As dawn broke on a long awaited and much anticipated Handbags Sunday, early risers were rewarded with a sunny morning and the promise of a fine day to come.
The prestigious Handbags Trophy
That is until opening the first WhatsApp message of the day revealed that one of the Archives standout performers of the season was sans transport. Excellent advice on public transport options was provided by Bennett before White Knight Supreeth offered to ride to his rescue. Order and calm restored, breakfast consumed, time to head towards the M50 as the Ashes like anticipation reached its zenith. More of that later.
Now in situ in the historic Columba’s pavilion, Captain Reay halfway into his whites was greeted by fully dressed Merrion Captain Ronan O’Kelly to conduct the toss. The coin fell in Merrion’s favour and they chose to field, perhaps influenced by the low Archivers headcount.
The Dalkey Archives in fine spirits at the beginning of the day ...
Next, a hastily selected batting order was committed to paper with the captain inexplicably promoted to open. With the stragglers all now in attendance Walker and Reay strode to the middle full of confidence despite the decidedly damp outfield.
The first over was uneventful, the deceptively quick M Curley finding a consistent line outside the off stump. The second over saw Walker clearing the rope at square leg before being bowled and departing for a rapid 10. Archives fans of which there were some would have to wait *Spoiler Alert* until the final over for the next boundary. The next over saw Reay follow his fellow opener back to the pavilion, a waft of the willow at a wide one presenting the fielder at point with an easy catch.
With plan A looking about as credible as a Kwasi Kwarteng mini budget, it was left to Murphy (making his handbags debut) and Bennett to pick up the pieces and steady the ship. That they did, keeping the scoreboard ticking and building a solid partnership. Bazball it wasn’t. Powerful hitting went unrewarded thanks to good fielding and the wet grass. Did I already mention the damp outfield?
Murphy and Bennett grinding on the scoreboard
Murphy and Bennett still grinding away 2 overs later in Sushant's snazzy scoring app
The stultifying succession of singles was however punctuated with the day’s first moment of controversy. Murphy played and missed (again) at one of those full legside loopers and decided to go walkabout in the style of J. Bairstow. The vigilant Merrion keeper, ball in glove removed the bails and asked the question as Murphy flailed around attempting to convince everyone that his bat or foot or something was down. Not for the first time in recent handbags history, verbals between batsman and keeper ensued until the square leg umpire swiftly and thankfully settled the matter in the batsman’s favour.
The pair were eventually removed by former Archiver Suresh, both just shy of retirement to bring Simon Kenny and magic Mike Monaghan to the crease, Kenny playing in only his second ever game of cricket.
Simon Kenny receives last-minute batting coaching from Captain Reay
With the run rate somewhat below the 6 an over demanded by the captain at the outset, both were instructed to go hard or go home. Kenny looked assured before looping a regulation catch to the lanky Stott at midwicket. Dunphy was soon out leaving Supreeth to muster some respectability to the score which he did with some aplomb, retiring on 21 hitting 2 fine 6s along the way with one ball of the innings remaining.
One of Supreeth’s sixes almost made it to the M50!
Having waited patiently all morning, 10 year old Daniel Murphy strode out bravely to face Merrion’s fastest flinger. Despite Murphy Jr. being a good 12 yards from safety, the Merrion bowler’s attempt at a run out was rejected out of hand by excellent umpire Barney. “I forgot to tell him to run” remarked Murphy Sr. All of this left Dalkey with a not great, but could have been worse, 1st innings total of 97.
Merrion began their reply in steady fashion in the face of Dalkey’s opening bowlers Sushant and Dunphy, but, with the morning sun drying up the outfield, they soon took advantage of ideal batting conditions. The left and right-handed opening combination kept the Dalkey fielders on their toes with Murphy frequently having to cross the mat. Regular boundaries kept Merrion in touch with the required run rate, while accurate Dalkey bowling ensured the game stayed in the balance for long periods. Simon Kenny overcame his handbags debut nerves and showed that a couple of hours professional cricket coaching is all it takes to develop a classical high bowling action that many a seasoned taverner would be proud of. Murphy Jr was so pleased with his first over that he begged the captain for another. Alas it was not to be as the skipper took the responsibility for bowling at the death along with Supreeth. Merrion’s march to victory was briefly halted by a rare maiden over from Reay, but it was not enough to stop Merrion reaching the target with a little to spare.
