5th XI v Cabinteely (at St Andrew’s College) – 7/8/2016

The Phoenix 5th XI continued their Division 12 campaign on Saturday against fellow table toppers Cabinteely at a breezy St Andrews College on Sunday.

We had a number of key personnel missing through injury and unavailability so hoping to keep our winning run going were  Evan Chester, Adam Gibson McKenna, Graham Mooney, Harry Fay, Aidan Chester (c) , Louis McDonagh, Sankeerth Karpe, Conor Hillman, Ronan “CSI Tallaght” Harris, Rehan Quereshi and D’Entertainer” McDonagh.

The Admiral won the toss and decided that he wanted to get after Cabinteely straightaway with his bowling attack- Phoenix were in the field.

Evan Chester was our “Theo” for the day  (angry fast bowler) and opened the bowling. Conor Hillman opened from the other end.

The next hour or so was pure delight for any skipper as Evan bowled his best for a long time and while Conor wasn’t as accurate as Evan the pressure that Evan had the Cabinteely batsmen under meant that they tried to score off Conor and he picked up wickets. Bowling in pairs at its best!

Evans opening spell was 6 overs 1-12. His wicket was an excellent running (kind of) catch from Graham who pouched the ball over his head. Conor bowled his 8 overs through and finished up with 3-21 off his 8 overs including a good catch from Louis at slip!

At that stage Cabinteely were 33-4 and Sankeerth was on next. It wasn’t to be his day as after his first over he pulled up injured- he struggled through for 4 overs but couldn’t do anymore!

Louis had spent most of the night before chasing horses at the club race night and was finding the breezy conditions tough. His first over was a bit erratic but when The Admiral clung on to a skier at midwicket (that’s my version of it!) and Rehan held on to a scorcher at deep cover off AGM’s bowling Cabinteely were rocking at 70-6 just after drinks.

Normally both Adam and Louis press on but today was not their day as Cabinteely went on the attack. The pitch didn’t help with steep bounce off any length and both batsman were able to sit on the back foot and pull anything full to the leg side.  After just 4 overs from each bowler Cabinteely had added 92 runs with 10 overs left. A score of 200 was definitely on the cards. Evan bowled his last 2 overs to stem the tide but the batsmen were well set.

In desperation The Admiral turned to CSI Tallaght and Graham Mooney. Graham responded as only he knows how! Let’s bore the batsmen with some cunning slow left arm bowling that could go anywhere- it worked!

To be honest, it’s all a bit of a blur but while Ronan leaked some runs at the other end Graham started to run through the remaining Cabinteely bats. Piyush who had scored 79 of 42 balls flapped at a straight one and was bowled, two balls later Graham bowled Jiju and was on a hat trick after trapping Navdeep LBW. Not to be outdone CSI Tallaght fired up at the other end and Louis took an amazing one handed catch at slip to close the Cabinteely innings on 181 all out in the 39th over.

After tea, The Admiral sent CSI and Graham to the wicket having urged his team to forget about the score- “play your normal game, be positive and if we go down we’ll go down fighting”.

Obviously Graham missed the “fighting” bit because he was out almost immediately. Sankeerth joined CSI at the crease and was immediately positive. The Cabinteely bowlers knew their home pitch and full balls were bouncing very high but it was no concern for the youngster as he was ruthless and played great shots behind square to slowly get the scoreboard running.  CSI sounded more like Ronan Keating at the other end with regular shouts of “C’mon” to try and get going. When he hit a fine shot through mid-wicket we thought he’d woken up from his night out in Diceys and Krystal but it was all to no avail as next ball he played across the line of a straight one and was caught at point.

Rehan score a quick 7 but then tried to reverse sweep  their opening bowler and the ball rolled onto his stumps after popping off his helmet. Evan played a scorching shot through mid-wicket but was undone by a ball that was onto him quickly and he could only scoop the ball to short third man. Harry did try hard to get in the game but found the scoring tough. He did hit a couple of good shots in his score of 11 but was out shortly after. In the meantime slowly but surely Sankeerth kept going and kept Phoenix in the game. Sankeerth had passed 50 when the Admiral joined him when Phoenix only needed 80 off 10 overs. Not impossible to chase but would take some effort!

Cabinteely were getting nervous when Phoenix kept taking the singles on offer- When the Admiral cut “stylishly” for four Phoenix only needed 58 off 7. A big over was needed and the time was now but the Cabinteely openers were back on and having none of it. There were plenty of short balls to fend and when the Admiral holed out to long on having scored 14 Phoenix were starting to run out of bats. Sankeerth fell shortly afterwards and the required run chase became too great. Louis and Adam tried manfully but the conditions were difficult for them and even D’Entertainer struggled to score when for the first time this season he got to bat. Phoenix were all out for 150 when Conor edged behind in the 39thover. 31 runs short.

While it was our first loss of the season there were huge positives from the game from a Phoenix perspective. While it’s never nice losing it is something our youngsters can learn from. (the adults are used to it!)

