President Cardinals Match Report (11th February 2017)

One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs Merivale Papanui Bishop Brothers, Sydenham Park #3, Presidents, 11th February 2017

After only having 8 players the day before, it was a relief to turn up at the real SCG (Sydenham Cricket Ground!) and see 10 there - with Jules (having his first game of the season) and Flem (back earlier than he'd hoped for from injury) both bravely answering the call for help. While Tim also thankfully answered the call, although he was going to be late after attending a family birthday function.

On an initially lovely warm sunny afternoon the Merivale Pap Bishop Bros team won the toss and elected to bat, on what looked like a pretty good pitch, but which actually played quite low and slow most of the time. We started quite well in the field with both Dunny and JK bowling tidily, and JK got us an early breakthrough in his 2nd over with one of the openers snicking a good ball to be caught behind. At this stage though Paul Dearsley and Mark Hume began a strong partnership, and both batted aggressively. Dearsley hit 4 consecutive 4s in JK's third over, and Dunny came in for some punishment as well, as they raced to 50 in the 7th over.

Flem came on for JK and then Jules at the other end, and his first ball all but yielded a wicket as a top edge landed tantalisingly just short of Ammar at short 3rd man. The 2 batsmen initially continued aggressively though and the score was 84/1 after just the 12th over, with a very fast outfield plus us only having 10 men at this stage helping their cause. But then Flem and Jules with their accuracy and experience both succeeded in putting the breaks on. However Flem then had to endure the frustration of being denied 3 wickets in 2 overs by Bert as keeper! Firstly when Flem got a terrific top spinner through Hume to hit him on the pads right in front - the umpire had no hesitation in giving it LBW but the batsman had edged it onto his pad, so Bert suggested the umpire overturn the decision, which he did. A couple of our other fielders had also heard the snick and Flem was impressively graceful and sportsmanlike in accepting this reversed decision.

And fortunately it didn't cost us, as next over Hume hit Jules to long off, where Laughts came in and judged the catch well - 94/2 and Hume out for an aggressive 33, including 7 x cleanly hit 4s. So welcome back Jules and a very well deserved reward. Richie Mayo the captain came in and in the next over from Flem got a bottom edge trying to cut, which Bert dropped. Two balls later he had a big swipe and missed and was out of his ground, but the stumping chance was likewise fumbled! Poor Flem, but he had his reward just a couple of balls later in the most wondrous fashion! As Mayo, obviously deciding his luck was in, hit out again and this time connected cleanly, with the ball soaring towards the (Colombo St) boundary at mid wicket and looking odds on a 6.

But Laughts had other ideas and sprinted round the boundary from wide mid wicket, then launched himself full length into mid air and with his right arm fully extended, somehow held the ball at full stretch and retained it when he landed and rolled over. It was the catch of the season, in fact the catch of many seasons! Even then though the drama wasn't done, as some of their team on the side line suggested that Laughts had touched the line as he landed.....Laughts of course couldn't tell, and was prepared to signal 6 on their say so, although not all of them were convinced about it, or our guys. Eventually their captain walked, very sportingly, including as he said later because the brilliance of the catch didn't deserve to be denied, so it was 96/3. Laughts though paid a steep price for his courage in going for this seemingly impossible chance, skinning a knee and injuring a finger badly, but what a simply stunning catch - all those privileged to be there will not see a better one. Drinks were taken very soon afterwards, and we had pulled things back well.

And Laught's brilliance helped lift the fielding effort, with Tim having arrived and he soon pulled off a great diving one handed save at cover, while on the other side Paul Bennett pulled off another great stop just getting a foot to a ball that looked beyond him. Dearsley had reached his 50, but frustrated by these efforts and the accuracy of Jules and Flem, holed out off Jules to Wildy on the backward square leg boundary, who always looked totally safe under the catch, 96/4 now. Dearsley had batted well for his 50, with 9x4, so it was a bit surprising when he said it was his first 50 for 15 seasons! After Flem had finished his excellent spell Phil Walker came on to bowl the 23rd over and got a wicket 2nd ball, with an excellent delivery that came back for an LBW, 100/5 now and MP had lost 4 wickets for 6 runs. And Phil soon had another wicket when a batsman foolishly tried to pull a straight ball that kept low and was comprehensively bowled, 115/6. Wildy came on at the completion of Jule's terrific spell and maintained the pressure well, with his accurate inswingers, and twice Ammar at short mid wicket got his fingers to difficult chances off him, the ball was certainly following Ammar around! But MP fought back and although little Johnny Price (who had played 202 games for St Albans Presidents, but is now playing for these guys as his son is in the team) was bogged down particularly by Phil, he put on 41 with Alford - Alford managed a brisk 20 off 17 balls, before JK came back and got him LBW with a good full ball he hit across, 155/7.

