A busy weekend for TWILC which did a Ted Rogers at games featuring the 3s,2s and 1s.
First up was the 3rd XI game against Waringstown up at the old alma mater, the Wallace High School, Lisburn’s premier educational establishment, and number one sporting school in the area. Arriving at the Clonevin Park Mecca one was met with what can only most charitably be described as a Mottley Crew. With a combined age well into three figures, and a combined liver function reading which would not even come close to that tally, “veterans” Robin “Finchy” Graham, Moore “Boris” Hillis, Neil “Tolly” Tolerton had arrived early with their skipper, the venerable Alan “Dazzler” Darragh and my first thought was that it was going to be a looonnng day in the field! Thankfully the rest of the team was made up of considerably more sprightly and athletic individuals, with young bucks like Jonny Wilson (I played with his dad!), Matty Lightbody, Andy MacNaught, Gleavers and Glassy. Im probably missing someone, but it will come back to me.
Anyway, Dazzler informed me that he must have made about 50 phonecalls to get a side together, and I must say I am not surprised at that statistic, one made to look considerably worse as two of the best 3s players around were also in attendance, though not actually playing in the match. I won’t get into the reasons offered up by Hylander in particular, as it will only descend rather swiftly into a rant, and after the highly amusing finale to the premier league season yesterday, I’m not in ranting mood! Suffice to say I am boycotting Costa Coffee though!
The opposition was next to arrive which looked like a bunch of primary school kids (no doubtedly sh*t hot ones) mixed with three seasoned 3rd XI players, in the shape of Spoons Beattie (who must have done something pretty serious at the Lawn to end up being saddled with the 3rd XI captaincy for a 7th consecutive year), Rab “Rabbers” McClimond who has been pumping iron all winter and has thankfully ditched the yellow car and the dodgy haircuts, and the indescribable one of a kind that is Paddy Allen. For those of you who don’t know, and that can be very few, big Paddy rather likes his rugby, and in particular Ulster rugby. It is unlikely that there is to be found in the province anyone more enthusiastic or as loud as Paddy when it comes to his expression of support for his team. Not only has he got SUFTUM painted on to his bat, he also provides regular countdowns of the time left to important matches, on any social media tool going.
Anyway, on to the match itself. Spoons won the toss, and being the ruthless, heartless, mean-spirited Villager that he is, decided to bat first, a decision met with no lack of enthusiasm from his own teammates, and with no lack of despair from our lot. They got off to a steady enough start up the back pitch at WHS but we probably made our biggest mistake by getting the first wicket and letting big Pads stride to the crease, with well over 7 days, 4 hours and 20 minutes left to the start of the Heineken Cup Final. With about 7 days 3 hours and about 50 minutes to go he was back in the hutch, the victim of a shall we say “close” run out decision adjudged by one of his own teammates, but not before he had twatted about 5 sixes in a rapid 56. Two of the said sixes were off yours truly, in what I can safely say was the nadir of my bowling career, and whilst one of them was a closed eyes heave across the line which was top edged to a short boundary, the resultant effect on my mental state was bordering on deciding between immediate retirement from the game or simply to go the whole hog and end it all. But credit where it is due, the big fella backs up his “See Ball, hit ball” mantra with action and he has a good eye (not an awful lot of footwork) and hits it as clean as you’d hope to see. Indeed one six off poor wee Matty Lightbody was later retrieved from one of the floats at the Lord Mayors Show, which would have been a big hit at Wallace Park, but we were playing up the road at the school!
It was a long 35 overs and one we’d all like to forget quite quickly as Waringstown ended up getting close to 200 (we weren’t exactly sure how many they had, the inexperience of the visiting scorers meaning that one book had opener Paddy Curry on 74, the other had him on 92, with them agreeing eventually on 80 and a total of 198).
A brief précis of our innings. We didn’t get them.
