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2nd Grade vs Blacktown - Round 5 - 2015/16

After a week of rain and a multitude of cancellations the reserve graders endured the lonesome journey out to Blacktown, one of Sydney’s greatest cultural centre, unclear of what conditions awaited them. 

The boys were hopeful that the early rise was not wasted for fear of being locked in a change-room listening to the ramblings of Stickland and Reagan’s theories of betting on a sport he hadn’t known about until 3 weeks ago.

Dan Stickland is congratulated after an early wicket in their defence of 145

Fortunately the ground was in exceptional condition, and we were all stoked to see a ball actually roll along the surface. A month at Chatswood has floated the idea that one should field with boxes on for added comfort, security and peace of mind. 

A nervous groundsman informed us that the pitch is a bit soft but will “be sweet” to bat on once it baked out. I was sceptical, seeing as the sky was in fact grey.

The warm-up has been an area needing improvement, so too has the top 6s touch rugby skills. I am pleased to report that the former was outstanding, plenty of energy and enthusiasm as the stags look to improve on recent outings in the field. 

The latter however remains the same: despite a one man advantage the top 6 cannot find a way to get through the bottom 5, who prevailed 3-0 with some fleet-footed running and excellent tactical nous. There were rumblings of discontent from the top 6, claiming we took the game too seriously, but if running into holes and releasing a winger with a significant overlap is too serious, then lock me up and throw away the key. 

Plenty more of this young man to see at the Stags - Michael Roberts 

I think Cubby lost the toss, I'm not actually sure, but he has the last 3 rounds so I’ll just assume he did. We were batting, and looked to apply what worked so well against North Sydney mainly “Play straight, be great.”

Debutant Matt “Dingo” Chamberlain and Cam New looked to do just that, but scoring was tough going with a pitch difficult to drive on and a sluggish outfield. 

Dingo fell pulling and Chris Spratt joined Cam. Full of confidence after making a point of removing his yellow clads (he represented Australia you know!?) and reminding us that he has a Cricinfo page, Spratty knocked it around in typical Spratt fashion. 

Once the bowlers actually put a ball on his stumps he nicked it into his pad and was given LBW (it’s a batsman’s game). 

Reagan, fresh out of the friend zone and fresh into the runs, steadied the ship with our second debutant Nick “Rocher” Ferrero until lunch once New had found his way back into the sheds. At 3/64 it wasn’t an ideal start but if we kept wickets in hand we’d be able to cash in later on…

When this man is fit... what a star. Jack Skilbeck troubles the Warriors 

Alas it wasn’t to be as Ferrero left a straight one second over after lunch, he told us it came in viciously - but I'm writing… so it was going with straight. 

Unfortunately it didn’t get much better as a flurry of quick wickets saw the departure of Reagan, last week’s centurion Chris and Cubby. At 6/84 things weren’t looking great, fortunately Tony Wilson was creating the finest hour of conversation in 2nd grade history. 

Topics ranged from the Melbourne Cup, during which Tiddles surprisingly supported female jockeys, to the standard discussion of player’s mothers. According to Tiddles, a mother-daughter combination at cricket is best, but he would like to see more of Mrs Spratt in attendance.

During this our third debutant Michael “Blue” Roberts was at the crease and looking sublime, let me tell you, the boy can bat. He and “Dogs best friend” Anand Verma put on 35 and Michael in particular looked in great touch for his 46, definitely one to watch. There’s not much else to ride on, a final score of 146 was simply not good enough and a lot of our batsmen would probably regret the shots that got them out. 

Dan Stickland did his best to bundle out the Blacktown boys 

After an extended tea break due to a light shower the stags were out in the field looking to make life difficult for the warriors. Life was indeed difficult for 7 of the 8 batsmen who took the crease, Stickland found some rhythm and movement from the top end removing the top order with 3 wickets, Skilbeck back from injury and back with a vengeance bowled some great areas and was rewarded with his two opening poles for the season. 

Unfortunately one batsman (I don’t know his name, oh wait yes I do! It’s all over the Gordon mobile team app… thanks Tids) took it to the bowling and dominated the innings compiling 81* at the end of the days play. The day ended with Blacktown 6/131, a meagre 15 runs behind.

The many facets of Michael Roberts' game on display here 

Day 2 arrived and so did the rain. Play started at 12 and Blacktown knocked the runs off in 5 overs. Skilbeck delivered a faint glimmer of hope when he snicked off the number 8 in his first over. However, the pitch was significantly flatter and with a wet ball the bowlers were on a hiding to nothing. Blacktown passed the score 7 down and declared with a lead 32. Gordon survived 4 overs before the rain came (again) and the game was called off.

Obviously 146 was never going to be enough, and despite some great bowling from Skilbeck and Stickland (3/44 off 9 and 3/52 off 13) Gordon always had their backs against the wall. You could turn around and say “well Gordon had the worst of the conditions” which is true, however 9 of the 10 dismissals were poor shots and errors of judgement rather than unplayable deliveries. 

It’s such a shame we couldn’t fight that little bit harder on day one, who knows an extra 50 runs could’ve seen us walking off Joe McAleer a lot happier. 

We'll leave you with this one. Great camera work by Tiddles! 

We have the talent and ability to play some seriously good cricket, you just need to look at our chase of 350+ against North Sydney and you can see the potential of this side. Easts represent a great chance for the boys to get back to the playing the kind of cricket we all know we’re capable of. Let’s work hard during the week lads and get around it for Saturday! 

Dan Stickland


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