On a weekend when the Springboks swept all aside at the Dubai Rugby 7s our very own Blitzbokke stole the show against ABB at the ICC CA.
There was a nip in the air and a hint of dew on the ground as the usual motley assortment of Darjeeling players drifted into the ground. Captain Banerjee announced to all that in a dramatic change from the usual tactics, he had won the toss and decided to field! He claimed to have spotted a little something in the pitch suggesting early movement, although a more convincing argument might have been that it would be cooler bowling first.
Anyway, after awarding a new club shirt to debutant Ethan Holmes we trudged reluctantly onto the pitch only for some sharp eyed cove to spot that the sight screens were set for a white ball. With no sign of activity from the ground staff an executive decision was made to try to fix the problem ourselves, ignoring young Ethan’s assertion that black screens shouldn’t pose a problem for the batsmen as we had no quick bowling. Greg offered him a look of disdain before clambering to the top of the screen to mend the pulley system which was jammed.
Finally, we got down to play with Greg opening up from the stadium end and Ethan standing where a keeper normally would for a bowler of Badger’s pace. By the end of the over he was nursing a couple of bruised hands and standing within chatting distance of the slips, commenting to Ash that it felt weird to be standing so far back. Welcome to big boys cricket young man
Etienne opened up from the other (unnamed) end, keeping it tight and getting a bit of swing and the score trickled along in singles, edges and wides until Etienne struck in his second over. A back of a length ball tempted the opener into a wild slog which Brad eventually caught coming in from mid off. He struck again in similar fashion in his next over, with Brad again pouching a skier (or skyer?), to have ABB struggling at 28 for 2 with only their no.3 batsman Syed Hussain looking capable of taking on the Darjeeling bowling.
After dropping a tough slip chance off Greg, Blikkies took over from the stadium end, picking up a wicket in his second over with a catch by the Dominator at midwicket.
Drinks were taken with ABB struggling at 58 for 3 after 10, but the fourth wicket partnership between Syed and Nidhin accelerated the rate towards respectability at 9 an over. A couple of late run outs left ABB with a sub-par total of 154 for 5, although given Darjeeling’s recent batting troubles it was by no means a given. Bowling figures were generally respectable, with Greg 4 overs, 0 for 20, Etienne 2 for 23, and Blikkies 1 for 24. Andrew Morris went for 15 in his first over before Captain Banerjee ruthlessly removed him from the attack, and both Brad and Shuggie going for 9 an over without a wicket.
So the chase began, or in the case of Brad, the leisurely amble. Blikkies decided to attack from the start (no change there then), whacking anything pitched up back past the bowler, and pulling anything short over mid wicket. So ferocious was his hitting that one shot saw his bat split in half lengthways, with one half nearly copping the square leg umpire. With Brad hitting just 2 fours the big unit was required to run far too many twos for his liking, with the pitch looking in danger at one point of being repainted with yesterday’s Snickers.
The result was never in doubt as the openers cantered (cross between a gallop – Blikks, and a walk – Brad) to the target in the 18th over, with Bliikies going to a brutal ton with a baseball shot which hit the academy on the full. 103 not out off just 69 balls, ably supported by Brad with a more conservative 37 at exactly a run a ball, and a 10 wicket win for the good guys for a change.
Back in the changing room the usual banter ensued with Elsabe promising Bliks rather more than just a massage as a reward for his ton, and a new bat for Christmas. Reverend Moses called for silence, and asked everyone to ponder the Thought For Today – the lost art of fingering… This was duly discussed, with thoughts ranging from the best techniques to how the decline in this practice is probably responsible for the world’s population problem. Ethan wisely refused the offer of a cold beer as his Dad was waiting for him, and left with Greg’s encouragement to keep practicing the fingering to keep him busy for the next week.
A good performance all round and surely the dawn of a fresh winning streak for the mighty Darjeeling. Bring on Standard Chartered!!