On an unseasonably warm June evening, the Archives gathered for our third match of the summer. Our first home match of the season brought a welcome return to the beautiful setting of St Andrew’s College overlooking Dublin Bay.
One of the most pleasurable ways to end a day is to be on this fine ground watching the sun set over the city on a balmy evening while the Archives chase down a total through a combination of skill, temperament and tenacity before emerging victorious. Unfortunately none of those elements were witnessed on the last Friday evening in June where the Archives slumped to a third defeat of the season on a day that summer forgot.
Nevertheless, the Archives played out an enjoyable encounter with Fitzwilliam, who despite the fact that it was their first fixture since 2019, ended up winning comfortably. The pizza was excellent, however, and it didn’t rain.
All began promisingly, perhaps too promisingly (what follows is based on memory as through administrative error on this correspondent’s behalf some information as well as sporting pride was left at the scene.
After taking three wickets in the first three overs, the Archives’ greatest failing – that is if you ignore decrepitude, incompetence, mediocrity, basic motor skill failings and a host of others - took hold. We are, of course, talking about complacency.
Some minds invariably turned to the pizza, while the Man of the Match speeches were already being quietly rehearsed. In fact, given the extent of what came next, it may be that the Man of the Match wine was already being quietly consumed.
Fitzwilliam may not have played in 2020 because of the pandemic but soon they were dispatching the ball to all corners of the ground, with an excellent all round display of batting with a number of their number retiring at 20. The outfield seemed quick and bouncy and the boundaries short.
Taylor prowled the boundary, plucking catches out of the air and, in a fit of generosity - which we would all soon regret before realising that not even an act of churlishness could save us now - conceding a boundary as the marking at the hockey pitch end was vague.
The bowling for the Archives was, on the whole, dogged. Sibley opened the bowling with his usual economy while Burgess and Doris took the final spells and bowled with their usual tenacity and doggedness.
In between was a mixed bag. “There’s no point in you playing,’ the Director kindly informed this correspondent, before charitably adding, “unless you write the match report.” But bowling figures of yada yada yada certainly made the six-word sentence more accurate and the rest superfluous.
Faced with a target of 134, the Archives opened promisingly, but it soon transpired that the quick and bouncy outfield had somehow turned slow and heavy between innings, presumably down to some fast-growing grass, while the boundary suddenly looked very far away.
But all those problems seemed in the distance after a steady start with Sibley and Jolley opening with panache. The opening pair were victims of the quick fielding from Fitzwilliam, but with Taylor in after the first wicket fell at 16, he showed his determination to seize the Man of the Match award and to guide the Archives to victory.
Taylor was bowled one run short of retirement while Doris looked settled at the crease but was another victim of the superb Fitzwilliam fielding.
In the blink of an eye, a vibrant 47 for 3 quickly became a frail 47 for 6 pleading for death’s sweet release as Fitzwilliam’s Brennan ripped through the Archives’ batting order.
Walker, Tratalos and Burgess tried to rally at the tail, but they were running low on support and the game limped to a close, although the rain never came which was a victory in itself and one which at this stage of the season, we will willingly take.
Taylor picked up a deserved man of the match and the pizzas, as mentioned before, were excellent. Despite a third successive defeat, the Archives could take comfort in those consolations. And they were, by any stretch of the imagination, only consolations.
[Written by: Dion Fanning]