In incredible scenes at Meares Oval, the A Team returned to form in style to crush the Auld Enemy Old Xavier by 57 runs.
Winning the toss, skipper Tom Murray had no hesitation in batting first and almost predictably, Tim "Faf" Hosking continued his epic summer batting in God Mode by smashing 75. In MCC Division 1, Hosking is averaging an incredible 71.22, with 680 runs overall. First drop Sam Shearer continued his solid form as he contributed 34, and when Sam Murray was fourth man out in the 28th over, the score stood at an already impressive 167.
Seb "Stretch" Armstrong joined skipper Tommy Murray with a view to building on the excellent score so far. What happened next was sheer carnage, as over the next twelve overs the pair put on a partnership of 101, with Tom Murray annihilating the Xavs bowlers racing to 93 before being dismissed off the last ball of the innings, unselfishly going for one big shot too many. Armstrong, strangely subdued last week, yet again took a back seat finishing on 23 not out, continuing his good form with this vital support role.
With 268 runs in the bank, the Old Scotch bowlers strengthened with the return of Will "Snowy" Hays did a fine job restricting the dangerous Old Xavs batsman with Henry Stacey capturing the prized wicket of Old Xavs batting prodigy Shaun Cross for 10. Stacey finished with 4 for 52, including three vital top order wickets, contuinuing his meteoric rise. Hays finished with 2/34 and the workhorse Benny Summerfield with 2/38 to snuff out Old Xavs run chase by dismissing Old Xavs for 211.
The Celebrities fielded a much undermanned line up against Old Xavs at Barkers Road, with Skipper and leading run scorer Foskey, Vice Captain and leading wicket taker Stavris, allrounder Choudhary and fastbowler Harlock all out injured. Charlie Long entered the game under an injury cloud and regulars Summerfield and Elliott under secondment to the A Team, the Celebrities faced an uphill task against a youthful Xavs team looking to get one over their old rival.
Stand in skipper James Simon had no hesitation in electing to bat upon winning the toss. The Scotchies got off to a wonderful start, and after 12 overs the score stood at 1/57, Sam "Dawbs" Dawborn was tearing the Xavs bowlers apart and with BDV Nicholas putting in a typically limpet display, the possibility of scoring 180 plus seemed realistic.
However, the weekly batting collapse kicked in to put paid to those aspirations, as first Nicholas lazily chopped on for 18 and then Dawborn was stumped for a wonderful 39 that should have been so much more given Dawborn's imperious touch. Neither batsmen looked troubled at any stage, and it was careless batting that let the Xavs boys back into the game. Soon after, Cal McDonough was caught on the boundary when the ground route would have been wiser under the circumstances, before the big wicket of Mark "Money Shot" Griffiths in controversial circumstances tilted the game very much in Old Xavs favour.
Griffiths rocked back to pull a shortish ball from the offspinner Edwards that was surely going down leg, only to get a thick bottom edge onto the top of his pad. The ball bobbled up and the keeper appeared to catch the ball, only to fumble the opportunity and the catch was grassed. Unsighted, the umpire gave Griffiths out caught behind (presumably). Griffiths, incredulous, stood his ground and his teammates yelled out from the sideline "he's dropped the catch". Eventually, the umpire (who had admittedly been having a good game to that point) said "I've given him LBW". It was a bizarre dismissal - and an incorrect one, but the departure of key batsman Griffiths for 13 reduced the Scotchies to 5/89...which was soon 8 for 94 before a late flurry by Khetarpal hoisted the score to 118 off 32.3 overs.
Nowhere near enough. Or was it?
In almost the blink of an eye, the Celebrities had Old Xavs on the back foot reeling at 4 for 26. New boy James Hicks and wily veteran Disco Armstrong were bowling beautifully, and a backs to the wall victory was now a possibility. However, the lack of bowling options due to the earlier mentioned absentees began to bite. Old Xavs recovered to 5 for 79 and looked seemingly home. Then the Celebrities struck back with two more wickets to have Old Xavs 7 for 92 and looking shaky again.
However, young Old Xavs opening batsman O'Brien guided his team home with a composed 60 not out. The Celebrities blew their finals hopes for season 2015/16 by not batting the full 40 overs and posting a 160 plus type score, not to mention the small fact that they dropped O'Brien three times.
So we move onto the last round of season 2015/16 next week. The A Team take on Old Trinity on Sunday at Meares, while The Celebrities look to finish their season in the best possible note taking on Melbourne High Old Boys at Melbourne High on Saturday afternoon. This is the last chance to support The Celebritries this summer as well as cheer on the A Team as they head into the finals.
In the mean time...
SURROUND YOURSELF IN THE EXCITEMENT!