July 2, 2021: DACC beat Merrion CC by 41 runs

DACC v Merrion: The Lambs Stop Screaming

There was the ‘micro’ picture and the ‘macro’ picture. As to the former, it was three defeats on the trot in 2021; as to the latter, Merrion have always had a nasty habit of taking things down to the wire against the Archives and then using said wire to garrotte us in the final over. The most recent example was a narrow victory for our opponents, with a ball or two to go, in last summer’s Handbags encounter.

So, a lot of rot to be stopped. All the more pleasant to report, then, that the rot was stopped comprehensively on all fronts as the mighty Archives, captained by Scott Kelley, returned to winning ways at St Andrew’s on Friday night. The mood was set early, with the Director-for-Life’s Friday morning e-mail suggesting a little pre-match cheating training, resulting in a half-dozen of us seeing if there was anything to this “practice makes competent” lark.

It all paid off. Batting first at the request of our opponents, the first 5 batsmen retired. The new Keeper of the Archives’ Archives, Nick Bennett suggests correctly that it is as long as three years ago that the first 5 Archives batsmen retired (against Malahide in 2018, when an astonishing 7 batsmen in a row retired on their way to a total of 161).

Roberts did his best David Gower impersonation on his way to 22, Sibley’s knock of 23 included the only two sixes of the night as he accelerated to the finish line, Burgess astonished precisely no one with another four-filled retirement and Monaghan (20) began with a cautious forward defensive followed by a dainty clip to leg, before abandoning all pretence of subtlety. Murphy (watched by an admiring Murphy jr, who later fielded in the dying overs) also retired, accumulating 3 boundaries en route.

Bennett – who later described his own batting as “poky” and “poorly timed” – went big on 16, but was bowled by playing on to a classic Taverners long-hop. A pair of run-outs for Simpson and Doris (who was called through for a futile and wholly unnecessary second off the last ball of the innings) bookended a two-ball, 5 run, cameo by the Director-for-Life (although the scorebook wrongly records it as 4). 138 would surely prove enough. Even the normally voluble Merrion wicketkeeper was silenced by the end.

And, with the exception of Captain Ridgeway and one trusty sidekick, Merrion subsided in the face of a more traditional Archives performance with the ball and in the field: two catches a mid-on for Burgess (in a MOTM performance) as well as another catch in the deep that did not count thanks to the ‘first-ball rule’. There was also one catch apiece for Taylor, Sibley and the Director and not a drop (or even a panicked juggle) in sight. Doris, Kelley, Monaghan, Roberts, and Bennett all took wickets. Kelley conceded only 2 runs off his pair of overs.

The fielding bordered on the showy, with super diving stops on the boundary by Monaghan and the ever-busy Doris, who nearly pulled off an astonishing low catch, that probably is probably still stinging his hand as you read this. Courting disaster from the outset, Merrion lost two early wickets for 1 and 0 (some wicketkeeper-on-wicketkeeper action as Sibley dismissed his Merrion counterpart with an acrobatic catch, followed by a kamikaze run-out), Merrion were never allowed to recover. Only two got into double figures and although the match reached the final ball (which was marked by a brilliant reaction catch by Sibley behind the stumps), the result was never in doubt.

Unlike the Pimms, the consumption of which was imperilled by Taylor’s failure to remember the glasses which are such an indispensable aspect of the enjoyment of liquid refreshments. Happily, ‘Be Prepared’ Burgess was on hand with sufficient disposable cups to lubricate our opponents, while the rest of us soldiered on with pizza and cake and chat, as the many small off-pitch joys of cricket start to find full expression again. All made much more enjoyable by the silencing of the lambs of doubt and defeat.

[Written by: Simon Mills]

The two teams after the match

The poor entertainers