Evan’s opening spell was tremendous and was a good return from all the work he had put in at training during the week. Both he and Conor bowled very well together and got us on top of the game early. Sankeerths inning was a classy affair from beginning to end and it was unfortunate that it wasn’t in a winning cause. For Louis and Adam it was a tough day bowling but these are good days to learn and turn around next week and do better! Rehan took a stunning catch (we won’t talk about the batting Rehan!) and despite the fact that Graham can’t score a run these days he did get three good wickets to make sure we had a chance of chasing the runs. (He is picked as an opening bat but not to worry….)

We play Merrion away next week and we will look to get better in our middle overs- one thing is for certain-Louis and AGM will be having another go next weekend to attack the opposition and rightly so as they have bowled well all season!

Maybe Graham and The Admiral will score some runs too…..

I think one of the great Claudio sayings sums us up really well this week….

“Even if you can’t play well, all I want is your character and your spirit. I tell my players they can win, they can lose but I want to see the same mentality”

Aidan Chester

5th XI v Leinster (Castleknock College) – 24/7/2016

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The Phoenix 5th XI continued their Division 12 campaign on Saturday against Leinster. Having reached the halfway break point of the season, the Admiral had taken off to the Mediterranean to plan his second half strategy and hopefully meet Claudio at his villa. Claudio was busy so the Admiral spent the two weeks reading up on “The Art of Captaincy” by Mike Brearley in an effort to find new ways of motivating Mooney to scoring some big runs in the crucial second half of the season.

Hoping to make it eight wins out of eight were debutants Paddy Keating and Adam Gibson McKenna, Graham Mooney, Stephen Black, Harry Fay, Aidan Chester (c) , Louis McDonagh, Sankeerth Karpe, Conor Hillman, Theo Dempsey and last but by no means least “D’Entertainer” McDonagh.

The ground in Castleknock was a little damp but there was promise of sunny weather later in the day. The Phoenix team was matched by an equally young team from Leinster. Youngster Luke MacMahon from Leinster pleaded with the captains (the Leinster skipper was dad, Rory MacMahon) to allow his side bat first and the coin duly obliged! Phoenix were in the field (and Luke was happy!).

Theo Dempsey was our senior pro for the day and got to pick the end he wanted to open (his normal end as it turned out!)and Conor Hillman opened from the other end (known as the school gym end).

Theo was on the money early but Conor struggled a little early on as Leinster’s young opener Paddy Lynch was up for the game- if he went after the ball it was smoked to the boundary.

D’Entertainer dropped a regulation soft skier to slip (even I would have caught it!) and when Harry dropped another simple catch Theo was less than impressed. In fairness he kept plugging away and when the other Leinster opener V Gee pulled him to midwicket Sankeerth made no mistake! 9 for 1.

At the other end Paddy was really punishing the Phoenix bowling but Theo claimed another wicket when Harry clung on to remove Una Raymond-Hoey on 9 to leave Leinster on 32-2 off 7 overs. At 10 overs the score had moved on to 48-2 and recollecting the opening of Chapter 5 of “The Art of Captaincy” the Admiral decided to make a change and bring on Sankeerth and Adam Gibson McKenna (“Get debutants into the game early!!”).

Sankeerth turned the game on its head first ball. Peter Masterson clubbed the ball over Sankeerths head and everyone turned to watch it head for the boundary only to see Paddy Keating scampering across and pouching the ball with ease. It was far from easy but Paddy showed us how to do it- 48-3. Two balls later Sankeerth bowled Michael Lynch and then claimed a third wicket in the over when Harry took another good catch to leave Leinster on 48-5 at the end of the 11th over.

Adam showed up at the other end for his first bowl on the 5th XI with the Admiral’s simple message- enjoy! Immediately Adam got in on the act with a great catch behind by Louis (No other way of saying it Mick- it was a sharp catch!) and when the Leinster skipper popped another up for Louis off AGM’s bowling Leinster were 58-7.

Sankeerth got through Paddy Lynch’s stumps  for a well-made 35 and then got through plucky Luke MacMahons stumps to take his first ever 5 wicket haul leaving Leinster on 69-9.

AGM struck with an absolute ripper in the next over to bowl Usman and end with 3-23 off 5 overs. Theo had 2-24 off his 5 overs but Sankeerth finished with 5 for 2 runs off 5 overs. Leinster had fallen from 48-2 at the end of the 10th over to all out for 71 after 19.4 overs! Devastating bowling from Sankeerth and the debutant AGM pictured below!

Drinks were taken and the Admiral sent out Black and Mooney to get the game over quickly.

Unfortunately Graham set out to bat like Sir Geoffrey and had the Admiral searching through the book for ways of getting a move on. Bob Willis recommended running Boycott out, hhhmmm that’s a possibility….Mick was looking anxious thinking that the wine in the boot of the car might be like vinegar by the time 72 is scored….

It wasn’t Graham’s day scoring 10 of 48 balls but in fairness young Peter Masterson of Leinster was bowling left arm over with late swing and pace (Best bowling we’ve seen so far this year!)  and it would be a disservice not to mention him!

