After the rain washed out the top of the table clash with North County 4, the 4s knew that they had to get back to winning ways when they faced Swords 1 on the August Bank Holiday in the Phoenix Park.
The ground looked wonderful considering all the rain of the previous 48 hours.
Captain Anders lost the toss and Swords asked Phoenix to bat first. As this is such a rare occurrence everybody had to check twice with John just to make sure.
Our regular opener Raj Gopal got another opening partner in the form of Gordon ‘Murali’ Millar. The pair batted steadily, punishing the bad balls and defending the good balls. Murali (14) was first to fall to a catch at short third man. Raj was joined by Adam Bampfield. They continued to score runs at a steady pace.
Raj made 26 before he was dismissed. Adam got to 25 before he was bowled by a ball that cut back from outside off. The father and son partnership of John and Ian Anders added 41 before John bowled. Ian continued on as first Dev and then the son and father combination of James and Michael McDonagh came and went.
A bit of middle order collapse. However, Ian batted on superbly to reach 57 before an inside edge on the stumps ended his long vigil at the crease. Raza joined Monjur at the crease. But his stay was another short one.
Monjur added 28 before he was the last man out leaving Clarke on 1*. Swords would need 189 to win.
This week’s tactical master plan from Captain Anders was four over spells from the bowlers. Clarke and Dismore opened the bowling. Some tight disciplined bowling meant Swords found it hard to score. Clarke (2 for 32) first 3 overs were maidens. Clarke struck in his 4th over with Mick McDonagh taking the catch behind the stumps. Clarke was replaced by James McDonagh. While Ian Anders took over from Dismore. Ian bowled well without any luck. McDonagh well stump to stump and got his reward in his 4th over with one that stayed low.
The bowler rotation policy continued. Raza replaced McDonagh and Monjur replaced Anders. The rotation policy seemed to work as Swords continued to struggle to score runs. Raza picked one wicket in his spell to heap more pressure on the visitors.
With their 4 overs done, Millar (4 for 45) replaced Raza and John Anders replaced Monjur. Millar broke the 4 over cycle as he worked his magic for 9 overs in a row. He was rewarded with 4 wickets including 2 great catches from John and Dev. A run out at the hands of James McDonagh aided the Phoenix cause.
Swords continued to bat a very steady pace and never really looked like challenging the target of 189. However, 42 from the number 10 had a few of the Phoenix hearts beating a bit quicker. Clarke came back to pick up the 9th wicket. But Swords kept on going. Ian replaced Murali. The second ball of his spell was padded to a leg slip position. With the batsman well out of his ground, Mick McDonagh took aim and hit the stumps to give the 4s a 24 run victory.
A tough victory in the end. But the game showed a number of things. Firstly, the 4s can bat. Their last 3 innings have been 188, 227 and 200. Secondly, the fielding was much improved on recent weeks. Chances were held. Thirdly, the number of extras conceded was reduced as well.
This victory sets up a cracking finale to the season. With four games left, the 4s know that they may need to win all four and hope one or two teams can do a number on North County.
Next up is a tricky away trip to Greystones on Sunday, 10th August. Another win and we will be knocking loudly on the North County door.
Sunday’s team was: John Anders (c), Michael McDonagh (wk), Raj Gopal, Gordon Millar, Adam Bampfield, Ian Anders, James McDonagh, Devon Dismore, Monjur Ahmad, Ali Raza, Willie Clarke.