On an overcast Good Friday morning the fledgling Levante CC travelled down to Albir to take on the seasoned campaigners of Sporting Alfas Midweek XI. The two captains agreed on a 5 hour declaration style game and the toss was conducted. After Winning the toss, Levante captain, Jason Noon, read the muggy conditions well and elected to field. Following this, Levante opening bowlers Pilkington and Tivey, backed up by athletic fielding from the likes of Ogylvie and Little restricted the home side and created a pressure cooker atmosphere.
After this tight and economical start Noon gave his opening pair a much deserved rest and turned to the swing of Little and Green. Little however, could not control the ball in the blustery conditions and was taken off after just two (wide filled) overs but Green bowled with guile and grace and was well supported by the deceptively slow pace of Ogylvie. Alfas reached the twenty over mark for a respectable 57 for 2, with one wicket to Pilkington and the other to a cat like run out from the spritely (ever)Green at square-leg.
The following 20 overs continued in much the same vein with Alfas scoring slowly but steadily and Levante fielding and bowling with aggression and verve. Noon took two wickets in two balls and whilst he bowled a good ball for the hat-trick, it wasn't good enough to get the batsman out. Alfas finally declared (very sportingly...excuse the pun) after 40 overs on 173 for 8 and after three hours of batting. Notable performances with the ball from Noon 3-14 and Pilkington 2-31 with Antonio top-scoring for Alfas with 31.
Special mentions also to Tivey, Green, Ogilvie and Burchell who all bowled with accuracy and kept the scores down to a minimum to create the pressure other bowlers benefited from. This gave Levante approximately 2 hours to chase 174 to win or to hold out for a draw. Levante openers Morgan and Hunt went about their task with confidence playing each ball on its merit and keeping the score board ticking over until Hunt played across the line to a good ball from Tyler.
This brought the stylish Green to the crease who, with Morgan, proceeded to stamp a level of authority on the game before Morgan departed for 35 bowled by the impressive Kieron. This was followed by a flurry of Levante wickets with Ogylvie (0) and Green both sent back to the pavilion which left the match poised for a great finish with Levante on 74-4.
Wicket-keeper Eaton and 'Phoenix from the flames' Burchell then began to build a steady partnership and looked like knocking off the runs themselves before a crazy single left a desconsolate Eaton trudging back to the pavilion muttering like Mutley from Wacky Races
With time ticking away and Levante 5 wickets down skipper Noon attempted to seize the impetus with a few quick boundaries but was clean bowled and the fluent and classy Burchell joined him soon after for a graceful 31. This brought together numbers nine and 10, messrs Little and Pilkington.
So, the scene was set; 18:05, 25 minutes left to play, Levante 138 for 8 and the most likely outcome seeming a draw...However, the crowd did not bank on the beligerance of Little, who, playing his patented "Kiwi Koverdrive" (TM) to perfection (although batting with a seemingly dead bat) and aided magnificently by the ageless Pilkington, began to chip away at the Alfas total.
The game went down to the last over. 5 to win off 6 balls. The unnervingly accurate and dangerous Tyler steaming down the hill for the home side and the svelte, lissom shape of Little facing for the away side. Little kept his cool and Tyler bowled with aplomb but with one ball remaining the scores were tied, 173 apiece.
The pavilion fell silent, nails were chewed rather than the usual bacon sarnie, in came Tyler whipping the ball down on his usual good length but Little was up to the task, steering the ball through point for the winning runs. This capped off a great day of cricket for both sides and a game that was played with spirit but good nature throughout gave the knowlegeable locals a veritable feast to whet their appetites for the season to come.
Levente CC would also like to give a special mention to Jack, without who the team would have had to play with a man less and who contributed exceptionally well in the field and even chipped in with a bit of banter and a tidy over of leg-spin which yielded a very important wicket and very few runs. Cheers Ripper!
Final Score: Sporting Alfas CC - 173-9 dec (40 overs): Antonio 31, Noon 3-14, Pilkington 2-31 Levente CC - 174-8 (33 overs): Morgan 35, Burchell 31, Little 21*
Man of the Match: Burchell for 31 runs and a tight spell of bowline (1-14). This could have gone to any number of players after a real team effort, but Scott on debut at his old stomping ground deserved the award.