Lunch. Time for a cuppa and some post-match analysis and where did it all go wrong pondering. By general consensus, we agreed that there was nothing wrong with our batting, bowling or fielding. The blame could be laid squarely on the wet outfield. Also time to tuck into the first round of lovely sandwiches provided by the ever reliable Cavaliers catering department.
As captains Reay and Stott headed out to the middle for the second toss of the day, the Dalkey team was bolstered by the arrival of Michael Lewis, coming in to replace Daniel Murphy for the 2nd game.
The toss for the second match
The cursed coin fell Stott’s way and Dalkey were put in to bat again. If the Archives were to reclaim the trophy nothing but a convincing win with a superior run rate would do. With this in mind, the batting pack was reshuffled, with all the trump cards placed at the top of the order.
Sushant got the innings off to a flying start, seeing off the economical Duffy but punishing Cowley who went for 19 from his 2 overs, Sushant finishing with a 6 to retire in some style on 24. Dunphy was the first casualty, run out for 6 in the 5th over, with Mike M the next to fall, bowled by Duggan for 7. This brought Walker and Supreeth together at the crease for the biggest partnership of the innings, both playing the high quality bowling expertly to retire on 23 and 21 respectively.
Supreeth about to play an outrageous reverse sweep for 4.
Brief cameos from Goldstein and Lewis followed and at the end of 20 overs Murphy and Bennett were the not out batsmen, the Cavaliers having restricted the Archives to exactly 100.
Could the Archives do what they narrowly failed to do in the first match? With another sub-par total to defend the pressure was on the Dalkey bowlers as Cavs openers Stott and Duggan got the reply under way. To their credit the entire Dalkey bowling attack upped their game. New ball pair Sushant and Walker bowled with pace then first change Dunphy and Bennett bowled accurately, offering the batsmen little and restricting runs. Bennett was pro-active as usual, setting aggressive tight fields but it was Goldstein who made the first breakthrough, his leg spin baffling and beguiling the batsmen and deservedly dismissing Captain Stott, stumped by Supreeth for 14. Murphy was back in the action again, eliciting the thinnest of snicks from Duffy’s bat. It was one of those that you would put in the category of “I’ve seen them not given”. Luckily this time it was and the Cavs batsmen was on his way back to the pavilion. Meanwhile Duggan retired and the dangerous Ralli was looking, well, dangerous.
Substitute fielders Murphy Jr and Walker Jr were deployed as Dalkey looked to reduce the average age of the team significantly. Lewis and Kenny contributed an over each, both inducing a number of play and misses much to the delight of the away supporters. At the other end Supreeth bowled quickly but with no luck. At the start of the 17th over needing only 9 runs to win came one of those comic run outs. “Yes!” “No!” “Go back!” “No you go back!” Martin Murphy was not amused as he trudged off fuming. Ralli saw the Cavs over the winning line in the next over – didn’t I tell you he was dangerous.
And so that was that for the valiant cricketers of Dalkey. There were handshakes all round followed by round two of lovely sandwiches and delicious scones, cups of tea and bottles of beer. Despite the results it was a thoroughly enjoyable day with some very entertaining cricket and great company. Huge thanks to Theatrical Cavaliers for inviting us again and hosting such a special cricket event.
Unfortunately, once again there is no need for the O’Regan Mills family to clear a Handbags Trophy sized space on their mantlepiece. A wooden spoon sized space will suffice.
Incidentally in the deciding match Merrion scored around 100 and the Cavaliers chased it down with an over or two to spare. Sound familiar?
[Written by: Stewart Reay]