Murrayfield DAFS 2
The 2s welcomed Haddington for their first home game of the season. Despite a little overnight moisture, Roseburn was posturing as a batting paradise – blue skies, a rock-hard deck and nicely prepared square. The only doubt being the mammoth boundaries inside which you could fit the an entire Kiwi cricket stadium – including seating.
As the toss went up, the opposition called correctly and duly elected to bat. The first over was a little ominous as the opening pair eased five runs using the pace of the ball and emitted an aura of composure. This was rapidly extinguished before Phil Hook had completed his follow-through as an inswinging yorker ripped out a pole with his first ball of the day. The following over, he convinced a ball well outside off stump to jag back at full tilt knocking over another, in what was (presumably) the best ball ever bowled in Div 3. Ably supported by Rob, who went wicketless (despite his two spells!), Phil took a third courtesy of a straightforward catch to Rob immediately after a change-up in the field and Haddington were reduced to 19-3. Barely a run being scored in front of square, although slip drives were proving to be relatively profitable.
Enter Devik. There are worse ways to make your home debut than back-to-back wicket maidens. The first another catch for Rob and the second a spinning-skier, well-grabbed by Simon, hiding at square leg. At the other end, Hassan bowled a tight but fruitless spell to tighten our grip on the match. A solid partnership saw Haddington recover to 59-5, however, perhaps surprised by how poor the ball was, the Haddington keeper kindly picked out Hassan off a full toss from the returning Phil, likely the only player who could have reached the ball.
Simon narrowly missed out on a maiden club wicket, with a probing spell and Mike narrowly missed out on bowling a straight delivery, struggling for Rhythm after his faceblockbuster debut. Nidhish was happy to snatch the opportunity, clean bowling Pearce for his first 2s wicket.
Having not found the boundary all innings, Haddington looked to go over the top and Devik was all to happy to cash-in with two further wickets caught at mid-on. A steepler was well-held by Phil Hook and brimming with the confidence from his earlier catch, Simon made a very tricky chance look simple, running in at mid-on to round of the innings and give Devik his fourth. 87 all out was tricky enough, with boundaries almost out of the equation, to require application but we were confident with given how well the pitch was playing.
After an all too brief tea (the Haddington skipper was in a rush to watch Eurovision – presumably), we headed out burdened with curry pies. Regan and Hassan made a positive start in the first over before Regan was trapped in front. Mike followed for a second ball duck, bringing Carl to the middle after seven balls with far too little time to digest the strawberry tarts. Hassan and Carl played positively, ticking the runs over before in the 46th over of the match, Hassan crunched the first boundary, down the ground. Hassan fell to an ugly hoick at a straight one but the spectators were appeased moments later as Carl swatted away a baseball pitch for another boundary, combining with Lindsay to stroll to 57-3 off 18 overs – 31 required for victory.
At this point, Haddington introduced the guileful (read: tantalizing) spin of Cruickshank who had batted for 37 overs – mostly with a runner due to an injury. Carl chipped his first ball into midwicket where a catch was well-held, falling for 24, however we were well on top. The temptation proved too much for Lindsay who swiped at a straight one and was clean bowled. Phil Hook demonstrated his resolute willpower, safely watching his first ball go by. By the time his second ball was on the way though, the craving proved too strong and he soundly walloped some thin air towards cow corner, just seconds before the ball reached the stumps to bowl him.
At the other end, Philip Neaves was cleaned bowled for 1 and Haddington had three wickets in four balls. We were in disarray at 62-7 with 26 runs looking a long way away. Rob joined Devik at the crease and the pair built a contextually mammoth partnership of 15, dead-batting the forbidden off-spin and milking runs off the seam bowlers. As the bowlers rotated, searching for another way in, Rob made a little too much use of his crease, walking into his own stumps to the confusion of all onlookers.
Nidhish entered the fray, with Simon patiently waiting on the sidelines at number 11, secretly hoping for a chance to be the hero (presumably). Devik wasn’t about to let that happen though, with a composed and mature knock, as every run was cheered with increasing volume from the scorers enclosure. After some good running and a few good blows, scores were level. Opposition skipper, and opening bowler, Blades, brought himself back for to take charge. Nidhish duly saw the chance to write himself into club folklore, unleashing the reverse paddle off the penultimate ball of the over, having defended the first four deliveries. There were scenes of frenzied relief on the sidelines as his missed the ball completely and sensibly decided to defend the final delivery – with a boringly orthodox straight bat. Cruickshank returned for his final over, and the final roll of the dice, and Devik bided his time before taking the final run and sealing a nerve-jangling but satisfying victory – a match-winning performance with bat and ball.
Some stunning individual performances but a real team-effort to ensure we got the result. Onto Selkirk next week, who dramatically avoided relegation last year – having not lost a game since July, in a top of the table clash to determine the first outright league leader of the season.