Grammar FP’s 2nd XI were in the unusual position this week of not only having too many players for the match against Mannofield 2nd XI, but also leading Grade 4. The team showed only one change from the team which had beaten Dunecht, Fraser was unavailable and Muthu was drafted in to keep wicket.
Grammar won the toss and asked Mannofield to bat at sunny/showery/sunny Sheddocksley on a dry but stodgy looking wicket as a result of the heavy rain the previous day. The ubiquitous piece of glass was removed from the wicket and fortunately the two motorbike tyre treadmarks crossing the wicket did not cross on a good length.
In-form Karthik opened the bowling from the Airport end, and took only four balls to find the edge of opener Grant’s bat, and Harry Houghton took a comfortable catch at first slip. Nick Blyth was given new ball from the Pavilion end, and was soon causing problems. Not for the batsmen unfortunately, but the wicketkeeper, as the very heavy ground where his front foot landed meant that he soon excavated quite a ditch to slide into. As a result his direction suffered. But with the last delivery of a long, exhausting first over, a delivery opening batsman Gray did well to reach, but not so well to control, badly mistiming a drive and was easily caught by Johnston diving forward at short cover. The score was 7 – 2, and not a run off the bat.
Karthik continued to bowl beautifully but again without much luck, beating the bat on numerous occasions, his seven over spell, 7 – 3 – 10 – 1. Blyth bowled a selection of unplayable and unreachable deliveries. There were divets removed from the wicket with just about every delivery and balls were pitching, stopping and very slowly rising off all lengths making it interesting for the batsmen.
Doug Russell replaced Blyth and took a wicket with his third ball when batsman Johnston tried to turn one down the legside and succeeded only in lobbing the ball over keeper Muthu’s head. As he serenly made his way to his left to collect the catch, correctly shouting “mine”, Houghton nipped in behind him and grabbed the ball. Good to see that Houghton can actually move at speed, but if he had dropped the catch he would not have been popular. His keeness to be involved was rewarded with a debut spell as umpire towards the end of the match. A university mathematics student having difficulty counting to six while umpiring only at the square leg position means more practice required.
But Russell was having problems crossing Blyths trench as he bowled and so switched ends to the more solid crease. However, this was not Russells day, and he was replaced after 4 overs by an eager Mike Phillips.
Philips took a wicket with the last ball of his opening over when Magesh took a good catch at deep mid off to remove former FP’s player Hoogie for an excellent 33 runs, with 1×6, 4×4’s. Phillips struck again next over when batsman Proud was caught by John Davey at mid on for 37 runs, with 5×4’s. Both these young batsmen defended with a straight bat and played some excellent attacking shots, watching the ball all the way off an awkward wicket.
‘Mr Consistant’ Rizwan then got in on the wicket taking act when Burnside was bowled leg stump with a lovely swinging delivery. Rizwan did an action replay two overs later when Banks was bowled, and took yet another wicket next over when Finlay prodded forward and Johnston dived forward and just got a hand under the ball to take the catch.
Mannofield were collapsing badly and Magesh took a second, but easier catch at mid off to give Phillips another wicket, and Rizwan ended the Mannofield innings when he bowled Watson. Mannofield total 120 all out.
There were 23 wides given by the umpires whose strict interpretation of leg side wides looked harsh at times. But on a wicket which was giving the bowlers all the incentive to bowl line and length, they only have themselves to blame.
Top bowlers were Karthik 7 – 3 – 10 – 1, Rizwan 6 – 1 -14 – 4, Phillips 5 – 0 – 17 – 3. The fielding and catching was excellent with no catches being spilled, keeper Muthu saving many runs and conceded no byes as the bowlers at times sprayed the ball about.
Rob Fryer and Muthu opened the batting for FP’s, and with 66 overs to score 121 runs, there was never going to be a problem with overs available. Mannofield bowlers Hoogie and Pethik were also having problems with the footholds which were by now like porridge. But Hoogie struck in the 5th over when Fryer unfortunately played on for 2 runs, FP’s total 10. New batsman Blyth was unluckily bowled last game, a defensive shot saw the ball roll back and just dislodged a bail, but this time luck was on his side when he was dropped at slip before getting off the mark.
Extras were keeping the score moving as both batsmen got used to the three paced wicket. Muthu was very quick to spot a single, and he and Blyth gave a near perfect example of how to pinch runs, turn one’s into two’s and putting the young fielding team under pressure.
Blyth was getting used to the variable bounce and struck several powerful blows as he and Muthu began to dominate. Mannofield were conceding more wides than the FP’s bowlers, and as the score mounted it became only a matter of how many wickets the FP’s would win by. Blyth reached his 50 with his sixth four, he also hit 1×6, finishing 53 n.o., and Mutu finished 30 n.o. with 3×4’s, Grammar scoring 124 – 1 off 22 overs.
FP’s won convincingly in the end against a young, keen, good spirited Mannofield team. FP’s strength again was an all round team performance. Everyone contributed whether bowling or fielding and the experienced top order batsmen calmly adding a mere 114 runs for the second wicket.
Man of the Match – Muthu, kept wicket beautifully conceding no byes, batted well giving a master class in running quick singles and did not resort to violence when his catch was pinched.
Champagne Moment – Probably Johnston’s diving one handed catch.