Penrith 9/188 (Ben Cook 3/15, Liam Dinan 3/51, Callum McKay 2/33) defeated Manly 167 (Nick Raymond 62, Adam Greenwood 33)
We arrived at Frank Gray Oval to find there must have been a slight delay in getting the covers onto the pitch area when the rain hit on Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, after some superb super-sopper work on the pitch surrounds from Rob Melchiore and Rob Joseph, the umpire determined that the start of play would be delayed by only 45 minutes and the match reduced to 47 overs-a-side. The skipper, Callum McKay, won the toss and, given the potential for some life in the pitch, sent the Penrith side in.
That decision was looking sound (and certainly better than Joe Root’s) after early wickets for both Callum and Liam Dinan in their opening spells, quickly followed by another for Ben Cook, saw Penrith 3/33 and needing to rebuild. One of the Penrith openers and their number 5 were doing a reasonable job of that re-build until Ben took another two quick wickets, one of them as a result of a great diving catch by Callum, which saw them 5/77. At that point it looked as though we might run through the rest of the Penrith order, particularly as their number 7’s batting technique resembled something more like Babe Ruth than Don Bradman. But unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Luka Vajdic and Jack Melchiore bowled some tight overs of spin, and Ethan Joseph his best spell of the season thus far, but all without luck, and by now the baseballer had his eye in. The run rate accelerated significantly in the final 10 overs and, notwithstanding a couple of late wickets to Liam, Penrith finished with 188, which was probably 20 or 30 more than they should have, an outcome we would later regret.
The Manly innings started slowly, due in main part to some good bowling on the part of one of their openers, and after 10 overs we were 1/12 and 189 was looking a long way off. With the opening bowlers seen off, the opportunity presented itself for us to accelerate and work our way into our chase, but unfortunately we lost quick wickets and slumped to 5/34 shortly after the drinks break. Adam Greenwood, having been in since the start of the innings, then sought to lift the run rate and landed a few effective blows, including an impressive straight hit for 6, but when he was run out with the score on 62 Manly’s chances took another body blow.
With 125 required from the remaining 20 overs and 6 of our batsmen reflecting on their dismissals, a Manly victory looked almost impossible, but not to Nick Raymond. Nick, in only his second ever game of rep cricket, strode to the crease and set about taking the Penrith bowlers to task. With initial support from Callum (18), Nick pounced on anything loose or short and sent them either to the boundary or over it. As the boundaries mounted and Manly’s total started to creep up, the tension began to rise in the Penrith supporter camp. Nick’s hitting included 6 fours and 2 sixes and, with fantastic tail-end support from Ethan Joseph (18), got Manly in sight of a most unlikely victory. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Nick was dismissed with 62 entertaining runs against his name, and we had fallen 22 runs short.
Thanks to Mike Greenwood, Kate Waddington and Rob Melchiore for scoring and to all the parents for putting on a sensational spread for lunch. The Penrith coach and supporters commented specifically on the quality of the food always provided by Manly. Special thanks to Francis Raymond for preparing a delicious curry and ensuring it was delivered to the ground as he boarded a plane to Sri Lanka. Fantastic commitment!
This side is really starting to gel and it is apparent that a win is just around the corner. At the moment we are relying too much on performances from one or two individuals in each game. We need contributions from everybody and a 100-over effort across the board. We are close, and should be confident as we head to Northern Districts next week.