When both Phoenix openers were out the score had reached 31-2 after 14 overs. Louis and Harry were up next and while Louis didn’t last long, Harry kept it simple! A couple of big hits helped get the score moving. Sankeerth fell for 7 and Paddy Keating had to go in next. No scares yet at 43-3 but when Harry was bowled it meant the Admiral had to put his pads on and ensure there were no mistakes. A couple of big hits later and the target was reached- Paddy ended up 6 not out while the Admiral finished on 14 not out. Credit to the Leinster bowling attack too as they didn’t make it easy for the Phoenix bats.

A devastating period in the field helped Phoenix on this day and it was great to see that AGM playing his first game was in the thick of the action while Sankeerth had his first major contribution with the ball. A number of regulars were missing today (some were unavailable and some were on higher teams) but it’s great to see those coming in playing their part!

The 5ths have a week off this bank holiday weekend which will give the Admiral time to get in touch with Claudio to see what he thinks of captaincy- when he was asked about the topic last season he said:-

“In Italy the Captain is a paratrooper who jumps out of a plane but doesn’t know if the parachute will open or not……”

Aidan Chester

5th XI v Malahide (Castleknock College) – 9/7/2016

image002The Phoenix 5th XI continued their intense campaign to avoid relegation from Division 12 on Saturday against Malahide in picturesque Castleknock College. Hoping to make it seven wins out of seven  were Calum O’Byrne, Graham Mooney, Stephen Black, Evan Chester, Aidan Chester (c) , Louis McDonagh, Sankeerth Karpe, Zafarullah Mohommed, “D’Entertainer” McDonagh, James Maginnis and returning from his Gaeltacht experience and putting the rest of us to shame with his Irish speaking Theo Dempsey!

Malahide brought a young side with them (but were only 10 men) and both skippers agreed to “let the youths at it and see who won”!

The Admiral guessed correctly at the toss (it must be bordering on a winning streak at this stage!) and had no hesitation in asking Malahide to bat first!

Zafar and Theo opened the bowling and were on the money from the off! 6 runs were scored from the first 5 overs and Zafar struck with a beauty to remove the Malahide skipper’s middle stump!

Theo was completely mean with his bowling – a great line and length (only 4 runs off his first 4 overs) and got his reward when Woods Oliver clipped the ball to James Maginnis at square leg.

When Theo’s spell was over The Admiral threw the ball to Sankeerth who was bang on first over with a ball that nipped back to trap Akhit in front LBW- Malahide were 11-2.

Malahide tried to break free but the ball was not getting past the Phoenix youngsters in the covers (Evan and Stephen) with a couple of great diving stops on the “sporty” Castleknock outfield!

Zafar was on fire at the other end as the Admiral asked him to bowl his 8 overs through and again was too quick for Ogilvie and bowled him to leave Malahide 21-3 and teetering.

Sankeerth was next to strike to take his second wicket leaving Malahide on 29-5.

At drinks Malahide were 41-5 and the by now 5ths custom of swapping keepers meant D’Entertainer was in the game. In fairness he had tried his best in the slips but like the Admiral in previous weeks he wasn’t grabbing any opportunities (it’s not easy in there is it?)

James was bowling well and quickly grabbed a wicket (caught by D’Entertainer naturally!) 45-6

Louis was on next with his leg spin and The Admiral also wanted a look at Calum O’Byrne (he’s a bowler not a batter you know!)

So with two leg spinners on the game was going to move fast and boy did it move!

In Calum’s first over he ripped one past Courts bat and bowled him and the very next ball with a low full toss a minor miracle happened when The Admiral hung on to take a catch and leave Calum on a hat trick !

Lydon survived the hat trick ball but Malahide were in real trouble at 55-8.

Young de Clerk and Lydon resisted the leg spin attack and tried their best to get the scoreboard moving and bat their overs. The end came in the 36th over though when Lydon picked out Sankeerth to give Calum his 3rd wicket. Young De Clerk had batted beautiful for 24 not out and Malahide were all out for 84 for 9.

The Phoenix bowlers were as good as they have been all year with 1 for Theo and James, 2 for Zafar and Sankeerth but star man was Calum O’Byrne who finished with 3 for 16 off 5 overs.

After a great tea including more legendary “D15 BBQ leftovers” from the McDonaghs the Admiral’s instructions were clear- bat positively and let’s get the runs in a good fashion so that Mick and I can sample last night’s left over Cote du Rhone….

Stephen and Graham opened the batting and got the run chase off positively. Stephen  didn’t look too comfortable however and was out shortly afterwards. Malahide were on the hunt for wickets to try and defend their low score and it required the Phoenix batting line up to grind out the runs. Graham wasn’t pretty (is he ever?) but he was punishing anything loose and he had good support from Evan “Jonathon Trott” Chester who had joined him at the other end.

