Another new season, another Pacific century opening stand! Err - not quite!
Pacific 256-4 (D Gratton 102, P Attwood 47, J Campbell 28*, J Davies 28)
Lessa 146 - 8 (D Roberts 3-24, S Rees 2-39)
With last year's top opening stand only reaching 40 - Sunday's quickfire start of 129 was an unusual luxury for the Pacific middle order - though it could have been so different had Steve Beck not spilled a routine slip catch off Doug Gratton when on 12. The mistake was severely punished as Beck himself - along with fellow opening bowler Clancy - were flayed to all parts of the ground in an otherwise chanceless Gratton hundred. Coming off a club record 59 balls - a superb knock!
Once Gratton was stumped "walking" - his job done - the rest of the batters continued at around a run a ball - while Paul Attwood accelerated before falling just short of his fifty. Breezy knocks from Jim Davies (28), erratically performing Guy Wiehahn (13), Jonathan Campbell (28*) and Matt Ralph (18*) enabled skipper Nigel Wilkinson to end the misery after only 39 overs for the suffering LESSA fielders - with an attacking declaration bringing an early tea.
The one sour note for Pacific was the leg injury suffered by opening bowler Ralph in the final over, leaving a surperbly talented Shayne Rees to bravely take the new ball with veteran Darryl Roberts. Having sought to demonstrate the bouncy nature of the pitch in his first couple of overs by pitching short - Rees demolished star LESSA batsman Beck's stumps with a swinging yorker. An amazing delivery by anyone's standards! With Roberts soon claiming his 300th wicket for the club - a mark only reached by 4 other Pacific bowlers - and Rees continuing to impress with another wicket - things were going well for Pacific with Lessa tottering on 10-3.
A few lusty blows - interspersed with a mixture of wickets and missed chances in equal measure - seemed to be taking the game to a win for Pacific. Skipper Wilkinson - one of that select band with over 300 wickets - and spinner Al Roberts - both secured breakthroughs - but equally important chances were put down and run out opportunities spurned. With the LESSA skipper setting out his stall for the draw - Wilkinson shuffled his attack intelligently - trying to get the vital breakthrough. The returning Darryl Roberts achieved it - via a second fine slip catch from the injured Ralph - but despite a few more scares Lessa held on for the draw.
"Doug's century was a joy to behold" commented Jim Davies "and Darryl's 300th wicket is a true achievement." "They were the obvious highlights - but there was much to encourage us for the rest of the season." he added. "Let's hope 'one partnership does not a summer make' for our openers!"