Grammar were lying third in Grade 3 when they travelled north to face Huntly with a mix of youth and experience. Captain Magesh Devendran was in charge of Chris Clelland, Guru Thanganami, Jesten d’Costa, Jim Lee, John Eagles, John Youles, Mahesh Narayanan, Melvin Joy, Vishal Desai and 2nd team debutant Harsh Nama. Unexpectedly, Devendran lost the toss and Grammar were invited to bat first.
Clelland and Lee opened against the bowling of youthful Black and more experienced but significantly under slept Tait, who bowled a strikingly erratic brand of left arm over the wicket. F.P.s profited from wides and no balls before Lee had a swing at a lovely ball from Tait and was bowled for 4 with 34 on the board. Youles came in and looked in good form until having a rather cross batted swing at a surprise straight ball from Tait. Thangamani joined Clelland in a fluent partnership. Christie, a young bowler who looked quicker than he was, had replaced Black and Clelland had completed his pull shot by the time the ball looped on to his pads. He sportingly walked in response to the LBW appeal: out for 25, F.P.s 92 for 3.
Narayanan came to join Thangamani who cut loose with some beautiful drives, including a 6 in a Christie over that yielded 20 runs. Thangamani blazed past 50 and a hundred looked very plausible before he holed out off the bowling of Nicol for a super 69. While the pair had added 53, Narayanan had been looking progressively assured but he was then caught for 10: F.P.s 152 for 5. Joy and Nama followed not long afterwards and in only 26 overs Grammar were 168 for 7.
Numbers 8 and 9, Eagles and d’Costa, set about consolidating and trying to bat out 42 overs. Again aided by extras, and either side of a break for heavy rain and an early tea, the pair added 60 before d’Costa was most unluckily run out for 12 when the bowler deflected an Eagles drive on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Run out backing up is a fate that many F.P. batsmen will not endure. Desai came in to strike a few lusty blows, before Eagles was stumped for 51 off the last ball of the 42nd over, to yield a final score of 241 for 9.
For Huntly, Tait, Christie, Nicol and Reid all took 2 wickets and they were probably disappointed to concede 44 extras despite an acrobatic display of wicket keeping from Squire. Grammar were hopeful that Huntly would not reach the ‘draw target’ of 181, but had one eye on the ominously dark sky.
Narayanan and Desai opened the bowling for Grammar and both performed very well. Huntly had reached double figures when Morrison played arguably the shot of the match, a reverse sweep-cum-flick off Narayanan and while his team mates cheered and he deemed the shot to be worthy of two runs, he did not reckon on Joy’s speed and accurate throw.
Desai nipped one back to bowl the classy Squire off his inside edge and then Narayanan snared Nicol with the help of an excellent running catch by Devendran. The same bowler then had Tait well caught low down by Clelland behind the stumps. The powerful Muir came in and immediately batted like a man with a party to go to, launching a mighty assault on Narayanan in particular. Eagles came on and with his first ball showed what a slow short one can do, Muir caught at extra cover by Devendran for a lightning 45. Devendran showed that a slow full toss can be equally effective in getting Reid caught by Desai. Nicol was out bowled having a swing at Eagles, and now the Huntly batsman became progressively smaller as the sky became progressively darker.
The Huntly youngsters played with straight bats as the Grammar spinners tried to beat them and the approaching clouds, getting through their overs briskly. Devendran accounted for Christie with a sharp catch from Thangamani, and Coffey was unfortunately run out before last man Stewart became Devendran’s third catch of the day off Eagles: Huntly all out 94 with the young and gifted Black not out on 11. Before the teams finished shaking hands, a torrential downpour ensued.
Grammar were pleased to win by the handsome margin of 149 against a much less experienced Huntly side. The batting did look a little fragile at times, but the fielding was good- 6 catches and 2 run outs- and the bowling was generally tight – Narayanan 8-1-39-2, Desai 9-3-20-1, Devendran 10-2-20-2, Eagles 9.1-4-11-3. It was midsummer’s day and perhaps we could have resumed the game around 9 p.m., but we were lucky to finish seconds before the heavens opened.
Man of the Match: Even though Guru Thangamani gave the momentum to FPs’ innings through a blistering 69, but John Eagles will grab this title this time for scoring 51 runs and grabbing 3 wickets.
Champagne Moment: Guru Thangamani hitting a six to reach yet another fifty for Grammar.