3rd Grade Report v Western Suburbs
This was an odd game ' built all upside down. The foundations were on the roof and the attic was in the basement.
(Adair Durie at Punchbowl)
Eddie won the toss and elected to bat on what looked to be reasonably good wicket. Mitchell Kleem played a typically aggressive and cheery innings, as fiery as a final Nathan Rees press conference, and which included six well-struck boundaries. He ensured that he got the team off to a good start before being caught low down in the slips and there was no doubting his disappointment at not being able to go on with it.
Thereafter, the top order failed to fire sufficiently well. A couple of promising starts but nothing of real substance.
Credit must be given to the Western Suburbs fielding and bowling, of course, which was consistently impressive. The attack was steady and controlled and forced batsmen to place a premium on their wicket.
Furthermore, and importantly, it was backed up in the field.
In particular, the cover region was patrolled well. From the pavilion it was clear that the fieldsman in that region relished his task and his anticipation was impressive.
On the whole, runs were to be hard earned.
James Ledgerwood looked good and appeared to be headed for greater things before he decided, a little recklessly perhaps, to run down the wicket to a new spinner and paid the price.
(Skipper Ed Howitt)
Henry Carmichael was the pick of the first half of the order, with a well-made 36 that included some coruscating stroke play. However, he too was dismissed just when he looked well set, cutting at a ball and touching it through to the keeper.
Brett Rosen was another to show that he is a batsman of real class but unfortunately the promise of things to come was not realised.
Things looked grim at 6-104 and even worse at 7-128. But the captain was at the crease and was determined to do what he could to make a defendable total.
That withstanding, there were few indications at that point of what was to come.
But happily for the skipper, the tail did what it could to stick with him, but even still the final act of the innings was remarkable.
He added 40 something with Stobo, all through gritted teeth. It was the reincarnation of Allan Border in the mid-1980s.
Importantly, for all of those youngsters reading, the partnership lasted for well over an hour and included not a single glove punch. See. It can be done.
With Adair Durie, Eddie's score moved from about 40 to 90. It was terrific to watch, with calculated hitting, particularly over mid-on. It was experienced batting of high calibre and the Western Suburbs attack, which had toiled manfully, was increasingly frustrated.
(Charlie Bangs at Punchbowl)
During that same period, Adair moved from 0 to 9.
This meant that Charlie Bangs was under not just a little pressure to help his captain through to his 100, which he duly did in most a remarkable manner.
The most extraordinary over began with Ed watching helplessly from the non-striker's end, perched on 99. Charlie had a number of options but most of them involved being circumspect and watchful.
Watchful he was, but circumspect he probably was not, as he crashed three of the deliveries, including the last one, to the leg side fence. Not only did he ensure that Ed had his chance at an extremely well-deserved ton, but the score was advanced in healthy and entertaining fashion in the process.
Ed's 100 was brought up with a scrurried single. There was not doubt that he was counting his runs. Both arms held aloft, he savoured what was a terrific and satisfying moment.
Truly a captain's innings, if ever there was one. However, having had the pleasure of playing alongside Eddie a few years ago in 2nd Grade, I can't say that I was altogether surprised.
Ed's devotion to the Club over the years is only matched by a handful of very special people, in my experience, and when you boil it all down it is they that make the Club what it is.
Good people come and go, as one would expect, but to have individuals such as the Ed Howitts (both Jnr and Snr) around for the long haul is to give the Club a soul and a heart beat.
They understand the nuance and the essence.
That is why I was so thrilled to see Ed run that single. It meant that Gordon could take to the field with 262 to defend, nearly twice what might have been expected a few hours earlier.
(Justin Avendano in action)
With 19 overs to bowl before stumps, Adair Durie got things off to a perfect start with a wicket in his first over, and another fell in the second. Just goes to prove that batsmen still miss straight deliveries.
Western Suburbs were teetering but found themselves in deeper trouble when a batsman padded up and was given out LBW. Then the skipper's day got even brighter when he completely befuddled a left-hander in his one and only over, resulting in a good catch by Rosen, Jnr.
Stumps were drawn with Western Suburbs on the edge of the precipice at 4-42 and Gordon in the box seat going into Day 2. However, little twists and turns still lay ahead.
