Not many can remember a cricket season so unaffected by the vagaries of the British climate. A brief deluge at 11am didn’t prevent a prompt 1.30pm start here. I’m not sure if a single over has been lost to the weather in the 2nd XI campaign.
Skipper Anthony Griffiths had lead his young side brilliantly this season. Always giving youth a chance, he has helped develop the skills and experience of many of the squad. It is a shame that the side has found one team too good in each of the first two seasons of the all through league structure, but it proving to be a competitive league in the main, and it continues to be good platform for the youngsters to be ready for first team action. Indeed, a few have made the step up to premier league and coped very well.
The last game of the season saw this amazing sequence of Griffiths toss wins continue. Is it 14 or 15? Everyone has lost count. Anthony chose to bat first once again, fearful of his bowlers having to use a wet ball from the drying, but still moist, outfield.
Rory Thomas started in characteristic manner with a six to the longest boundary in the first over. A couple more boundaries followed, but like many of the batsmen on the day, couldn’t translate a start into a half century. Thomas followed Elliot Rice back to the pavilion. Rice was first to fall, cheaply, walking after a little tickle behind. The torrent of abuse that Rice anticipated, after the controversies of the return fixture, never materialised.
Jash Patidar, promoted to number three on the day, and unable to bowl with his side strain, played nicely. Liz Hurley also played two beautiful cover drives and then played around a straight one. Byron Knowles also got a start, but got out when seemingly set and seeing it well. Unsurprisingly, the only player to hang around to the end was the skipper, who carried his bat through the tail. He was ably supported by Dylan Hurst, who continues to look comfortable with bat and ball at this level, and who will, for sure, be a key player in the seconds next year.
Griffiths remained resolute and unfazed by both the fall of partners, and the samba roll that Whimple’s mature off-spinner wove into his pre-delivery routine. Some mover. Griffiths took the total over the 200 mark and secured yet another half century in his mammoth back catalogue of notable innings.
A great tea, arguably the best of the season, was followed by the Whimple chase. Lee Clayden and Matt Parker formed a penetrative opening bowler partnership, striking three times in the first 10 overs, all wickets to Clayden, with a good catch each by Thomas and Griffiths at gully and slip respectively. Parker wasn’t going to be outshone and struck further blows with two wickets of his own. The openers had dismissed half the opposition line-up. That certainly hadn’t happened for a while.
The Whimple reply wasn’t dead though, even with five wickets down, because the run rate hadn’t damaged by the loss of wickets. Also, their main man Cameron Kidd was in, and starting to accumulate runs quickly. Driving powerfully, Parker decided his foot would be the best part of his body to stop a Kidd bullet. Mistake. Painfully, he continued, but his run up was definitely less fluent from that point on.
Kidd was enjoying the close proximity of the leg side boundary and he was taking advantage of some wayward bowling. Toby Seldon had joined the attack, replacing Clayden. His first over was an interesting and eclectic mix of deliveries. Three full tosses, two long hops, a wide, and a wicket. 1 for 18 from the over, I thank you. Seldon is going ‘down-under’ for the winter, due to depart these shores in a fortnight. Playing for South Yarra in the Melbourne area it will be interesting to see what the Aussies make of Toby’s wide range of playing skills. There was more entertainment to come in this spell. The wicket had given him the confidence to bowl better in the ensuing overs. He lured the dangerous Kidd into a soft return catch. The chance was spilled however. Seldon wished he was on his way to Yarra and attempted to depart immediately - going direct, through the earth’s core – by attacking the ground with his hand at the point where the illusive ball had dropped.
Kidd was performing the Stokes role of the third Ashes test. The Whimple number nine was doing a decent Jack Leach. There were plenty of overs. Whimple simply needed Kidd on strike. Within 25 of their target it was the alice-banded Byron Knowles who made the difference. He accounted for the final three wickets, four in total – the numbers 10 and 11 not following the Leach template and playing over- ambitious run scoring shots, when they simply needed to let Kidd secure the runs for his century and a probable Whimple win. Left stranded on 96 not out, his look to his teammate said it all.
Thanks at the end of the season go to our wonderful officials, Clive Dwerryhouse and Colston Herbert. They only missed one match between them. Thanks to Griff for all his organisation and captaincy; and to Saj and the rest of the selection committee.