The long hot summer is starting to fade now as we approach the end of August but there is still a bit of cricket left in the year, and this week saw once of the more thrilling matches of the season.
It was decidedly greyer and cooler than of late, and jumpers were de rigeur on the sidelines, prompting the skippers to plump for the shorter S-16 format of the game and the hosts to employ the White Ball. Blades had first crack at tonking it round Pitch One and the Mer brothers, Ha and Far, set about the Shirley attack early doors. Each of the first four overs saw a boundary a sprinkling of singles, and the total rattled on to 27-0 before a maiden fifth applied a degree of brake. This duo weren’t for braking however, and the first six of the match coupled with another four saw 13 off the over and Farmski back in the pavilion on an unbeaten 27. Hunter took over batting duties, and following the final ball of the over, Ellerby replaced Hamer who was caught behind for 9. A shortlived stay was ended by an LBW decision for Hunter, and Humphrey took to the middle to watch Ellerby spank three fours in the 8th over before being caught, attempting another big shot but edging to behind square. 13 off the over was nothing to be sniffed at though and the total had trundled to 58-3.
Harry Fay stepped to the crease, joined by Davies when K-Dog’s atypically short innings was ended by a splaying of stumps, and the Academy set about the attack at the same rate, mixing fours and ones as though they were playing on the postage stamp pitches. Davies was caught for 9 – although deserved more for his confident stroke play – and it was Adamson who saw the innings home with Fay, both of them bagging scores in the teens to bring the Blades to an impressive 105 for 5.
Shirley fancied there were runs in the pitch and weren’t daunted by the total. However, they soon realised there weren’t runs in Afzal’s bowling – when are there ever? – as the first over saw them 1-1, the number two clean bowled with the last ball. Indeed, Afzal’s four overs went for a measly eight runs in total, the screw being kept mercilessly tight. The other bowlers in the Blades attack saw more runs however, a smattering of occasional fours punctuated regular singles, some scrambled and risky. Bar a catch by Hunter – watched patiently into his hands as a Fay delivery was skied and came down with snow on it – wickets eluded the Blades. Only two down after eight overs but Shirley were still behind the rate at only 33. But then the ninth over saw three fours, four wides, and the 50 up. The home side began to a sense a recovery and a glimpse of upset. Galpin bowled the number one, who was on the brink of retirement, and Davies found his line in the eleventh. The twelfth brought the fourth wicket, and the first run out of the night, as Galpin fielded his own delivery, fed Ellerby in the gloves and it was adios los bailos. 63-4. Still behind the rate, but a big push saw 10 from the next over and statisticians calculating run rates. And then it all went mental. A stop start from the batsmen saw Mr R Unout claim a second wicket in the fourteenth. But Unners was still only warming up. The fourteenth over saw TWO run outs as Shirley simply forgot how to call, and opted for calamitous running. And Davies bowled the number seven. But extraordinarily Shirley still scored ten off the over. Frankly this correspondent has never seen the like, and even now hasn’t as he was desperately trying to tweet at the same time, failing to keep up with a bizarre over’s cricket.
Heading into the final over, Shirley needed 17 but in a game that reason has given up on, anything was possible. Well anything except a Shirley win anyway because dear reader, they only managed seven of them. That brought them close to a total they had looked light years from achieving at the halfway point, and maybe if they hadn’t spent the second half of the innings running each other out they might have claimed a historic win. As it was, they fell just ten short, closing on 95 for 5.
RESULT: Blades WIN by 10 runs