Manly 166 (Jack Melchiore 68, Nick Raymond 31) def NWS Hurricanes 149 (Luka Vajdic 3/27, Liam Dinan 2/25, Callum McKay 2/30)
After the resounding victory against Northern Districts last week there was a feeling in the Manly camp that this side had turned a corner, and this performance confirmed that view.
For the second week in succession, Callum McKay lost the toss and we were sent in to bat under grey skies which threatened to burst with rain at any moment. The conditions were conducive to swing and the NWS Hurricanes opening bowlers made the most of them, getting the ball to move around both through the air and off the pitch. Batting was not easy, and by the end of the 13th over we had slumped to 4/26 and were looking down the barrel of a repeat of our calamitous batting collapse against this side in the trial game. But in our favour was the fact that Jack Melchiore, last week’s centurion, and Nick Raymond, one of the cricketing world’s most relaxed and laconic, but devastating, batsmen, were at the crease.
Jack and Nick set about consolidating our perilous position, picking up cheeky singles at every opportunity and punishing the rare loose delivery. In the 16th over Nick dispatched three short balls to the square leg boundary and the tide began to turn. Jack was playing a superb innings (batting even better than he did the week before for his ton), and the run rate began to accelerate and the chirpy Hurricanes’ first slip even went quiet. Two successive cracking cover drives to the boundary from Jack will live in the memory for some time. From over number 20 to over number 30 the score rose steadily from 4/51 to 4/100 and, after being 4/26, a seemingly impossible total of 200 now looked a genuine chance.
Nick fell with the score at 100 for a well-made 31 and Jack was joined by Corey Calvert. Corey hasn’t had a lot of luck with the bat to date, but put his head down and committed to supporting Jack build the total. His contribution of 12 was a valuable one as were the following contributions of 12 and 10 from Callum and Ben Cook respectively. Jack eventually fell for a well-compiled 68, and unfortunately the tail didn’t wag on this occasion, and Manly was all out for 166. We suspected it might be enough but knew we would have to bowl and field well to secure the victory.
Callum and Liam Dinan opened the bowling with their usual vigour, repeatedly beating the bat and proving impossible to score off. The first 5 overs were maidens!! Callum finished his 5 over spell with figures of 0/6 and Liam even better, having dismissed both openers, with figures of 2/6. The Hurricanes were now behind the eight ball and feeling the scoreboard pressure mount. The off spin of Luka Vajdic was introduced in conjunction with Lincoln Waller’s right-arm outswingers. Luka would be the first to admit his consistency was not there at first, but he soon got it right and finished with 3/27 from 10 overs. Lincoln bowled perhaps his best spell of the season thus far, beating the bat regularly, and was unlucky not to claim a wicket. Ben Cook bowled his usual tight lines and picked up 1/6 off his 5 overs, and effected a direct hit run out to remove the number 4. Ethan Joseph also chipped in with 3 tidy overs.
With the umpire making suggestions that we were behind the over rate, Callum threw the ball to Jack to bowl some right arm round the wicket darts, and the Hurricanes continued to struggle to score. With 10 overs to go the Hurricanes needed 6 an over, but were 7 wickets down. Nevertheless their number 6 was still in, and combined with their number 9 to put on 36 runs and have them within sight of victory. The tension was palpable amongst both sets of supporters, and the scorers were being constantly harassed as to the state of the game, even though there was a scoreboard for everybody to see.
Thankfully, Manly’s focus and intensity in the field was rewarded, with another direct hit run out by James Waddington and two late wickets to Callum putting the game out of the Hurricanes’ reach. The most pleasing aspect of this victory was the strength of character and resilience shown by the boys to come back from being in real trouble at 4/26 to turn the game around and grind out a well-deserved victory. This side has come a long way, since being soundly beaten in its first trial game, to now being two wins and two losses after 4 rounds.
Thanks to Claire Vajdic and Francis Raymond for scoring, Rob Joseph for operating the scoreboard, Rob Melchiore for umpiring and helping sweep the pitch before play, and Simon and Kate Waddington for their assistance with the covers. Finally, a word about the Manly parents and their commitment to putting on an amazing feast for lunch. When you consider that the lunch provided included pulled pork rolls, a chicken curry with rice, pork dumplings, two quiches, salads, fruit salad and cakes, there is no doubt that the game of cricket is getting in the way of an amazing culinary experience. Thanks to all who contributed. Merry Christmas to all. Enjoy the break.