Actually, it deserves a little more narrative. Me and other opening bat Dudds (ah, that was our other player, sorry Dudds) strode to the crease with positive thoughts of a brisk start and a decent chase. Wasn’t to be, I’m afraid, as we were both out umpiring before the 10th over having being dismissed within the first few overs. Other points to note were innings from opposite ends of the aggressiveness scale from Finchy and Jonny Wilson, the former being determined to keep WCC in the field for as long as possible and hoping to pick up the Dig-In trophy for the week by blocking the sH8te out of it, the latter who came out and had a wipe first ball that would have been four had it not struck Boris at the non-striker’s end in the hoop, before he repeated the shot and hit it straight back to the bowler; Boris and Matty Light having a last wicket stand of 60, which saw Matty gain a measure of revenge on an increasingly frustrated Paddy Allen, milking him through mid wicket and mid on quite a few times, and then finally, Boris selling him down the river just as a red-inker looked in sight, as the innings closed with a run out just after the 5pm mark.
The early conclusion did of course permit time for us to mooch down to the Park to catch the climax of the 1s BKISC tie against Leinster. The game was in the balance on arrival with Leinster, IMO, the favourites to edge home. This view was not shared by seasoned cricket observer and former Lisburn star Uel Graham, who confidently predicted a Lisburn win, though sceptics in the shape of match sponsor Billy Jameison and ensemble were less than convinced by this brave prediction from Grahamers. As it transpired, the game went down to the wire. In an increasingly fraught last 10 overs, the run rate started to creep up for the visitors who despite having wickets in hand, looked like they might bottle it down the stretch. For the last few overs I had positioned myself with the Derriaghy contingent made up of the Hughes clan (Wayner must have been gassed from the ones, despite his taunts that they were already through to the next round after a win over Munster cricketing giants Cork) and there was various opinions about who was in the box seat.
In any case, the game came down to the final over, after some impressive battling with the ball from Simmo, the pro and big Nathan. 8 were needed off the last over, and twitter was going haywire with attempts to keep people informed, a policy that was met with some degree of dissention later that evening, so in attempt to take an objective and reflective view of events, here is how it unfolded.
49.1: Nathan, comes into bowl, left foot, right foot, left foot right foot, up to the wicket, he bowls…. Ball hit straight to Darryl in the covers. Batsman sets off for a run (which shouldn’t have been there). His partner calls no. Run out chance. From my vantage point at long on it looked like the throw came in, Derrick McCann slipped and failed to catch the ball, and they were able to scramble a single, but my view did not allow full sight of the angle of the throw so, for the record, it looks as though Derrick did well to get to the stumps, slipped because the throw was behind him, and wasn’t able to grab hold of it to complete the run-out. Unfortunate, but Lisburn still in the mix, 7 needed off 5.
49.2: Nathan, comes into bowl, etc, this time the ball is squirted to Simmo at midwicket. Again they set off for a run which probably isn’t there. Simmo has a go at the sticks, misses, Darryl coming round from cover is unable to gather the throw, it goes loose, somehow the batsmen realize this and in frenetic scenes, scamper a crucial second run. 5 needed off 4
49.3: Incredibly, the third ball of the over sees an almost identical script. On this occasion the ball is hit straight to James McCallan at point and again, the batsmen just head off for the run (presumably taking the view from the last 2 balls that they may as well just run for anything and have a fair to middling chance of making it no matter what). This time the jury is split as to whether the throw should have been made. He hits, batsman gone by a mile. Problem – Glenn Halliday at long on hasn’t much time to get into a decent position to back the throw. Outcome – James misses, Halliday is late arriving, batsmen on the ball, take 2. 3 now needed off 3, Leinster big favs.
49.4: Run out opportunity number 4 of the over arrives. This time batsman swings and misses, ball goes straight to Derrick behind the sticks. He throws at the stumps and misses (unusual for him, as I recall tweeting last year on a game in which he performed one, maybe even two, run outs unassisted) and the batsmen scramble one. 2 needed off 2, though effectively one needed off 2 as a tie, we thought, would have done for Leinster on wickets lost.
49.5: Batsman, with the field tight in, twats a straight hit 4, walks off, game over.
