Saturday saw the second team take the envious trip out to Balmoral to face Crathie hoping to come away with more than stomachs full of fine pies as they looked to kick on in Grade 3 by overcoming last year’s relegation partners.
With reshuffles from the First XI and a late injury scare, AGSFPs lined up J Lord, M Nattrass (C, WK), A MacDonald, J Eagles, R Knudson, K Whyte, A Sood, J Alexander, D Selvaraj, M Dias, & A Ali.
Losing the toss, Skipper Nattrass was asked to bat first on a green pitch under laden skies and was joined at the top of the order by Lord. After making steady progress through singles and 2 boundaries, Nattrass tamely chipped to mid-off for 15, bringing MacDonald to the crease, only for him to quickly leave in similar fashion, making 4.
Lord then decided it was time to hit out, dispatching Slee for a 4 but was caught next ball for 11 and FPs fell to 39 for 3. Eagles, who had been at the crease since MacDonald had departed, was joined by the evergreen Knudson. Rebuilding began until Eagles found himself short of his ground and was run out for 10.
In bringing Whyte to the crease, Crathie sniffed blood. The run rate had stayed slow whilst opening bowler Bestwick hurled down a phenomenal 6 consecutive maidens, and when Knudson caught off Geddes trying to push things along, FPs found themselves 63 for 5 after 28 overs.
With Sood heading in to bat, Crathie ringing bowling changes and Whyte accelerating the scoring, Sood got his eye in and joined the party. By taking advantage of gaps and bad bowls, FPs headed toward a respectable score. Those watching on had heard mutterings of 130 being a target; they were very pleased as the board headed beyond that after 38 overs.
With Bestwick now back on bowling hooping away swingers, Sood was unlucky to be trapped in front. FPs still had Whyte at the crease, now past 50 and in no mood to slow down. Alexander had freedom to have a go, giving Whyte ample support until he was out in the final over. Selvaraj scampered a single to get Whyte on strike, who smashed 3 sixes from the last 4 legitimate bowls of the innings. FPs finished on 188 for 7 after being 50 for 3 from 25, Whyte amassing 84* of them, 5 fours and 7 sixes.
As all enjoyed the splendid teas, FPs plotted their plan of attack. Aware there wasn’t a clear choice for keeper, skipper Nattrass decided to don the gloves, resurrecting a career path from some years ago. Whyte admitted to still feeling iffy following a social evening on the Friday meaning a rest was truly deserved, and required. With Sood and Dias chosen to take the new ball, wayward bowling soon gave way to good lines and lengths; Dias rewarded by bowling Baldry.
Getting to 10 overs, Crathie were 40 odd for 1 in reply, Eagles came on to cause problems and bowled a tight first 6. Dias continued at the other end and struck again, MacD bowled for 18. Dias was given a rest in favour of Whyte – skipper Nattrass hopeful for some movement in the air.
Eagles now struck in his third over, left-handed Johnson caught behind after several huge swipes at looping balls, and again in his fourth – dangerous Bestwick going for one swing too many after success against Whyte.
After Whyte had tired following running out the backing up batsman, Knudson was tossed the ball; removing top scorer Morris in his first over who had pushed on through injury. With the spinners bowling in tandem, the run rate slowed from close to 5 per over down to near 3 – changes getting the desired affect as Crathie began to hit out to catch up and giving wickets away.
After 33 overs the score was 125 for 7, Eagles taking one in his final over and finishing with 3 for 35 after being bowled through. Knudson then continued the break through bowling Russell with Slee joining opposition Captain Bell, and gave FPs a scare with some forceful strokemaking. With Selvaraj now bowling accurate away swing from the Castle End, Crathie attempted one final push against Knudson who thought he had Bell out stumped, but was given not out by square leg – Lord dumbfounded at first slip and Nattrass devastated behind the sticks.
Despair turned to delight the ball after, as bell pushed a ball to Whyte at cover who recovered to throw down the stumps as Bell was stranded attempting a run. Knudson shortly wrapped up the game by having Elson caught and bowled after dropping a chance earlier in the game, Crathie all out for 144.
All in all, a great win for FPs 2nd XI against tough opponents at one of the best settings in Grades cricket. Thanks must go to hosts Crathie for both a hard fought and fair game, as well as a fine tea. For FPs, mentions go to Kieran Whyte for a match winning innings, as well as John Eagles and Roland Knudson as they finished with figures of 12-0-35-3 and 10-4-6-3.