An outstanding piece of finishing with the bat from Peter Czabotar in difficult conditions saw Pacific record their first win of the tour against Balsham in a 35 over game. The exuberant Aussie rounded off a successful tour with 15 not out from only 9 balls to seal the win in a low scoring encounter.
Balsham 112 for 8 from 35 overs (N Clarkson 47, J Campbell 2-17, M Alexander 2-24, J Davies 2-25)
Pacific 113 for 4 from 33 overs (G Wiehahn 41, M Ranatunga 21)
A constant drizzle enveloped the ground throughout the game – which combined with mounds of cut grass and long grass in the outfield to make scoring difficult. Balsham elected to bat first – and Pacific got off to their now customery flier when Jim Davies found surprising swing with the first ball of the match to clean bowl the opener. Home skipper Clarkson then partnered Saunders in a rebuilding stand of 37 in 11 overs - before Saunders smashed a Davies long-hop to skipper Steve Lay – who took a good catch at cover.
Tim Marshall weighed in with an almost unplayable spell at the other end (7 overs for 12 runs) - and change bowlers Mike Alexander and Ian Lay also gave little away – Alexander taking a wicket in his first over thanks to a first catch of the season from Davies at mid-wicket. There followed a bizarre run out – as the batsman slipped mid-pitch and engaged in a crawling race with the prostrate Alexander at the bowler’s end – Mike’s lunge ensuring the dismissal! The dismissal of Clarkson for a well made 47 – bowled by Alexander – prompted a collapse as Ian Lay and Jonathan Campbell (who had earlier kept wicket) took wickets to ensure the run rate was never raised to much above 3 an over. The innings closed with the customary Bob Willis impression from Campbell - which very nearly brought a wicket!
This however looked a decent target on a very lively track with the incredibly slow outfield – and with a number of the Pacific team feeling the pace on their third day on tour! The relatively fresh legs of Guy Wiehahn and Dave Gluckman took up the challenge and put on 44 at around the asking rate – before Gluckman fell for 10 to the impressive spin of Saunders (1-11 from 7).
Mohinder Ranatunga then looked good as he contributed some fine blows to keep the score ticking over. When Wiehahn (41) was dismissed with the total on 82 with 9 overs left – things looked comfortable. However in fading light skipper Steve Lay and Ranatunga struggled to get the ball away – putting the earlier efforts into context in the conditions. The departure of Lay (1) and Ranatunga (21) brought Jonathan Campbell to the crease with Peter Czabotar. The situation was better suited to their aggressive style of hitting and running – and following a close run out call – Czabotar smashed two boundaries and a series of two’s to seal the win in style with two overs to spare - the Aussie hitting the winning runs here for the second year in a row.
“It was certainly not an ideal day for cricket – so much for bringing the tour forward to get better weather! It was a testament to both sides spirit that we still had an enjoyable game in those conditions” said a damp Steve Lay afterwards. “Conditions favoured the bowlers – and any shots hit along the ground were lucky to get one or two – when they would normally bring four. I was delighted with the way Peter finished things off. It gave us a win, a draw and a defeat on tour.” he concluded.
Stars of the tour were all-rounders Tim Marshall (and his Playboy shirt) and Matt Ralph - Ian Lay with the ball – and Pete Hollman, Guy Wiehahn and Peter Czabotar with the bat. A good tour for the Aussies! Off the field – Guy Wiehahn denies being offended when placed last in the “I’ll snog you for a quid!” line!
Full marks again to Steve for organising the tour so well – very well done Steve!
Pacific: Mike Alexander, Jim Davies,Ian Lay, Steve Lay*, Matt Patel, Tim Marshall+, Guy Wiehahn, Peter Czabotar & Jonathan Campbell+.