It really was the most dramatic conclusion to a game which up until that point had been, one absolutely massive six from Nathan excepted, fairly unremarkable (their number 3, for example, hit 57 off about 160 balls, with no fours, though to be fair, it won them the game). It has been suggested to me that the final over deserves a team Monty award, but in the context of the pressure of the situation and how events unfolded, that would be a little harsh. A pity most of the Lisburn support were either inside on a cold day, or watching feckin hockey in Dublin, but nonetheless, it went to show that you don’t need road-like conditions or plenty of runs to make for an exciting conclusion. The lads were naturally disappointed and I am led to believe that a squad of them drowned their sorrows that evening in a local hostelry, and watched big Nathan work his magic with a few of the local ladies, though if reports are to be believed, in his short time in Lisburn, he hasn’t set the bar particularly high……..
On then to Sunday and the final stanza of the weekend’s cricketing trilogy, the twos match up against Bangor. On possibly the coldest, drabbest, windiest day that one could ever conjure up to play cricket, it was a mixed bag of players who turned up for the 12 noon meet. Several of the chaps had been out as noted above and were decidedly tender, including the skipper who was unsure whether he was coming or going. Nonetheless, despite pleas from a few of those suffering the most to bat first, the skipper made exactly the right call in inserting a dodgy looking Bangor side with the aim of wrapping things up quickly and getting back inside for the footie. Plan A looked to be going swimmingly as Conkers belied his hangover and bowled really well, with good support from all concerned, as we bowled Bangor out for just 79. A few highlights – Suffy realising that line and length weren’t going to get a particular batsman out, and getting himself a wicket by lobbing down a rank long hop next ball, the facial expressions on any of the bowlers who were asked to bowl into the wind (we weren’t sure whether the hurricane had been named or not) and the appealing skills of Conkers (umpire told him one he didn’t appeal for was hitting middle and leg, before he had several shouts/squeaks that aren’t likely to elicit a warning for over-appealing by the umpires anytime soon. Polite mumbling sums it up).
With Glenn’s mum not quite having the teas ready, the threat of rain looming, the premier league conclusion about to commence on tv, and a general wish to get the game over and done with pronto, both teams agreed to crack on before tea. The instructions to pinch-hit opener the Noo were to be positive and to try to put the game to bed quickly. However, Noo slightly misread this advice and translated the instructions himself into a concrete game plan of closing his eyes, swinging as hard as he could across the line, and missing the ball. Gone first ball. The lagered up (actually tequila jagerbombed-up) duo of Dogg and Conkers followed his lead, before Ellers scooped one to cover to leave us in a bit of disarray at 16-4. Thankfully Halliday was beginning to sober up and along with Mark Berry (sober to begin with, after all his revising on Saturday which he missed cricket for – that was most definitely NOT him who was down watching virtually all of the 1st XI game) they batted sensibly and we ended up winning, albeit slightly later than the plan set out initially. For a more detailed report, see the 2nd XI area of the website.
Thereafter it was off to tea and the second half of the Citeh game. The assembled masses were largely in favour of the Old Trafford scum winning the title and with 88 mins on the clock, I decided that I didn’t particularly need or want to see the likes of Dogg, Conkers, etc all jovial and giving it the big “20 titles” guff, so I slid off home. Of course by the time I reached the car and flicked the radio on I had regretted that decision and I phoned Doggy to find out what on earth had happened only to be met with just 2 words before he hung up on me, the second of which was “off”. Reports from those who remained suggested it took some time to talk Doggy down from the pavilion roof, and that all sharp objects were being carefully hidden from Conky. Ah well lads, the cricket win was the most important on the day, wasn’t it……….?
Finally, the Monty and Jonty awards. Bar the last over calamities from the ones, I didn’t see much else to justify the award, though Dudds dropped one off Dazzler at point which the skipper claims is worthy of the prize. But he is new to the club and will get a pass this week, and it wasn’t, as Dazzler would have you believe, a complete dolly. As for the Jonty, nothing absolutely outstanding, but the one that merits consideration for me this week was the catch taken by young Matty Light down at fine leg off a top edge in a swirling wind. A tough chance but he swallowed it very coolly and for a 13 year old, it was a very good effort. The Jonty is therefore his this week. This is TWILC…….out

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