The first real heat of spring weather on a fine evening in Shanganagh was perhaps a foreboding of the heat to come in the final over of this close match.
The Archives team featured three debutants and our best player from our previous match against the Walnuts, S Walker.
Malahide won the toss and put the Archives into bat. The game was to be played over fifteen eight ball overs per innings. Our captain Shylendra had a surprising aura of confidence about this decision, wanting us to erase quickly the memory of last week’s fatal chase.
A steady opening partnership from Singh and Tratalos got the Archives off to a solid start, as both openers read the line and length of the Malahide bowlers with keen precision. Neither player got true value for their fine array of shots as the outfield grass was still damp from a wet week and a timid grass cutter from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
Both men upped the pace of scoring as they reached retirement, with Singh hitting a mighty 6 off the bowling of Malahide captain D Smith. First blow to the Archivers against the wily Malahide captain.
A Walker strode to the crease batting third with the confidence of a player off the back of some recent fine batting performances. Scoring at a very impressive strike rate of 153 (a quick fire 23 runs off 15 balls in old cricket parlance) with two 6s further cemented the fine start from the Archivers.
Kenny and Shylendra both kept the scores ticking over with a couple of lofty 6s. The former was caught on the boundary off Wynn and the later was bowled by the impressive Ogilvie.
Veprek had an impressive debut with bat, ball and immaculate score keeping. Veprek joined Reay at the crease as they battled the slow outfield and accurate Malahide bowling, particular from C Smith and Connelly.
Musale also making an impressive debut (more to follow on that) got some late runs at back end of the innings and looked a very fine batsmen, who should score plenty of runs this season.
The Archives inning came to an end with a good total of 123. Veprek sacrificed his average by turning for an ambitious second run off the last ball. The Archives will surely benefit from his enterprise this season.
Goldstein, debutant Pickford and S Walker did not bat. Debutant Pickford like a good poker player was hard to read and was that disappointment or relief that he did not have to bat?
The Archivers took to the field with some confidence they could defend this total. A Walker and Reay bowled a tight opening spell. It was noticeable from the first over that when the wily Malahide captain D Smith was umpiring his interpretation of the wide rule was more 1st eleven standard than Taverners.
Reay took the first wicket with a most unusual caught and bowled when Ogilvie skied a shot between mid-on and mid-wicket, with the hapless fielder Kenny at mid-wicket left holding fresh air having just avoided a collusion with the determined Reay.
Singh was first change and he bowled a fast good line, giving nothing to the batsman in both his overs. In his second over he ‘accidentally’ bowled a sharp rising ball at the body of Malahide captain D Smith, who let out several invective words to the apologetic bowler. By the end of the match some of the Archivers wished that apology could have been taken back….
Veprek, who was bowling for the first time in a cricket match, showed an impressive tidy action. He was pitted against some fine Malahide batting by C Smith and Lacey. Pickford also impressed with the ball on debut against this relentless Malahide batting line-up.
Play was interrupted when dog stopped play. The delay was extended when the dog got hold of the ball in its mouth and ran off towards its owner, despite the best efforts of Singh to intercept the mutt in the outfield. While the ball was eventually retrieved a new ball was wisely called for.
Malahide was now getting into their stride and even a tight over by captain Shylendra did not draw another wicket. Kenny came on to bowl his slow left arm non-turners. Three wickets in four balls helped get the Archives back in the match. The first and third wickets were brilliantly caught by Reay (his second impressive catch of the match) and Shylendra. But the second wicket, a run out, was the stand out moment of the match.
Malahide hit a good shot to deep mid-wicket, it seemed a certain 2 runs, but they had not reckoned with the man with the golden arm, Musale, who ran across and in one swift movement picked up the ball and throw to the non-striker’s end. This was a long and lovely throw that hit the stumps without bouncing to leave the batsman out by at least 2 yards.
Shylendra set impressive fields throughout the innings, looking to protect the short boundaries and backing up the bowlers with close fielders to stop quick singles. He juggled his bowling attack to great affect even as the strong Malahide batting line up quickly settled down again to chase the target. S Walker bowled without any luck and Goldstein suffered from the overly strict calls on wides. However, Goldstein beguiled the batsmen with some spinning balls and nearly grabbed a wicket when the impressive wicket-keeper Tratalos dived full stretch but the ball was out of reach.
With D Smith and Troup both retiring after scoring 20 Malahide were heading for victory. They needed 3 runs off the last 8 ball over. Our captain Shylendra took the ball for the final over. He made a stunning start to the over with a dot ball and then a wicket. Malahide was now down to their tail and with our captain fantastic with the ball hope was restored.
After the next ball was delivered on a tight leg line and no run scored Malahide’s Captain, D Smith, who was umpiring would not allow his natural bonhomie and good will to the Archives to stand in the way of the highest standards in umpiring and declared any further balls on leg would be deemed a wide. There were 5 balls left and Shylendra bowled one of the finest last overs in Taverners history. All remaining 5 balls were perfect dot balls, victory for the Archives should have been achieved. But umpire D Smith while carrying out his umpire duties to the highest possible standard called two of those balls wides. A Walker spoke calmly to the umpire and the Archives played on through gritted teeth. With Shylendra now having to bowl two more balls and all 11 players around the bat Malahide squeaked a run to win by one ball to spare.
Reay gave a gracious speech that restored the spirit of cricket to what was a wonderfully close match. Troup was man of the match for Malahide and Musale man of the match for the Archives for what was, as the Malahide players also noted, one of the most outstanding throws they had ever seen.
[Written by: John Kenny]
Shades of the late, great Simon Mamouney in stories of the stumps being hit on the full from distance.
Simon, I had to google the name, please tell me the story the next time we meet.