Huntly Highlanders (H) 11th July 2009

AGSFP’s made six changes to the team for the home game against Huntly Highlanders. Out went Fraser who was unavailable, Campbell, Govil and Houghton had work commitments, and Phillips and Russell had decided that T in the Park was more exciting than T in the Pavilion.  At one stage it looked like the bad old days of playing a match without eleven players.  But, fortunately for the 2nds, the 1st XI match was called off, and so into the team from the 1st team squad came Geoff  Morrison, Muthu, John Eagles. Making his first appearance of the season was a Gentleman of Rubislaw, JPL Williams and Mike Hart came in for his second match of the season.

The Huntly Highlanders supporters were seated long before the team arrived, with one or two of the HH team dragging kit bags bigger than the owners to the changing rooms. Grammar  lost the late toss and were asked to bat on an overcast day.

The grass in front of the pavilion had been chopped back from knee deep, meaning a proper circular boundary for the first time in a long time, and exposing a plentiful supply of stones for the umpires.

Morrison  and Muthu opened the batting for Grammar, Morrison successfully pinching the bowling at every opportunity. The openers calmly played themselves in against the young HH bowling,  maybe missing a few quick singles early on. Boundaries were hard to come by, but the score progressed steadily at four an over, and after 15 untroubled overs the score was 60 – 0.

Morrison was outscoring Muthu, and reached a well deserved 50 with a single to third man, a.k.a. an edge between keeper and first slip, his first false shot.  Reaching that milestone prompted Morrison to go into all out attack mode, and he added 20 runs off his next five scoring shots, including a powerful straight 6.  Unfortunately he was then bowled by Ferguson attempting another forcing shot for an excellent 70 (6×4’s, 1×6), and he and Muthu just missed out on a century opening stand, FP’s score 98 – 1, 20 overs.

This was the perfect start for Grammar, and new batsman Nick Blyth looked in the mood to continue the scoring rate, playing  two lovely shots off his legs for four, but having scored 12 he then tried to hit slow, very, very slow bowler Morrison out of the ground and missed a straight ball and was bowled, FP’s score 123 – 2, 25 overs.

John Davey came in to bat and hit the next slo mo ball from Ferguson straight for four through mid on, a beautifully timed shot. Davey and Mutu added a very quick 39 runs, Davey dealing mainly in boundaries and Muthu  pinching  cheeky singles as the HH fielders were by now set slightly deeper.  A drinks interval was called for by the  HH team, the umpires wrongly assuming it was a hot drinks interval as a cool easterly wind had picked up.

Soon after the drinks break Davey, who had been scoring effortlessly, decided to take a jog down the wicket to Ferguson, playing a nice straight drive off middle stump, sadly the ball was bowled outside off stump, and the HH wicketkeeper calmly removed the bails, Davey out for 22 (5×4’s), FP’s score 158 – 3, 29 overs.

HH bowler Morrison, whose bowling was making FP’s bowler Eagles look fast, took another wicket first ball of this next over when new batsman Karthik did well to reach a ball the umpire would have given as a wide, but not so well at keeping the ball down, and slashed a gentle catch to the HH mid off, FP’s score 160 – 4, 31 overs.

Eagles easily survived the hat trick ball, and he and Mutu added a quick 32 runs with Eagles playing many shots over the infield, but frustratingly stopping short of the boundary. With the score 192 – 5 after 36 overs, Muthu was bowled for 42 (1×4).  This was an excellent marathon innings, or at least 10k distance innings by Muthu, who deserved a fifty, his opportunistic running between the wickets a lesson for everyone (except Karthik whose bat handle must be very comfortable to lean against!)

Hart and Eagles, combined age more than the HH team put together, then had the youngsters chasing shots all round  the wicket as they added 40 runs with Hart playing some text book shots off his legs. FP’s declared with the total on 231 – 5 off 40 overs. Eagles scoring a quick 36 not out (2×4’s) Hart 18 not out (2×4’s).

A substantial tea was served to the kids who were watching the Test match on the newly installed big screen TV. Fortunately they did not seem to be put off their food while watching England getting hammered by Australia.

Karthik opened the bowling from the Big Screen TV end and as usual bowled without luck, beating the bat numerous times. Blyth was bowling with pace and control, but opener Whyte hit him for consecutive 4’s as 30 runs were scored off the opening 8 overs.

Blyth was unlucky when opener Heyman was sharply taken by Williams at slip and walked, only to be recalled by the umpire who adjuged that the batsman was caught off a bump ball. There was a question mark over the dismissal, and Heyman was rightly allowed to continue. Blyth was replaced by Magesh after 13 overs and next over Karthik made the breakthrough FP’s needed when Morrison made a difficult catch look easy as he caught Whyte one handed above his head at point. Karthik deserving the wicket, frustrating the batsman into a rash shot with good bowling, HH score 48 – 1, 12 overs.

Karthik finished his opening spell with 8 – 1 – 27 – 1, and was replaced by Eagles. Batsman Ferguson was lucky to survive a caught behind appeal as he seemed to edge Eagles to keeper Muthu, but was given the benefit of the doubt by the umpire. However justice was done when he was given out LBW two balls later,  HH score 58 – 2, 17 overs.

Magesh and Eagles slowed the scoring rate with some tight bowling, and with the score 74, opener Heyman was given out LBW to Eagles after two previous very loud LBW shouts had been turned down by the young umpire.

There was only one team going to win now but the  HH batsmen were resisting the wily bowling of Eagles andplaying everything with straight, angled bats.  There were a couple of half chances and shots played in the air as pressure mounted, and it was Magesh who made the breakthrough when Morrison was caught by Davey for 14, score 91 – 5, 32 overs.

Rizwan replaced Eagles who bowled 7 – 2 – 16 – 2, and in his 2nd over had new batsman Heyman caught by Morrison without scoring, HH  score 95 – 6.

Williams came on to bowl the 38th over , and in his second over had the stubborn Ritchie well caught at point by Davey for 16, score 98 – 7, 40 overs. FP’s had 10 overs to take 3 wickets, and after a short spell of  3 – 2 – 1 – 1, a disappointed Williams was replaced by opening bowler Blyth. With 132 runs required off 7 overs and HH defending desperately, Blyth decided to bring HH back into the game and bowled a ‘long’ over, testing our trainee scorer J. Moir to the limit to see how many marks could be squeezed into a ‘one over box’ in the scorebook. It may take more than a couple of wine gums next week Mr Blyth.

Karthik came back on for the 45th over and on another day Johnston might have held  a sharp chance at short cover. Next over Williams, cruelly treated by FP’s skipper, came back on and immediately bowled Higgins, score  114 – 8, 46 overs.

The HH tailenders survived the next two overs, but then Karthik produced a beauty and bowled Reid, score 116 – 9, 49.4 overs.  Williams was given the last over, but somehow the HH batsmen survived  and secured the draw, final score 118 – 9 wickets.

Grammar FP’s will be disappointed not to have won, but all credit to the HH youngsters who batted with good technique and calmness under pressure. The FP’s batsmen did their job scoring enough runs to win the game, and the bowlers tried everything to dismiss a determined HH team.  If the new Pavilion had an ice bath, keeper Muthu would have been first to try it out following his great efforts with the bat and behind the stumps.

Man of the Match – Geoff Morrison, batted himself back into form, took an excellent catch, and did not argue too excessively with the umpires.

Champagne Moment – Geoff’s first catch.

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