It takes rare captaincy to snatch a victory from the jaws of a timed-match draw. It also takes rare captaincy to bring the oppo back into the game by bowling quimmers.
We weren't supplied with a start time by Martin, so we assumed that "whenever we turned up" would be good enough. Schafer was late showing up at Manny Road, so we turned up later than even we expected. We wanted to bat first, even after we saw the deck and even though it was a timed-match. We weon the toss.
The oppo's skipper said the deck had been playing well this season. They were probably more surprised than us when the minefield exploded. Schafer and Q bore the brunt in the early overs, but battled through some testing times. Q was in usual, trying-to-score-the-most-runs-for-Manny Road-this-year form, while Lawrence showed patience in waiting for anything loose enough to punish. They pushed the run rate up over 4 before Q finally missed one when the score was on 75. Closey didn't last long, Watto giving him leg before. (One of them firing the other was always a possibility, but it would have taken captaincy beyond my means to avoid such a batsman-umpire juxtaposition.) Schafer and I pushed things along - with a little prompting from Watto - hoping to reach 200 before tea. We were well on target when Schaf skied one, missing out on a century again. I hit a few boundaries before mis-timing a pull shot. Shakira (Watto's mate Aaron) didn't last long, and Jules was cruelly run out as Gallus (Watto's mate Nick) tried to monopolise the strike. Watto, who had chosen to bat down the order, went on a "hit-out-or-get-out" mission and got out. Tony Mc didn't make the most of his elevation up the order, no doubt because we ran out of time. 7 for 214 declared.
The bountiful tea always provided at Ascott was on offer once again, and we all made the most of it.
Clarkey (Watto's mate Phil) came down the hill, a scary enough sight from his shortened run up. There were a few mines which had not been detonated during our innings. Watto came up the hill, not exactly looming into sight as he crested the rise. Both bowled extremely economically which, combined with a couple of wickets from Watto, took the game out of the oppo's reach very early on. At 3 for 12 after 11, we brought Croc and Tony Mc on. Croc laboured up the hill, much to almost everyone's amusement. Tony claimed the 4th wicket, and came away with tidy figures from his 6 over spell. (Good captaincy not to give him the "one-too-many"?) Shakira dropped one off Tony, but not in the comedy fashion that Closey "dropped" one off Croc - giving the left-handed village child a second life - which was promptly taken away by Shakira. Croc - despite the hill - claimed another 4 for, and battled away in the hope of getting the 5th. It was 8 for 68 when the quim came out. The best that can be said for Closey's 5 overs was that it wasn't as bad as Gallus' 2. It was 8 for 133 when the quim was put away again after a mere 10 overs. Watto managed to drop a couple of catches, one of which would have made it a lot more comfortable for us. Jules was on the receiving end of some treatment, quite a lot of which was in the air but safe, but came back to get the key wicket again, in the 19th of the 20 overs after half six. Clarkey then gave away a single just to turn the wick up a little and knock over the guy who had made a century thanks to my generous captaincy. Timed-match WIN!
Kudos to Matt and Aaron for providing cars, and to Jules and Q for accepting Martin's volunteering them to catch the train.
7 wins in a row - bring on the OBs! (Hang on, let me think about that...?)