Sports Day 2005 – best ever performance but still only the bridesmaids...

On Friday 22 July two teams from the club embarked on the annual quest for six-a-side glory at the SPARTA Sportsday. Dodgers were represented by Neil Priest (c/wk), Simon Cousins, Phil McBarron, Rod Paterson, John Hilary and guest Darren Cooper. The Codgers were John Carr (c), John Cooper, Tawhid Qureshi and Kim Matthews (wk) who were joined by guests Cathal Rock and Richard Weider.

Dodgers Report by Neil Priest

My apologies if some of the following is a bit vague, but we don't have any scorecards for the games and it's hard to remember all the details. I did ask my team mates to check an early draft so any errors are entirely theirs!

Dodgers v LGF Jaffers

We won the toss and elected to bat first. Jaffers were expected to be the weakest side in an otherwise strong group and so it proved as Hilary and Cooper got the campaign off to a flying start racking up 71/1, Hilary being run out off the last ball. We followed this up with a good bowling fielding display, the highlight of which was McBarron's excellent throw in the first over to run out Paul Gaught who had scored 50 against us for Superstars earlier in the season. From then on Jaffers struggled and we kept them down to about 30/3.

Dodgers v SRA Sharks

Dodgers won the toss again and again decided to put runs on the board. Captain Priest was talked into opening to give Hilary a rest, although this was short lived as Priest soon dragged a wide one onto middle stump trying to hit over the top. After this brief interruption the Cooper/Hilary roadshow resumed and again posted us a score in excess of 70. Cooper then kicked off the SRA reply with wickets in consecutive balls and had an excellent shout for LBW turned down off the hat-trick ball. We then took our foot off the pedal and although a couple of decent SRA batsmen scored freely towards the end the result was never in serious doubt. SRA finished with about 60/3. This was undoubtedly Dodgers' worst performance of the day but we were still able to beat a decent side with relative ease.

Dodgers v Broadway

Our final group game was against a good side from Birmingham. Both teams were already through to the semi-finals having won their first two matches. The losers would face the trek over to the Fullers' pitch to face the mighty Deliverance in the semis.

Priest was late on parade - spying on Superstars v Deliverance, the deciding match in the other group – and in his absence Dodgers lost their first toss of the day and were inserted (we'd have batted anyway). McBarron was promoted to opener to make sure we had more than three batsmen who had had a hit before the semi-finals. Deja vu from the SRA game as Phil was out early and Cooper and Hilary were again left to get stuck into the opposition bowling. Priest joined in late on, a return to proper cricket shots instead of slogging providing more success than against SRA. Paterson was also able to get in at the end, playing one lovely dab for four behind square on the off. Yet again our bowling and fielding were excellent and the opposition managed less than 50 in reply. The highlight was Priest's superb legside stumping off Hilary off the last ball... well, the Cat was impressed anyway!

So we finished up as group winners having beaten two good sides along the way and now faced a tough semi-final against the auld enemy Superstars.

Semi-Final - Dodgers v Superstars

No need to read to the end to see how we got on. We won. And to put it mildly we were rather pleased with ourselves.

First let's put this into context. This is was about the fifth time we had played Superstars on Sportsday, including two finals (including last year). We had lost the lot. In fact, not only had we lost the lot but we had normally capitulated and been bowled out for 20 odd or other similar disasters. This was a real monkey on our backs.

With Priest back in charge of the coin we won the toss and again batted first. This time there was no mucking about with the batting order and Hilary returned to open. He and Cooper put together another promising partnership that was unfortunately cut short by some good Superstars bowling. Fortunately Priest and McBarron were able to keep some sort of momentum going and get us up to 50 – the highlight being a beautifully placed edge for four from McBarron off Gundry.

50 had been the minimum we considered we could defend but would it really be enough? (Of course it would, I’ve already said we won!). In the end it was easy and Superstars only managed about 30 odd in reply, hitting, I think, only one boundary in their innings. There were a couple of highlights. In the first over Cooper dropped a sharp return catch off Conway but had the presence of mind to grab the ball and turn round to run out non-striker Gigg. Phil McBarron's over also deserves special mention as he picked up the wickets of Gundry and Conway and effectively sealed the victory.

So celebrations all round – except for the poor dead monkey...

