August 4, 2022: Phoenix CC beat DACC by 54 runs

The funny thing is that, for a while, it was all going well. Nearing the end of the 6th over against Phoenix Taverners (who batted first at Shanganagh on Friday night) the Archives had not bowled a single wide and nor had they conceded a single boundary. Indeed, when the first 4 came, it was (yet another) missile through the hands of Fleming in the covers: "swings and roundabouts" as Captain Reay was later to remark in another context; perhaps we had conceded four, but catches would surely come.

And yet that is the other curious thing: every Phoenix will eventually regenerate and when it does, watch out. So it was on Friday night, as Phoenix rose from the ashes of multiple recent defeats to swat the Archives aside: the early promise of Walker's and Reay's opening overs gave way to a youthful, unfamiliar and uncompromising Phoenix middle order. True, they were kept honest enough by the better Archives bowlers (Burgess and Monaghan take a bow) and the occasional catch was taken, but when they hit out, then (to bowdlerise an old E Nesbit book title) Phoenix carpeted the Archives' bowling, as retirement followed retirement. The Director was administered his worst punishment since, let's be honest, the last time he bowled as his pair of overs went for an evening's worst 30 runs. A faint sniff of a (wholly unmerited) catch went a-begging on the deep square leg boundary as an ever-considerate Sibley was coaching Sibley jr and O'Regan-Mills jrReay was busy and efficient on the boundary, saving a score of runs. Fleming and Kenny would have needed hands of steel to take their respective c&b chances.

Supreeth took a good catch running in to extra cover, as did Tratalos behind the stumps (I think). A run-out chance was missed and a few dives on the boundaries would, on another day, have saved four runs. Tight bowling at the death from Supreeth and Sibley (who took two wickets, both bowled) reined in the scoring a little, but Phoenix had set an immense target of more than 155.

It could be done, of course. But a good start would be half the job. And there was an excellent start, for Phoenix as Bennett was soon back in the hutch for 1, missing an expansive drive. However, so long as there were no more low scores, the Archives could still do this. Burgess (22*) and Sibley consolidated, until the latter was bowled for 15. It appeared to be - at least - a platform, but alas it turned out to be the sort of foundation constructed by one of those "comedy" Irish builders from a 1970s sitcom.

Walker went for 3 (caught, swinging at a wide ball), Monaghan went for a very patient 1, Kenny 1, Fleming 1, Tratalos 1 (although perhaps it was 2) while Reay stood alone at the death (0*), not having faced a single ball. Only the Director and Supreeth joined Burgess in retirement, with Supreeth getting to 20 in the blink of an eye with a knock that INCLUDED A REVERSE SWEEP. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT; A REVERSE SWEEP IN A TAVERNERS GAME (his Player of the Match award was secured in that instant)It almost made up for the Archives failing to breach the 100-run barrier. Mills's 20 was reach more through luck than judgment: he was particularly fortunate not to be run out by a fantastic bit of fielding by Conall, who made his Taverners debut for Phoenix (Oedipus and Phoenixes would have been a bit too much Greek mythology for one night).

There is a stench of decay about recent Archives performances. Can the Handbags trophy possibly be defended (again) this week? At least the absence of the Director from the bowling line-up from next Sunday offers some hope...

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