Those who know Rhodies, knows that any contest where there are lots of them around will always be a heated and controversial affair. Due to various affiliations, leakage of reports to the press, and basically because I don?t know who might be reading this report and feel offended, I?ll try to be as fair and objective as a South African can possible be (where is Tony O?D when you need some derogative comments about Aussies). Last year Tony did some clever maths and figured out that if catches win matches, dropped catches must lose matches (Axiom 1). Following on from his mathematical genius and using some clever engineering tools, I came to the conclusion that run-outs must lose matches as well (Axiom 2). I lost the toss and they decided to bat. Their opener Dave Close (remember him from last year) thought we were the same fielding side from the year before and tried to steal a single. Sam soon set the tone for the rest of the game with an excellent throw to the keeper to run him out. A juggling catch from Bumby (2nd slip) that landed in Avinash?s hands gave Pricey his second wicket after bowling their number 3, who 2 overs before nicked a low down catch to me and wasn?t given (again setting the tone for the rest of the game). With 2 Americans at the crease I thought I give Julian and Gareth a chance. Both bowled well and picked up a wicket each. Although bowling a chest-high full toss to an ex-baseballer is not a good idea. Closey, now umpiring showed their reluctance to give anything by looking away when he gave Julian?s very plumb LBW and refusing a couple others. Enter Bumby. After bowling a couple of long hops, and giving away 2 massive sixes over midwicket (one which went 80 meters in the air, but only landed 10 meters from the boundary), he found a suitable full length and picked up three. All out for 87. An excellent fielding effort and we thought we were in with a chance. Credit must be given to Wiesne (2/18) and Pricey (2/21) who were the best bowlers on the day. Wiesne outthinking most of them with his clever variations. Tea-wise things were pretty good for our first effort of the season, but we forgot the lovely chocolate éclairs and vanilla cakes in the fridge. What a waste and who ever were responsible for this atrocity must bring double this week!! Avinash and me opened the batting and did excellent by seeing off their Blues bowler and SA quickie. Avinash, thinking that the hard work was done, thought he could chase a wide one from their first change bowler, only to nick it to the keeper. Adam, a Rhodie helping us out after Stanton got chin-splints from bowling just 5 overs the day before, never looked like staying long, but he did. Pissing their Aussie captain (First class Victorian legspinner) off by hitting him over his head and a well-cutted boundary. The Aussies in their team grew increasingly frustrated as they saw the game slipping away from them. There wasn?t a single quiet moment on the field, especially not after ?my moment? (there was sufficient doubt in my and the umpire?s mind not to give it out or to walk). The chirping (the likes of which you will never hear again) would have made the Aussie national team proud. Julian, withstanding the pressure, again gave me not-out, but I walked after lightly gloving a legside catch to the keeper (to Julian?s credit nobody appealed, except a polite ask from the keeper). 45 for three, and we were still in the game with Benson and Sam looking like they could finish it off. However, Julian now getting known for his umpiring skills, rather his batting or bowling, gave Sam LBW, which brought in Mike. He played a beautiful cover drive straight to the American baseballer and set off for a single only to runout Benson. Deb thought he could hit the winning shot from his first ball, but hit it straight to cover, we still being 20 runs short. What happened next deserves a short dramatization: Julian (1 meter before turning for the second run and the fielder still 20 meters from the ball) : ?There?s two there? Mike (2 meters after turning for the second and the fielder still 15 meters from the ball) : ?Wait, Wait Wait ??. Mike (2 meters after turning for the second and the fielder already having picked up the ball): Yes! Another run-out, and we were in deep trouble as Morgan fell first ball. 65 for 8, after being 65 for 4. Julian proved that he has become a batsman, by standing up to their tall SA quickie, and Bumby entertained us for a short while, but it wasn?t to be. 72 all out, 16 short of our target. Post match pub analysis revealed: Player for Player they were better, but on the day we should have won, and that is what hurts. There was some wonderful theatrics from their captain appealing (and the Oscar goes to ? Alex Wyatt, with Nick Gallus getting supporting act), and some 50/50 umpiring decisions that could have gone either way, but still a very entertaining and enjoyable game of cricket. Until next year when we meet again.