On arriving at the ground on the second Saturday, after a day of rain on Friday, it was frustrating to see a wicket that looked like a damp turnip patch. Things look bleak on what was a very sunny day.
However, there is a rule in the book which says that, if both captains and the umpires agree, the game can be moved to another wicket on the same square, which is what happened. The pitch had been used during the week and some preparation by the groundsman meant that cricket was to be played after all.
It was a wonderful testament to the club of Bardsley, Davidson and Simpson.
It meant for an entertaining and worthwhile day, in which runs were scored and wickets taken. Both teams had a chance to win, two batsmen scored half centuries and a bowler took four wickets, which suggests that there was a little bit for everybody.
And it was in stark contrast to the alternative of going home, frustrated.
Stobo ensured that he hosts' good sportsmanship was well received by getting it all wrong from the outset, bowling too straight and he ended up on the receiving end of some pretty impressive hitting.
Indeed, it was the beginning of a sorry and embarrassing day for him. A six in his first over gave a clue and dropping a catch in the gully soon after made things even clearer.
The final three sixes in subsequent overs pretty well confirmed things.
Of course, I could harp on about his second dropped catch later in the day ' a ball that spun viciously and deceptively as it snaked its way cunningly to backward point ' but I don't think there's really much point. There are plenty of others to tell that sorry tale.
And the derision from all and sundry, which was fully expected, was well and truly received.
Indeed it had begun well before the tea break. A committeeman's phone call meant that it had travelled around the suburbs of Sydney within minutes and, of course, it was in print on the website soon thereafter.
It's hard to keep typing with tears in your eyes.
Happily, the other bowlers and fielders did well. 'Hoppa's Game' continued to unfold as he toiled away manfully and constrained the scoring. Importantly, he received excellent support from Justin Avadano's, whose leg twirlers were well flighted and his two wickets well earned.
Nevertheless, at tea Western Suburbs needed only another sixty with wickets in hand. Gordon was rather flat and the game was in the balance.
But it was Charlie Bangs' spell after the break that settled things. A wicket in his first over ' a sharp catch at slip by Nick Dowsley ' and then a second a little while later (the last of the recognised batsmen, who had worked very hard and well for 60 odd) meant that the pendulum was back where it should be, with Gordon.
It was impressive bowling, with good pace and bounce and one always felt a wicket was just around the corner.
As long, of course, as that chance wasn't hit in the direction of Stobo.
The Big Red One, Adair, made sure of the result by snaffling the final two scalps and his four wickets were just reward for yet another terrific effort, driving up into the breeze. If there's a more whole-hearted player in the game I haven't yet met him; any team is a better one if Adair is in the line-up.
(Adair leads the team off at Punchbowl)
Therefore, Eddie got what he certainly deserved: a victory, built largely on the back of his magnificent innings.
There it is. A 3rd Grade victory going into Christmas and placed in the top half of the table but with a long way still to go. Howitt got a century for his stocking, which should keep him happy for a bit at least.
And a whole of extra grist to the mill for Wilson, Falk (x2), Grumpy (Snr), O'Neill, etc., at Stobo's expense, so at least the pensioners are happy.
In summary, it was a win but not a particularly convincing performance by the Gordon lads. Certainly some encouraging aspects but, on the whole, rather patchy.
There's no question that there is quality in the team and a good mix of youth and experience. A number of very capable bowlers and batsmen who are positive and aggressive, all very well led by a Premiership-winning captain. However, potential never won anything, let alone the Mitchell Cup.
It was, therefore, an enjoyable couple of days. However, my main criticism is reserved for the fact that, at the end of it all, two apparently good spirited teams went through a well-fought match over two Saturdays, yet didn't spend any time in each other's company, or that of the umpires, at the end.
It would have been great to share a drink and some talk about the game, and whatever else.
A pity, as I firmly believe that the game is all the richer for the effort spent in breaking down barriers and building up the relationships between teams. The cricket should only be a vehicle, not an end in itself.
Cheers and Merry Christmas. Hope Santa brings plenty runs and wickets to all.
Remember ' Christmas is the time of the reindeers (or is it stags?)