The Phoenix 5th XI continued their campaign to avoid relegation from Division 12 on Saturday against North County. Hoping to make it six wins out of six ( inching closer to safety in the Division!!) were debutants Calum O’Byrne, Abdullah Tariq, Graham Mooney, Stephen Black,Arsalan Mehmood, Evan Chester, Aidan Chester (c) , Louis McDonagh, Sankeerth Karpe, Zafarullah Mohommed and the teams showman Mick “D’Entertainer” McDonagh.
The ground in Balrothery was in good knick and even North County’s skipper James “Bisto” Mooney felt the wicket need a fresh painting despite the overhead threatening conditions. Both sides knew it was going to be a long day avoiding the showers!
The Admiral guessed correctly at the toss and had no hesitation in asking County to bat first!
Zafar and new man Abdullah opened the bowling in very tough and greasy conditions as by this time the first of the day’s showers had arrived . Young Lorcan Woodhouse was batting very positively and getting County off to a good start. In the 9th over Zafar finally got a ball in the right area and bowled Mann for 14. North County 46-1.
The Admiral started ringing the changes as long spells in wet conditions were tough for the bowlers. Sankeerth let a ball rip from the deep square leg boundary and ran out Lorcan for a well-made 33 and Phoenix started getting more comfortable with conditions. Sankeerth was onto bowl next along with Sunny. Sankeerth has been on exam leave from the team but picked up where he left off before the break trapping Dutt in front LBW (the umpire had no hesitation in raising the finger!) to have county 56-3 off 12 overs. Bisto and O’Byrne saw the home side to drinks – 78-3!
At drinks we all felt we just hadn’t been on top of our game but were reasonably happy given the conditions- Abdullah had bowled really well for no reward and no help from his team mates either as Mick had been like “Bambi on ice” trying to catch a simple catch at mid-wicket – as Mick put it- “I’m here to entertain……”
The Admiral decided to go with his customary plan after drinks and rolled on Louis for a bit of “sky high” leg spin to see if he could tempt the batsmen into a mistake. Bisto duly obliged paddling Louis around the corner where Abdullah took an excellent catch- 85-4. When O’Byrne was caught behind by The Entertainer for a well-made 25 North County had fallen to 95-5. There’s not much to say about the catch but it was reminiscent of Hugo MacNeill in his day playing at 15 for Ireland diving full length to make a mark with the English pack bearing down on him- entertaining indeed!!
Louis then bowled Hussan for 1 and County were 95-6 and Phoenix were well on top.
Shaid and Graham then put on a recovery to get County to 121 and a score of 160-180 looked on the cards when The Admiral had a hunch that it was time to put a bit of fire in the proceedings. So he called on Evan to loosen the County batsmen up with a bit of fire and pace- the result was immediate! Shaid was clean bowled for 10 and then Graham was bowled also for 10- North County 125-8. Another run out by Sankeerth on 138 and he wrapped up the innings clean bowling Quentin Gaddy to leave North County all out on 144. 2 wickets for Evan, Louis and Sankeerth and 1 for Sunny and Zafar!
After a brisk tea, The Admiral sent Black and Mooney out to get the innings under way. Stephen has been responsible all year for getting our innings off to a solid start and while Graham is looking less solid he does score quickly . There were a couple of close LBW calls but Graham had managed to shuffle just outside the line of off stump each time. The score was on 42 when after pleading from “D’Entertainer” to get on with it Graham had a massive swing across the line off a straight ball and was comprehensively bowled for 24. This brought Sankeerth to the crease and he set about looking to be positive and getting the scoreboard moving. Both he and Stephen defended the good balls and looked to score off the bad balls and at drinks the score was 68-1 off 20.
After drinks 77 were just needed and the two boys continued on their way.
With the score on 89 Stephen was unluckily caught by James Mooney of a very high full toss (it was high but after a common sense discussion the delivery was adjudged to be legal!) – Stephen was disappointed but again he made a very good 25 to set the foundation for the teams chase. Sunny came in next and despite the Admirals advice of batting the overs , Sunny decided that it was time to bring the team home. Some big shots were the order of the day in his mind and he scored 32 off 11 balls before being caught in the deep to leave Phoenix on 135-3 .
Debutant Calum O’Byrne came in next and despite North County trying to apply some pressure , Calum made batting look easy and brought the side to victory with a nice drive down the ground for 4 finishing 12 not out.
Sankeerth finished on 39 not out ( off 50 balls!) and Phoenix won by 7 wickets.
This win added to Cabinteelys loss against Civil Service on the same day means the Phoenix are on top of the table (in their fight to avoid relegation- we are Leicester city don’t you know!)
So, it was a long day in the damp conditions but as usual on our young team it was a roller coaster. Tough to bowl at the beginning Zafar and Abdullah did very well.
Sunny and Sankeerth applied lots of pressure before Louis and Evan turned the game around for us. Our fielding was good especially from the youngsters (The Admiral was very poor and is looking for his glasses as we speak- he’ll have to work on his fielding or else he’ll crack up listening to Mooney and D’Entertainer laughing hysterically!!)
Our batsmen are doing very well too, understanding their role in the line-up and delivering on it is just as important!! Stephen is doing very nicely leading the way (it’s a pity he has to bat with Graham but what can you do……..remember if you keep laughing Graham I’ll get my revenge in the match report!!!)
Finally, it’s time to leave with our standard Claudio quote as we turn our attention to facing Malahide in Castleknock College next Saturday…..one of our main priorities this year is to grow our 5th XI squad of players especially our youth players and to give them experience of senior cricket (well done to Calum and Abdullah on making their debuts this week!)
Claudio was asked about having a big squad recently…..and I think it fits the bill perfectly to wrap up our report this week!
“If it is the case that you need just a 5th XI and three or four more players, then why did Christopher Columbus sail to India to discover America?”