A powerful cut shot over the fielder at point for 4 got Evan off the mark and slowly the runs accumulated. The pair had scored 52 for the 2nd wicket when Graham had one swing too many on 33 and was bowled by the pick of Malahides bowlers Zac Woods Oliver. Evan kept going and after smearing a big six into the pavilion garden Phoenix only needed 5 to win. Louis (looking after his average) was solid at the other end. Evan was bowled by a good ball from Woods Oliver but Sankeerth saw the side home. A good 7 wickets win for the Phoenix side.

The after match briefing was fairly conclusive- the boys were on their game today- hunting in pairs, “very” noisy and energetic in the field, bowling nothing loose and batting with intent!

It’s the halfway point of the season for the 5th XI as the Admiral retires to his peaceful summer haven on the Mediterranean to recuperate and devise his strategies for the 2nd half season relegation dog fight!

The team picture above shows the 5ths in all their glory (it did take them 5 minutes to line up!) but it was unquestionably another fun day.

Claudio was often asked about trying to keep winning streaks going and this week we will finish with the master tacticians wise words…..

WHY CAN’T WE CONTINUE TO RUN, RUN, RUN? WE ARE LIKE FORREST GUMP. LEICESTER PHOENIX IS FORREST GUMP. THE CHAIRMAN IS ON THE MOON EATING HIS PIZZA…..

I’ll use these fine words to help plan the 2nd half of the season…

Aidan Chester

5th XI v North County (away) – 2/7/2016

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?”

Aidan Chester

5th XI v Civil Service (in Castleknock College) – 5/6/2016

Phoenix 5th XI spent a glorious Bloom June Bank Holiday Sunday in Castleknock College – the weather was glorious and having had 4 weeks off the 5th XI were straining at the leash to continue their Division 12 campaign.

The Phoenix team was Graham Mooney, Stephen Black. Michael Fahy, Arsalan Mehmood, Evan Chester, Aidan Chester (c), Louis McDonagh, Theo Dempsey, Zafarullah Mohommed, Mick McDonagh and, making his debut for the 5th XI, Harry Fay.

Our opposition were our neighbours from the Park, Civil Service and as the Admiral strolled out to the middle he could tell he would be marshalling his troops for 40 overs of fielding in the sunshine- the coin was tossed and Phoenix were asked to field first – not an issue for us as we have been successful all season cashing.

Phoenix opened with Zafar and Theo and progress was immediately slow as the CS openers were very watchful. Theo was struggling for a bit of rhythm but was still tight outside off stump much to the nodding approval of the openers.

Zafar was bowling with pace and when opener Faherty decided to be aggressive there was a flash of the blade and a bottom edge went straight through to keeper Mc Donagh (Mick “The Entertainer”) who juggled it but finally pouched it.

Phoenix were energetic in the field and needed to be on their toes as it’s not easy fielding in Castleknock College.

After 10 overs, the Admiral had a hunch things were too easy – scoring was slow as only 31 runs had been scored but it was time for a change.

Arsalan and Louis came on next with a bit of flight and spin to try an coax mistakes from the batsmen.

The breakthrough came almost immediately as opener Dravid drove Sunny over his head and somehow The Admiral pedalled fast enough to cover around and take a good running catch!

At this stage Tariq Quadri (formally of Phoenix himself) was in and looking very dangerous. The Admiral has seen enough of Tariq in his day and spread the field wide. Mooney let a shout that this wasn’t a good plan but Tariq duly obliged next ball and hit Louis straight down Harry Fay’s throat at deep midwicket – 40-3!

Next ball Louis enticed Hasan Ur Rehan to drive hard and Zafar took a great overhead running catch to leave Louis on a hat-trick!

40-4 became 49-5 when Louis had Mohan caught behind off a full toss- again The Entertainer behind the stumps gave a loud call complete with celebration – Louis had another 3 wickets to his name – time for drinks!

Things were much tougher in the second half as the Admiral went on the search for wickets!

Mooney was rolled on and chipped in a with a couple of wickets – a good ball that seamed (cough!) in to remove Arravind and a good hard catch at mid-on from The Admiral had Service at 92-7.

When Gallagher started looking comfortable against the slower bowling it was time for a bit of pace – Evan came on for a couple of overs and then Theo which meant that the scoring never got too frenetic. Zafar came back and then the ball was thrown to Harry who got a good wicket in his first over!

A long shift in the field ended with Civil Service posting 157-8 off their 40 overs.

Bowling wise there was a lot of hard work Zafar 1-26, Theo 0-23, Harry 1-15, Sunny 1-16, Louis 3-24 and Slowboat Mooney 2-38 (would have been better had the Admiral held on to a regulation skier at mid-on!!).

Tea was delightful beside the old pavilion (next time we will have the keys to use their kitchen!!) – the highlight was brought by Mick who brought leftovers from his exotic Dublin 15 BBQ the night before – that’s why he’s an entertainer! (He even brought leftover dregs of Fleury!) Thanks to Alison for helping out too!

The message to the Phoenix batsmen was simple – 158 in Castleknock is worth 180-190 – it’s a par score and will require chasing – but we bat to 11 and we go after teams- play your normal game and we should be able to get close!

Mooney and Black opened. Stephen is getting stronger every game and batted really positively – even in defence!

