The new season saw several new faces and several old faces persuaded to turn out for AGSFP’s 3rd XI for the first Grade 4 match of the season.
Norwood held the innings together
The departure of a number (tbc) of players to a newly formed team and a perfect storm of holidays, exams, injuries etc meant the 3rd XI team of 10 included Canadian Gilles Gardner playing his first ever cricket match, schoolboy debutant Faraj Monnapillai, two players who have not played since school in Nathan Jones and Bejoy Joseph, experienced schoolboy Matthew McCaughtrie playing his 2nd match for FP’s, very experienced Gary Stuart and Paul Norwood and the very, very experienced bearded duo Mike Hart and Iain Hopkin who were both around when the current fashion for beards was started by their former teammate W.G.
Despite the lack of victories it had been an exciting if shorter than hoped for season for FP’s 3rd XI, with two Grade 4 teams unfortunately pulling out of the league during the season. The last game and last chance for FP’s to register their first win over a still competing team was against the Grade 4 newcomers Grampian, who, in their first season in Grades cricket, had already won the Johnston Rose Bowl cup competition and were chasing promotion.
The high point of the season batting wise had been the emergence of 6 ft 7 inch Matt Garratt who had batted head and shoulders above his team mates and who had, despite two scores of over fifty in his previous two innings’s, kept his head out of the clouds. Unfortunately Garratt was unavailable and although his batting would be missed, his extra long reach round the tea table would not.
The team selected from the XXXIII available at the final selection committee meeting punch up of the season was Johnston, Kingshuk Ghosh (wkt, trainee 4G games consultant), Paul Norwood, Aly McDonald, Akil Thanga, Jeston D’Costa, Rajaa Monnapillai, Michael Blues, Agha Haider, debutant schoolboy Matthew McCaughtrie, Shashank Kulluru.
So far this season FP’s 3rd XI matches have given full entertainment value to the loyal home and away support (Rajaa’s Dad), with 4 matches which could have been won with the last ball bowled. The Johnston Rose Bowl match lost by one wicket, Portcullis lost by 6 runs, Siyapa match tied, and the latest match against Turriff drawn with FP’s only 3 runs short.
Would the Grade 4 match against top of the table Portcullis be the perfect match to break this run of luck and claim that elusive first win of the season? The team selected was Norwood, Lord Ja. McDonald A. Garratt, D’Costa J. Blues, Lee (wkt) D’Costa L. Thanga, Monnapillai, Johnston.
The previous two matches had seen FP’s 3rd XI fall just one shot short of beating Grade 4 leaders Portcullis with only 10 men, then fall just one extra short of beating 2nd top Siyapa, tieing the match, again with 10 men, so it was a hopeful 3rd XI 3rd time lucky team of 10 which travelled to play Turriff.
The tieing team showed 4 changes, the new line up Ian Johnston, Paul Norwood, Jim Lee (wkt), Paul McDonald, Rutwik Hegde, Matt Garratt, Mike Blues, Rajaa Monnapillai, Akil Thanga, Leston D’Costa.
The toss was won by FP’s under a sunny sky who invited Turriff to bat first on a beautiful flat, well maintained square, a treat compared to a couple of the ‘wickets’ ‘prepared’ by the council in Aberdeen . The outfield, maintained by the local council, was badly in need of trim or two.
The unexpected (and unwanted) mid season break for AGSFP’s 3rd XI ended with the Grade 4 return match against 2nd top side Siyapa. The break was unfortunate as the previous match had seen a great team performance to push unbeaten league leaders Portcullis all the way, but eventually losing by a mere 6 runs. The first game against newcomers Siyapa left FP’s soundly beaten and the team selected for the return showed only 2 survivors, captain Ian Johnston and Akil Thanga, who were joined by Naresh Kumar, Akil Thanga, Rajaa Monnapallai, Jeston D’Costa, Mike Blues, Paul Norwood, returning after major back surgery, Shri Balasubramani making his debut as wicketkeeper, Matt Garratt making his FP’s debut after years of inactivity and Gary Stuart planning to emulate his beloved Dundee United’s best players and make an early exit. The 11th man was missing due to social media mix-up.
For the first time this season FP’s lost the toss and were asked to bat first. Siyapa were also a man short, so the gaps in the field would be useful to both teams.