Aussie Braden Grigg struck a superb maiden Pacific century as Pacific emphatically beat their old rivals Crossbats at their new home in Kingston. With Peter Hollman adding valuable support with 44 and stand-in opener Martin Cowling a useful 24 - Pacific's total of 220 on a bowler friendly wicket always looked challenging in a 40 over contest.
When Cowling took two early wickets via sharp catches at short leg from that man Grigg - Crossbats never looked like challenging the 5 1/2 runs per over asking rate. Wickets fell steadily as all the bowlers chipped in - and it was left to veteran spinner John Hill to claim the final wicket with a hundred runs still needed and only two overs to go - perhaps Pacific's most emphatic win ever in the long series of matches between the sides.
Pacific 220 All Out in 40 overs (Braden Grigg 111, Peter Hollman 44, Bob Jones 5 for 24)
Crossbats 120 All Out (Martin Cowling 2 for 6, Jim Davies 2 for 19, Will Barras 2 for 21, Ollie Haill 2 for 25, John Hill 1 for 5, Azar 1 for 14)
Skipper Alistair Wright had no hesitation in choosing to bowl first on winning the toss as Pacific paid their first visit to Crossbats new home in Kingston-Upon-Thames. With Pacific’s team arriving in dribs and drabs – Martin Cowling stood in for the late arriving Adrian Duthie – opening with the experienced Peter Hollman. Cowling’s promotion bore fruit as he drove powerfully to the boundary a number of times – before going for one big hit too many and being bowled for 24.
Fellow Aussie Braden Grigg replaced him and immediately looked comfortable – despite the pitch offering both movement and variable bounce to the bowlers. Crossbats attack lacked the pace or consistency to take advantage of the conditions – and both batsmen put away the poor ball. Grigg was particularly severe on anything giving him width and he soon passed fifty.
Soon afterwards he top edged a pull shot to Frank Lippit at backward square – but the veteran Kiwi spilled a routine chance. It was to prove expensive – as Grigg continued to plunder the toiling attack. Hollman’s fine effort was ended just short of back-to-back fifties when he was bowled for 44.
There followed perhaps the most farcical dismissal of the season as stand-in skipper Jim Davies left a wide from medium pacer Rapley – but carelessly left his crease while the ball was in the keeper’s gloves and still live – only to find himself stumped by a direct hit throw! Shockingly careless from the captain!
The late arriving Duthie added useful runs with Grigg before being undone by a straight one that kept low. Bob Jones was the bowler – brought on later than perhaps he deserved – as he kept it straight and let the wicket do the work. Soon John Hill fell for a duck and then Azar Mushtaq for the same score – with Will Barras going soon after.
With overs ticking away and Grigg denied much of the strike – for a while it seemed unclear if there would be enough time for him to complete his hundred. Luckily he got his chance – and took it with some big hits from Lippit – including a huge six over a long midwicket boundary. Finally the Kiwi had his man with only an over or so to go – a superb “Nelson” 111 for the impressive Aussie newcomer.
With Ollie Haill falling to Jones in the last over – Colin Black had one ball to face – sadly enough for the Irishman to bag a second consecutive Golden Duck! A total of 220 in exactly 40 overs on a challenging pitch looked a difficult ask for the home team.
It looked even more difficult when Martin Cowling first had dangerman Wynch missed first ball by Peter Hollman as the old timer lost the ball in the background and it slapped into his chest with a sickening hollow thud. It was a short lived reprieve though - as the second ball lifted sharply and was gloved to Grigg at short leg – who took a sharp juggling catch going forward. A second similar chance – this time off the bat – gave the same duo a second scalp – Cowling finishing an impressive spell of 6 overs, 2 wickets for 6 runs.
Meanwhile Ollie Haill was producing his best spell of the season so far – giving Grigg another catch at short leg – before claiming a second wicket to finish with 2 for 25 from his 8 overs – including 4 maidens. Colin Black meanwhile was finding a nagging line and length – and it was soon clear that the home team were not going to get close to the required run rate.
Will Barras replaced Haill and almost claimed a wicket with his first ball for the club – sadly John Hill spilled a routine chance at mid-off. However he soon had his first victim as Haill took a skyer at square leg. A sharp off cutter was far too good for the batsman and Barras finished an impressive first spell with figures of 2 for 21. With Azar Mushtaq also clattering the stumps – an early finish looked likely.
However Azar injured his toe on the follow through and had to be replaced by skipper Davies – whose first few balls were a bit wild. However he found his bearings and brought one back in to trap the keeper plumb in front – perhaps some measure of revenge for his laughable stumping. He then benefited from an excellent running catch from Colin Black – taken over his shoulder at backward square leg.
Whilst a few edges failed to stick with slips and gulley fielders diving one handed – Pacific’s fielding effort seldom let the pressure off the home side. It is worth pointing out that Pacific were without a recognised keeper – so Adrian Duthie kept for the first time in his 14 year Pacific career. He looked the part and did an excellent job on a difficult pitch – certainly an option that should be used more often.
So it fell to veteran spinner John Hill to perform the last rites on the Crossbats innings – his flight and guile deceiving last man Lippit – who was clean bowled – leaving them exactly 100 runs short of the target.
“After last year’s one run defeat – it was great to win and play so well. Clearly Braden was the star – but others chipped in with the bat. I was able to give most people who wanted a bowl a chance – and they all made the most of the helpful pitch.” said a delighted stand-in skipper Jim Davies afterwards.
MOM – Braden Grigg – a maiden Pacific ton and 3 sharp catches for the Aussie.
Packing the Kit – Jim Davies – ludicrous stumping to dismiss the careless skipper.
Stat Corner - This win levels Pacific's longest running series at 12 wins each - with 9 draws
XI:- John Hill, Matt Patel, Will Barras, Martin Cowling, Colin Black, Azar Mushtaq, Oli Haill, Peter Hollman, Jim Davies*, Braden Grigg & Adrian Duthie.