A home semi-final against Sydney University sadly proved the end of the season for the Gordon Colts. After finishing 11 points clear as minor premiers (and having beaten the Students twice during the round matches) the young Colts team was unable to secure the win in trying conditions at Beauchamp Oval.
Stu Bromley looks to get the side off to a strong start in the run chase
After significant rain during the week day one started after lunch with Gordon winning the toss on a wicket that was still damp at one end.
After a delayed start, Matt Keane (1/29), Richard Armour (2/41) and Matt Page (2/31) bowled well on the tricky surface and had Sydney reeling at 4/45. The boys were on a high and looking like they were going to cruise to the win when two of the older Sydney batsman decided to tough things out. Scoring incredibly slowly the two passed the hundred mark after well over 60 overs – aided by some sloppy fielding.
Finals cricket is always a different game and the inability of the Colts to take their chances proved costly as the team was unable to take a wicket between the first drinks after lunch and the final hour.
Matt Page tries to get through the Sydney Uni defence
Thankfully some silly running late in the day saw the Colts grab two run outs in the final overs and end the day with Sydney University at 6/134 after 74 tight overs.
The match was therefore very much in the balance on the morning of day two – with Sydney needing to pick up the run rate if they wanted any chance of setting the Gordon boys a target with enough overs to bowl them out: a draw seeing the top ranked Stags progress.
Some risky batting saw the total move along quickly before the Chamberlain brothers (Dan 2/28 and Matt 1/0) cleaned up the tail to have Uni all out for 178. This presented the Gordon team with a strong proposition – 85 overs to bat meaning the total was easily achievable with the protection of being able to shut up shop if required to limp through with a draw.
A quick break saw the plan set – don’t focus on runs until tea but ensure we don’t lose wickets and build a solid platform: the same strategy used in the Qualifying Final when we posted 347 on the same wicket.
Tim van Zuylen was unable to replicate the previous week's efforts during the run chase
However this week it wasn’t to be as a combination of loose shots and pressure cricket saw the Colts lose 3/20 in the hour before lunch.
With the experienced Stan Gaynor and Stuart Bromley at the crease the boys were not unduly nervous – knowing that a decent partnership would see us through. Apparently Sydney University had heard the plan and set about with a wicket straight after lunch – Gordon now in serious trouble at 4/37.
With the captain joining Stan things looked dire, but cricket is a simple game and finals cricket often favours the team with greater composure as the two batted sensibly on the slow outfield – turning the strike over with a combination of quick singles and punished loose deliveries.
With the score at 4/80 the Stags were right back in it – the Uni captain getting desperate and the level of chat seriously diminishing.
In games like this it is often the five minute periods that can decide the outcome – and it really wasn’t the Stags day.
With part-timer’s being tried and Andy and Stan in complete control the momentum had swung back in our favour. Or had at least until a misjudged square drive saw Stan set off, only to watch the point fieldsman take one step and rifle the ball in over the stumps.
Run Out 31 and Gordon 5/80. Back to even.
Stu Bromley takes a good slips catch while the skipper looks on
A very determined Andrew was joined by young Matt Chamberlain. The instructions were clear – let the skipper do the scoring but make sure we don’t lose another wicket. Matt obliged – blunting the attack while Andy punished anything short. 5/110 at Tea. Momentum back to the Stags.
It was a dejected Sydney Uni that shared a good spread that afternoon. With Andrew and Matt scoring freely and not even looking like giving a chance the Uni skipper knew something was needed – and quickly.
With play resuming both Andrew and Matt knew that surviving the first 20 minutes would be game, set and match to Gordon. The fielders’ heads were down and the frustration was rising.
All credit here has to go to the Uni skipper who threw everything at the pair, having three men crowd the bat (possibly out of desperation as neither had popped a ball all day). Matt saw off the first over securely and then it was the skippers turn. Five solid defensive shots and right back where we left off – Gordon on top.
And then disaster.
A regulation off spinner defended on the front foot by Andrew catching his pad on the way to ground and taken nicely by the man at short leg. 6/110 and back in the balance. All season the youngsters in our lower middle order have performed well and so while very disappointed I still had lots of confidence. However today wasn’t the day.
Coleman looks aerial to overcome the long grass
Rash shots combined with nerves saw 3 more wickets for 10 runs. 9/120 with 100 minutes left in the day. Uni were already celebrating.
Cricket can be a fickle mistress though as Dan and Richard clearly hadn’t gotten the memo. 30 exhausting minutes later and it was drinks. Still no breakthrough. As skipper it falls to me to somehow think of something to say to rally the troops so off I strode to have a quick chat to the batsman. I wasn’t needed. First thing I hear from the number 11 is “Tell the boys to make some noise.” “Sorry?” “Come on Andy, Dan and I have got this.” And they almost did.
With a proud feeling (tinged with puzzlement) I left the field. First two balls – defended nicely to cheers from the stands. Third ball Dan plays a textbook leg glance – imperiously taking a single. Maybe we did have it?
16 overs later and you could cut the tension with a knife. Tempers were fraying and the stands were on edge. 30 minutes of play left and the new ball taken.
At this point it’s worth saying that the Uni side had tried just about everything – from spin to meds, yorkers to full tosses – anything to buy a wicket.
As all of us who have been around fast bowlers know, giving a quick a new ball after 16 overs of patient batting from the last wicket was always going to be fiery.
This day was no different. The first four balls with the new rock were short and aimed at Richard. No shot offered. Ball five around the wicket and right at the throat.
Richard Armour fills the side with confidence as he defends the Uni attack
As a fellow fast bowler it would have been interesting to see what went through Rich’s mind as he just stood there and dropped the arms. Looking straight back at the bowler he let it hit him right on the shoulder. Not a sound.
Silence from the crowd. Silence from the ground. And then the batsman pipes up “Do you want to stop bowling spin already? It’s a waste of the new ball”. Needless to say that fired the boys up.
Unfortunately though, the fairy tale wasn’t to be. With less than 15 minutes left in the day, a faint edge ended the season for the Colts, but not before Dan and Richard had reminded all of us why we love this club.
It has been my privilege to captain the boys this year and there is some real talent amongst the team. It won’t be long before we see many of them in higher grades.
I have been very proud of how the team has banded together this year and it shows in the results – while we may not have lifted the Metropolitan Cup, a minor premiership and Semi Final result from such a young team (with the exception of Stuart Bromley, I have been playing cricket longer than every other player has been alive… and I only just turned 26!) is a great result.
Hopefully we have all learnt from this season to be a bit more like Dan and Richard – never giving up, never flinching and standing tall no matter the situation as part of the Gordon CC.