The 5th XI came out on the wrong end of a shootout in Greystones last Saturday as they came off second best to the league leaders. Despite this being a top plays bottom of the table affair the 5th XI showed some good fighting spirit and did their best to make a game of it. After being bowled out for a mere 37 Phoenix had the league leaders 5 down when they finally reached their target in the 24th over. While not a lot could be taken from the game from a technical point of view there was certainly plenty to be taken from the character and willingness to fight with their backs to the wall that the 5th XI showed.
Greystones won the toss and elected to field as is their wont. The surface offers amazing variation in bounce and movement regardless of what part of the mat the ball lands on. It was the same for both sides, though, but Phoenix struggled to deal with conditions right from the off.
Ian Anders (0) was first to go with the score on 3 and was followed soon by John Anders (1) before Jack O’Neill (1) and Michael Godwin (0) also came and went. McClean (0) battled hard for a while but was ultimately undone by a ball that clipped the top of his off stump and Phoenix were 8 for 5.
That brought Shahzaib Malik to the crease alongside skipper Moore and the pair dug in and fought as hard as they could. Remembering this years mantra of ‘Watch the Ball’ they did their best to make a nuisance of themselves. Malik played some very nice shots that would have been worth plenty on another ground where the outfield wasn’t so badly in need of a cut.
The pair battled along to a partnership of 23, the best of the day, before Moore (19) was adjuged to be out LBW. Malik (10) fell soon after and the rest of the innings fell to 37 all out. Moore and Malik were not just the only Phoenix players to make double figures they were the only Phoenix players to register more than one run off the bat.
37 was never going to be enough to defend against the table toppers but Phoenix showed they would not roll over. Ian Anders and Michael Godwin steamed in as the opening pairing and provided a great early burst. Their pace was up and Jack O’Neill had his work cut out behind the stumps but he kept superbly. They both gave the openers a stiff test and Ian Anders had Farrar (0) trapped LBW before Godwin had Drane (3) fall to the same fate. At 9 for 2 Phoenix were putting some pressure on but Greystones know their own patch and played the conditions well. Normally a partnership of 9 way up the order would not be noteworthy but the relieved the pressure by taking the score along to 18 before John Anders cleaned up Russell (9). John Anders then had McCarthy (1) trapped LBW to leave it a 22 for 4 and there was a slight glimmer of an opening for the 5th XI.
Chad Cavazzi was in obdurate mood, though, as he blocked and blocked and then blocked some more. He would finish unbeaten on 5 from 56 deliveries having taken 26 to get off the mark. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective as along with McNamara they took the scores to level. Godwin had McNamara (11) caught by Maginnis at Mid Off before the match was finished with a bye.
It certainly wasn’t a day for the purists and a five wicket defeat is not what the 5th XI had in mind when they set out for the game. However the grit and steel shown in not giving in when all the odds were stacked against them bodes well for the rest of the season for a side that is still continuing to to grow. As well as the wicket takers Shahzaib Malik 2-1-1-0 bowled brilliantly and Evan Chester, on his senior debut, was excellent with 2-0-4-0.
Shahzaib Malik was comfortably the Man of the Match on the day as his concentration and committment were excellent throughout.