There were three changes to the team which won so convincingly at Dunecht two weeks previous. Out went Blyth who, having hit peak form, is now concentrating on the hockey season. John Lord and Craig Fraser were recalled to the first eleven, hoping to carry that winning feeling to the firsts.
Back from holiday came Tom Murray, and back from Partyland came Mike Phillips. Kevin Warner was all ready to make his debut, and flew his wife over from the West Indies especially to watch, only for him to fall foul of Scottish flu on the Friday night, and sadly he had to call off on Saturday morning.
This meant the 2nd XI had to travel to Grade 3 leaders Turriff with only 10 men. Having been told a few nights earlier that a full strength FPâ€™s team were once all out against Turriff for 11, including 2 dubious extras to bring the total to double figures, I decided not to pass on that fascinating piece of cricket trivia to the team.
Our first toss against Turriff for many years was lost, and we were asked to bat on a greenish wicket, but the outfield was in good condition considering the recent weather and Turriff Show.
Rob Fryer and Sam Knudson opened the innings and after 6 chancless overs were 13 -0. Knudson then decided to force the pace and hit a 4 and a big 6 to take the total to 26, and having scored 19, he sliced a drive and was caught off a skier, at slip!
Johnston came in at three, and was got off the mark with a pull for 4. Fryer was by now timing the ball sweetly hitting boundaried all round the wicket. Fryer and Johnston added 51 at four an over without taking any chances, and Turriff were beginning to get a bit twitchy. But with the score on 77, Johnston was bowled by Shah for 16. Unfortunately Fryer was out bowled next over by Smith for an excellent 36 (6Ã—4), FPâ€™s score 79 â€“ 3.
Karthik and Mike Phillips had to face a resurgent Turriff, and runs became hard to come by. In the 30th over with the score on 89, Phillips was out caught off Lang for 1. Worse was to come when Karthik was controversially adjudged LBW for 5, and Grammar were 102 -5 in 35 overs.
Tom Murray was next in and proceeded to bat very solidly, and with Mike Lloyd added 13 runs before Lloyd was out caught off Smith, having just hit an excellent boundary. Rizwan and the solid Murray took the score from 113 to 124 when Rizwan was caught behind off Shah for 5.
Harry Houghton batted with good sense, and he and Murray put on a valuable 13 runs before Murray decided to open up, and put all his weight behind a straight drive which bowler Shah somehow managed to hang onto, catching the ball above his head. Murray scored 12 valuable runs, with one four. The ball had to be prised out of Shahâ€™s hand.
Magesh was last man in and with only two overs to go immediately hit the Turriff top bowler for four, then pinched a single to retain the strike. Next over, opening bowler Smith who had 2- 28 off 11 overs, then suffered as Magesh smashed a huge 6 over long on.
Magesh took a single, and next ball he and Houghton turned a half a run into a certain run out into a single as they imitated the running between the wickets of two men who had misplaced their guide dogs. Magesh stopped laughing long enough to wallop Smith for an even bigger 6, meaning the last over had gone for 16 priceless runs, taking us well over the 150 as we finished on 158 â€“ 8 off 46 overs.
This was a good batting performance with everyone contributing runs and seven partnerships over ten runs. It may not sound much, but this was Grade 3â€™s top team bowling on their home pitch which offered awkward lift and the ball swung late through the air.
Knudson is obviously learning fast, as he was quick to book the end with the wind behind him to open the bowling, meaning Karthik had to do all the hard work. Justice was done when Karthik had opener Nadagouda caught at the second attempt by Murray at point for 3, Turriff 9- 1 after 4 overs. Knudson bowled with great pace and had Chalmers LBW for 6, Turriff 39 â€“ 2. The only scoring shots off his opening spell (6 -0 â€“ 18 â€“ 1) were edges over and past slip.
At the other end, Karthik had bowled 4 overs for only 9 runs when opener Smart decided to go for his shots, and hit a couple of sixes to push Turriff past 50 in the 13th over. Rizwan was next to bowl, but asked to bowl spin instead of his usual line and length medium pace. He did spin a few, but Smart took a shine to his bowling and hit Rizwan for 3 x 4â€™s in one over with powerful cut shots through the covers. New batsman Shah was also looking dangerous and they added 68 quick runs and looked to have the game won for Turriff at 107 â€“ 2, when Smart, who had pulled a hamstring bowling suddenly retired hurt on 58!
This was the break Grammar desperately needed, and at the suggestion of vice captain Fryer, the team had a chat and re-group and immediately looked the stronger team. Rizwan, reverting to his medium pace style had the classy Shah well caught by keeper Lloyd for 25, and then Magesh, replacing Karthik (10 â€“ 0 â€“ 42 â€“ 1), took a quick wicket bowling skipper Smith for a duck. Rizwan had Laing well caught at slip by Houghton, and Turriff were now wobbling on 109 â€“ 5.
Turriff were in deeper trouble when Knudson came back for a second spell this time into the wind, and immediately bowled Cranna for 6, Turriff 122 â€“ 6 off 32 overs.
The scoring was now restricted to singles and extras, and although bowling fast, Knudson was conceding several wides as he found bowling into the wind more difficult.
Rizwan finished his spell looking like taking a wicket with every ball, and with the last ball of his allotted overs (12 â€“ 0 â€“ 56 â€“ 3), he bowled Stephen for a duck. This was a good come back by Rizwan after taking some punishment from Smart.
Turriff were now shot less, and Knudson kept up the pressure when he bowled Soper for 3. The only way Turriff would win the game was by Grammar conceding extras as Knudson and Karthik desperately tried to take the last wicket as the overs ran out. Catches fell into the spaces where the eleventh man would have been fielding as tension mounted, but the Grammar fielders remained focused, and fielded sharply.
Karthik (12 â€“ 0 â€“ 45 â€“ 1) and Knudson (12 â€“ 2 â€“ 27 â€“ 3) both finished their allotted overs but were unable to take the vital last wicket as Kirk and Moar defended desperately.
With only 3 overs remaining, Magesh, the man with ice and just a hint of lager in his veins was called up to take the last wicket, and after only two balls, tempted Kirk to turn the ball to square leg. The ball seemed to lob in slow motion to Karthik who had time to read a newspaper as he waited for the ball to arrive. He had no sooner folded the imaginary paper under his arm when the ball landed gently in his hands, and bottom club Grammar FPâ€™s 2nd XI had stunned league leaders Turriff on their home ground, winning by 13 runs.
In the end a well deserved victory for ten men Grammar. Good batting, good bowling despite an awkward wind and a great effort seizing the initiative from Turriff when the opportunity arose. Thatâ€™s two wins in a row, and a real chance of avoiding relegation, weather permitting.
Man of the Match â€“ Magesh, swash buckling innings taking us over 150, 2 wickets for 8 runs, and fielded well.
Champagne Moment â€“ Karthikâ€™s cool catch to seal victory.
Kit Bag Packer â€“ Young Harryâ€™s cricket education continues