TWILC packed up the beach towels, the buckets and spades and the Factor20 and headed off to the sunny climes of Sandy Bay, Larne to take in the Junior Cup tie against Larne.
The side assembled together for the 11.30 meet at Wallace Park along with a distinctly youthful looking 3rd XI who were travelling to the Kennington Gordon Playing Fields. Our lot were the usual mixture of youth, experience and just plain annoying. Back into the fold came 2 chaps we hadn’t expected to see much, if any, of this season. Adam “Shot” Glass was there after having announced his retirement at the South Antrim Hockey Club Night at the Races, but he had done a Scholesy and was back in action. Also there was the inimitable JR. It was like being in a time warp as JR sped into the car park, hopped out of his wagon, lit up a fag and looked distinctly hungover (he assured us he wasn’t). Not much has changed in the life of JR, he is still Eastern European-ing it on the bird front (Janka has even got herself sorted with a job in Shorts, news that Jeffrey N was most intrigued to hear, him being senior management there, and he was confident he could find her some interesting projects to get her teeth into) and he is still living in what he likes to call Dromara, but which we all know is a place called Kinallen. Good to see the big man back however, and we hope to see him much more this season than we did last.
We also welcomed into the fold for the game Wonkle and the Noo. The former was a most welcome addition, as (1) it meant we had a translator for the game and (2) it meant I didn’t have to drive, an issue that proved to be a bit of a bone of contention for the latter. I better not go into this in too much detail as he was about to throttle me on the day about the banter he was getting back about his suggestion that players should get petrol money for driving to away games, but the poverty-stricken teacher soon kissed and made up and off we set for the CopacaLarna.
Apparently the area had been hit by a large amount of rain overnight, but it hasn’t earned the reputation as the driest ground in the NCU by chance as by the time we arrived at 12.15, it was bone dry on the outfield, and the wicket looked ok. However, local knowledge is always very helpful in these conditions, and the opposition skipper nearly had a seizure when Glenda, on winning the toss, announced that he would bat first. Runs on the board in a cup game is definitely the usual plan, but on this occasion, both Wonkle and Jeffrey N looked less than impressed with the skipper’s decision, particularly after the first over was bowled, which saw a few deliveries do things one wouldn’t necessarily expect. That said, we got off to a decent start, and the contingent which had commenced their lap, whilst engaging in a game of cricket boules, and checking out a former girlfriend of Conkers, would have been pretty happy that the first 8 overs had passed without a wicket. However, just as Conker’s ex had fetched the tennis ball and had been put back on her leash, Wonkle got out. Now, prior to the game, Wonkle’s Mrs had indicated to him that he mustn’t continue with his NASA impression that he has started at the club. His first 4 scores for his new club have been 14. 13, 12, 11 and Rachel was worried that her husband might continue with this countdown as his fledgling Lisburn career went on. Surely not, we opined, as we went round to the scorebox to see just how many he had tallied. And, you guessed it, Wonkle’s fifth score for the Burn was……10. So the countdown continues, and we estimate that he will have lift off some time around the middle of August, the only question being whether he gets his landmark duck for Dazzler or Joe Joe.
Anyway, our innings was a strange one. Glenda was lucky the umpires aren’t too strict on dissent after showing a fair bit after he was given out lbw which saw differing accounts from the player himself and the non-striker (Glenda: it pitched outside leg, wasn’t hitting leg and was too high: Jeffrey: it pitched on leg was hitting middle and leg three quarters of the way up), a couple of boys got dodgy balls, and then two of the guys who have in the past been voted “least likely to be patient and build an innings, and not play 3 or 4 lovely shots and then get out” played patiently, built innings, played more than 3 or 4 lovely shots and didn’t get out. I refer to Peter “Doaky” Ferguson and Graham “Ellers” Elliott who combined to save the innings from 64-4, taking the total up to 170 odd with Ellers getting 60 and Doaky (48) then bottling a fifty. They played very well, the only criticism being their running between the wickets which was comical at times. If they had a brain cell each in this department, it would be lonely.
Ellers was then out, just as news was filtering through from the 3rds match that Dudds had got a fifty, and perhaps this news led to a lack of focus amongst the rest of the boys, as the innings somewhat went tits up. Conkers was out to a shocker, the Noo patted one back to the bowler, JR (despite his own advice to the contrary) tried to biff every ball he faced, giving catching practice before being cleaned up, and Scholesy missed a straight one first ball and we ended up not using 20 deliveries of our innings. 207 was still fairly decent we thought and so it proved to be. The boys bowled pretty well (even Dingle bowled a few on the cut bit) bar Doaky who bowled one over of what can only be described as complete and utter dung, fielded pretty well (even Wonkle was able to save singles) bar Jeffrey who had a complete and utter mare (see later) and kept the banter up for most of the game (bar the Noo who was pretty quiet at deep fine leg, perhaps because no-one would sign off his expenses claim for his journey to that part of the ground). None of the Larne batsmen looked like breaking out and doing a Dudds (he got a 50 for the thirds) and the winning margin of around 60 runs was probably a reasonable reflection on the game.
At this point, the 2s would like to give a big shout out to our one and only supporter who made the trip to Sandy Bay to cheer us on. Maurice McDevitte was there to give encouragement and we had an interesting conversation with him round the boundary whilst Doaky and Ellers were going about their business. We opined that it would take some blow to clear deep square leg/midwicket on the seaside side of the ground, as the pitch was the furthest strip on the other side of the square, and it looked like a good 90-100m carry. It was considered that Nathan Waller’s six against Leinster the week before would have measured up favourably which by all accounts was massive. Maurice showed off his considerable cricketing knowledge by commenting on Nathan’s huge blow by noting that “the thing about it was, it was way up in the air” Imagine that Maurice, a six…….in the air!!!!! But it was good to see him make the effort and come down to watch. Maybe he can report back to the selection committee on who should be pressing for a place on the 1sts!
The game was finished off at approximately the same time Ulster were being so and the Lisburn name proceeded into round 2 of the Cup. It was a thoroughly pleasant day out at a hospitable club. Friendly guys and some good cricketers at the club, which has fallen on leaner times in recent years after enjoying a boom in the early noughties. Hopefully it can be restored to its pomp as Sandy Bay isn’t by far the worst place to have an afternoon of cricket.
TWILC had hoped to be at the 1st XI game the next day at the Park, but took the view that morning that it might be too dangerous to go down there in case I slipped on the driveway getting into my car. So on then finally to the award of the Jonty and the Monty. The Jonty this week goes to a Jonty (of sorts). At one point in the Larne innings they were giving themselves the slightest sniff having recovered from 60 odd for 6 to about 110 or so for 6 when a ball was played to the backward point/gully area and a run was called through. Our winner swooped one handed, turned and threw in one motion and hit the stumps directly with the batsman adjudged out of his ground (whether he was or not is now a mere footnote in history) and the game was up for the home side. Our Jonty this week is JR. The Monty prize was gobbled up very early on and just to make sure our winner doubled up soon after. The main faux-pas was the feeble drive to him at mid-on for which our victor will require a new bra, as he didn’t even lay a hand on it as it hit him on the left boob. He followed that up by waving another chance by off the same batsman shortly thereafter (he was maybe still reacting to the news that Dudds had got a 50), but for the original “dolly”, our Monty this week is Jeffrey N. This is TWILC……out.