Mooney was bowled through the gate to leave us 15-1. Next in was Michael Fahy who set about looking for runs were he could get them to keep the innings going. Michael was unlucky to be out for 10 chipping the ball straight back to Tariq and when Stephen was out to a ball that jumped viciously off a length for a well played 20 – the 5ths could be accused of a little bit of a slide!

Evan and Harry were in next- The Admiral advice was clear – play your game and have a go- if it works great – if it doesn’t don’t worry!

Evan looked to be attacking with Harry and even though we were three down the runs were still coming. Having seen one rear up at Stephen Evan was unlucky when a ball stayed low and bowled him. 61-4

Sunny joined Harry next as Harry was getting to grips with the game- bad balls were smacked and good balls were defended resolutely.

On the side-lines The Entertainer was reclining in his deckchair wishing he had brought more red wine with him as Sunny kept going with singles and Harry was aggressive.

Having put on 50 in 9 overs Harry backed up too far and couldn’t get back and was run out for a well played 32.

The Admiral was in next and both he and Sunny kept momentum going with some good shots!

The run rate was well under 6 an over moving into the last 8 overs. There were maidens but usually followed by some good overs with 13 or 14 runs being scored. The Admiral finally connected with the ball and hit a maximum over midwicket to take the pressure off and although Sunny perished on 44 trying to hit a maximum of his own, Louis Mc Donagh came in and saw the side home in the 39th over.

So, a long day in the sunshine but a 5th win of the season from our 5 games played to date.

Another great team performance with everyone contributing especially the younger members – Harry played as we knew he could to get us close and Stephen Black is looking solid at the top! Louis nicked a few wickets and Theo was toigh on the opposition batsmen and our fielding was up to standard (with the adults bringing the standards downs!).

As Claudio Raineri says….

“I am happy when our fans are happy, when our players are happy and our chairman is on the moon.”

Aidan Chester

In the old days there was no such thing as Leicester City winning the Premiership, there was only the big four clubs dividing up the spoils each year.

But all that has changed , Leicester did win the Premiership and despite being singled out for relegation by Paul Reynolds the Phoenix 5ths have started their season with 4 wins from 4 which is bringing lots of laughs in our changing rooms these days as Claudio Mooney has never spent so much time on Twitter with his #weareleicestercity hashtag!

Anyway back to business and we have two matches to update you on this week.

Phoenix 5th XI away to Sandyford

The first was the 5th XI game away to Sandyford in Marlay Park. Claudio Mooney was the stand in skipper as the Admiral was sitting on a plane to LA staring at the Cricket Leinster website waiting on updates from his charges.

The Phoenix team was Black, Mooney, Maginnis senior, Maginnis Junior, Evan, Hillman, Nalawade, Mehmood, Zafar, Louis and Mick Mc Donagh

And just like the old days Mooney lost the toss and Phoenix were batting first.

Stephen Black and Mooney opened against some tight Sandyford bowling- The Marlay Park outfield did not give Stephen reward for his shots and when he fell for only 1 run of 13 balls he was entitled to be disgruntled! Alan Maginnis was in next and both he and Graham got Phoenix to 47 off 15 overs- slow progress but such is the way at Marlay Park!

Alan fell for 16 and with drinks in sight Graham was bowled for 22 Phoenix followed swiftly by James Maginnis for 8 Phoenix were 71-4 at drinks.

Next in were Sunny (Arsalan Mehmood) and Evan Chester.

Momentum was quick to change as Sunny set about the bowling with some lusty blows. Evan at the other end just kept rotating the strike allowing Sunny to motor- The pair added 69 in just 43 minutes in 11 overs. Sunny got to his 50 (7 fours and 1 six) and was out next ball!

But Evan kept going. Akarsh was out first ball (2nd season syndrome is in full swing with Akarsh!) but Conor Hillman battled hard alongside Evan who was starting to take up the running. Evan has had a few near misses waiting for his first senior 50 and today he wasn’t going to be denied!

On 49 he let loose with his 6th boundary of the innings and a significant milestone was achieved- there’ll be plenty more to come we hope! When Conor fell for 11 (a partnership of 58 in 33 minutes and 8 overs!), Louis Mc Donagh joined the cause with only a couple of overs left. Quick singles were the order of the skipper and while Louis did get run out for 3 it was to keep Evan on strike. Zafar and Evan closed the innings off with a couple more quick runs- Phoenix finished on 194-8 off their 40 overs. (Evan finished on 61 not out!)

When Phoenix set out to bowl they knew 194 was a big score in the slow scoring Marlay Park.

