3rd Grade vs Manly - Round 8 - 2015/16 - Version 1
The lack of the familiar ‘light beers after midnight gents, and Diet Coke with every 5th bourbon please Newy’ text message from “Missy” Higgins on Friday night could mean only one thing, it was the last round before Xmas and Missy was resigned to the inevitable.
Jon 'far better game' New provides his view on the trip down to the seaside
However, the picturesque drive to ‘God’s Country’ and the sweet lyrics of Taylor Swift’s ‘22’ washed away any ill effects, and provided inspiration for a crucial game against last year’s premiers with a young 3rd grade side. I felt 22…..percent.
With searing heat, and a dusty pitch, the toss was going to be crucial. Missy called it right and invited Manly to take the field during the hotter part of the day. First blood to the Stags, and to Missy in the battle of the senior statesmen.
Matt “Wendy” Chamberlain took the field with Corbin Edgar, who was looking to establish himself as a fixture in the somewhat fluid position of 3rd Grade opening batsman. Unfortunately, the umpire had other ideas and quickly fired Corbin the moment he got within a metre of one down the leg side.
Unlucky for Corbin, but the second half of the season will hold many further opportunities for crucial contributions as this side seeks finals glory.
After Missy fell, Dom ‘Level 5 Laser-Lotus (one for the ‘Community’ fans)’ Thomson and Wendy set about establishing a solid base from which the Stags could attack and set a score of 200+. Each batsman offering a number of majestic cover drives, cut shots, and excellent aggressive running between the wickets.
The boys put all their energy into the fielding drills
Wendy fell victim to some good, restrictive, left arm orthodox from the pick of the Manly bowlers. A flatter, fuller delivery that spun past his outside edge and trapped him in front was his undoing. There was some conjecture as to whether he’d done enough to be hit outside the line, but Dom helpfully clarified later that it was ‘very bloody out’.
By the time Jon ‘the less aesthetic brother, but with far better game’ New came to the crease, the Manly spinners had found a groove and were applying a stranglehold on the game on a turning pitch. Thomson, New, Stewart and Borg took the score from 56 to 136 during this period of the game.
Each batsman clearly had no issue with keeping the bowlers out, but fell in efforts to lift the scoring rate above 4 an over.
It doesn't matter which report you read, Dom Thomson's clash of cream and white doesn't get any better
At 8-141, Manly were threatening to take control of the innings and restrict the Stags to a low total. Michael “VIP” Roberts and Charlie Booth combined to ultimately provide a match-winning partnership. In a match where no other batsmen from either side hit at a strike rate above 70, VIP helped himself to 49 at a run-a-ball, and Charlie took 18 off 15.
Another great contribution from VIP with the bat this season, which will surely state his case for a move to a higher middle order position.
The Stags posted a very competitive total of 9-195.
With the benefit of observing what had been successful for Manly in attempting to restrict our batsmen, the bowlers took to the field confident in their game plans and ability to take the 6 points from the game.
The initial phase of the run chase was very competitive. Borg took the first wicket with a lazy, ‘just-throw-the hands-at-it’ drive from the Manly opener which yielded only a chop-on bowled. The remainder of the Manly top order combined some powerful hitting and drop-and-run tactics very well to have the Stags on the back foot.
A couple of difficult chances went to hand, but weren’t held on to. A recurring theme for the side, which will need work with Trevor after the Xmas break.
New, Booth and Scotty ‘the best beard in grade cricket’ O’Brien set about taking the pace off the ball and grinding the scoring rate to a minimum in the middle overs. With New somewhat steady at one end, the pressure mounted on the batters to take Booth on. They were only able to get a couple of hits away before Booth took two excellent wickets.
It was great to see Charlie reading the batsmen’s body language, anticipating what shots they were going to go for, and adjusting his pace to be a little flatter and faster to get more turn. The reward was a wicket bowled, as one batter tried to force him off the back foot to a ball that wasn’t short enough, and another that the following batsman ran past.
Jon New gets a good view of "VIP" Roberts' innings
A really good innings by the young Manly keeper and no.3 (78) saw the game build to the crucial moment of the match, with Manly placed well at 4-128 and requiring a Booth-VIP-esque finish to take the win.
At mid-off, I reflected on how the boys had responded in a similar position a few rounds earlier against Eastern Suburbs – a couple of big shots, the game was presumed over, and the bowlers failed to force Easts to work all the way through the final 50 runs to take their win.
Well, what a difference a few rounds and a few extra wins can make. The presumption in the field was always that we were going to get the job done, and so we did. Manly completely imploded to be all out for 169.
The final 6 wickets included 3 run outs, and an excellent delivery from Patrick ‘I just love cricket again’ Effeney to remove the ominous figure that waddled to the centre at 9 with nought on his mind but boundaries and a couple of pork cutlets at Manly Wharf Bar later that night.
Well done on a really good win for the boys to finish the first half of the season. A crucial win that sees 3rd Grade placed 6th on the ladder. With the likes of Richtor, the Duffman, Stickland, Barker, Jayasekara, Miller and Keevers looking to return to various grades after Xmas, things look promising for Missy’s side.
However, the post Xmas schedule will be St George (7th), Syd Uni (2nd), UNSW(4th), NDs (5th) and a Bankstown side that was last two rounds ago but is now being led by a couple of returned 1st grade servicemen including Darren Etteridge.
The scene is set for the side to state a case for Premiership-contenders or to drift back into the pack. Up to you boys.
In the wise words of Ricky Bobby ‘if you ain’t first, you’re last’.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to all.
Jon “better writer than his brother” New