Pacific overcame the handicap of arriving with only 9 men to defeat Oxford University Club – thanks to an excellent batting performance anchored by skipper Dave Murray’s unbeaten 97 – and a resilient bowling effort fronted by slow-bowler Ian Lay’s first five wicket haul this millennium.
Pacific 270 for 3 from 40 overs (David Murray 97*, Braden Grigg 58, Jim Davies 34)
OUCCC 252 All Out (Benson 90, Jones 60, Ian Lay 5-38, Jim Davies 2-55, Darryl Roberts 1-35)
Pacific were disappointed when a late withdrawal from Marcel Boonaert and oversleeping from regular drop out Matt Holliday left them with only nine players for a difficult trip to face the Oxford University Club. However the students were themselves reduced to 10 by injury for much of the game – and graciously gave Pacific a spare fielder as well.
Batting first on the batsman friendly St John’s College wicket – the top order made light of the missing men. First skipper Dave Murray and Saturday skipper Steve Lay added 62 for the first wicket – gradually upping the tempo – assisted by a liberal number of wides.
When Lay fell for 17 – burly Welshman Jim Davies joined his skipper in an increasingly rapid 81 run stand – before being bowled by a yorker from Jones for 34.
However this only brought Braden Grigg to the crease – and the Aussie upped the rate even further with a 35 ball fifty. Bearing in mind that 6 of those balls were wides – his fifty came from 29 legal deliveries. There were two massive sixes into a tree and onto the pavilion roof – before he was bowled for 58 – ending a stand of 104 with Murray.
The skipper was meanwhile getting ever nearer a deserved ton as his bedrock innings occupied the whole 40 overs. With a boundary taking him to 97 with two balls to go – it seemed in the bag – but a leg bye denied him the chance – as he ended 97 not out. He faced 126 deliveries and had offered only one chance when dropped by the keeper in his thirties.
The leg bye also gave Lucius Faisal the opportunity to deposit a final six into the tree at long on – from where it dropped onto Adrian Duthie’s new Volvo below – leaving a small dent in the boot. This was added misery for Duthie – as his late arrival had denied him the opportunity to open the batting at this batsman’s paradise!
270 for 3 in 40 overs – with two fifty run stands and then a hundred partnership in succession – was a valiant effort from the short-staffed Pacific side. However recent experience of this wicket indicated that the game was by no means safe.
Veteran seamer Darryl Roberts made a welcome return from his overseas posting – and was soon dropping into a typically niggardly line and length. Meanwhile Davies grabbed an important early wicket – trapping dangerous opener Watson leg before - although the batsman seemed reluctant to go.
Fellow opener Chalk pressed on with a belligerent 45 before being lured into driving at a length ball from Roberts – and being caught by Grigg positioned at a deep cover by skipper Murray. Roberts continued to complete an excellent 8 over spell for 35.
However Benson and Jones then set about change bowlers Grigg and Faisal – scoring freely at more than 10 an over from the West Indian and successfully chancing their arms against the Ozzie spinner. When Ian Lay replaced Grigg – his first three overs went for 27 and things began to look ominous for Pacific – with the required rate dropping to around 6 an over.
Murray brought back experienced death bowled Davies – and the Welshman’s first over back went for only 2 runs – and included the vital wicket of Jones for 60 – bowled by an outswinger that started on leg and hit middle and off (according to the batsman and bowler) – or a straight one (according to Ozzie Grigg - who was by now keeping).
With a stand of well over a hundred broken – Ian Lay now seized the initiative – bagging two wickets in the next over – including the key wicket of Benson for a belligerent 90 – well stumped by Grigg. There was a catch for brother Steve Lay at point, a leg before with the batsman falling over in the process and a run out as (amazingly) skipper Murray ran in from cover to remove the bails – beating the batsman in the process. It should be noted that it was quite a close finish – even though the Pacific skipper had a 10-yard head start!
The innings ended as Lay’s baffling spin deceived another batsman – to give Grigg his second stumping – and Lay his first Michelle this millennium. His final 3.4 overs had figures of 5 for 11 as he turned the match. Pacific won by 18 runs – while the Oxford students were left to rue 2.2 unused overs and a winning position grasped from them by Pacific’s bowlers – and devilish slow man Ian Lay in particular.
“What a great game of cricket – and what a fine win.” said skipper Murray later. “We may only have had 9 men – but a valiant 9 they were too. Everyone contributed – excellent batting as was needed on that pitch – and then even better bowling to grab a win from the jaws of defeat. Top marks to Ian for taking 5 wickets on such a batsman friendly track.” he concluded.
MOM - Ian Lay - First five-wicket haul for over 5 years for the stalwart slow bowler.
Packing the Kit - Matt Holliday - missed his third game of the year by oversleepig!
Stato Corner - Steve informs us that this is the first time there have been three partnerships of over 50 in one Pacific innings - in this case the only three completed partnerships were 62, 81 and 104!
IX:-Dave Murray*,Steve Lay,Jim Davies,Ian Lay,Lucius Faisal,Rob Bastin,Adrian Duthie,Darryl Roberts,Braden Grigg