“I thought they had us there for a while” commented Pacific Captain Nigel Wilkinson on the close draw against old rivals Washington. “I think today we were Washington’s big one that got away.”
A roller coaster ride is perhaps the best way to describe Pacific’s performance. As visitors Washington won the toss and inserted Pacific, the home side felt comfortable with the combination of a talented opening pair, a good batting strip and great conditions for late September. And things looked good for the first 8 overs until Washington’s Evan’s, incensed by a big one bounce 4 the previous ball, exacted his revenge clean bowling Gratton.
The runs quickly dried up as Steve Lay and Wiehahn struggled to find the boundary, from where it seemed they were less than keen to take on the arm of any Washington fielder. Wiehahn’s attempt to accelerate saw him caught off the off spinner Guerny, bringing in an Arjen Knottnerus promising to score quickly or return to the pavilion for a lager. Lager it was to be, as after scoring an uncharacteristically defensive 16, Knottnerus soon fell as the first of Peter Dimitri’s 4 scalps.
Captain Wilkinson thought he still had a few aces to play with the cavalier trio of Lucius Faisal, Shayne Rees and Marcel Boonaert following the English Dutchman, but each fell cheaply to Washington’s bowling. The sportingly loaned guest players Tony “The Kiwi” Harris and Terry “I’m English” Tidey followed, but their batting talent was better used boosting Washington’s bowling figures than Pacific’s batting score.
As Lay finally conceded his wicket with a patiently earned top score of 32, Pacific looked in a lot of trouble at just 134 for 9. Mike Alexander and Wilkinson helped put on a defendable total of 157 off 53 overs by quickly adding a 23 run partnership ending with a run out Alexander in the final over before tea.
For a moment, Pacific cheekily thought Washington was batting for the draw from the start as the wizen South African Dave Gluckman partnered his younger countryman, Brown, in the opening partnership. But as Boonaert quickly removed Gluckman, Washington showed their true intent of aggressively going after a very reachable total.
Brown and fellow South African, White, then scored at a run a ball breakneck speed testing Pacific’s fielding and Wiehahn on his keeping debut. That changed when Tony Harris exonerated himself for an earlier drop catch, assisting Boonaert in the valuable run out of White. Now the threat of a whitewash at the hands of the Wash, while still very much a possibility, began to look less likely.
Yet another South African followed White, but the big hitting Irons was stumped by an eager Wiehahn off the in-form Gratton, who then got Brown on 33 to drive the ball into Alexander’s safe hands at mid-on.
With Washington now out of South African talent, Wilkinson and Gratton proved a lethal and miserly bowling pair, cheaply picking up the wickets of Tidey and Roche as Washington continued their attempt for a satisfying win. Almost as a testament to the theory of Karma, Gratton was also to taste sweet revenge when Evans’ miss timed hook didn’t have the legs and stuck in Harris’s now sticky palms.
As Kennedy steadied the ship, the pair ’s tight bowling proved too difficult for the remaining Washington batsmen. When Guerny became Gratton’s fifth scalp and the required run rate grew greater than the Wash’s available talent to chase it, Wittet shored up the other end to bat out the remaining few overs for a draw.
Hoping for a match winning breakthrough, and a chance to rest his aching back, Wilkinson brought on Boonaert for a final spell of pace. Sadly it was not to be, but both teams thought it a fair result in a sporting match of shifting advantage.
Steve Lay reports "we drew a good, hard fought game and it was played in a good spirit."
Captain Nigel Wilkinson said " There was a blur of celebration of a good game and good atmosphere, with both sides making a big effort to play in the right spirit. I thought we did superbly, they were miles ahead of the run rate, but we clawed them back and had them on the ropes!!Guy kept wicket superbly!! You can judge the strength of their batting by the fact that Peter Dimitri was number 11! First time I've played in a game with so much Afrikaans sledging though!"
Shayne Rees to follow with more soon.............
XI: Mike Alexander, Marcel Boonaert, Lucius Faisal, Shayne Rees, Nigel Wilkinson*, Doug Gratton, Arjen Knottnerus, Guy Wiehahn, Steve Lay , Terry Tidey, A N Other