One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs BWU Foxes, Sydenham Park #3, Presidents, 22nd December 2013
This game was never going to get either played, or if we did manage to get a start, finished. Rain was coming by kick-off, and when it didn't, it was coming within the hour for most of the day. For those of us watching it on the rain radar, we saw it surround us, with the middle hesitant to push through onto us, but when it eventually did come, it was a damp squib...shame that it was so.
The next time anyone sees Ralphy pre-game go anywhere near the coin toss please crash tackle him and drag him away to safety for the team's sake. No, Bertie didn't cost us this game here, Ralphy's coin toss did. The best batting conditions, something that we clearly needed based upon this side's strengths and weaknesses, was always going to be in the early part of the match, and so it proved as the advent of some rain saw the bounce get lower and lower throughout the BWU innings, and die at times during ours. So, needless to say, coin tossed and lost, BWU batting in the bouncer conditions, with a fast outfield and with ridiculously short boundaries that the grounds man will get to hear more about later. Despite the loss of an early wicket to Ralphy, the BWU batsmen controlled most of the early part of their innings and quickly got to 125/3 at a good rate with only Ralphy himself able to assert much control. But once Kennedy and Dry had both got to, or close to, 50's Matty Loose produced his best spell of the season of 5/35 to get us back into the game - at 143/8 we were looking at possibly a modest target, bearing mind the boundaries, of 150-160. However from there their no. 8 & 10's clubbed a number of boundaries and they got away on us to finish with 191, by far the biggest target set for us this season. Outside of Matt, Kev Moore's 2/28, and Ralphy's 2/18 were the best efforts. Flem had a rare off day where the Kennedy/Dry partnership showed that good foot work against any spinner can have its rewards and there was little Flem could do to stem the tide.
The fielding was up and down to say the least. A couple of stunning catches; Wildy's one that was smashed to him at short wide mid-off to give Matt his 5th, English newcomer Michael Harrison's sharp low one at short mid-wicket, and Bert's now standard tumbling dipping catch on the 3rd man boundary, were the best of them. Not so impressive was the skyer to the keeper that went down watched by the master keeper himself Thinny who was observing the match from the sidelines having come visit us fresh from his IPL experience. But the best bit of fielding on the day came from Bertie. Its always good to bleed for your team and Skipper, and Bert surely did for Ralphy. Ralphy has alot of skills but back flip run-outs from short mid-off aren't his speciality. It had Bert sprinting 20 meters and diving to stop by only a few inches the likely five runs, and slicing his waist in doing so - perverse that really, Ralphy seemed to be doing that himself for a good couple of minutes on the ground afterwards.
A target of 191 was never going to be easy with the rain taking the bounce from the wicket, and the boundaries seemingly creeping out as the outfield slowed. But Kev and Laughts gave us some early encouragement with Laughts in particular looking like the form is starting to kick in. Scoring some extremely hard hit boundaries, all along the ground, he increasingly looks set for a good run on the harder tracks in the new year. However, 40/0 quickly turned into 51/4 after both openers were gone, and soon thereafter 78/5 with the middle order capitulating with little contribution, and defeat staring us in the face. That's when the skipper stood up to produce by far his best innings of the season.
Ralphy drove, dabbed, and yes cut, his way to an impressive 66 that got us back up to 142/7 and into the game before he was finally dismissed (missing a non-bouncing one on the cut - kinda poetic). From there little 15's and 16's from the likes of Flem, Jules and Fergus got us in with a chance of a result, but in the end it came down to last ball; 4 to tie, 6 to win. But Bertie's been here many times in the past and knows what to do. The short mid-wicket boundary was the obvious target, so he pulled back, gave himself room, swung lustily, the ball died on the pitch and skittled into the stumps - Bertie walks off muttering " the next I see Ralphy pre-game go anywhere near the coin toss I will crash tackle him and drag him away to safety for the team's sake..... plus..., I don't even care if he bleeds with me doing so"
It was not the sort Christmas present we were looking for, and to be fair the result was a fair one, we were just a shade short of being the better team. It certainly makes the competition after Christmas more a case of striving for 2nd or 3rd spot unless Easts Gold have a complete melt-down which is hard to envisage, but 2nd or 3rd is a big improvement on an under-performing 7th last year, so that's the target. And how are we placed to do so if we run a quick mid-season analysis ?
Bowling unit: I wouldn't even mention them singularly. We're proud of them, they've done a great job to date. Only two scores above 150 in nine matches is testimony to that, and a strength for us after Christmas when batting conditions are better, and the poor bowling units around town are found out. With Millie and Sam about to join them, it is not a bowling unit that any team will look forward to playing against.
Batting unit - lets look at the prime batters:
Laughts - has been frustrated by his lack of conversion of ability into runs, but as I said to him recently, his batting form is hidden under a clove of grass, not buried under some old Marist pitch, and it will be see again soon. Against BWU today, its looks like someone mowed the grass, so look out.
Kevie - there is a new aura of responsibility about Kev this year. Gone seems to be the frantic first few overs of throwing the bat at everything, replaced by a determination to get set, build an innings, and set the boys on the right path early as an opener should
Mattie - the biggest improver of the season to date having spent last year learning the Presidents grade ropes. Rarely fails, always gets in, but still to perfect the art of staying in when set and getting the really big score that he is so capable of. Today game again shows he certainly conscious of that and should prosper after Christmas
Geoffrey - started the season well, but lost a touch of form in the last few games. A man with a style of game that relishes the after Christmas wickets.
The others - add to them the likes Yogi, Ralphy & Flem etc and you have a very capable unit but one that just needs to start getting a few contributing in the same game together.
Check out the scorecard from the game.