his Morris 1100 without staying for a beer. However, back then we were well down the table at that stage of the season but this year we couldn't afford the same result with Saints sitting on equal points with us at the top of the table.
Although we lost the toss (yes, Ralphy is overdue for one the longest runs of correct tosses in the history of cricket) and didn't get to bat first up as we'd wished, it was an excellent start all the same when Jason captured both openers for a duck a piece. Then 2/0 became 3/6 when he took his third and we were undoubtedly on top. But their No. 3 Read dug in and then started to hit boundaries a little more often than we would have liked, ably assisted by the six catches that we proceeded to put down over the course of the innings. Admittedly some weren't easy and from players who would normally catch them on a far greater percentage basis than we saw on the day. No finer example was Flem, who an over or two earlier after he had given the bowler's stare at the short mid-wicket fielder for one off his bowling, was then himself just as guilty of spilling a critical return catch - four other players were quick to console him in just how hard it is to catch a cricket ball.
Reid then got together with the No. 6 Price and proceeded put on what turned out to be a match winning partnership of over 100 to finish with an adequate before Christmas score of 150, adequate but certainly not comfortable. Our reply started much the same as our effort in the field. Despite Laughts unluckily smashing one straight to short backward square early for a duck, Kev Moore and Matty started the innings well and looked comfortably in charge, Matt stroking a number of well controlled boundaries.. But at 38/1 he was surprisingly bowled for 18 and the innings started to flat line from there. Batsmen came, got a start, but other than Yogi's 10, none got into double figures ensuring that the partnership that we desperately needed never came to be.
Kev hadn't given up though, and despite one or two pieces of luck, batted in a very responsible and controlled manner trying to keep the score ticking over and encouraging someone to stay with him - in regard to the latter he failed. When Kev was finally out for 50 there was still a chance with the required run rate still around 4/5, but the continuing fall of wickets saw that rate get up to 8/10 towards the end before we were eventually bowled out with an over or two to go.
No doubt the fielding cost us this game which in itself isn't a major concern as we've generally fielded well this year and will again. The bigger one is the batting. The bowlers have done an excellent job to date and prior to this match the highest score against us was Burnside's mere 131 in the opening match. There is no doubt that there is alot of batting talent in this side but for the moment its very frustrated and lacking confidence. That will come, but it will need to quickly if we're to stay in the hunt for the title with the likes of Sam Martin's bunnies, the always testing East's Gold, coming up in the next week or two.
Check out the scorecard from the game.