After a long drive down to God’s Country, the third grade Stags drove into a ground with a nice cream picket fence and large sight screens. After dropping off our bags in the change room, we were met with a bumpy outfield that made us feel like we were right back at home back at Killara. The pitch looked placid and dry, but to give ourselves the best chance of an outright victory and to propel ourselves into the top six, the team agreed we should bowl first if given the chance.
Sure enough, Captain Effeney won the toss and we sent the Sharks in. Pat Effeney and Matt Keevers started with the new ball, and Effeney struck early with a ball that moved brilliantly off the seam to disturb the batsman’s stumps. However, just as the opening batting partnership didn’t last long, neither did the opening bowling partnership, as the sight of the ball bouncing like a tennis ball suggested we might be better served by using our three-pronged spin attack.
Chris De Kretser and Matt Wright came into the attack early and both bowled very well. Wright even turned a few to beat the bat of the right handers on his way to claiming four top order wickets.
Matt Left was ragging them past the bat.
De Kretser bowled good attacking lines at the other end and was unlucky not to strike a few times. Charlie Booth, spinner number three, then joined the attack and bowled his fair share of tidy overs as well. This plan of attack continued until the tea break.
Danusha Seneviratne had waited a long time to bowl, but made the most of his opportunity with a smart spell of reverse swing bowling with the old ball. Big D only picked up the one pole, but had the ball hooping and could have had a few more if luck had gone his way. Day one’s play was eventually halted as a big storm rolled in and with Sutherland sitting around 7/200.
Day two saw a pitch perhaps even flatter and better for batting than last week, as it had a touch more pace onto the bat. We set out in search of the last three wickets. Keevers nicked off one of the Sharks’ batsmen with a straight one, and De Kretser also claimed a second wicket as reward for some good bowling last week. Sutherland began to have a swing and their number 11 and captain put his money where his mouth was and hit a big dinger over long-on before declaring at 9/255, giving us 65 overs to chase the runs.
The top order started well with both Tom Hamblin and Chris Spratt looking comfortable against the new ball. They batted in contrasting manners, with Hamblin patiently blocking, deflecting and nudging the ball into the gaps while Spratt preferred to take on the bowlers, playing some superb shots and hitting several boundaries on his way to 37.
You bloody ripper Pappy, I love you.
After the openers fell, Matt Wright continued his form and made a good start, getting to 27, but fell just as he looked to be setting himself for a match-defining innings. Max Papworth had other ideas, however, and played a brilliant innings of 76 to provide the backbone to the Stags’ innings.
Papworth was particularly harsh on the spinners and hit a couple of dingers of his own, sweeping and lofting to good effect. Darren Jayasekara also got in on the action, choosing to deal almost exclusively in boundaries on his way to 19. When Papworth fell, we were still 50 runs short with 4 wickets remaining. Sutherland perhaps sensed they could cause a lower order collapse and an upset win. However, Charlie Booth (23) and Pat Effeney (26*) ensured this didn’t eventuate, as they set about knocking off the remaining runs required for the win. Chris De Kretser was there at the end as well, with 6* to guide the Stags home with a few wickets and a few overs up our sleeves.
The boys sung the Gordon song loudly in the tiny brick change room, with skipper Effeney particularly glad not to be hearing the Sutherland boys yelling Shark attackackackackackack.