After winning the parks trophy and confirming promotion last week, all eyes turned to the final game of the season, a 1st vs 2nd humdinger against Musselburgh. Having turned up at Lewisvale, we went to have a look at the pitch, and when the question was asked “which pitch are we playing on?” we were told “the one I’m about to cut”. Due to the rain, the previously prepared pitch was unplayable and in the midst of a heavy shower, a pitch was prepared at 11:45. A reduced 45 over game was agreed to start at half one, and with the season on the line, Luke went out to toss. In keeping with the rest of the season, he generously lost, meaning we would have to bat on a pitch that resembled a sponge cake covered in moss.

After a thorough warm up of keepy-up and a pep-talk from Willie Ritchie which cant be repeated, Sam decided to slog sweep a ball in the second over and got a top edge without scoring, and Luke followed not long after to the same bowler when a slower ball snuck under his bat for 4. A steady run-rate of 0.9per over was achieved with a combination of edgy shots and singles from Alex and Suthakar and we finally broke the 1 an over barrier in over 16, but shortly after all hell broke loose.

In the 21st, with the score beginning to look quite nice at 28-2, Sutha – having missed the previous 12,067 attempts to hit the leg spinner over the top by doing his best Happy Gilmore impression, finally connected with one which went straight down long-on’s throat as he departed for 9. Alex (after a pep talk where he indicated he was going to bat to 35 and go from there) then attempted to sweep a full ball 3 balls later and was cleaned up for 10. When Philip then left a ball 2 balls later which turned from outside off to hit the top of middle, we were suddenly 5 down and on the ropes.

Finlay and Gavin got the chance to bat together and rescue the innings, which has been an often talked about fantasy situation, but reality hit hard when Fin attempted a sweep shot, which hit his foot, bat, helmet, leg, glove and then hit the stumps to make it 28-6. Joined by Anand, Gavin decided to try and turn the tide of the game, playing a reverse paddle for 2 which was greeted with huge cheers. These turned to groaned and expletives as he then ran past a ball and was stumped by approximately 20 out of the 22 yards the very next ball making it 34-7.

Batman and Bradley came together and immediately changed the dynamic of the innings, starting to really push before they pushed a little too hard and Batman was run out after a brad slip with 8 runs added to the score. After the 700 metre walk out to the middle Neil had calmed down mildly having watched the carnage and set about the bowling attack by being extremely boring. Luckily Brad was in a slightly different mood and they added 20 runs in the next 5 overs before Neil hit one straight to cover, their best fielder, and called for 1. Gallantly, Brad ran and didn’t smack Neil in the face with his bat for being so stupid as he ran him out for 14 leaving us on 62-9. With Nadeem striding out to the crease, Musselburgh had their tails up again – but we managed to annoy them for another 5 overs by running hard and sledging anyone who spoke, mostly each other. By the time Nadeem was caught brilliantly at cover, we had reached 73, with the last 3 wickets more than doubling the score. Whilst it wasn’t ideal, it at least gave us something to bowl at.

After a solid tea, we got out to the middle as Gavin and Nadeem took the new ball, with near immediate results as Gavin castled opener 1 in his second over with a ripper of a ball, which he bettered in the 7th over as he lost his run-up, but proceeded to bowl a yorker out of nowhere to get rid of number 2. This brought Tufail to the crease who had scored a ton the previous week, admittedly on a deck that wasn’t trying to ruin his soul. Despite the best attempted of Finlay and Alex to dive over or drop any attempted catch that came their way at this point in the game (which was a recurring theme throughout the innings), the pressure on the scoreboard told as Nadeem produced a beauty to bowl Tufail leaving them 10-3 in the 10th.

What followed was not pretty or particularly brilliant to watch, but on the pitch was hugely intense. As the number 3 and 5 dug in, the volume and niggle in the game got more and more. Chance after chance after mishit after swipe after defensive shot moved Musselburgh slowly up to 35-3 in the 23rd over, at which stage we were beginning to quiet down.

But cometh the hour, cometh the Batman, as he got Verma LBW for 15. This was his 7,000,000th appeal this season, all of which would have missed off stump, but an umpire finally took pity on him. When Brad then had the next batsman caught behind by Phil, it was 36-5 as we tried in vain to remove Ullah, their last recognised batsman.

Brad has come up with a couple of unbelieveable deliveries this season, often in amongst spells of half trackers and no-balls, which has meant the class of them has been overlooked at times. However, after roughing Ullah up by hitting him with a couple of bouncers (read: half trackers so slow he missed them a second time before they hit him), Brad produced a Yorker that destroyed the stumps and bails like they’d been hit by a scud missile. 40-6.

The next batsman to fall smashed batman straight up in the air to Sam, who took a very good catch, at which point we dropped 3 catches in the next 3 overs which would have seen us home. Yelly returned for what looked to be a fruitless spell until the impossible happened and he took a catch off his own bowling, for the first time in forever. For the first time this season, he didn’t just bowl and turn around, and when a leading edge went up but instead reached across very hopefully before completing an excellent catch. This left us needing 1 wicket to win, with the opposition number 11 unable to bat.

The next 4 overs Gavin and Yelly bowled in vain at the batsmen, who were taking a run an over with plenty time left and managing to somehow survive a barrage of Yorkers and straight balls which narrowly missed the stumps. In Yelly’s 7th over, they decided to take a single to Luke at Mid-on, who had shelled a catch a couple of overs earlier and was still mildly annoyed by it. But with a clean pickup, he threw down the stumps and we had won, by 17 runs, at which point the next 6 hours or so become a bit of a blur. It definitely involved a quiet cup of coffee and an early night, not numerous shots of tequila.

Having led the league all season and having avenged both of our defeats, we fully deserved this success. Without much of a personnel overhaul we have gone from close to relegation last year to champions with numerous contributors in each game. We haven’t relied on individuals too often this year, it has very much been a collective effort, which sums up the ethos of the club this year.

Everyone involved at the club has contributed to this success, whether it be players, committee, juniors, taxi-drivers, parents. Everyone across the club has helped make this happen by buying into the club this year. And but this makes us the first ‘double’ winning team in the history of the club.

UTM!

Author: Neil Yelland

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