After a comfortable win in the Phoenix Park on the previous Friday, the Archives travelled south to our new home in the equally bucolic setting of Shanganagh Park to entertain Fitzwilliam CC from Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club, one of the oldest tennis clubs in the world. They certainly looked like a group of finely tuned athletes, but could they play any cricket?
The archives also welcomed two debutants in John Fleming and Russell Goldstein.
Opening bowler Roberts clean bowled Fitzwilliam’s nos. 2 and 3 batsmen to leave them precariously placed at 7/2 after 13 balls. However, just as Archivists' thoughts turned to an early Pimms, both FCC’s opener and their new batsman Will launched a vicious boundary-strewn assault on Roberts and Kenny to propel them to 29/2 after 4 overs.
First-change Bennett stemmed the flow of runs, conceding just 4 runs from 2 overs, and was also unlucky to see a sharp catch evade the normally safe hands of Tratalos behind the stumps. However, his economic figures were saved by a heroic dive headlong into the nettle-thronged deep-wicket boundary’s edge by Sibley.
His partner Goldstein bowled some beautifully flighted leg breaks, but unfortunately the batsmen’s eyes were already in and the boundaries continued to flow.
Even when both batsmen retired, their number 5 continued the carnage. After a slow start, he hit 4 boundaries in his last 9 balls to retire on 23. After 12 overs Fitzwilliam were on 74 and threatening to set a challenging target well over 120.
However, Willoughby and Fleming then applied the breaks, with the former earning a bizarre stumping after Tratalos had dropped the initial catch. Fleming was also particularly parsimonious on his debut, never conceding more than a single per ball.
By the time Reay and Sibley came on for last change, the score had only crept up to 88. It should, however, be added that the accuracy of the scoring and the scorebook throughout the FCC innings is in some doubt, as requests to their scorer for score updates were met with an unconvincing “I’m just trying to work it out” from the Keith Floyd lookalike.
Bowling up the pronounced hill, Reay extracted considerable bounce, forcing the batsmen into evasive action and eventually earning a well-deserved wicket with a sharp catch by Tratalos off a rising ball. At the other end, Sibley was a model of accuracy, maintaining an excellent length at a decent pace. In the end, Fitzwilliam finished on a modest 102, having scored only 28 runs from their last 8 overs. It had been a disciplined bowling performance, with only 1 bye and 2 wides conceded as extras (according to their scorer).
Early hopes of an easy win were soon dispelled by an extremely fast first over from FCC that Walker and Keating did well to survive. When the second opening bowler turned out to be just as fast and accurate, the impressed but concerned DACC umpire turned to the square leg fielder and said “So, you’ve got two demon bowlers?”.
“Don’t worry, there’s nothing to come after them. Get through them and you’ll be fine”, was the reassuring response and so it proved to be.
Having survived the two opening overs, Walker and Keating discovered that Fitzwilliam were going to keep us guessing by continuously rotating the bowling. Although this approach may have some tactical benefit, it does complicate matters for the captain who seemed to buckle a few times under the mental strain, especially as there appeared to be no discernible pattern in the bowling order. Presumably the easiest way to manage continuous rotation would be to repeat the first 10 overs in the same order, although an inversion of the order for a bookended, almost palindromic, effect might make more strategic sense.
In any case, having survived the first 2 overs, Walker and Keating batted with purpose and confidence against the lesser bowlers that followed. Walker soon found the woods on the square leg boundary off an inviting long hop and Keating looked assured with some well-timed drives. Until he was inexplicably bowled by a ball that may have spun a little bit on its 8th bounce!
With Walker soon retiring on 20 and Fleming unlucky to fall to a good catch for 1, it was left to Tratalos and Roberts to repair the innings and maintain the momentum. Neither looked troubled, as they batted conservatively and sensibly, amidst a rising wide count, to what looked like predictable retirements. However, Tratalos had unfortunately picked up a groin strain while batting and Roberts seemed to forget his request to go easy on the running between the wickets when he called Tratalos back for a quick second. In his desperation to get home, Tratalos somehow collided with a fielder and remained motionless on the ground for a few worrying seconds as the umpire raised his finger. Down and out in Shanganagh.
With the pressure now off, Kenny strode to the crease and proceeded to flick his first ball off his legs for six with a casual disdain that Viv Richards would have been proud of. Unfortunately he was soon bowled for 8, leaving Goldstein and Bennett to knock off the remaining runs, after Roberts’s unruffled retirement, with 3 overs to spare.
Ultimately the main difference between the teams was probably the bowling, with Fitzwilliam conceding 18 runs in extras. To be fair, I believe that one of their bowlers had never played cricket before. There were also quite a few suspect bowling actions in there that could have resulted in more no-balls from less generous umpires.
The nomadic Fitzwilliam team kindly accepted our apologies for the closure of our clubhouse (container) facilities, as both teams exchanged post-match speeches and tales of homelessness over Pimms. Walker deservedly received the Man of the Match award for his powerful hitting at the beginning of our innings.
Post-match Pimms enjoyed by fellow nomads
[Written by: Nick Bennett]