The A Team batted first in their eagerly awaited re-match against Grand Final opponents at Keysborough on Sunday, and for a while at least, everything was going brilliantly with both Cam Melville and Tim "the dominator" Hosking piling on the runs to have the score sitting on 0/91. Melville then fell for a masterful 34, but with Tom Murray striding to the crease in the place of the still absent Sam Shearer, no one was duly concerned.. Soon after, with the score on 100, Tim Hosking fell for 46, but with the in form Sam Murray joining his older brother at the crease, the attacking intent was expected to continue.
Then in happened.
In a case of brotherly misunderstanding, danger man Tom Murray was run out for 8 with the score on 101. Sam Murray was thought to be culpable in his older brothers demise, and when Sam was himself dismissed without scoring soon after to leave the Scotchies suddenly reeling at 4 for 101 after being 0/91, there was suddenly cause for concern.
Alastair "The Male Model" Reeves and debutant Lee Stevens led the revival with a dogged rebuild of what had promised to be a substantial score only moments earlier. Reeves contributed 15 before being dismissed and Stevens made patient 22 not out as some late runs hoisted the score to a sub par 7/156 at the compulsory closure.
156, whilst well short of what it should have been, was still considered defendable. But things took yet another turn for the worst when Old Mentonian danger man Cormie was put down before he had even scored to what was a straight forward chance. Cormie, thus reprieved, made 69 and Mentonian's exacted a measure of revenge for their loss in the Grand Final on this ame ground earlier this year by toppling the highly fancied Old Scotch.
The Scotchies lacked their usual energy, but that is to take nothing away from Old Mentone who played exceedingly well and deserved their win. Benny Summerfield was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 17 and Stevens was mentioned in despatches for his stoic efforts with bat and ball.
Over at Scotch College, the Celebrities hosted the top of the table Old Caulfield Grammarians in a ding dong battle. Old Caulfield won the toss and elected to bat and it looked a wise decision as the Grammarians raced to 2 for 105 by the 19th over. A double strike either side of drinks precipitated a run of wickets and Old Caulfield eventually being dismissed for 149, after a 220 plus score looked assured at the half way point. Furey (2/13) and O'Shea (2/16)were the pick of the bowlers, and Harlock (2/30) also continuing his fine season with the ball.
The Scotchie chase got off to a wretched start when O'Shea overbalanced slightly attempting to play an audacious reverse sweep to be out stumped by millimetres. 1/9. The in form gappy Luke James strode to the crease and unleashed a series of blistering shots to announce his intentions. With the score on 56, Nicholas back edged a low legside full toss skyward and was duly caught to much laughter. Chenie Byrne-Jones attacked the bowling with gusto, but was bowled when he took one wild swing too many and the score was now 3 for 83.
Lukey James who had brought up a hammer hit 50 was soon on his way as he edged behind. James 52 was priceless, but with 67 runs still needed an a shaky, collapse prone middle order to follow, the mountain seemed to get harder to climb. Skipper Matt Foskey and Hayden Tilbrook then steadied proceedings, and looked to have the chase back under control, when Foskey limply dabbed a cut straight to gully to throw his start away. 5 for 106 soon turned to 6 for 107 as a very nervous Maxy Davis resplendent in a 1970s moustache was adjudged LBW. Things were looking somehwta bleak, but yet again., the Scotchies fought back with Tilbrook and Dave Armstrong batting sensibly, had brought the Scotchies within sight of victory with only 18 runs to get and ten overs still to bowl. But, Tilbrook followed the established pattern of a set batsman bunting a simple catch to a fielder. Tilbrook contributed an invaluable 17, but with seven wickets down, once again the tension set in.
Jack "fistsa" Furey came and went in spectacular fashion. Getting off the mark with a 2, then creaming an off drive with ferocious power, that looked a certain boundary when it was well stopped and no run resulted. Furey looked capable of finishing the contest, but next ball played an errant swing across the line to be bowled and the score was now 8 for 8 for 135. Johnny "Iceman" Stavris joined the stoic Armstrong at the wicket, and a glimmer of hope still flickered as 15 were still needed. Then Armstrong followed suite in the stakes of Scotchie batsmen finding unique ways to get themselves out this day when well set, when he was caught and bowled for a well made 17 when victory was in sight.
So it was now down to the last pair...Stava - a noted power hitter who has always been capable of smashing any bowler out of the park, so long as the situation was not as desperate as this, where his knees tremble more violently commensurate with the pressure packed situation he is presently confronting. And Angus Harlock, the lion hearted bowler who dismissively refuses to practice his batting at training with a flippant "I hate batting".
It had come to this...
To say that visibly worried team mates were still somehow confident, is akin to speculating that George Custer still believed he had the Souix licked at Little Big Horn as they closed in from all directions. The situation was, to put it mildly, a worry. If the opposition knew of the personal foibles of the last two remaining batsmen, they would have concluded that an Old Caulfield victory was a certainty. But someone forgot to tell Stava and Gussy the script. Both men applied themselves and stuck to basics, defending the good balls and looking for gaps when the opportunity presented. The margin required for victory was reduced from 12 runs to 8 without taking any unnecessary risks. The tension was unbearable, as any slight stumble would spell the end for the Scotchies.
But then, the circuit breaker. With the leg side fielders close in to defend against an easy single, Johnny "the closer" Stavris smacked a half tracker over mid wicket to the cow corner boundary to the mad cheers of the Scotchies watching on. Though there were four runs still needed, the growing belief in both Stava and Gus Harlock was now evident. With a knowing look in their eye, they both knew, they could do this. A few more bunted runs and the scores were now tied. With Stavris on strike, every Scotchie held their breath, when finally Stava pounced on a loose ball that he guided through the infield. Both batsmen pumped their fists in the air as they crossed for the winning runs to the sound of raucous cheering and whoops from ecstatic team mates from the sidelines.
Stava and Harlock had been heroic in the crisis. But when the dust settled, the Scotchies understood that it should never have come to this. Too many Celebrities got themselves out when set, and only some lax fielding from the opposition allowed the Scotchies to remain in the contest. We won't be so lucky every week.
But, the roadshow moves on! The A Team look to get back on the winners list against the always powerful Old Trinity at Hudson Oval (Trinity Playing Fields) on Saturday afternoon, while the Celebrities host MCC Blue at home at Scotch College on Sunday afternoon. Come on down and support the boys, it is always appreciated. The only way to immerse yourself is to come on down and...