Hillaire Belloc wrote, “The nuisance of the tropics is, the sheer necessity of fizz”. Although he was referring to champagne we seemed to lack a certain amount of fizz in the oppressive heat. JT, a wordsmith of similar stature was overheard to say that Ireland was one of the few countries where you could put on sun cream in the morning and have it frozen to your face by evening.
Anyway we turned up at Malahide’s beautiful cricket ground to find that we were playing on the international pitch in a week when Ireland have been accorded Test status. We assumed that we had been accorded this honour because of our fearsome reputation but it was only that the no.2 pitch was otherwise occupied.
We won the toss and elected to bat on a very hot and sunny afternoon. The openers were in good form. Richard (31) and Mamoon (49) put on 90 by the time the 19th over was bowled. It seems disingenuous to say this but Moon’s timing appeared to be slightly off and it turned out that he had been playing in a softball competition earlier in the day. This is a popular game played in Pakistan with a tennis ball and only 4’s and 6’s count which would explain Moon’s love of boundaries and his timing issues with the harder ball. Having said that he struck a drive that glanced off the Halverstown umpire nearly disemboweling him but stopping short of the boundary. Barra muttered unsympathetically “if we lose by 2 runs you know whose fault it is”.
The talk was about scoring 220 and the batsmen from no.6 onwards had their feet up assuming that they wouldn’t be called upon. We even found it difficult to raise the enthusiasm to replace the umpires. Heat does that to you.
The next thing was that Moon and Richard were back in the pavilion and Mick (22*) and Darren (23) were out in the middle. Things began to unravel after the 28th over. Barra (12) was the only other batsman to put up any resistance and the rest of us went cheaply to some fairly regulation bowling. The two Nevilles, Mick and Case provided a moment of comedy when the captain called for a second run before the Glen of Imaal man had finished his first. They never even crossed on the second run! There were lots of apologies at tea and wry smiles but no sulking. We are a team moving forward not back.
At the end of our innings we had amassed 169 runs and Mick and Des remained unbeaten. Whilst we had fallen well below our projected score we felt we were in command. However Malahide are a young and well-disciplined team with a couple of older players to provide balance. They weren’t going to be rolled over.
It should be mentioned that a number of our team are observing Ramadan and the heat must have put considerable pressure on them. Nevertheless they turn out in all conditions and the rest of us admire their stoicism.
Case and Threadgold did their usual thorough job of containing the openers and whilst Malahide were always behind the run rate they occasionally threatened to get going. Our second change in this match was Moon (32 for 4) and Des Drumm. Des is not a strike bowler but batsmen find his ‘flight’ difficult to read. He bowled 4 overs for 13 runs and did an excellent job at an economy rate of 3.25. Only Ahsan did better at 2.50.
Their top 5 batsmen kept them well in the game but it was the tall South African teenager, Camron Calder (40) whose wicket decided the match in our favour. He scored one boundary only and ran the rest of his runs which was impressive given that the temperature was 27C + and the earlier breeze had disappeared. There is no substitute for youth or coming from a hot climate.
Malahide’s scorers were a succession of teenage girls who were numerate but not quite as dedicated to the task as they might have been. The electric score board did not tally with the book and fortunately both John and Mick spotted this. JT is a headmaster and he wasn’t going to put up with this Junior Infants type behaviour. The game was stopped until the error was reconciled. After that the scoring tallied but Kevin Threadgold who came to spectate took on the unenviable job of trying to unravel some of the rather more inventive hieroglyphics. Despite his string of first class degrees he looked perplexed. On the field Malahide understood the rules and were happy to put out their younger players to Umpire who by and large got it right.
Our fielding was not at its best and some difficult catches went down. Barra however took an extremely difficult caught and bowled whilst doing his job of ‘bottling up’ the batsmen. His ‘through and around’ bowling is difficult to read at our level.
After 40 overs they had scored 156 and we had beaten them by 13 runs. It was a sporting match with friendly handshakes at the end and no complaints.
The skipper was disappointed that we hadn’t controlled the game better but was happy that given our indifferent performance we had still won. Mick and Richard have hit form with the bat and Moon, as always, was prolific. The supporting cast is there to pick up the pieces if things go wrong and our bowlers always look strong. There is more than one match winner in this team.
We are on ‘half term’ now. Our next competitive fixture is the Minor Cup on 15th July but we will be playing a couple of Social fixtures in between. The league resumes on 23rd July against Wicklow County 2 at home.