Hornsby Ku-ring-gai & Hills 7 for 211 (T. Laughton 4-34, J. Hutchings 1 for 14, A. McConnell 1-28) defeated Manly-Warringah 10 for 172 (L. Burgess 27, A. Bouton 26, H. Wood 19)
The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step says Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, but it is an even longer journey when gear stewards leave their players precious creams neatly placed at the home front door and arrive empty handed at the oval. The venue Mt Ku-Ring-Gai oval on the last warm sunny Sunday in November. A picturesque oval overlooking the ancient lands of the Kurriggai people, complete with cicadas, sleepy marsupials and 2 mighty high voltage electrical towers. A fast outfield cut way shorter than a Newtown hipsters beard and delicately cambered to ensure good drainage over its sandstone belt. Twelve Manly cricketers paced with nervous energy. Fourteen parents, 6 cricket obsessed younger siblings and 5 dogs, 50 eyes on the prize. A David and Goliath battle against the minor premiers Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai and Hills District (hereafter HKHD – saves on the ink) who had not lost a match and amassed over 600 runs in their 5 pools games pitted against our Manly who had scored several inches of rain and were close to securing an umbrella factory as major sponsor. A Manly drone set up from the beaches in the weeks prior (date and flight path classified) had taken aerial shots of the usual HKHD gazebo camp location and in a stroke of minor genius/espionage our family gear steward’s had taken the opportunity to occupy their usual campsite in prime location just off centre behind the bowlers arm in order to observe Gus and Toby fling their missiles. The scene was set.
Manly lost the toss and were given the opportunity to bowl, not a bad option of the 2 available to them. Our 10 appropriately dressed players took the field to commence battle, while the other 2 awaited the imminent arrival of their pressed whites. Showtime! We did not have to wait long – with a wicket falling on the last ball of the first over, thus for a moment vindicating our decision to lose the toss. Toby showed just why he is an opening bowling for the NSW schoolboys as after his first spell he had 2 for 14. He was ably supported by Gus, who had the equally miserly 0 for 13 off his first 4 overs. The second wicket fell at 26 with Toby bowling one of their most dangerous batsmen. Things were about to get harder though as the 3rd wicket partnership put on 101, with their opener scoring 58 off 71 balls and finally fell to a good catch by Pat off Gus’ bowling. Pat chimed in with 2 quick overs at the 10 over mark. Toby got their number 4 with a bumper that was headed for the high voltage towers to a good catch behind by Billy. After all the batsman was very tall and seemed to jump up to meet the rising delivery. Soon it was 3 for 127 and at the halfway mark they seemed to be cruising. The boys dug deep, determined to restrict them in the back half of the innings. They did well. HKHD scored less in the final 25 overs compared to the first, with only 88, that is 2 fat ladies, coming in the back half and only 42 in the final ten. This was due a combination of tight bowling from Arjun, (1 for 39 off 10 overs), Luke (0 for 35 of 10 overs) and Andrew (0 for 35 of 8 overs), as well as some great fielding. Harry was like a gazelle boundary rider saving many well struck pulls to mid-wicket. After adjusting for any errors made in the MyCricket wagon wheel entries, it seemed Harry fielded a good 34% of balls hit. Their number 5 went to a sharp stumping from Billy at a crucial time in the 35th over. The next 10 overs saw only 35 runs, at a time when most teams are looking to put the gas down. In the 45th over Jake (1 for 14 off 4 overs) bowled their number 6 just before he seemed set to launch. In the end we held them to a total of 7 for 211 with 2 HKHD boys getting 50’s. Toby had the best figures overall with 4 for 34 off his allotted 8 overs and Gus a mighty fine 1 for 28 off his 8 overs. Overall 4 of our bowlers (Jake, Gus, Arjun and Luke) had the great economy rate of under 4 per over against probably one of the best batting teams in the competition. Off to lunch we went!
After a quick breezy curry and proverbial snag in a roll, along with arguably the best salad around town, gotta love the crispy noodle cabbage salad, we set off on our run chase. With the Bob Manly motto of “get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight” ringing in their ears Luke and Jake doggedly began battle. The cauldron was lit up.
