The Old Scotch First XI's winning run came to a shuddering halt in an uninspired display against MHOB's at Melbourne High. In a fiery encounter, Old Scotch squandered an opportunity to topple a highly rated opponent on their home turf.
MHOB's batted first and on the surface, it seemed a great effort to restrict the MHOB batting line-up to 174. However, a slight loss of focus in the field perhaps let MHOB off the hook to score an extra 20-25 runs that could have been clamped down on with a more committed display. The continued absense of left arm fast bowler Will Hayes on a family skiing trip in North America has been keenly felt.
Still, the task to chase down 175 to win was a straight forward one for an experienced batting line up that was missing this summers top scorer Tim Hosking, but had regained the services of the mercurial "King" George Dick , turning out for his first game of the summer.
Opening with Cam "Cobra Kid" Melville, King George got off the mark from the first ball he faced with an imperious drive through the covers for four. Welcome back George! The fact that it was a wayward full toss outside off stump doesn't diminish for one second the raptuous excitement felt on the balcony from George Dick's excited team mates. Within the same over, King George majestically danced down the pitch and slapped yet another boundary. This was stirring stuff from the comeback King!
With the total on 19 in the fourth over, King George committed regal suicide by attempting a second run when a single was the safer option. George Dick's cameo of 14 was unfulfilling as it promised to spearhead the run chase in Tim Hosking's absense, but a silly run out was a wasteful end to an important contributor.
Sam "The Prodigy" Shearer joined Melville at the crease and the two young tyros batted assuredly in their 43 run stand, when Melville (23) feathered a catch to the keeper off a spin bowler to leave the Scotchies 2 for 62 in the 12th over. A fast start well ahead of the asking run rate, but with the loss of two wickets, some worryings signs were creeping in. Soon after Shearer perished bunting a loose ball straight to mid off to depart for a well made 24, but an opportunity squandered to make the big score to underpin the run chase.
Sam "Junior" Murray joined his illustrious brother Tom at the wicket, both having come off impressive half centuries in last weeks epic run chase. With 106 still needed, surely a half century partnership between the brothers would be enough to see the Scotchies home? Strangely, the in form Sam Murray looked uncharacteristically scratchy, being hit on the pads a number of times, before being bowled for 2.
It was now 4 for 80 in the 18th over, and while the run rate was still good, the early clatter of wickets had left the Scotchies suddenly in a precarious position. Tom Murray batted sensibly despite the barbs flying his way, and in harness with Alisdair "The Adonis" Reeves, the situation still looked under control, until Reeves had one of his rare failures of the summer being bowled for 6 and the score was now a very shakey 5 for 88.
Still, in-coming batsman Seb "Stretch" Armstrong is an extremely handy guy to have coming in at number 7. He would easily command a spot in the top 5 for every other side in the competition, such is his undoubted class. A solid partnership was needed between Tom Murray and Armstrong to see the boys home. Sadly, it wasn't to be as Murray was bowled for 16 with the score now 6 for 105. This is where the match took a turn to the ugly as MHOB's keeper followed the departing Murray for a few paces screaming in his ear from a distance of less than 30cms. It was the mother of all send offs, and an indication of the importance placed on this match by MHOB's, as they looked to take a stranglehold on a top 2 ladder position and dent a rivals premiership aspirations. Still, from the sidelines, it looked uncalled for.
The last recognized batsman Sam "Schneilo" Neil joined Armstrong at the crease, as worried team mates on the balcony were rueing their earlier timid dismissals that had put the team in this predicament. Schneilo was suffering a bout of tonsilitis that had caused him to vomit blood that morning. Simply put, Schneilo was in no fit condition to play, but typical of the man, Schneilo batted with guts and determination despite the fact that it was obvious to all that he looked ill.
Schneilo was bowled for 7 and, with him, all hope was lost of an unlikely late victory charge. Out strode Benny Summerfield who had other ideas. A lion hearted opening bowler for The Celebrities in 2nd Division, Summers has always downplayed his prowess with the bat insisting on batting at number 11 when his uncomplicated, fluid technique would suggest he is capable of batting much higher. As one sage (ahem) onlooker noted on the balcony, "the only one that doesn't rate Benny Summerfielfd's batting, is Benny Summerfield".
Summerfield signified his intentions with his first four scoring shots being 3, 4, 4 and 4 - that suddenly reduced the asking rate to circa a run a ball. With noted finisher Seb Armstroing still at the crease, the unthinkable was now a distinct possibility...a freakish backs-to-the-wall victory was back on the cards.
With five overs to go, 30 runs were needed. Considering in recent similar situations Armstrong has scored at 10-15 runs an over to get the team home, the Scotchies dared to dream that the game could yet be pulled out of the fire. But it wasn't to be, Armstrong was bowled for a strangely subdued 20 and soon after Stacey was bowled leaving Summerfield and Bennett as the last pair at the wicket to conjure an unlikely miracle.
MHOB's duly completed a 13 run win over the Scotchies. While the result was not in question and Old Scotch players offered no excuses for their own poor performance against a more committed MHOB outfit, the over-the-top show at the end toward an umpire that ultimately made the correct call put a damper on the post game mood.
Benny Summerfield finished on 32 to give the game some excitement when all hope seemed lost. It was a magnificent performance from a whole hearted cricketer.
On Sunday, The Celebrities bounced back in style, easily accounting for an undermanned Melbourne University line up that was short one player. The Scotchies caught everything in the field in an e;lectric display with Will Hewson taking one of the contendors for catch of the summer to remove one of the Melbourne Uni openers. With catches sticking fast, the Varsity boys were rolled for 105.
Tim Hosking special guesting for The Celebrities, and distinguished Old Scotcxh premiership player Will "Billy" Elliott opened the batting and carved out a 70 run stand in short time, with Hosking being dismissed for 39. There were no further losses as The Celebrities ran out winners by 9 wickets with the bonus point thrown in. Will Elliott finished on a splendid 49 not out in a welcome return to form.
Next round, the A Team take on the "Auld Enemy" Old Xavier on Sunday at Meares Oval at Scotch, while The Celebrities take on Old Xavs at Barkers Road also on Sunday in a must-win clash to keep their slim finals hopes alive. Make you way down and cheer on the boys, they love your support!
In the mean time...
SURROUND YOURSELF IN THE EXCITEMENT!