On yet another blazing June evening, the Dalkey Archives headed north for a match against a Malahide team that had already beaten us earlier this season in a competitive game that had its controversial moments. Victories against Malahide CC are few and far between as it is, so the selection by Director of Cricket Mills of a relatively strong team, inasmuch as that is possible with our current squad, was probably informed by a keen thirst for revenge. To ensure that there were no late arrivals for a scheduled 6pm start, he instructed his players to arrive by 5.45 pm and then promptly brought up the rear by turning up at 6.10 pm.
When Captain Bennett arrived with his advance party of Kerr, Monaghan, Supreeth and Tratalos, he found the immaculate outfield littered with sunbathers and picnickers, with not a single Malahide CC cricketer in sight. Conscious of his own country’s inglorious record with Clearances, Bennett was reluctant to evict the pleasure-seekers from their Arcadian reveries, so was pleasantly relieved when a lanky cricketer turned up to reassure him that the home team would assume those duties.
Malahide won the toss and elected to bat. One of the characteristics of the upper pitch at Malahide is a very short boundary on one side of the ground, so Captain Bennett decided to deploy his slower bowlers at the end where this was on the offside and to protect the same boundary from both ends with his best deep fielders, Supreeth and Kenny.
Resuming his role from last year as occasional opening bowler, spinner Wyatt did not let his captain down with beautifully flighted balls that consistently landed on a good length. At the other end, Roberts started pacily with a few short balls that were dispatched to the boundary. However, he responded magnificently to his captain’s request for a better length by cutting down on his pace and floating the balls onto a perfect length. The Malahide sloggers were instantly tamed, almost transformed into timid prodders.
Tratalos cemented his newfound hard-man reputation by lobbing an early verbal grenade at one of the openers, Danny, who also happened to be one of the umpires in the heated closing overs of the previous match. “Throw the ball at the end that Danny’s running to, because he can’t run!” may not go down as one of the classic sledging lines, but subsequent events suggest that it may have struck a nerve. It has to be said that Danny is not blessed with the slimmest of physiques, but neither are most of the Dalkey Archives, with many carrying excess frontage. Against all physical evidence, Captain Bennett even identifies as thin, claiming to be trans-slender.
Tratalos’s early sortie brought no immediate reaction. If anything, it maybe stiffened Danny’s resolve.
After the first 4 overs, Malahide were well placed on 25-0. During the next 4 overs, they upped the run rate, but at the cost of 2 wickets. Pickford was vainly charged by the other opener and Tratalos did the rest. At the other end, Kerr clean-bowled their No. 3 Fitz with a deceptively quicker ball. With Danny now retired on 22, Malahide stood at 56-2 after 8 overs and a total of 140-150 looked well within their reach.
However, with Captain Bennett conceding only 6 runs in 2 overs and Kenny in his normal Underwoodesque rhythm, the boundaries dried up. Indeed, from the 9th over to the 20th over Malahide only managed to score 3 more boundaries.
No. 4 O’Brien retired on 20, composed exclusively of singles and one 3 and one 4, while their No.5 Wynne scored 14 in singles and one 2 before being well caught in the deep by Supreeth of Sushants’s bowling. Mills was lucky to get away with a few short-pitched balls. When instructed by his captain to pitch it up, he over-calibrated and responded with a no-ball beamer! Nonetheless they both conceded only 16 runs in 4 overs, a very creditable performance at this stage in the innings.
But just as the Malahide innings was meandering to a quiet end, we were treated to some unexpected drama. Wicketkeeper Tratalos had resumed verbal hostilities with Danny, who was now umpiring. Unfortunately their No. 6 Lacey got caught in the crossfire and took it personally. His requests to Tratalos to be quiet were met with just more chuntering. When the clearly irritated batsman started to complain about what he perceived to be sledging, Captain Bennett stepped in from point as peacekeeper. Efforts to smooth the waters were only partially successful, as Tratalos soon resumed his verbals. Like a dog with a bone, he just wouldn’t let go! Indeed, it was only Bennett’s threat to strip Tratalos of his pads and gloves and banish him to the outfield that finally silenced the recalcitrant keeper. After the release of a few choice expletives in the direction of the shocked captain!
But this interlude may have unnecessarily stoked up the batsmen. With the total on only 100 runs after 18 overs, they suddenly launched into Monaghan and Sushant, taking 13 and 11 off their last respective overs. Malahide had finished on 124, a total that looked modest in the conditions. Credit must be given to Kenny and Supreeth, whose reliable fielding on the short boundary must have saved the Archivists an invaluable 20 or 30 runs.
LIKE A SAMURAI ADMIRING HIS SWORD, Mills sizes up his bat
Aiming to complete his 5th consecutive retirement, Tratalos opened with Mills, a batsman yet to get out of single figures this season. Unfortunately his poor run continued, as he chose the wrong ball for a mistimed agricultural hoik. However, any Malahide hopes of another breakthrough were swiftly dashed by some elegant off drives and cuts by Roberts in pure Gower mode. With Tratalos remorselessly nudging his way to yet another retirement at the other end, Dalkey progressed smoothly towards the target at just under the required run rate. Not surprisingly, Roberts was the first to retire, with a massive 6 over midwicket taking him to the 25 max.
Roberts retires in style!
Kerr waits to come in beside the recently dismissed Mills, while Pickford helps Kenny with the scoring
New batsman Kerr looked comfortable against the less than threatening bowling, but made the fatal mistake of disdainfully querying the rules about extras and dead balls before Logan started his first over. Hubris came knocking at his door, as he spooned an easy catch to mid-on off an utterly innocuous ball outside the off stump. With Tratalos finally retiring for 23, only the Indian pair of Supreeth and Sushant stood between the Malahide bowlers and the long Dalkey tail. Although they were scoring at just over the RRR, the Archivists were only just over halfway to their target, so any quick wicket(s) could’ve left them badly exposed. After getting his eyes in with 2 singles, Supreeth promptly dispelled any lingering Malahide hopes by hitting Logan for 20 off 4 balls! 4 balls that effectively won the match for Dalkey, who were now on 96 from 12 overs, with only 29 needed off the last 8.
New batsman Wyatt and Supreeth continued comfortably at a run a ball until the latter retired for an invaluable 20. Captain Bennett came to the wicket in the 17th over with only 1 run needed for victory. Dreaming of another swashbuckling finale, he missed his first two balls and was brought back to reality by a desperate call from Wyatt for a match-winning bye off his 3rd ball. Dalkey had won comfortably with 3 overs to spare.
In praise of Danny!
Roberts Man of the Match again!
Realizing that he was unlikely to be chosen as the Dalkey Man of the Match, Tratalos wisely made an early exit as the two teams bonded over beers and burgers outside the pavilion. Bennett gave the Man of the Match award to the verbally abused Danny, while Roberts deservedly received the same award from Malahide for yet another strong all-round performance.
[Written by: Nick Bennett]