Skipper Mooney rattled through the bowlers making sure Sandyford couldn’t settle. Zafar bowled tightly all day (6 overs 0-17), Conor (7 overs 0-32) and Sunny was good too (8 overs 1-28) but again it was the youngsters that kept Sandyford down. At drinks Sandyford were 62-4 needing 133 off the last 20 overs. James Maginnis bowled well to get 3-19 off his 8 overs, Evan chipped in with his first wicket in a long time to round off an excellent performance and Akarsh popped up with 2-30 off 8. Just to make sure there was no comeback Louis was drafted in to get the dangerous looking Ravi Singh (on 57) and obliged in his first over 1-16 off 4 overs)

From 35,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic the messages from Claudio Mooney were emphatic- a  great team effort in a tough place to play cricket- getting value for shots is difficult and to get to 194-8 was a great effort. While we weren’t as good as previous weeks in the field we did enough and the bowlers got the ball in the right areas just enough to ensure that we kept getting wickets!

Man of the Match- Evan Chester with his first senior 50 (followed closely by Conor Dillon who travelled to the south side to score for us- thank you Conor!)

Aidan Chester

Phoenix 5th XI home to North County

 With the Admiral enroute from LA, Claudio Mooney stood in again (in fairness instructions had been sent from the cockpit somewhere over Nova Scotia- it’s all part of the Aer Lingus service you know!)

The 3rd XI were a few short for their Division 5 clash which meant Evan got promoted upwards so the Phoenix team was Black, Mooney, Ijaz, James Maginnis ,Hillman, Nalawade, Mehmood, Zafar,Theo, Louis and Mick Mc Donagh

Skipper Mooney lost the toss and North County batted first.

As we have said already, it’s a joy to unleash our young team in matches and this was certainly the case with Theo Dempsey on this day. A ruthless spell of bowling had North County in trouble from the off. Backed up by Zafar at the other end Theo had Butt caught behind 12-1. It was 16-4 in a blink of an eye as Theo got another two wickets and Zafar chipped in also!

Paddy Mann and James “Bisto” Mooney staged a recovery guiding County to 35-4 at drinks. Progress was slow but steady when the score got to 84. At this stage Conor had bowled tightly, Sunny had been very efficient and both Ijaz and Akarsh were not letting scoring get out of control. Mooney was looking for wickets (“It’s the brand of cricket we play don’t you know…???”) and in the 30th over decided to go on the attack.

As you can tell this is his version of events but whatever -it worked!

Mick took the pads and Louis got to work- we can’t say it was great bowling but it was doing the trick as in 3.3 overs Louis had 4 for 17!!. At the other end James was getting stuck in too and finished the County innings off in a hurry with 2 quick wickets – 119 all out. The score moved from 84-5, 96-6, 104-7,109-8,118-9 and finished on 119!

At tea, the Aer Lingus shuttle had delivered the Admiral and the batting order was outlined!!

Black and Mooney to open, Sunny at 3 followed by Ijaz and James. Akarsh was given a chance to score a run (yes one would be a start!) and as a gesture of goodwill Zafar was promoted from number 11 to number 7. Louis would come in at 8 with Conor, Mick and Theo fighting it out at the end!

Zafar has been playing well in the nets and looked pleadingly at the Admiral for a bat- well why not then!

Stephen and Graham got under way and pretty soon were back! 1-1 became 8-2 as young Owen Graham bowled nicely from the Chesterfield Road end.

Sunny and Ijaz got Phoenix going with some big hits but when Ijaz was out LBW (26-3) and then Sunny at 55-4, followed quickly by James and Akarsh to leave us at 61-6- we were being a bit too generous! North County were up for the fight. Bisto was firing the ball in and young Woodhouse had us tied down at the other end too!

Zafar and Louis came in in the 16th over- would we make it to drinks???

But the Phoenix boys were resolute and at drinks we needed 49 to win!

Zafar looked unsteady but somehow stood his ground, Louis survived a run out when the keeper didn’t have the ball in his hands when demolishing the stumps- it was all very nervy although the Admiral looked calm (or maybe he was asleep in the corner…)

Suddenly Zafar sprang to life with some big hitting and the runs needed fell dramatically. All of a sudden in the 29th over Phoenix needed only 8 to win which Zafar blasted with ease to finish 40 not out (Louis loves his average finished 12 not out also!)

Man of the match is too close to call- Theo was superb, Louis has the club’s golden arm thus far and Zafar stood up when called on with the bat!

So a 4th victory for the 5ths to maintain our 100% record and this victory encapsulates what we are about so far this season- lots of ups and downs but everyone standing up at one stage or another to contribute to the team performance.

As the real Claudio says “In Italy the Coach is a paratrooper who jumps out of the plane but doesn’t know if the parachute will open or not”

Google it- that’s what he said!

What it means maybe Graham knows…..

Aidan Chester

5th XI v Malahide (away) – 2/5/2016

Phoenix 5th XI spent a freezing cold and windy May Bank Holiday in Malahide.

The Phoenix team was Graham Mooney, Stephen Black, Michael Fahy, Arsalan Mehmood, Evan Chester, Aidan Chester (c) , Louis McDonagh, Akarsh Nalawade, Theo Dempsey, Zafarullah Mohommed and James Maginnis.

There was a gust of wind and hail as the toss was made which somehow managed to blow the coin on the side the Admiral had called and he had no hesitation in fielding first.

