There is a saying in Ireland that it is the “old dog for the hard road and the pup for the boreen”. Today the senior players brought us home in some style.
Neville Case was back with that quizzical look which says ‘ I’ll do my best but don’t expect too much’. He is profoundly modest which belies his statistics as one of Halverstown’s most effective bowlers. He was too polite to mention that if he had been at the match last week the number of extras would have been reduced considerably. When coupled with John Threadgold they are an opening pair to be reckoned with. It is a situation where one and one makes three.
The skipper was delighted as we all arrived on time. A discipline he has successfully instilled in us over the last few seasons by pointing out that ‘punctuality is the courtesy of kings’. Put less delicately lateness will not be tolerated. Lucan on the other hand drifted onto the pitch in a manner that was most relaxed.
We won the toss and decided to field. This decision was influenced I suspect because Barry and Clive were unavailable and with Neville and John pawing the ground it seemed the obvious thing to do. It wasn’t long before Neville (3-24) and John (3-19) opened their account. They got 3 wickets apiece at a rate of about 3 runs an over. New man Umer got 2 while Des and Ahsan got 1 each.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that we had them on the ropes after 20 overs. They had amassed only 40 runs and it looked like we would close them out for 100 to 120. Paddy Power aficionado, Stuart Conroy, would probably have sold at 100 quite comfortably. Fortunately money didn’t change hands and they went on to make 150. Looking back at the scorebook it was a gradual acceleration away from disaster to a zone of comfort and once again we learnt that that these teams bat down to number 11.
After the comfortable surroundings of Halverstown it is hard to get used to a public park where there are few amenities and not a lot of shelter.
Lucan is a happy team with a cheerful outlook and whilst it is difficult to produce tea in such circumstances we had sufficient. However the real winners were the crows and as soon as we had left the table they zoomed in like Spitfires to pick up what they could.
We realised that it wasn’t going to be easy to get to the target and whilst we have individuals in the team capable of getting centuries the bottom line is that it has to be a team effort. The opening pair of Mick and Richard worked steadily until on 35 runs Richard was dismissed by a full delivery that resulted in LBW. We were 1-45 when Gunther came to the crease. He is a really classy batsman and we knew that only an exceptional delivery would trouble him. The delivery wasn’t exceptional but the catch was. He leaned into the ball and hit it with the venom of a Johannesburg Boomslang and it came so hard off the middle of the bat that we all turned to the boundary so that we could mark its ultimate destination somewhere in the next parish. However the bowler stuck out his hand and unbelievably pulled off a catch that nobody could believe or had rarely witnessed. We were 2-45 but Umer and the skipper worked away. Umer (23) is a good all rounder and his style is refreshing to watch. He not so much hits the ball but strokes it into the gaps although it should be recorded that his innings included a 6.
At the half way point we had scored a leisurely 51 runs and by the time Umer and Mick had departed we still needed 70 runs. At this stage the two grizzled campaigners, Threadgold (30) and
Ronaldson (29) came to the crease. John, a National School Principal has the authority of his position but also the level head that must be required by it. Tim who is HCC man and boy and a farmer by profession, is also a cool customer and not given to nervousness when the chips are down. Critically they can both bat.
The target ~ 70 in 11 overs or 6.4 an over. This was a time for cool heads. Apparently the head master and the farmer decided that they would deal with the total on an over by over basis. No mad rush for the finish line just attrition.
In the meantime our friends from Lucan who obviously enjoy each others company held impromptu meetings on an over by over basis and ignored the war of attrition that was being unleashed upon them.
They failed the Mick Neville rule of avoiding gossip or lighthearted badinage on the pitch much to the frustration of Halverstown who were pushing for a conclusion to the match.
The plan was executed immaculately. The first 3 overs yielded 23 runs. The next 3 produced 18. Whilst we kept ahead of the run rate nothing was certain. Ahsan who was the next batsman was walking his box like an expectant father. The batsmen just kept ahead of the run rate and in the last over they hit the final 3 runs to bring Halverstown victory. As John walked off he was heard to say ‘that’s one for the winter evenings’ and we all recognized that these are the golden moments that keep the inner fire going in the off-season.
The margin of victory was 6 wickets but it felt a good deal closer than that.
Our next fixture is to host a 20:20 tripartite game at home against Merrion and then Finglas on Saturday 26th May followed by Merrion away on Sunday in a league match.