2nd Grade vs Eastern Suburbs - Round 6 - 2015/16
Following a disappointing loss to Blacktown, the Gordon Stags 2nd XI entered Round 6 staring into the abyss of being limited to a ‘mathematical’ chance of finals cricket far too early in the season.
With reasonable batting conditions on offer and nothing less than victory acceptable, Captain Cubbage dutifully lost the toss.
Textbook Spratt. Fetch that one gents!
It would prove a masterstroke with the Dolphins electing to bat shortly before persistent rain forced the square to be covered.
Close enough to 45 minutes play was lost before Stickland and Skillbeck went to work with conditions conducive to swing bowling. Both begun well – Stickland picked up 2 early wickets to continue a rich vein of form with the new ball – but in giving the ball a chance to swing the pair were guilty of straying too full.
Cam New is looking solid at the top of the 2nd Grade order
Bateup and Ferrero were introduced and begun to slow the scoring rate. Some persistent pressure yielded two wickets before a pair of Easts batsman combined for the most productive partnership of the innings.
Cubbage operated steadily, as is the captain’s prerogative, whilst the rest of bowlers were rotated in an effort to prize out a wicket on a surface that felt increasingly familiar to a weary attack. Verma’s spin broke the 145 run partnership but before long Easts had steadied and sat 5/275 at the midpoint of the last session.
Jack Colley's return from 1st Grade on day 2 was a massive boost for the side
It was here that the Stags exorcised the demons of Round 4 – Cubbage started the rot by removing Ezekiel for a flawlessly complied 182. Some fizzing leg breaks and a touch of reverse swing saw the final 4 batsman all dismissed for nought. All told, Easts were dismissed for 288 and in doing so had slumped to lose 5/13.
About time skip! Papworth and Verma celebrate the skipper's breakthrough
Gordon were arguably unlucky not to enter day 2 with all ten wickets intact when opener Bristow’s front pad once again fell afoul of the umpires judgement. The men in maroon suffered no further loss, reaching 1/30 at the close of day one.
Day two saw the Top 6 welcome back their spiritual leader in Jack Colley whom returned from 1st XI duties. Jack’s impact was felt immediately with the Top 6 finally able to muster a challenge in pre-game touch football. Some generous extensions of play allowed the Top 6 a scarcely believable return from 3-0, with the 3-3 deadlock to be decided by each group’s contribution to the run chase.
It can only be thought the Bottom 5 was trying to spur on the batsmen. Upstairs for thinking!
Tim Ferrero leans into his work in the reserve grade side
The Top 6’s campaign began brightly, with New and Spratt sharing a sparkling second wicket partnership of 114. Spratt (49) combined an impressive range of shots with resolute defence before holding out whilst New (61) was particularly harsh on any overpitched deliveries, driving down the ground with great authority.
The lunch break arrived just one over too late for the home side with their pursuit suffering a significant setback when New and Papworth (0) were dismissed on the stroke of 12:30. It seems the boys were following 1st Grade far too closely!
A number of useful partnerships followed the break, but each time it appeared the chase was under control a wicket was lost.
The common thread through each of these partnerships was Colley (117*), who produced a gem to anchor the side’s chase. Colley showed great maturity and an impeccable sense of timing – both in his choice and execution of stroke play.
Chris Bateup provides yet another option for the skipper after Skilbeck and Sitckland's opening spells
As if to mock the notion of any nerves Colley sprinted through the 90s with a pair of towering 6s to bring up a well-deserved and ultimately unbeaten century.
To express Verma (12) and Stickland’s (4) contribution by their own runs would horribly understate how well each played their supporting role in a number of invaluable partnerships (45 and 34 respectfully).
Whilst the home side ensured a nervous finish by losing their 9th wicket with just 6 runs left to win, Skilbeck (8*) cooly carved out a well struck boundary through cover to seal a crucial victory for the Stags and the Top 6.
We're keen to know where the photo of Skilbeck is hiding - surely someone caught that 'well struck boundary' on camera
With renewed belief, the side now confronts a Penrith side flying high in 2nd position at Killara Oval.