Teeth chattered as ten of the selected eleven players gathered for the start of the 2012 Sunday season to watch the usual 8-a-side argument between cricketers and footballers. When will the council begin to enforce their own booking policy and actually allow us to start on time? It's strange that all council employee's strategically disappear when required only to return once the game has commenced to report the movement of the ball in the outfield.
Anyway we digress. So as a consequence of park police attending to remove the aggressive footballers our game was reduced to a 35-over contest.
Chilly winds howled as Lahrie and new opener Jon Thornton strode to the wicket. ~35 off 10 overs became ~75 from 20 overs for the loss of Lahrie. Jon batted steadily with newly streamlined Steve Richards. With increasing clamour from the watching crowd concerned about defending a sub-par total Steve was out having a slog.
Jon then ran out Ali in Boycott-esque fashion. He tried to repeat the trick later in the innings for Rob but was foiled by some poor fielding from Graces. One of only a few errors from the visitors who bowled and fielded well for such an early season fixture. Hats off to the them for managing to stay out there because it was bitterly cold. Jon accelerated towards his 50 with some good hitting from Stu Whopper Hopper and class strokeplay from new recruit Sardar and a steady tumble of wickets provided Graces a lowly 168 to chase from 35 overs.
Tea was nice. Ali Pritch delivered a slice of magic with blueberry bread and butter pudding pilfered from his workplace. It was the best thing I have eaten at Wray since stealing the Nugget's last rolo.
After a brief torrential downpour the ten men took the field. Rob Alluminator opened with Smiffy and bowled a quality spell of accurate swing with a wet ball to take two deserved wickets. One bowled and one stinger caught one handed at short fine leg by Smith who declared it 'catch of the season so far'. Graces were merrily swinging the willow and were playing well but Smith skated down the wet hill to snaffle a couple and restrict the run rate.
Ahmed (accurate) and new boy Rajesh (rusty) bowled well in tandem to keep things ticking along. Deserved wickets were taken and despite the odd misfield and dropped catch things seemed in good order. But Pacific being Pacific meant there had to be a bump in the road.
Down to the last wicket pair Captain Lahrie had to rotate, with his frontline bowlers out of allocation. Steve Richards, fresh from his Zumba class, was chosen to bowl alongside Jon but the Graces number 8 took a fancy and with only ten men Pacific couldn't plug the gaps. To the joy of the watching Graces the burly Aussie - once a staple archetype of Pacific teams in the early Noughties - played the hero role to perfection and blasted a quick 50 to win the game with overs to spare.
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Just another typical day at Wray!
After the game, skipper Lahrie provided his own perspective:
"The episode with the footballers refusing to leave the ground cost the game over 40 minutes and hence overs had to be reduced to 35 overs each, which probably didn't help the Pacific's cause in the end.
"The long grass at Wray didn't help scoring, but with the quick runs made at the end a respectable total of 168 was reached.
"Pacific's bowlers started off well with a very disciplined line and length and removed both openers cheaply. JS has taken a spectacular one handed catch at backward point, has run out another with a superb return to the keeper.
"It seemed my gamble had paid off, continuing with two opening bowlers, and victory was within Pacific's grasp as Graces had lost more than half the side at 82 for 6 in twenty overs. However, Graces' no 10 batsman had a different idea as he took advantage of a dropped catch and a second string bowling attack.
"In the end Pacific lost by one wicket, but it was a great game of cricket."
- Lahrie Mohamed *
- Rob Allum
- Stu Hopper
Sardar Mayana †
- Jon Thornton
- Matt Holliday (no show)