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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

2nd Grade Semi-Final Report

2nd Grade Semi-Final
Kiama Cavaliers Vs Albion Park Eagles
Oakleigh Park

Kiama 2nd Grade revisited old demons and familiar disappointments last weekend as they went down to Albion Park in their semi-final at Oakleigh Park. One hundred minutes of undisciplined batting turned what could have been a great final into yet another chance to rue poor decisions in years to come.

Skipper Steve Holz chose this time to lose the toss, and Albion Park batted on a wicket that was certainly flat, but with obvious moisture under the surface.
The opening was slow and steady. Neither batsman was particularly active, protecting their wicket, while Josh Elliott and Jason Dowling bowled superb opening spells, probably their best for the season. Jason in particular was proving unplayable, beating the bat regularly and with ease. He had Cajar dropped down the legside early, which was the first of what was to prove a number of costly chances put down by the Cavaliers again in a semi-final. Cummins frustration was obvious, and after a couple of drives that went straight to fieldsmen, he got a rank half tracker from Jason, which he summarily pulled straight to mid-wicket, where Holzy snatched in a great catch. 1/24.
Mark Grimson arrived at the wicket, and looked very underdone. He gave an early chance to short mid-wicket when he was three that should have been caught off Josh – which proved to be costly as well. While Cajar held up his end, Grimmo mixed a couple of good shots with more regular fortunate ones in an unconvincing but fast scoring effort.
Closing in on lunch, and the scoreboard read 1/87. Continuing the joviality of the day, I mentioned rather loudly that the score was 87, and that Grimmo was a bit superstitious about the score. It got the laugh I was looking for (just for my own goodwill…), but from Rocket’s following delivery he offered a huge swipe at the ball and missed completely. This got the team going, while Grimmo offered, “That’ll be enough from you Bill!” The following delivery was a pearler off a good length that clipped the top edge of his bat, and was neatly pocketed by Tim Wolf at second slip – and the boys erupted. It’s not often that an offhand comment picks up results in cricket, but it had worked a treat here. The funniest part about it was when we discovered later that the score had actually been 89 – but no one on the field knew that, and it will forever in Kiama folklore be 87. More importantly, in two balls from Dan Reilly, the tide of the match changed in our direction.
Ferguson came to the wicket, and was greeted with some kind words from Elliott and Peters. The words kept coming from around the bat, and within two overs of playing and missing at the ageing leg spinner, he had hit a ball straight back at him and was dismissed caught and bowled. Suddenly Park were 3/91, and visions of their collapse in the two day game in October came rushing back as Kiama went to lunch at least on par with their opponents.

After lunch Park continued their crawl, obviously in no hurry to post a total. The bowling from Reilly and Peters was tight (which was most unusual), and gave few scoring opportunities. Warren Campion had come in at the fall of Ferguson’s wicket, and like most of his team mates was struggling to stay in a defensive mode. He had eventually had enough, and tickled another good Rocket delivery to Ben King-Gee, who took the catch to the glee of the bowler, but less so to his fellow bowler, to whom BKG had dropped the same batsman twice in the space of an over just after the break.
Brendan Burns strolled to the wicket, and immediately Holzy brought back his strike weapon. Jellie has had the wood on Skippy, and so it proved again here, as he again collected him on the front pad with the first ball he bowled at him, resulting in a successful LBW appeal. The batsman was less than impressed, but the Cavs had another wicket, and at 5/121 the game was poised again.
The next over brought more success. Tim Wolf had suggested bringing himself in to a short front square, almost on the wicket, and it paid dividends quickly when the ageing leg-spinner got one to turn and bounce, and Cajar popped it straight into his hands.
Two dangerous batsmen remained in Trent Glover and Scott Coombes, but Josh took care of both. He continued his spell over Glover when he forced him to follow a widish delivery which he could only edge through to the keeper, while it was only self-preservation against Woofer when he blasted a half volley straight back at his head, which Josh took with both hands – though I’m sure he barely saw the ball, and certainly would have ended in hospital if he hadn’t taken it off his nose.
Mick Norris was swung around to bowl after Josh’s spell ended, and he cleaned up the final two wickets of the innings, having Kast caught behind again by the keeper (who is obviously still pissed off with me about the Rail game a few weeks ago, because he caught everything off everyone else but me!!!) and bowling Calder, for a final score of 164. Park had lost their final nine wickets for 75 runs, which was a great effort by the bowlers.
Josh Elliott bowled his fastest and most accurate spell of the season in taking 3/40, while Jason was almost unplayable in his only spell, taking 1/17. Dan Reilly bowled by far and away his finest spell of the season too, finishing with 2/31, and Mick Norris was his accurate nagging self with 2/31. The ageing leg-spinner bowled as well as he can for 2/46.