The wind was blowing straight down the wicket and it was no surprise when Zafar decided to open the bowling with the wind at his back!  At the other end Theo Dempsey learnt what it meant to be the “junior pro” as he faced the prospect of bowling into the wind! Bowling  consistently outside off stump was going to be a challenge for every bowler with or against the wind!

Scoring was slow particularly as the dream team of Evan Chester and Stephen Black in the covers let nothing past them all day. To see all the boys diving full length and supporting each other brings a lot of noise and a lot of positive energy and it got the Malahide batsmen jittery looking to try and score. After Zafar bowled a peach of a delivery to remove the openers off stump the number three tried quick flick to square leg but Akarsh pounced sending in a  low return to Louis to leave Malahide 30-2 off 10 overs.

The Admiral started to roll the changes after 10 overs with first Akarsh and then Arsalan coming onto bowl- but it was clear they were at the wrong ends and soon Graham Mooney was brought on to facilitate a change of ends. Graham used his 30 yard run up to warm up and the change of ends was complete with immediate results. Arsalan snatched a powerful shot to get the dangerous looking Malahide number 4 while Akarsh started to keep things much tighter.

At drinks Malahide were 84-3 which was a good effort by the fielding side in the conditions.

Mooney kept giving the Admiral swinging shoulders so in the end the skipper relented and let Graham bowl into the wind. Grahams pace meant that there was always chances coming and he snared two Malahide batsmen quickly. James Maginnis was on next and when he listened he bowled a perfect line and length deliveries! In fairness he felt his hair was in his eyes at the beginning (his words not mine!) but coming down the hill with the wind he was a real handful getting a couple of wickets. Backed up by some late shots  Malahide did well to get from 130 for 6 to 168-9 after 40 overs.

Zafar got 3-23, Theo 1-23, Arsalan 2-35 and James 2-17.

The message at half time was that 168 was below par in what were really tough conditions in the field. If we could bat our overs we’d get over the line!

Mooney and Black got the Phoenix reply under way. Graham pounced on a couple of wide deliverys to get us going while Stephen Black looked very solid. On a brisk 17 Graham turned the ball (stupidly Graham!) to square leg and he was off to be replaced by Michael Fahy.

This year Michael is our senior kid and we hope will bat at number 3 all season- he looked up for it! He batted very solidly along with Stephen to get us moving- at drinks we were 88-2 off 20 overs. After compiling an excellent 33 Stephen was bowled by Malahides pick of the bowlers G Read. Michael went shortly afterwards for a very good 35 with a lot of excellent shots to his name and Phoenix were still looking comfortable at 90-3. James Maginnis and Evan Chester were in next. James was off the mark but Malahide’s best bowler was operating into the wind and proving very hard to score off. Evans role on the side is to be aggressive and to push the scoreboard along knowing there’s lot of batting behind him. Trying to be aggressive against the best bowler was too difficult as he was out second ball! Phoenix were 91-4!

The Admiral was in next and decided that seeing off the Malahide left armer was the best policy as there were runs to be had at the other end. So while the Admiral tried to bore the bowling to death James got stuck in a the other end with some excellent shots.  The Phoenix skipper was batting like someone with three left feet while James kept the score going. A couple of boundaries from the Admiral and the pressure lifted but then he smoked (yes smoked!) a ball to the point boundary which meant Arsalan was in next. Phoenix were 120-5 needing 48 to win. “Sunny” is a big hitter but never looked settled and when he was out for 5 followed first ball by Akarsh you could be forgiven for thinking that we were throwing it away 21 runs shorts with only 7 overs remaining.

However the fall of the wickets only meant that Louis McDonough was in next and both he and James looked calm and measured getting us closer to our target. James was in the 40’s and while he had a few lifelines it didn’t stop him from looking to score. Needing 3 to win off the last over Louis rocked back to a short ball outside off stump and guided the ball for four through point- James finished on 48 not out (the scorebook has been amended to show 55 not out subsequently but no matter!) A frenetic but never in doubt (cough!) victory for the 5ths!

A good game in terribly difficult conditions but lots more learning and great fun for young and old alike!

This week’s learnings?

Saving runs in the field is as good as wickets – well done Stephen “Jonty” Black and Evan “Rhodes” Chester – they saved at least 30 runs -you’ll be in the covers for the season!

Our bowlers stuck to their guns – Theo came back on at the end (into the wind!) and bowled really well! There was some good balls and some bad balls but we kept chipping away! In the conditions no-one went for more than 4 or 5 per over – a good solid effort with only 5 wides and 1 no-ball on the day!

Batting – we are being positive in our approach – scoring off the bad balls and trying to keep the good ones out- knowing there’s plenty of batting in our line up helps!

Having Theo, Louis, James, Evan and Stephen in the side is bringing a lot of noise and great energy – it’s the second week in a row that the 40 overs has flown by – 1pm starts and the innings have finished at 3.10pm which is great for us older guys!!

That’s 2 from 2 so far this season -Next up is Sandyford away on Sunday the 8th May.

