4th Grade vs Bankstown - Qualifying Final - 2012/13
Ah, finals cricket. There’s nothing like it. The elder statesmen of the Stags 4th XI were keen to have the younger members of the team appreciate the significance of a finals berth and stressed the importance of cool heads, prolonged pressure and executing plans.
Charlie Bangs leads the attack against the Bulldogs
I think it’s fair to say that the intensity of the pressure was almost palpable at Graeme Thomas over this weekend against The Dogs.
A victory in the final round would have seen the Stags finish as Minor Premiers in the competition for the Reid Cup, however a loss saw us relegated to 4th. The effect of this was certainly felt during the 2 days at Graeme Thomas, as Skipper Lin won the toss on a flat deck and inserted the Dogs to have a bat. As we know, finishing 4th meant we had to take 10 Bankstown wickets and attempt to chase down a total. Things didn’t quite go to plan.
Bankstown’s intentions were clear from the outset. Play straight, no false strokes and value your wicket - a pretty good approach for any batsman. And they executed their plans extremely well.
The first session gave the Stags a great deal of encouragement with the new ball doing a bit and the pace quartet of Bangs, Skilbeck, Perry and Stickland settling into their work. With the score at 4-100 just after lunch things were evenly poised.
This is where things got tough for the Stags with possibly the best batting conditions this veteran has ever seen.
Jack Skillbeck, resplendent in Gordon colours, puts in a massive effort for his skipper
With some close decisions not going our way, including a heartbreaking runout decision in the final over, Gordon had toiled admirably for 110 or so overs and could be pleased with the score of 6-240 at stumps.
The skipper should be commended on his innovation and attempts to create a chance throughout the afternoon, including stripping off the keeping pads and having a roll himself. The expletives from Buono on the sideline were probably audible at Chatswood.
Sunday morning saw many stiff bodies but a positive and enthusiastic group reassemble. The importance of the first hour was highlighted and the amount of cricket left to play reiterated. This 4th grade side knows its capabilities and how to score quickly, so a run chase that most would find daunting would be exciting to the batsmen.
This notion was summarised perfectly by Shayne Lin to the slips cordon part way through the day when he said, and I quote “When God put me on this Earth, he said I’ve made you to do big run chases”.
Perhaps Shayne was getting into the Easter spirit a little early. Perhaps he thinks he’s Jesus. Perhaps the effects of heatstroke were starting to settle in.
"Terry" Ahmed tries to weave his magic
Some more consistent and quality bowling, particularly from young Jack Skilbeck, meant the Bakstown side had grafted to 9-350 with around 80 overs remaining in the day. The Stags were confident. Alas, a defining moment for the match with a very confident caught behind appeal being turned down broke the back of the tiring Stags, and the rest is history. Banstown declared at 9-510, with the number 9 scoring a quality hundred and number eleven 60 not out.
The efforts of all the bowlers must be acknowledged... they charged or strode in relentlessly and did a sterling job for the skipper in trying conditions. The best was Skilbeck, with a more than promising 4/103 (37).
The Stags decided to go about the rest of the day in the only way they know how... full throttle and to enjoy it. With some lusty hitting and great strokeplay, the Stags finished their season by scoring an entertaining 187 before succumbing to the heat, exhaustion and mammoth total before them. The best was Chris Retallick with a classy 50, which earns him a promotion to the 3rd Grade juggernaut this weekend in the semi-finals. Good Luck Retro.
Finally, on behalf of the 4th Grade team, I’d like to thank Buono, Hicko, Paul Stephenson, Harry Evans and Tom Bangs for their support at picturesque Bankstown over the weekend.
We thought we'd get a second photo of young Skillbeck, who is sure to feature strongly for the Stags
Also, very big thank you to the committee and the volunteers that work tirelessly behind the scenes to allow us to walk onto the cricket field each Saturday. Your efforts do not go unnoticed and we thoroughly appreciate them.
Please, come and join us at Chatswood on Saturday from 2pm and we’ll buy you a beer as we cheer on Howitt’s 3rd Graders.