Following a tough match against the Sporting Alfas 1st XI on Saturday and an even tougher night in Fandango’s celebrating the life and times of the late, great Jack Hyams, the tourists came back to a bright sunny Woodbridge Oval for another battle against their hosts.
After a ceremonial toss, Jack Hyams men were invited to set a target and Sharkey and Dunn strode out to open proceedings against the opening pair of Braithwaite and Fletcher. A sedate 1st over from Braithwaite led to Fletcher’s eventful 1st Over…
After his 2nd ball, the Umpire decided to get the sledging started early and informed Fletcher that he “looked like he used to have a bowling action”, never one to back down from a challenge, the wiley left armer dismissed Dunn next ball for a duck, a straight drive straight into skipper Perman’s hands at Mid-off. Fletcher getting the last laugh in that exchange with the Umpire!
Said Umpire was then removed from proceedings a few overs later as a very straight drive back to the bowler saw Braithwaite duck for cover leaving the Umpire blindsided and cracked on the arm! Leaving for medical attention at the end of the over, once the whiskey had been sourced behind the bar!
It was very nearly a great start for the Alfas side as, in Fletcher’s 5th over, he tempted Sharkey into a high swirling shot that found Chris Cooper in Cover. However, as the Alfas fielders were starting to celebrate, the inexplicable occurred and the safe hands of Cooper failed to gather the ball, the swirl of it as it came down deceiving him and the chance went begging.
After that, it was all Hyams’ team, both Sharkey and Robinson seeing off the opening bowlers as well as the first change pair of Walker and Roper and both made 50’s in a mammoth partnership.
Matters took a turning, literally, with the introduction of the Spin demons Perman and Marriner. First, Robinson, on 75, walked right past one from Marriner and kept on walking, allowing Byrne to remove the bails after a “slight” fumble, Robinson looking back to watch the ‘keeper struggle but decided to keep walking! Alfas had the breakthrough and looked to gain a foothold in the match.
Next ball Marriner and Byrne combined again for another stumping, Jones the new batsman showing off his forward footwork but stranded outside his crease, Marriner on the other side of a Golden Duck for once!
The hat-trick ball came and went without troubling Smith but in Marriner’s next over, he got the big wicket of Sharkey. With the batsman on 92, the Alfas fielders took the opportunity to remind him that he was nearing a Ton, unfortunately for him, he chased a wider one from Marriner and could only find J. Perman in the covers and finally being dismissed after 30 odd overs. The sledging Fielders claiming full responsibility for the wicket this time.
Perman was not to be left out of the action for long and in his 5th over, he struck his first blow, getting Worall to do all the work for him by stepping back and taking out his own stumps while trying to hit the young spinner into next week. Perman was at it again in his next over, firstly “clean” bowing Smith by sending one towards leg and getting a deflection off the pads to divert it back onto the stumps and then getting Smith to pop one up for an easy catch, 2 in the over for the leggie.
Marriner was not finished at the other end and after shipping 11 to Common in his previous over, came back and got the heavy hitter with another stumping from Byrne, 3rd of the match, and two balls later, somehow managed to clean bowl Whitworth. The final over of the match going for a few singles and Jack Hyams XI finishing with a total of 217.
After Tea, the Perman pair strode out to get the chase underway for the Alfas but, having had to do two days fielding as well as opening the day before, M. Perman was out of gas and in the 2nd over, hit one straight to the Sub fielder, on for Jefferson who had taken the field with a shard of glass in his shoe! Alfas 1 for 1 after 1.
Walker joined Perman at the crease and together they added 30 runs, and both were put down in the field, Walker when on 0 and Perman on 13. However, neither batsman could make their lives count and Perman was next to go, snicking on to slips on 15. 31/2.
Fletcher, “fresh” from a Football match that morning and a sledging from the Umpire earlier in the day was next in and could have been next out as Dunn put down a catchable chance of his own bowling with Fletcher on 1, this time the batsman would make his life count in the best possible way.
Walker was next to go in the 11th over when the dangerman Common came on to bowl and his pace was troubling the Alfas batsmen. Walker edging behind 5th ball of an opening wicket maiden. However, at the other end, Fletcher was relaxed as, with both the skipper and Vice captain having faced Common the previous day, Fletcher had been warned and went out with a solid game plan, face Common as little as possible. The plan worked perfectly as the bowler went through 7 overs, Fletcher only faced 4 of those balls!
Evans was the next man in and the next to go, having to face virtually all of Common’s deliveries and after being peppered for 2 overs with sheer pace, he was trapped LBW without being able to add to the score. Tocher came and went much the same way, another victim to Common who ended his first spell with 6 Overs, 5 Maidens, 3 for 1.
Alfas were reeling a bit but Fletcher was now in his swing and with Cooper alongside him, they took the change bowlers of Hyams’ team to the cleaners for a few overs. Between them, they added 70 in 7 overs before Cooper finally gave a hit of a chance and was caught on 33.
Byrne joined Fletcher for a few overs and had the pleasure of seeing the 100 come up from Fletcher before falling for 7, sending the ball straight down the throat of short fine leg.
Fletcher’s mammoth day and innings finally came to an end shortly afterwards as with energy flagging he diverted a ball that he would have pummelled earlier in the day for 4 to the waiting hands of point to finish on 105.
Braithwaite joined Marriner at the crease and the Alfas still had a chance of winning, needing 20 off the last 4 overs. However, Marriner went for a straight drive for 4 but it went higher than it went long and fell for 7, picking out Mid Off.
Final pair for Alfas, Braithwaite and Roper took it into the final over with 8 needed for a win. Braithwaite found the boundary 2nd ball of the over leaving it 3 for the draw or 4 for the win, but with wiley cricketers in the field, they knew how to defend when needed and with 9 men on the boundary, Braithwaite could not find the right gap and could only get 1 more run off the over, Alfas losing by 3 but an amazing game of cricket enjoyed by all, the comical and the divine in equal measures, well maybe the comical a bit more!
Next week see the Cryptics come over from England to play 3 matches, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (07 – 09th April) any and all spectators welcome to enjoy some cricket, good food, fine wine and absorbing cricket, where anything can and usually does happen!!