On Saturday Old Scotch Cricket Club recorded a stirring 23 run victory against Old Xavier on the pocket handkerchief sized Chapel Oval at Xavier's Barkers Road stronghold in emotion charged scenes worthy of a final.
Batting first, Hosking and Melville put on an eye-catching opening stand of 81, with the in-form Hosking contributing 39 and the rejuvenated Cam Melville making 46. Sam Shearer and Seb "Stretch" Armstrong then combined to move the score along to198 in double quick time with some superb batting, when Armstrong fell for a well made 23.
"Slamming" Sam Shearer continued his wonderful summer with the bat contributing a polished 78 before falling late when a century was beckoning. Shearer has been the stand out batsman so far this summer, and it is only fitting that at some stage he scores a well deserved century.
Up next, the Nordic-God like figure of Alisdair Reeves also kept up his summer of rollicking innings in the middle order, with an explosive innings of 29 which helped hoist the score to an impressive 8 for 257 at the compulsory closure of the innings.
On any other ground, 257 would be a lay-down-misère match winning total. But, on the confined spaces of the Chapel Oval at Xavier, there was certainly no room for complacency amongst the Old Scotch playing group. Tight bowling and aggressive fielding was going to be required to ensure the win.
Everything started beautifully, as Will Hays continuing his irrepressible form with the ball, removed both Old Xavs opening batsmen with the score not yet in double figures. After a mini fight back from the Old Xavs batsmen, two more wickets were scalped by the impressive Reeves to have Old Xavier reeling at 4 for 51. Surely, the wind had been knocked out of the Old Xav sails?
However, with the Xavier captain in the form of the brilliant Shaun Cross still at the crease, the last rites were far from being read. Cross already has two centuries to his name this season and like many before him who have worn the black and red of Xavier, throwing in the towel is not in his vocabulary - especially against the old enemy Scotch. When it is Xavier versus Scotch in anything - including marbles - it is game on. And Saturday was not going to be an exception.
Joined at the crease by number six batsman Sam Cleeve, initially, both Old Xavs batsmen were circumspect before drinks, bunting the ball away, looking to preserve wickets. At drinks, Old Xavs were 4 for 65 and Old Scotch would have downed their cordial with satisfaction in the quiet belief that another break through would expose the lower order and close out the match.
Nothing could have prepared the Old Scotch boys with what happened next. In recent rounds, the Scotchies squandered seemingly winning totals against Melbourne Uni and Melbourne High where the opposition were able to score circa 10 runs an over post drinks to reel in what should have been match winning totals. Surely, it was not about to happen again?
Shaun Cross literally exploded in the thirteen overs post drinks advancing his score from 30 odd to 141 in a blink of the proverbial eye. Cross crashed good quality bowling to the boundary...and frequently - over it - to keep the score piling up and the dream of the miracle win on the cards. Irrespective of how small the ground was, Cross shots were towering well over the boundary and into the tops of the trees that surround the playing field. This was incredible batting in anyones language...and it would be a churlish person to not acknowledge it's sheer brilliance.
With the score now over 200 and circa 50 runs to get the win and seven overs in which to get them, Old Xavier were now, quite remarkably, in the box seat to clinch the match and chalk up a win for the ages. The Scotchies were now teetering and their mood was only made worse by a number of close calls all of which went against them. A caught behind shout was turned down. Then, what looked to be a reasonable stumping appeal was also rebuffed by the square leg umpire.
If the Scotchies thought it couldn't get worse, they were mortified when what looked like the coup de grace was administered to the Old Scotch cause by an obvious run out which was adjudicated "not out" by the partisan square leg umpire. All Old Scotch players had their hands on their heads as the match was now surely slipping out of their grasp. Some angry words were exchanged and the epic clash was in danger of spilling over into a fiery tempered affair.
Mercifully, Greeve was eventually adjudged run out and the danger man Cross was safely caught near the boundary by the ever dependable Shearer to end his heroic innings at 141. Further wickets fell as the sting went out of the chase and the Scotchies triumphed in emotion charged scenes by 23 runs.
The match was worthy in it's billing of any of the great clashes between these two titans over the last century and half and will eventually be referred to in hushed biblical tones by those that witnessed it.
Those of you who were not there, missed a game that will be etched in time.
Do yourself a favour and get down and support the lads this Saturday as they play their last game before Christmas at home versus Old Melbournians. The boys appreciate your support and while you are there, you will see some excellent cricket from the boys in cardinal, gold and blue.
In the mean time...