Johhny Price was out soon after, for a dogged 17 off 42 balls - when he got an inside edge driving at a ball from Phil and Bert partly redeemed himself for the earlier misses by managing to hold a decent catch, diving to his right and holding the catch one handed just off the ground, 160/8. Johhny's son mixed some decent shots with some effective edges and they finally finished at 175/8. So the last 28 overs yielded 91 runs for 7 wickets, a great effort by us in the field after their flying start. Flem limped round badly after his spell, but still fielded bravely.

Bowling figures were Dunny 5 0 30 0, JK 5 2 26 2 (last 2 overs at the end 2 1 6 1, an excellent effort), Flem 8 2 21 1, Jules 8 2 27 2, Phil 8 0 33 3, Wildy 6 0 22 0.

We got off to a bad start though, as Laughts after 2 good shots in the first over, got a fine edge to the last ball from their sharpish opening bowler down wind and was caught behind, 6/1.
Phil came in and was soon carrying on from his good form of last week, while he and Paul battled hard against an accurate attack. They had put on a useful partnership when Paul was out somewhat unluckily for 10, getting an inside edge onto his pad then his stumps, 37/2. Ammar came in at 4 and he and Phil had added about 20, when Ammar injured his leg going for a single - it looked like a decent hamstring strain and he retired hurt for 6. Drinks were taken soon after with the score at 60/2 after 20 overs, so 116 needed off the last 20 overs with the run rate up to nearly 6. While the weather had lost its warmth, with a beastly easterly getting stronger and colder.

But Phil took up the challenge well after tea and with Dearsley bowling well flighted leggies, Phil twice came down the pitch and drove him straight and cleanly into the trees for 6 as he went past 50, another top class and stylish innings. Tim played a couple of lovely sweep shots to keep the runs coming but just when things were looking good, Tim on 9 holed out on the mid wicket boundary off Dearsley, 95/3. Phil then hit another beautiful straight 6 off Dearsley but in trying to repeat the shot 2 balls later was beaten and bowled by a well flighted ball, 101/4 and Phil had made 64 of them, a terrific effort for all but 2/3rds of our runs at that stage.

Dunny came in to join Wildy and Dunny swung a big clean 6 off Dearsley over the mid wicket boundary, but on 7 was bowled by a ball from medium pacer Hume at the other end that kept very low, 114/5. Bert was next and at the other end timed his first ball from Dearsley nicely through the covers for 4, but was LBW 2 balls later missing a well flighted ball that hit him on the toe.

So 119/6 and effectively 7 down (with Ammar gone to get treatment), when JK came in at 9 to join Wildy, with 57 needed off the last 9 overs. But then Wildy began to take charge, hitting some good shots all round the wicket and being well supported by JK, who played one lovely cover drive for 4 off Hume. The target came down to 26 off 4 overs, and Wildy hit a ferocious pull shot that Johhny Price bravely tried to catch at backward square leg, but it nearly took his hand off and he had to come off to get repairs for a bloody finger with a split nail. MP then had to try a new bowler and his over went for 11, including a big 6 by Wildy over midwicket.

So just over a dozen to go and our only alarm came when JK ran what looked like a totally suicide single straight to mid off, but fortunately the fielder fumbled it badly when it looked odds on for an easy run out! With the score at 167/6 Hume bowled the 2nd last over, Wildy and JK took singles. Hume then bowled a high full toss that Wildy swatted over square leg for 6, to big cheers for his 50, then more cheers as the delivery was rightly called a no ball that gave us the win! So Wildy finished 52* and JK 10*, in a terrific and match winning partnership.

It had been a most enjoyable game, played in an excellent and sporting spirit, which made it really enjoyable not to mention the twists and turns which gave both teams a chance right up to the end. We had heard that this MP team was a good and friendly team to play and they certainly lived up to that :-) Both teams joined together for drinks afterwards while it had been great to see Brenden Winder (and his energetic older son!) and Matt Loose braving the later afternoon cold to come down and support us, plus the ever loyal Congo..

The affable Paul Dearsley was a well deserved man of the match for them, with 50 followed by 3-43, while for us any other day Wildy would have got it - with a good economical bowling spell, a nicely judged boundary catch and bringing us home with a beautifully judged innings of 52* full of good shots all round the wicket. can you go past Phil Walker in his current great all round form?! So with 3-33 and 64, he again got the tankard, another great effort by him. But it was day when everyone contributed, particularly including the great bowling from Flem and Jules, plus a very valuable little double from JK..

However to conclude this brief (?!) report my main memory of this match, when all is said and done, will be Laught's simply astonishing and unforgettable catch - I have never seen a better one and that is one award at our always fun prize giving night that is now 100% totally wrapped up! :-)

Man of the Match: Phil Walker

Check out the scorecard from the game.