For their home match against Stonehaven, Grammar FPs fielded what looked like a strong side: Devendran, Barker, Manogna, Hegde, Clelland, Thangamani, Chovatiya, Mohanan, Whyte, R.Knudson and Eagles. Upon winning the toss, on another chilly and windy day, skipper Devendran elected to bat first.
In the second over, Barker walked for a very thin edge which the umpire had missed, but this act of sportsmanship was neither continued nor reciprocated. Hegde was soon bowled by Hinchcliffe and FPs were 5 for 2. Clelland and Mohahan added runs before both played on to their stumps and Thanganami struck some authoritative blows in his 21 before he was caught off a high full toss- FPs 75 for 5. The very experienced pair of Eagles and Roland Knudson then squeezed out a partnership of 43 before Knudson was caught off a dreadful ball in Crozier’s single dreadful over. Eagles (for 23) and Whyte became the 3rd and 4th FP to play on to their stumps, and after a small flourish from Manogna, Devendran and Chovatiya, the innings was over for 152 in 43 overs. Given the long outfield, this looked close to a par score. Extras was top scorer with 31. Among the wides awarded by the Grammar players/umpires, 2 or 3 were questionable and were indeed strenuously questioned, notably by left handed bowler King. Hinchcliffe bowled cleverly for Stonehaven, finishing with a very well merited 5 for 31.
After tea, Devlin and Long started well for the visitors, and Grammar’s difficulties worsened when Whyte became too unwell to continue after bowling 5 overs. He was replaced by 15 year old Rutwik Hegde, who may have been disorientated by Long’s habit of taking two strides across his stumps as the bowler ran in. Umpire King, almost certainly more than 3 times the bowler’s age, lost no opportunity to call Hegde for wides, some of which appeared thoroughly contentious, amounting to 10 in his 4 overs. Clelland apparently stumped Long by a Long way off the bowling of Eagles, and the batsman appeared to be walking off before he appreciated that his square leg umpire teammate had not given him out. The match, by this time, had become somewhat unharmonious. It was not until the 25th over, with 67 on the board that Long was run out for 18. Crozier supported Devlin, who batted very well until he too was run out. To the pleasure of the fielding team, ex-umpire King’s innings did not endure- Stonehaven 91 for 3. Manogna was bowling well by this time, ably supported by steady spells from Chovatiya and Knudson. At the drinks break, Barker departed for a rugby function, and by this time the fielding team would have been just as at home in a doctor’s surgery- Whyte with a virus, Devendran with a pulled groin, Knudson with multiple pathologies and Mohanan reduced to throwing left handed after injuring his shoulder. This, and the cold, may have partly explained why 6 catches were dropped and none were held. Despite that, after Manogna had bowled two more batsmen and yet another had been run out, the match was delicately poised with Stonehaven 114 for 6. A stand of 26 ensued before Knudson returned to bowl Gale and then repeating the feat with his very next ball to Donnelly- Stonehaven 140 for 8. It was at this juncture that Knudson pinned Hinchcliffe within 18 inches of his stumps and with the umpire unable to verbalise a reason for turning down the LBW. With the help of two boundaries and further wides, Stonehaven got home with 2 wickets in hand. Devlin, clearly the batsman of the match, had made a very good 42 for the visitors and the pick of the Grammar bowlers were Manogna (3 for 36) and Knudson with 2 for 20. Grammar might want to put in 10 minutes of catching practice before the start of their next game.
But sadly, this match will be remembered for its umpiring and an apparent ‘win at all costs’ mentality. It seemed especially detrimental to the spirit of the game to see a 15 year old bowler called repeatedly for wides by an experienced player. Don’t we want young cricketers to take up and continue to play the sport that we (presumably) love? Today, I love it a little less myself.