Final - Dodgers v Deliverance

Deliverance have always been a good side but in the past have relied almost
entirely on the huge talent of Richard Godden, a former Dodgers player (he also played for Zimbabwe U-19s but let's get our priorities right!). This year they had much more strength in depth although Richard was still clearly the star man. Deliverance had beaten everyone else on the day comfortably and had made Superstars look almost as ordinary as we had…

For the first time in the day Priest lost the toss and for the first time we bowled first. Godden opened and smashed Cooper's first ball for four. We did however get the dangerous Kenny Barry first ball. Cooper’s over was followed by tight overs from Cousins and Paterson and then with Deliverance on about 26 off 3 it was time for semi-final hero McBarron to step up to the plate, Godden at bat... The first ball was, as I'm sure Phil will admit, the worst we bowled all day. Short and slow, slow at least until it made contact with the middle of Godden's bat. Fortunately the adjacent softball tournament had finished, although he hit it so hard it probably would have cleared them anyway! The next ball was almost as bad – a knee high full toss on leg stump and the result was the same – softball players again grateful for their early finish. This time salt was rubbed into the wound as the umpire inexplicably called no ball – the only blot on an other wise excellent days umpiring. Sadly the extra 4 runs were to prove significant... Phil then settled down to a much steadier line and length and went a long way towards redeeming the over by bowling Godden neck and crop off the last ball of the over. This took some of the pressure off Hilary's final over and we were able to restrict Deliverance to a very gettable 58.

We again started steadily but were in trouble once Cooper and Hilary fell in quick succession. Some lusty blows from Priest ably supported by McBarron kept us in the hunt and we needed 18 off the last over. McBarron got the first ball away for a single. The next was pulled through midwicket by Priest for 4. The third was a wide (four extras but no extra ball) and then Priest swept the fourth ball for another four behind the square leg fielder. 6 off 2... Another short ball was pulled away by Priest – not middled but hit hard enough to the square leg fielder to leave Priest 6 yards short of his ground going for the second run. Paterson strode out with us needing 5 to win outright off the last ball, although a four would have given us victory by virtue of having lost less wickets and/or having scored more runs off the last over. The ball was wide of stump – play at it or leave it and hope it’s a wide…? Rod played it (correctly the umpire confirmed afterwards) but could only get it away for a single and Dodgers, for the third time, finished runners-up.

This was undoubtedly the best ever Sportsday performance by a Dodgers side. It was also the best Sportsday final I can remember playing in or watching. The highlights were for me were the batting of Hilary and Cooper, everyone’s fielding and bowling (Simon Cousins was especially accurate and gets less of a mention than he deserves in the above reports) and running a very good Deliverance side, who had hammered everyone else all day, so close in the final. As Rod pointed out though it will be a long coach trip from Swansea next year for them to come and defend their title... Oh, and did I mention we beat Superstars?

Codgers Report by John Carr

As you will have gathered from above, Codgers fared less well. This was hardly surprising. The team was not very strong and was drawn in the qualifying group from hell which included both the eventual winners - Deliverance - and Superstars. While Codgers predictably lost to both of these, they were not disgraced and managed to finish third in the group after a good win against the fourth team in the group - Broadway 2.

Codgers v Superstars

Skipper Carr inevitably lost the toss but, surprisingly, Barry Gigg decided to bowl first. After a reasonable start by Carr and Qureshi, things deteriorated when Tawhid was run out and a couple more wickets fell quickly. But Carr and Cooper with a few lusty blows managed to take us through to a score of 39 off our 5 overs. This was never likely to be enough with Superstars batting line up (and Codgers attack!) and so it proved with Superstars securing the win at the end of the third over.

Codgers v Broadway 2

Having seen Broadway's first game against Deliverance, Codgers recognised this match was likely to decide who would finish third in the group and who would receive the wooden spoon. Carr again lost the toss but, obligingly, Codgers were again inserted. This time, Carr and Qureshi managed to survive all 5 overs and posted a total of about 70 (this sounds better than it really was because Broadway contrived to gift us numerous extras and overthrows). Reasonable bowling performances from everybody saw us home by about 15 runs.

Codgers v Deliverance

The final game always threatened to be a mismatch but Codgers put up a good performance. Carr won the toss and decided to bat (on the basis that this was likely to get the game over quickly and we could at last get to the bar). Codgers struggled against tidy bowling and good fielding (Tawhid was again run out!) but useful contributions from Cooper and Rock saw us make about 36. Deciding to give some of their lower-order players some batting practice, Deliverance decided to reverse their batting order and at one stage we seemed to have a sniff. After two tight overs from Tawhid and JCII, Deliverance only had 11 runs. And, early in the next, guest Richard Weider secured a wicket. But that was as good as it got. A proper batter came to wicket, was promptly dropped (off Richard again), and then a blaze of boundaries saw Deliverance home with more than an over to spare.

Comments

John said…
It was well organised this year but why did Superstars play Codgers and then not have to play again for about 3 hours? Some of the no-ball / wides calling in the Codgers games were a bit perplexing. But small gripes aside both Dodgers side equipped themselves very well and a great time was had by all.