The AGSFP’s 2nd XI had the strongest squad for many a season to choose from for the home game against Dunecht 2nd XI at Rubislaw, but there were three enforced changes. Youles, Govil and Murray were unavailable, and into the team came Mike Phillips, Harry Houghton and a still in shock from England’s humiliating defeat to the Netherlands in the Twenty 20 World Cup, Nick Blyth.
The weather was cold, windy and threatening rain and the thought of fielding second in those conditions meant that winning the toss was vital. We were invited by Dunecht to bat.
Rob Fryer and Craig Fraser opened the batting for FP’s, but the Dunecht bowlers immediately found a good line and length. With the FP’s total only 6, Fraser was deceived by Cripps and bowled for 2 runs. New batsman Blyth hit his first ball passed a fortunately wide square leg for 2 runs, but had added only two more runs before he was bowled by Peerless. Fryer hit a powerful straight drive for four, but was then beaten by a beautiful ball bowled by Cripps for 7, FP’s total 16 – 3 off 9 overs.
After 13 accurate overs bowled by Cripps and Pearless, Burnett replaced Pearless, and he struck in the his first over when Karthik was bowled for 5 (1×4), total 24 – 4. New batsmen Davey and Johnston had added 26 runs, Davey stroking 2 beautiful 4’s and always looking for quick runs, when he was unexpectedly bowled by Dunecht captain Winstanley for 14, FP’s score 51 – 5 after 21 overs. Winstanley and Burnett were bowling a mixture of deliveries including a few wides, and it was from a legside delivery that Johnston was caught of the bat and glove by the wicketkeeper for 8 runs, FP’s total 63 – 6 off 25 overs.
Mike Phillips batted well and hit a big 6 and 1 x 4 in his total of 18 before he was bowled by Pearless who had returned for a second spell, FP’s score 78 – 7, and it looked like a total of under a hundred was likely. But Harry Houghton and Doug Russell batted sensibly and added 10 vital runs before Cripps had Russell caught for 3. Rizwan was bowled for 1 leaving FP’s 90 – 9 off 34 overs.
Magesh and Houghton both batted with excellent judgement and added 24 crucial runs to take the score to a respectable 114 all out in 38.4 overs. Houghton was not out 11 and Magesh also scored 11, both batsmen scoring 1 x 4. It was good to be reminded how important it is to have batsmen who can score runs right through the batting order.
Following another outdoors tea, Blyth was begging to borrow a thick jumper to field in, denying it was because he was wearing an England top, but claiming it was because he was not long home from a tropical honeymoon. Several non whitefleecy tops and wooly hats were used in an attempt to ward off the cold, and even non bowlers were hoping for an over to stay warm, but last week’s opening bowlers were the lucky two.
Karthik opened from the “Stairs to the new, but still not opened pavilion” end. He immediately bowled with great control and fully deserved the opening wicket when Duncan edged behind with Fraser holding the catch, Dunecht score 11 – 1 off 7 overs.
Magesh bowled from the “newly refurbished at great expense nets” end bowling accurately as usual, his 7 overs for going for only 11 runs. Magesh was replaced by Blyth who was determined to put England’s humiliation at the hands of the cricketing giants, the Netherlands, behind him. He bowled with pace and accuracy, but opener Scott, now batting with a runner due to an ankle injury, was defending well.
Karthik could well have taken several wickets, but bowling too well for an edge, and was finally given a break after 9 overs, 9 – 3 – 19 – 1. Phillips replaced Karthik and struck in his first over when de Gabrielle was bowled for 9, giving FP’s a much needed breakthrough, Dunecht 40 – 2 off 18 overs. Phillips struck again 4 overs later when opener Scott was bowled for a fighting 25.
Russell came on for a heat exhausted Blyth (6 – 0 – 17 – 0) and took all of 4 balls to take his first wicket, a caught and bowled. His reaction was a bit quicker than last weeks, with only a look of mild shock rather than last weeks look of shock horror.
Grammar were now well on top and Phillips bowled his third Dunecht batsman in 5 overs when Murray was out for 2, Dunecht 64 – 5. With the score on 76, Rizwan took another excellent diving catch at square leg to dismiss A. Scott for 5 off Russell’s bowling. That is 3 in two games for Rizwan, none of them easy.
Phillips had bowled 7 – 1 – 12 – 3, another good spell of pace bowling, resulting in one of the Dunecht batsmen going to hospital for a thumb x-ray, and another hit on the inside of the knee, ouch. New bowler Rizwan took only 2 overs to claim his first wicket when Cripps was bowled for 3, score 84 – 7. Next over Russell had Pearless caught by Magesh who swooped down at the last moment to catch the ball inches off the grass at mid off, a heart stopping moment for his teammates.
Things looked even better for FP’s next over when Johnston held on to a catch off Rizwans bowling despite a spirited rugby tackle by Rizwan while going for the same catch. Rizwan needed the magic spray to enable him to continue, but bravely shrugged off the spike marks down his shin.
Last wicker pair Burnett and skipper Winstanley were determined not to give in without a fight, Winstanley batting with a runner, the third Dunecht batsman using a runner to confuse everyone on the field. Russell finished his 6 over spell 6 – 2 – 12 – 3, a good spell of swing bowling, and Karthik was called up in an attempt to break the resistance of the stubborn last pair. A few ariel shots landed safely as the score crept towards the hundred, and memories of last seasons classic tied match were just surfacing when Rizwan bowled Winstanly with a beauty, Dunecht all out 101. Rizwan bowled 7.1 – 3 – 9 – 3, as economical as ever.
Another very satisfying team victory where everyone either scored runs, saved runs, took wickets or held catches. The late order Grammar batsmen gave the same late order Grammar batsmen a good total to bowl at on a slow outfield. All the bowlers bowled well, but, Karthik apart, still managed to give away 19 wides, which would have been more but for the quick reflexes of keeper Fraser.
This was a good match played in a very friendly atmosphere, as always against Dunecht 2nds, the resuly of which sees the Grammar FP’s 2nd XI top of Grade 4! A long time since we have been top of the league, but as we successfully proved last season, everyone wants to beat the league leaders.
Man of the Match – Mike Phillips, batting and bowling improving every week, top scored with 18 runs and took 3 wickets for 12.
Champagne Moment – Magesh swooping in to take his catch.
Rhino award nominations – Mike Phillips accidentaly damaging a batsman’s thumb and nearly crippling another by finding the soft spot on the inside of the knee.
Johnston holding off Rizwan’s rugby tackle also deserves consideration.