I hadn’t played cricket for precisely a month since the Ginninderra derby, but I was ready to go bowling wise. I had managed a couple of sessions at the Franklin nets successfully fine-tuning my pace, bounce, and movement. That was my focus, considering at times it was easy for the opposition to pump me over my head if I overmatched since there wasn’t much pace. Hence, I was trying to accelerate the rotation of both my shoulders, hoping that the ball will come out a lot quicker. It definitely felt that way on the hard net wickets, but it remains to be seen in the match.
I was back in the 5s Black side for the weekend. This time it will be captained by Adam O’Connor as Vasu Patel’s out due to a finger injury he sustained before the holiday break. Adam didn’t do his leadership prospects no harm as the Blacks won a tight low scoring game against the Blue Demons last week. More importantly, I reunite with Simon Edmonson as well. The trio of Adam, Simon, and I have been a winning combination on two occasions this season. Against ANU White and in the Ginninderra Derby, we took 6 wickets between us. Thereby hopefully, we can combine once more for another victory.
The wicket itself looked very green but very hard. From past experience, these wickets proved to be very good to bat on, so it’s best to win the toss the bat. However, that wasn’t quite Adam’s thinking. He felt that the pitch was unlikely to deteriorate and, therefore, still be good to bat on. As it turned out, when he won the toss, he decided to bowl first. Aside from the fact, the pitch isn’t likely to deteriorate, he reasoned that our best chances of winning is to chase.
I was then looking forward to resuming my bowling partnership with Simon at the top until Adam announced that he was planning to use me in the middle overs as he preferred the extra pace of Liam O’Connell and Vishal Patel. Fair enough, I had done a middle overs job before, so it was fine by me although I felt I was at my best with the new ball.
As it turned out, Creek got off to a flyer in the heat. Liam, in particular, took some stick, and after four overs, he was out of the attack, and I replaced him as Vishal Patel wanted to bowl at Simon’s end. Simon again took the early breakthroughs. Costello chipped a catch to mid-on while Godfree chipped a catch to Vishal at mid-wicket.
I initially struggled though with the wind working against my out-swinger as I conceded leg-side wides (as a matter of fact, I bowled nine wides today), but once I got my wrist and front-arm to work as I liked, the ball came out much better. At the other end, Vishal kept it really tight and should have taken a wicket had Aditya Dwivedi not dropped a catch at mid-off. Gradually though, due to the pressure built by him and myself, I prized out three wickets. Thomas chipped a catch to mid-wicket where Sumanth Purelli took an excellent low catch before I trapped both Bennie and Welfare LBW in consecutive overs (each on the first ball of the over). One out-swinger trapped Bennie on the back-leg while Welfare appeared to get an inside edge. Considering that we were unfortunate not to win a caught behind the decision of Liam’s bowling earlier, that was some consolation.
Even though I never took a wicket again during the day, I had troubled Matt Wheadon (whom I previously dismissed) on two occasions. In my first over, I got a ball to rise, which hit his glove, but it bounced in front of the slip cordon. Not long after, I got a ball to jump steeply and beat his forward defense. Later on, with assistance with the wind, I got the ball to move back into the right-handers and move away from the left-handed Thomas. After all that, a spell of 3 for 28 in my eight overs was the result. No wonder both Adam and Daniel Henrich (who reckons that was the best he has seen me bowl) were impressed. As I experienced cramp in the left leg, I retreated to the pavilion for the rest of the innings, and the boys continued the momentum from my spell.
Adam claimed the wickets of Wheadon and Ringwood while Aditya breached the defenses of Coughlan. When Liam claimed a run-out, Creek was nine down and was struggling to get to 150. Ultimately with a bit of luck, they managed to get there. Their captain Nathan Spencer should have been run-out only for Liam to mess up a good return by Kushal Kotagal. To add to Liam woes, he bowled a longish over due to series of wides and no-balls. It was so bad that he tried to finish the over with spin. To be honest, Liam’s over was on par compared to that of Curtly Ambrose at the WACA in 1996-97, where he bowled a 17 ball over due to a series of no-balls. We all had our bad days with the ball in hand in the past. Hence we can empathize with Liam. I am confident, though, that he will come back stronger for the experience. He is young, and it was good that Adam was there to provide him with some tips on how he can improve. Simon soon ended the resistance, and we had to chase 156 for the win on a wicket that is unlikely to deteriorate.
But our batting did. Rahul Desai gloved a catch behind on the second ball in the chase. Mallik Prasad, Sumanth, Kushal, Michael Weston, and Daniel were bowled, and Aditya chipped a catch to mid-on. That left us 7 for 51 after 12 overs as the top-order imploded. Little did anyone knew what was going to happen next. Simon was still at the crease who, unlike the other seven batters, was putting a price on his wicket by playing straight. Vishal had joined him and tried to attack them. Sumanth and Aditya tell me that Vishal will try to murder spinners. He will either hit sixes or get out. I suppose though, these outcomes make him our wildcard, but he provided great entertainment. He definitely looked at ease against Wheadon’s darts. However, it was chaotic entertainment against Spencer’s slow leggies since Vishal got too excited and swung the bat too early. One ball hit the toe of his bat; the other ball hit his chest, but otherwise, when he connected, it went for boundaries. Nevertheless, you couldn’t fault him for trying, and his approach really brought us back into the game by the second drinks was called (a second drinks break was agreed upon due to the heat before the toss), we were just 13 runs away from victory with Vishal on 61 not out.
Ultimately it was fitting that Vishal finished it off two overs later, in the 30th over. He launched Wheadon for consecutive sixes to pull off the stunning chase. He finished with 74 not out off 45 balls with 9 fours and 3 sixes and put on an unbroken 107 with Simon, who finished with 26 not out. It was indeed the great escape considering we were gone for all money until the miraculous happened. No wonder Adam termed it a stunning victory. It was definitely one of the best wins I’ve ever been apart of given that I had played my part with three wickets earlier on. The manner of the victory does embody “we will fight until the final wicket falls,” as described in our club song, which we definitely sang in full gusto. Having been at the receiving end of a lower order resistance by Weston Creek earlier in the season when playing for 5s Yellow, now it felt good to benefit from such strength and for them to be at the receiving end for once.
I shall not forget that this particular resistance ensured that the dominant efforts of Adam, Simon, and myself ended in victory. This time, we took 8 wickets between us as Simon earlier took three wickets with the ball to complete a reliable all-round performance. Us three together are now three wins from three and have taken 14 wickets between us. Unfortunately, though, Simon is away next week, so hopefully, next month, we will reunite.
Nevertheless, we all played a part in one of the best victories I’ve ever been in.