Sunday, 24th August 2014 – The Phoenix 4th XI gathered in Castleknock College to face Ringcommons. Although Ringcommons are rooted to the foot of the table, everyone knew this would be no easy fixture. And it turned out that way.
Captain Anders won the toss and decided to bowl first (what a surprise!). Clarke and Dismore opened the bowling and it was Dismore who made the crucial breakthrough early in his spell with the dismissal of the dangerous Anto Coates. Coates tried to go over mid-off but mis-timed the shot and an excellent diving catch by James McDonagh saw the batsman dismissed with only 7 runs on the board. Clarke kept it tight at one while Dismore’s pace and bounce caused trouble from the other.
Dismore was replaced by Peter Maher and this was to change the course of the innings.
Firstly, Maher added the other opener, K Healy, caught at deep mid-wicket by John Anders. Next ball he had R White caught at short gully by the diving Raj Gopal (Raj insists he was there deliberately, however, it may have been a case of him not getting back into position quick enough!!). 2 wickets in 2 balls. But Maher would have to wait for his hat-trick chance as that was the end of his over. Monjur bowled his over and then the focus of attention turned to Maher. Could he get a hat-trick? The captain of Ringcommons, Barry White, was on strike. The standard hat-trick field was set i.e. a ring of fielders around the bat. But Maher didn’t need their help. His hat-trick ball was the perfect line and length. After pitching, the ball came back into the right-handed batsman and hit the top of middle stump. As hat-trick balls go, this was up there with the best. Maher finished with 3 for 15 off his 6 overs.
At the other end, Monjur picked up a wicket to keep the pressure on. After drinks, Millar replaced Monjur and James McDonagh replaced Maher. James bowled 3 overs and only conceded 4 runs which was quite impressive considering he carrying an injury as a result of his catch earlier in the game.
Murali Millar twirled away as he has done all season. He tied the batsmen in knots and was rewarded with figures of 3 for 30 off 8 overs. With James struggling with injury, Golden Arm Anders introduced himself into the attack. 1 for 11 off 6 doesn’t reflect the quality of his bowling. On another day with a different umpire, he may have had 3 or 4 LBWs to add to his wicket. And if one of the safest pairs of hands in the team hadn’t dropped a chance, who knows what Golden Arm’s bowling figures could have ended up as? We will never know!
Clarke replaced Millar and took the final wicket of the innings just as the teas (A big thanks to Kate for the teas) arrived. Ringcommons were all out 117. While the bowling was exceptional at times, conceding 18 wides and 7 no-balls (their umpire has his own view on wides and a rather odd notion of the no-ball law) was disappointing. With the inclusion of byes (1) and leg-byes (1), extras became the top-scorer with 27.
Gopal opened the batting with another new opening partner. Aidan Chester became Raj’s 8th opening partner of the season. Aidan was cautious as Raj push the score along in the early overs. The Admiral was first to depart when he edged one through to the keeper. Raj (22) followed shortly afterwards with an edge to first slip.
The ever impressive Bampfield (43*) saw the 3 M’s (Millar, Maher and Monjur) come and go for single figures each. Wicket-keeper-batsman Mick McDonagh hit a quick 15 to get the 4s within 25 of their target. All the while, Bampfield continued to accumulate the runs at the other end. Captain Anders and Bampfield got the score to 114 before Anders was bowled.
Next in was Dismore. Although he was coming off the back of 40 runs against Greystones, the advice to Dismore was to play for Bampfield as he was the set batsman. Dismore listened to the advice from the players on the side-line and from the captain as he was leaving the filed. He listened but completely ignored the advice as he smacked his first ball for four to win the game. A three wicket win keeps the pressure on North County who face Ringcommons in a local derby this coming Sunday.
Maher’s hat-trick was the highlight of the day followed by Bampfield’s innings with the bat. A special mention to Aidan Chester for umpiring under difficult circumstances.
Team: John Anders (c), Mick McDonagh (wk), Raj Gopal, Aidan Chester, Adam Bampfield, Gordon Millar, Monjur Ahmad, Peter Maher, James McDonagh, Devon Dismore, Willie Clarke.
Next up for the 4th XI is a home game (back to the park) against Terenure 3 on Sunday, 31st August 2014. With North County and Ringcommons going head-to-head at the same time, another win is a must for the 4s.
I’ll leave you all this week with an extract from an article, from April 2014, on the Cricket Leinster website (www.cricketleinster.ie) by Paul Reynolds. Paul pens a series of articles before each season outlining his predictions. In relation to Phoenix and Division 9, let’s hope his wise words come true!!
Finally, we get to Phoenix 4, the 2013 Division 10 champions. Normally champions from the division below just look for mid-table mediocrity. But as we’ve already seen, there is not much between all nine teams in this league, and if we are looking for a surprise package to grab the title at the last minute, it may just be Phoenix.