Ah 2-day cricket. Proper cricket if you ask me, an absorbing format where the equanimity of the batsmen is delicately juxtaposed against the determination of the bowler.
A format where the game is not won or lost in an over but in a session or multitude thereof. How would the mighty stags fare in such a formidable challenge? Well read on, and I shall regale you of a mighty contest.
Max Papworth punches one down the ground with ease
The setting, Killara Oval. Something of a fortress these last few weeks for the reserve graders.
Whilst visitors have complained of the pitch and outfield, the staggies (much like the parents of a disappointing child) have embraced it and have set about being the best they can possibly be.
Before I delve into the battle between willow and leather I must first report on a more hotly contested clash between the incredulously named “top 5 Legends” and the “bottom 6 Jerks.”
A mid-week transfer window sought to breathe new life into the match, with Max ‘he’ll get a mention or two’ Papworth coming into the Top 5 for Josh ‘UpUp’ Doyle who looked to solidify the bottom 6 midfield.
The bottom 6 were determined from the outset, using a high press system not seen since the days of LVG at Old Trafford. This in-your-face attitude rattled the top 5, who resorted to speculative long balls that were dutifully cleaned up by Sam ‘Flu’ Baker.
Reagan's long levers clubbed the Bee's around Killara
Once in possession the bottom 6 looked to utilise the wings, ignoring the imaginary sideline marked by Reagan ‘might get another mention’ Klemt. Numerous crosses came close to breaking the deadlock, as did a scintillating interchange of passing between Miller and Stickland (think Jack Wilshere’s goal v Norwich 2013, minus the actual goal).
A draw seemed inevitable, then “last play” was called and the top 5 sent all their numbers upfield in a vain attempt to take the game.
A scramble and the ball was cleared out to Sam Baker, clean on goal with no one in front but suffering from an almighty case of the flu. Baker kept his composure and rolled it through for a well-deserved 1-0 victory for the bottom 6 jerks.
Now, to Cricket, the real reason you're here.
Max Newman declared his intention to bat should he win the toss. The wicket had a covering of green grass, however the pitches true nature was underneath. Rock hard, no moisture whatsoever, must bat first.
Well, true to form Newman lost the toss and the bowlers, observing the skippers body language from afar, starting warming up from their full runs. Incredibly the Bumble Bees captain decided to bowl first. An intriguing decision, but the right one? Read on.
2/22 after 10 overs. “Yer probably the right decision” thought the Bumble Bees, “all right watch me” thought young Max Papworth and that is precisely what we did.
For 221 minutes Max "the Smear" Papworth cut, swept and drove his way to a commanding and powerful 132.
An extremely entertaining 132 from Max!
His dismissal will be longed talked about, punching the ball whilst unsuccessfully reversing sweeping for the third time, I suspect the umpire was sick of seeing it and simply sent him on his way to think about what he did.
The carnage however, was only starting as Reagan ‘sausage rolls FTB” Klemt then replicated Papworth’s innings.
Finishing on 121* Reagans innings was chanceless and just reward for his continual hard work. The amassed total of 407/7 was simply sensational and the bumble bees were probably questioning their decision to even play cricket, let alone bowl first on an absolute flatty. Oh and Scott "Scooby" O'Brien got his 3rd successive half century.
A materclass from Reagan late in Day 1, finishing on 121*
As if the day did not belong to the Staggies already, Nick Miller decided to nip one back and leave UNSW 1/20 off 8 at the end of the day.
Day 2 saw one of the most dynamic and enthralling football matches ever seen in a cricket warm up.
The Top 5 Legends were clearly rattled by the Bottom 6 Jerks victory last weekend and this was proven by their over-analysis and pre-match huddle to discuss tactics.
The Bottom 6 Jerks maintained their in-your-face high press defence, forcing the Top 5 Legends to play the long ball, gifting away possession. However, the Bottom 6 Jerks struggled to capitalise on their possession, misfiring in front of goal.
Suddenly out of nowhere Will "Wilbur" Phillips went on a barnstorming run beating multiple Jerks defenders and slotting it home for a 1-0 lead. Wilbur has had a sore back lately and while he’s not sure what it is or what caused I can safely say it’s from carrying the Top 5 Legends.
This goal ignited the Bottom 6 and a swift counter attack from a corner levelled the match at 1-1. The game was on a precipice and the next goal would be vital.
The Jerks once again sent the ball wide, Anand Verma released Stickland down the left wing and in his first contribution of the day Stickland put the ball on a platter for Newman to put the Jerks up 2-1. The game was not over though and time was still on the clock for the Top 5 to pull off the unthinkable.
Scott "Scooby" O'Brien doing what he does best!
The Bottom 6 Jerks went into “Mourihno Mode” and parked the bus, booting the ball long and into the corners in a pessimistic attempt to wind down the clock.
“Last Play” was called and the Top 5 held possession well. Somehow despite a shot being deflected for a corner ‘Last Play’ was continued to allow the Top 5 one last chance.
A long, high and speculative ball found its way to the edge of the box and Will Phillips got a head on it. The ball, seemingly in slow motion, looped over the Jerks defenders and landed squarely in the middle of the goal. 2-2.
Heartbreak for the Bottom 6 Jerks. Elation for the Top 5 Legends. Next week will be a fixture not to be missed.
We also played some cricket and the not out batsmen started well and cashed in as the bowlers looked to be full.
Sam “healthy again” Baker got the ball rolling for the Stags, knocking back middle stump after consistently hitting some good areas.
Dan “Cyclops” Stickland’s introduction into the attack saw one of the most fortunate drag-ons of his career, the batsman gloving the ball into leg stump as he looked to play to fine leg. To be fair though I did move it a little bit so it had some right to take a wicket.
Sticker's smashing the stumps week in week out.
The UNSW batsmen weren’t going anywhere but then their number 4 decided to take Stickland on for a trio of boundaries, Stickers had the last laugh though uprooting middle stump and then letting the entire suburb of Killara know. Will Phillips then chimed in with a wicket of his own and at 5/104 things were looking great for the Stags.
The Staggies then wavered in their conquest, a couple of dropped chances and a partnership developed.
Josh Doyle then rolled out some offies and took a neat caught-and-bowled, clutching it in his arms. “Lucky I’ve been doing them curls” said Josh in the huddle. It seems curls not only get girls but also partnership-breaking wickets (bowlers take note).
Unfortunately, another partnership proved frustrating and the bowlers were perhaps guilty of bowling too inconsistently and wide of the stumps. Fortunately, the introduction of Scooby proved vital and the Stags entered tea only needing 3 more wickets.
A quality tea (it’s gotta be one of the best teas in the entire comp) revitalised the bowlers and it took a measly 16 balls to capture the last 3 wickets. Scooby and Stickland ended with 3 each and the mighty reserve graders rolled on to remain undefeated.
Also big ups to the 4th graders who came down to watch and supplying a case of beers to savour the win.
Gordon 407/7dec (Papworth 132, Klemt 121*, O’Brien 74) def. UNSW 251 (O’Brien 3/25 Stickland 3/44)