A fantastic cricket match took place at Malahide last Friday as the underdog visitors dodged the rain to chase down a target of 119 with a few balls to spare. Unfortunately, that thriller took place on the international pitch, where the Dutch women secured a belated win in the last match of their T20 series against the Irish. In fact, one of the few crumbs of pleasure for the Archives Community on Friday night was the Director’s realisation that Rebecca Stokell (who anchored the Irish innings with 48 runs) was the daughter of one-time Archiver Mark. Mark, as it happened, made his debut for the Archives at Malahide in 2015 in a game that that was summarised as follows in an email from the time:
“Malahide cantered to victory last night, chasing down 115 with three overs to spare. Debutant Mark Stokell was unlucky to have two catches dropped off his first over, catches that just might have turned the tide in our favour.”
But that was the patchwork Archives of 2015, not the lean-ish, mean-ish 2021 version. Last Friday, as the Dutch visitors were schooling their hosts on the adjacent pitch and rainclouds glowered over us, the Archives expected. In this unusual second fixture at Malahide (they were kind enough to accommodate us at short notice arising out of the Andrew’s redevelopment works), we had surely learned the lessons of previous outings at the same venue (including but not limited to the 2015 game), readily distilled into three incredibly simple principles: (a) score quickly, (b) take your catches, and (c) protect the boundaries.
How did that work out?
Well, scoring quickly did not happen. True, the prevailing conditions did not help, but 15 8-ball overs had been agreed and 64 balls in, the Archives score languished at 48 or so. Cap’n Roberts’s batting order had Wyatt, Sibley and Bennett (all capable of pushing things along) at 8, 9 and 11: although Monaghan and Roberts (batting beautifully, again) both retired, and Royle (15, caught while trying to move things along), the Director (12, run out while trying to move things along) and Simpson jr (13*) contributed a few, by the time Wyatt came in, the pressure to score was too great and he departed cheaply (caught while trying… etc).
Sibley faced only two balls; Bennett and Simpson sr faced none. Those who remember Walker’s heroics in the ‘Precision Pianos’ match of last summer will also recall the importance of a final flurry. This year, in the face of a very wet outfield and the usual clever policing of the boundaries by our hosts, there was – Roberts aside – not a flurry to be had. 108 from 120 balls was unlikely to be enough.
Unless we took our catches. The one thing that the Archives can do is catch a ball. But not last Friday. The Director tried and failed to grasp two hard diving catches to dismiss Malahide opener Chris Smith, but neither stuck (Chris retired) . By the time a second-ball dolly arrived, presenting a chance to dismiss the number 3 Lacey (who had already been dropped off his first ball), the Director’s confidence was shot and the chance went down. Lacey also retired (dropped again by Bennett on the square leg boundary as he approached retirement). Wyatt too put down a moderately difficult chance. Only Simpson jr held a catch, off his own bowling: if you want a job done, do it yourself.
Tratalos kept manfully, so there were almost no byes. The 15 over format meant that the nerve of Simpson sr and the Director was not tested and wides, too, were reasonably sporadic.
So, if we couldn’t score runs and couldn’t take catches, then protecting the boundaries might give us a chance. There had only been 7 boundaries in the Archives innings (4 of them going to Roberts and 2 to Monaghan): if we could similarly restrict our hosts, then we could – just possibly – emulate the Dutch who were edging to victory on the main pitch. Reader, Malahide had their 7thboundary by the end of the 5th They know the pitch well and perhaps we need to study their fields better, but they found the gaps again and again, in spite of better policing of the boundary than our last visit: only one egregious misfield sticks in the mind (aside from the Director’s three dropped catches, obvs).
Reay was the pick of the Archives’ bowlers his single over going for only 5 runs (echoes of his brilliant 2 overs for 6 runs a the death against Malahide last summer): 14 more of those and we would have won the game very handily. Instead, as the gloom – literal and metaphorical – gathered, Malahide accelerated past an increasingly unmotivated Archives and, in the end, they cantered over the line with overs to spare and having lost only a single wicket. A final maximum (the only one of the night) from Marchbanks off his first ball put the seal on the victory and salt in the Archives wounds. This seesaw season continues.
The Director, Kerr and Tratatos all had the great pleasure of being invited to play with the Leprechauns CC at Mount Juliet in Kilkenny against the White City All Stars, a touring XI that is organised by journalist Peter Oborne.* In a departure from more familiar formats, the game was played on a “6pm plus 20 overs basis”: the side batting first would declare and the second innings would conclude 20 overs past 6 o’clock, allowing for, among other things, a draw. The Leprechauns batted first, with the Director, Tratalos and Kerr all batting.
In the face of some fairly decent bowling the Director scored an unexpected 20-something, falling to the last ball before much-needed drinks, when attempting to cut the ball behind square and failing spectacularly. Jamie was well set 20* when skipper Charles Lysaght declared at 165 for 8 (apologies: I am not sure about Kerr’s score, because I went for a wander with Conall and Alice down by the beautiful river that borders the ground after I was out). The Director’s spell in the middle included a reasonably fruitful partnership with a Baronet: it was that sort of day
After a sticky opening patch, in which the All Stars were 0 for 1 after 5 overs, their opener anchored the innings with 96. The one simple chance he gave was when the game was almost up, but alas it went down. In spite of a late flurry of wickets, including for Archives transfer target Marty Block, the All-Stars edged home with an over or so to spare.
This was something of a scouting trip as Fanning and Oborne are in talks about a fixture next year.
* “Oborne and Heller on Cricket” is a podcast worth a little of your time and the two episodes with Charles Lysaght are a fine tour d’horizon of the history of Irish cricket.
[Written by Simon Mills]