Both started in their accustomed stylish ways with some cracking drives square of the wicket. They had all but galloped to 0 for 27 off 5 overs. Indeed it was the 5th over that had the many in the crowd scouring for the rule book to work out the number of balls required to complete a legal over at the rep level. After some debate the umpires settled it and the poor chap sent down 10 balls, including 8 wides and 1 bye, he didn’t get another over until later in the game. However it was in the 6th over that Jake fell to an absolute jaffa from the left hander, slower, out of the back of the hand, dipping, slightly swung and snuck past the outside edge of his bat to claim off stump. It was then that Lilliputian mighty Jack Slater, strode to the crease ever eager to get on with the chase. Combined with Luke, one of the Eveready bunny collection, both set about pinching quick singles and placing unaccustomed pressure on the HKHD fieldsman. So much pressure that eventually they got one and Luke was run out for a well made 27 of 39 balls (an appealing strike rate of 70). The trumpets blared as out strode the skipper, Andrew. Ever dangerous, Andrew has been seeing the balls like pumpkins all season however was watchful from the outset with some tight bowling in play. With the score on 71 and Jack on 13, an unlucky number, he was unlucky to be given out in a close stumping, there was only a bees elbow in it. Next year Dr Michael plans to install live streaming of the game, with a minimum of 4 strategically placed cameras, along with stump microphones, thus allowing players to call for the video review. No such luck for Jack this year.
We were now 3 for 71 after 21 overs. It was about this time that our nerves required settling just as the arrival of Travis and his sparkling lime drink combined a bit of brewed conviction landed at the oval. Andrew (26) and Arjun took the score to 93 in the 27th over when Andrew drove handsomely straight back to the bowler who took a very sharp but handy one handed grab. Next in was big Toby – designated pinch hitter - in order to boost the worm. Toby swung lustily hitting 5 of 5 but fell just short of the crease (stumped) when attempting to clear our gazebos at the Mt Colah end of the oval.
Jez – with not a Scarf in sight, appropriate given the hot conditions adjusted his pads and ventured into the cauldron. The bowling was tight and we now needed 112 off 21 overs. The task was clear, the mind eager – let’s go boys was the chant! Jez and Arjun put on a brave 21 in the next 8 overs, however were tied down by some fine tight bowling. Arjun fell with the score on 121 trying again to get the worm to rise. Big Gus swung hard and high, and unfortunately one high too often and was caught. The equation was looking formidable now and the worm just wasn’t coming to play. At 7 for 124 in the 38th Billy ran out and with his trademark wingmill swings raced to 10 runs in 12 balls. Next to go was Jez, in a fine innings of 16 including 2 fours – fell with the score on 135 in the 41st over. All the boys were now swinging hard determined not to go down without wondering what could have been. Billy faltered on the 12th ball, bowled by a full bunger with the score on 142.
That left only number 10 and 11 to go – Big Tom and Harry. Anticipation was high. The equation was thus - 70 runs in 8.5 overs. The exact same number put on by Alan Border and Jeff Thomson in that memorable Ashes test in Melbourne in 1982. Both boys looked resplendent in their late arrived but neatly pressed whites. Could it be done?, even the dogs were wondering. Harry chanced his arm with some deft glides thru first slip while Tom was absolutely sublime in his rotation of the strike. Harry hit a cracking pull shot over mid-wicket for four. The pair put on 30 runs in the next 4 overs, Harry with 19 off 20 balls and Tom 9 off 15 balls. A slight glimmer of hope existed. Yet it was not to be, Harry holed out to mid-off whilst trying to hit the ball into the Gosford bound 4.42pm train from Hornsby. In the end we fell 39 runs short. Yet our wagon wheel was definitely the prettiest. The minor premiers remain undefeated and deserved the win.
Our boys can hold their heads high. It was a game played in a tight competitive spirit worthy of a quarter final. No game in the finals is easy to win. Our season had come to an end, 6 games, 1 complete washout, 2 rain marred games, 2 wins and only 1 loss. A huge thanks to Jordan and Michael, as well as the scorers Ben, Rick and Alex for the season efforts. The good news is lads we get next Sunday back to mow the lawn.
The final word must go to the Hilltop Hoods “It’s been so long, we’re glad we came,
Before we gathered fame or had a name, Our story hasn’t changed with accolades,
We’re still standing and we’ll be back again.”
Over and out