The Fifth XI kept up their recent momentum and continued their march up the table with another impressive win last weekend. The win was revenge for a recent defeat at the hands of Pembroke in the Park last month. With the Fifth XI restored to almost full strength they overcame the hosts by 8 wickets on a day’s play that was heavily affected by rain. Steve McCarthy had helped drag Pembroke up to a somewhat defendable total but Aidan Chester once again stole the show for Phoenix as saw his side home with his first half century of the season.
Phoenix lost the toss and were put into the field with the sun beating down overhead. It wasn’t to last long, though, as the weather went from baking hot to muggy and overcast, to cool and overcast, to absolutely bucketing down before finally breaking up and allowing the game to get finished late in the day.
Phoenix opened the bowling with Evan Chester and Conor Hughes. The younger Chester would have fond memories of Sydney Parade 2 as he took his first senior wicket their last season. As he did twelve months ago Evan hit really good areas from ball one. He was soon rewarded with an early wicket as Sanil Gupta (2) tried to turn one to leg but only managed to skew one over the heads of slip and gully. Luckily the ball hung up a little and Moore rose to drag it in tracking backwards and Phoenix were up and running.
An interesting battle was brewing between the youth section of either club as Evan Chester faced off against Diarmuid Tucker. Tucker had posted 52* in Pembrokes win earlier in the season but there was to be no repeat here as Chester ruffled his feathers on more than one occasion.
The next man to fall was Pembroke skipper, Jimmy Cresswell (2), andhe can count himself a little unfortunate as he was gunned LBW to Hazelden for a ball that was more likely to have carried on and hit the wicket keeper in the chin than knocked the bails off. Pembroke were reduced to 19 for 2.
Tucker (10) was clean bowled by Hughes in the next over and all of a sudden it was 19 for 3 and the hosts were in trouble. The home side staged a really good fight back, though, with players fromeither end of the age spectrum. Experienced campaigner, Steve McCarthy, was aided by rising star, Josh Little, and they began to rebuild their sides innings.
McCarthy was watchful and patient, as was Little, but it was the latter who unleashed a few lusty blows to really tick things along. The introduction of Phoenix spinner, Hashmi Khan, and skipper,Graham Mooney, really began to bog down the Pembroke innings.
Little (41) went for one big shot too many and was caught with calm and cool precision by Mumtaz down at Long Off. Nothing gets past The Wall and Pembroke were 76 for 4. Still not a bad position but things were about to get a bit out of control as Phoenix looked to go in for the kill.
76 for 4 became 76 for 5 when Sid Gupta (0) nicked off to Mooney and was gobbled up at slip by the ever unsure Alan Maginnis. Mooney was probably spurred on by a couple of choice remarks about his bowling from his own team mates but the wicket really got things moving. Despite it being a textbook dismissal from a well executed delivery the highlight had to be the incredulous look on the aspiring slip fielder’s face when he actually clung on.
The Pembroke continued as Poff (0) went to Mooney without another run being added. What had been 76 for 3 with two well set batsmen had, in a flash, become 76 for 6 thanks to some tight bowling and committed fielding. Phoenix were ever willing to put their bodies on the line and in the case of Conor Hughes his face on the line. He was caught under the left eye as he sprawled to stop one at Short Cover and had to be replaced by Naeem Shahzad as he left the field to ice his tumescent oculus.
Great credit must be given to the superb tandem spell of Khan 8-2- 13-1 and Mooney 8-4-12-2 which helped turn the game in Phoenix favour.
With a possible end to the innings inside it was all hands on deck as The Admiral came on to bowl. He didn’t take long in getting on on the action as Dunleavy (1) had his leg stump pegged back. At theother end Dr Shahzad removed Crowley (6) as he played over the top of one. Beale (0) then succumbed to The Admiral to leave Pembroke on the brink at 95 for 9.
In stepped Steve McCarthy, ably assisted by the propitiously named Michael Clarke, to milk the strike, play some superb shots and generally niggle his side along to a total they could hope to defend. Phoenix were a little disappointed with the runs they gave away at the end as the last wicket was a stand of 42 runs but sometimes you just have to tip your hat and say well played.
McCarthy (62) finally fell with just three balls remaining as he was caught a Midwicket by Mooney off the bowling of The Admiral, who finished 5.3-1-34-3, as Pembroke posted 137 all out.
After a superb tea Phoenix went out to resume with leaden skies overhead. Chester and Moore looked to do the usual and take the sting out of the new ball. They were to have a tall order on their hands as Josh Little raced in with the new ball for Pembroke. Theyoung seamer looks a real prospect and troubled both the batsmen with some serious wheels for his age and the level of competition.
As well as that they opening batsmen had to battle the elements as they were on and off on three occasions. It’s never easy to have to constantly restart your innings but the pair did well. Chester was his usual self and built his innings steadily. Moore (15) hit a couple of boundaries including a straight drive back over the bowlers head before chopping on to his stumps to leave Phoenix with a reasonable start of 36 for 1.
With Little out of the attack scoring became a little easier. The ever belligerent Maginnis went straight on the attack and his second and third deliveries faced went to the boundary. Pembroke, to their credit, adjusted their plan of attack to The Electrician and reined him in.
However things moved along smoothly for the visitors without muchin the way of chances coming for wickets. The one major anomaly was Maginnis calling a quick single, as rare as hen’s teeth, and being turned down by the batsman at the other end, even rarer!
After drinks Chester began to go up through the gears and unwounded a couple of maximums and a trio of boundaries to really push things along. Maginnis (20) was the next man to fall, though, when he was rapped on the pad by Sanil Gupta. Being five yards down the pitch and struck on the top of the knee roll was not enough to save him and he was on his way back to the shed.
Jonny Ebbs came in next, fresh off on excellent knock in his previous game, and helped steer the ship towards the total required. Chester passed the half century mark for the first time this campaign and then the end came in a hurry. It was fitting that The Admiral finished the game with a maximum to lead Phoenix to an 8 wicket win. Aidan Chester finished on 69* from 104 including 9 boundaries and 6 maximums.
It was another game played in great spirits between the two sides as they split the yearly series 1-1. The fixture has become one that the Fifth XI look forward to both home and away. The only downside to this game was the inclement weather conditions which meant the game finished after 8pm. As a result there was no time for the visitors to indulge in a post match pint as they were allscrambling for home making excuses for ruined dinner plans etc…!
Phoenix now move on to an away clash against league leaders Swords this Sunday.
Pembroke: 137 all out after 39.3 overs
S McCarthy 62
J Little 41
A Chester 3-34
G Mooney 2-12
Phoenix: 140 for 2 after 32.1 overs
Sanil Gupta 1-14
Man of the Match:
3-34 & 69*