It was a hot sunny day but thankfully there was a light breeze. Last season we played AIB in 2 cup games and whilst we pushed them hard in both we were defeated. They have an impressive squad of approximately 37 players and have to rotate them. We have, on the other hand, 19 registered players of which only 10 were available today. Tim was in Portugal with his daughter, Vicky, trying out water parks. Mark was turning his neighbours hay. Clive and Barry were back and so the batting line up looked solid enough. The outfield had been cut and due to the parched conditions it was going to be quick. It was a batting wicket but as AIB won the toss we had to field.
Last year we had them on the ropes after 20 overs and I think they were 6 wickets down with about 80 on the board. They were rescued by their no.8 Harshit Bansal. It was therefore no surprise that he opened the batting this year and went on to score 107. Whilst his innings was quite measured the rest of his team went after the ball with abandon. Our 2 strike bowlers have amassed 31 wickets between them this season at impressive economy rates. Today was not the day for improving your ‘stats’ but John got his customary 3 wicket haul. Neville got the vital wicket of Ulla (34) who looked extremely dangerous. Ahsan had the best economy rate of 6. The opening partnership was 42 whilst the next wicket went down at 191. It was proving to be a long day in the field. Those at the ‘wrong’ end of the field were exposed to the sun all afternoon. Clive cleverly located himself in the only bit of shade in order to keep himself cool for batting.
After Kamshik Reay went for 75 there were 2 more wickets before they dug in for another big partnership. They went from 4-232 to
5-310. John decided to take speed off the ball with some elegant leg breaks and lured the big hitters into giving Ahsan 2 wonderful catches on the boundary. The great catchers in the deep never seem to be hurried and Ahsan has become the Zen Master in the space of a season. He centres himself under the high ball and it falls into his hands.
At tea AIB were 7-337. It might seem a bit like Stockholm syndrome but their innings was very impressive. Tea consisted of pizza and lemonade. We weren’t quite sure if this Italian fare was indicative of the forthcoming massacre of the Borgia’s but it was hot and sustaining.
Richard (24) and Barry (21) strode out with confidence. They are not excitable by nature and prepared to deal with life as it comes – a characteristic of opening batsmen less romantically referred to as phlegmatic. The two opening bowlers looked formidable. Their bowling was accurate and testing. AIB captain Chris Curley assured us that they had mixed up the team so that all the good players were not there. Judging by their batting he suffers from an excess of modesty and the bowling was no different.
Barry scores quickly and in the modern game this is vital. Runs on the board and pressure on the opposition. Once he was dismissed Clive (79) came to the crease and stamped his authority on proceedings. In his last innings he ran a lot of singles whereas today he scored 16 boundaries. He really looks like a batsman with all the shots. He never looks hurried and lets the ball come onto the bat. This was an exceptional innings by any standards and in a very difficult situation. It beat the next best innings by 55 runs and he has now got Halverstown’s top score of the season. Richard is calm personified and supports or leads depending on his counterpart.
John is the team all rounder who has a very respectable batting average of 17. Not only does he open the bowling but when batting is required he is there as well. When he came in we were 3-68. By the time he was out we were 4-163, a partnership of 95. Once John and then Clive had gone it was left to the skipper to shepherd the tail. At the end of 40 overs we were 7-172. The skipper and Kevin were not out with Neville Case champing at the bit for some action.
A special mention should go to Neville for his scoring. He takes on this task without fuss and is found to be unfailingly accurate when the scores are being translated onto the Cricket Leinster website. It would be fair to say that his scoring is as accurate as his bowling.
Our next match is a Junior Cup game against YMCA 4 at home on 30th June.