An early tea was taken, leaving the Cavs about 140 minutes to bat. They used only 95 of them. In short, the boys seemed to have left their heads in the shed, as they were quickly put away for just 70 runs. Holzy and Sav had a rescue mission in the middle order, putting on 50 for the fourth wicket, but little else could be said for a performance that was right up there in humiliating efforts that I have been a part of in 24 years in this senior Club.

By stumps on Day One, Park were 0/33 and in total control.

The second day was one where Kiama fought every inch of the way, never dropped their heads and gave it everything they had. Park ground away from the start, again deciding they wanted to bat all day. Once again they got away with shots that it had been Kiama’s misfortune not to be able to get away with – but that is the nature of the game when you are on top. Finally, with the score on 94, Cajar decided to hit Tim out of his short mid on position in the ageing leg-spinners second over, and only managed to hit it straight to Holz at mid on.
More ugliness followed. One can only imagine what the Park were thinking, because they carried on as if we were kicking their arses, and it was without doubt the other way around. The shot selection from both Crackers and Grimmo was fairly ordinary, yet both were more concerned about the comments from the Cavs than their batting. Mark finally attempted to sweep once too often and was trapped in front by the ageing leg-spinner. He didn’t take kindly to this, and I couldn’t understand why, and thus we traded a few words as he (eventually) walked off. One thing that we did establish this weekend is that Albion Park batsmen do not like to be given out LBW. In fact, it appears that they believe they are immune to it. Extremely strange.
Three quick wickets fell before lunch. With 1st Grade having arrived to cheer along, Crackers pulled a shortish ball from Andrew Ross to the outfield, where Jellie took a very good catch low to his right. Joy turned to elation later on when we found out Crackers had been on 99. Not long after, Brendan Burns was well stumped by BKG off the ageing leg-spinner – and yet, he turned and had a shot at the square leg umpire, saying his foot was grounded. Gary Paget’s fine reply of “Yes, but it has to be grounded behind the line” was as good a sledge as we could have come up with, but we had a go anyway. My suggestion that “You’re 260 in front, what the fuck are you carrying on about?” was met by the response “Look at the scoreboard idiot!” which I found unusual, as I thought I had just made that point clear. Again – one would have thought Kiama were about to win the match the way the Park carried on. I’d have thought the situation was fairly clear cut.
This was followed by the end of Ferguson, who pulled around to Matt Unicomb at short fine leg, and at 5/175 at lunch… well… maybe there was an outside chance…

A mixture of strange batting and good hitting got us through the next session. Woz and Glover both stonewalled, as their previous batsmen had – but only to a point. Trent was especially surprising, as he didn’t play a shot in anger for half an hour, and then charged down the wicket to the first ball he faced from Tiger to be stumped by about three metres. He was followed by Scott Coombes soon after, though none of us are actually sure what he was given out for. Unlike his team mates however, he walked without a word of dissent, not only showing his class but also showing he knew how the game was progressing.
After a period of controlled hitting from Woz and Kast, the end came soon enough. Woz got a tickle on one from Mick to be BKG’s seventh dismissal for the match. Kast ended his days losing his stumps to Rocket, who then followed it up with another the following delivery to complete the innings at 257, a lead of 351.
Dan Reilly was economy personified with 2/16 off almost 11 overs, while Mick Norris bowled a long initial spell, finishing with 2/33. Tiger Ross bowled another fantastic second spell in the afternoon, and his 2/55 probably deserved better. On a personal note, the ageing leg-spinner bowled as well as he ever had over the weekend, and 3/51 was not as good as I would have liked to have finished with for the side.

The Cavs had 33 overs to chase that 351, but I think the main motivation was to make the pricks get out there in the sun for a couple of hours instead of letting them have their celebration early.
Good theory, that crashed as Kiama fell to 97. The highlights were undoubtedly Sav, who was given a ‘Licence To Thrill’, and did so until fired LBW, and Tiger, who put on a hitting show until he went once too often and holed out.

So that was that. The season ended for 2nd Grade, in much the same way as it started. There was some promise during the season, but when it came to the crunch, we were beaten by a more dedicated unit. My belief is that this season needs to be dissected to discover what can be done to improve on this in the future. We keep getting these mental blocks at finals time. The team dropped a total of 10 catches over the weekend, with another couple not ‘dropped’ as such, but should certainly have been caught. In the first innings alone, three dropped catches cost the team 98 runs. I’m not kidding – 98 runs. That changes the outcome of the match.

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