Aidan Chester

5th XI v Merrion (home) – 24/4/2016

Phoenix 5th XI got their Division 12 season underway in a cold but dry Phoenix Park yesterday.

The Phoenix team was Graham Mooney, Stephen Black. Rehane Quereshi, Ijaz Ahmed, Evan Chester, Aidan Chester (c) , Louis McDonagh, Sankeerth Karpe, Theo Dempsey, Zafarullah Mohommed, Mick McDonagh.

Merrion won the toss and decided to bat first (they must have known they were going to bat first as the entire team was padded up for the toss!).

New member Ijaz opened the bowling and Merrion found it difficult to get bat on ball from the off  At the other end Theo Dempsey got his season underway with a very consistent spell of bowling just outside off stump.  A captain’s dream as if bowlers can bowl in the same areas consistently then we can set our fields accordingly!

With scoring very slow in the first 5 overs Merrion took a risky single, a great pickup from Evan in the covers had the batsman diving for his ground but Evan’s throw was off target and he was safe.

It was cold and blustery in Phoenix as first Sankeerth then Evan and Theo spilled catches in the next 10 overs; they should have been taken but it’s always hard at the start of a season to get the catches right!

Zafar came on next and the Merrion bats started getting the pace right and scoring started to become easier.  Merrion seemed to like the pace bowling so the skipper tried a new plan; pace off the ball can only mean one thing – roll on Graham Mooney off his full run up!  The plan worked straightaway and the big hitting opener was caught in the slips by Mick McDonagh.

At drinks Merrion were 84-1.

After drinks the next plan was hatched; Louis McDonagh took off the keeping pads and started bowling his leg spin snowballs (I told you it was cold!) from the Chesterfield Road end.  Almost immediately there was a breakthrough as the Merrion bats didn’t like the slow turning deliveries from Louis. Keeper Mick demolished the stumps for Louis’ first wicket but it was the second wicket that on reflection turned our day.  A high full toss was smashed over midwicket and most of us turned away waiting for the ball to be thrown back from the boundary.  Suddenly, out of the corner of our eyes, we could see Evan racing after the ball with his eyes fixed on the ball.  The ball powered past him but somehow in full tilt, as if  he was on the rugby field like a fullback running to take a mark, he reached up over his shoulder and took the catch.

In fairness the Merrion team stood and roared the approval as we all raced 60 meters to congratulate Evan on a stupendous catch! 112-3

Catches win matches, and suddenly the wickets started to tumble.  Evan snatched another off Louis’ bowling, followed by 2 more wickets for the young leg spinner (sorry keeper/batsman).  Louis bowled 7 overs getting 5-38.

Just when Merrion seemed to get on top another wicket would fall. At the other end Sankeerth and Evan bowled 7 overs between them with an impeccable line and length just outside off stump. Sankeerth deserved better from his figures 5 over 0-20.

Zafar (1-23) and Theo (1-22 a peach of a slower ball bowling the batsman!) came back for second spells and with another run out in the mix Merrion were all out for 171 in the 36th over.

171 to us was a par score on a cold day but the outfield is getting faster so there was value to be had for good shots.

Stephen Black and Graham Mooney opened the Phoenix innings. While Mooney scratched around trying to remember how to bat Stephen has grown an inch or two over the winter and looked strong!

Some nice shots off the back foot and the innings had good momentum from the off. With the opening partnership at 41 the ordeal was over for Graham (and us) as he was mercifully bowled with a ball that looked like it was going down the leg side flicked his back leg and back onto the stumps.  Rehani went it at 3 but was out LBW shortly afterwards as Merrion tried to put pressure on the Phoenix run chase.

Ijaz was in next and he and Stephen tried to turn the momentum back towards Phoenix. When Stephen was out caught behind (a fine 25 runs scored) things looked a little suspect.  However Ijaz and Evan got the innings motoring again with some good stroke play. The shot of the day was Evan flat batting a 6 (the only 6 of the day!) over extra cover! Ijaz and Evan put on a 55 run partnership in only 7 overs to bring Phoenix to 99-3 at drinks.

As always you can be vulnerable just after drinks and soon Ijaz (33 runs) and Evan (23 runs) were back in the pavilion to leave Phoenix teetering at 113-5.

The Admiral and Louis McDonagh were in next and Merrion sensed a possible victory but Louis was resolute in both defence and attack with some great defence and some lovely shots to the boundary behind square on the offside to slowly get Phoenix to the total and a season starting win by 5 wickets.  Louis finished 22 not out while the Admiral was 30 not out.

While Louis was undoubtedly the Man of the Match it is sometimes only true that the entire team contributed in a big way to a teams victory – but that was the case on this day – Louis got the wickets, but Evan’s catches, Theo and Sankeerth’s bowling, Mooney breaking a partnership, Zafar was clinical, Stephen batted really well while Ijaz and Evan kept the innings going in the right direction to make sure we got to our target.  Mick took a good catch in the slips while Rehani fielded at square leg and never let anything past him!

The kids are a year older and we are looking forward to seeing them develop throughout the season! Next match away to Malahide!

Aidan Chester