Fifth XI Match Report (h) -v- Dundalk – Division 12

The 5th XI made it two wins in a row as they got back into the race for promotion this year.  James Maginnis and Tom Stevens led the way in terms of youth but it was experience of Aidan Chester that turned the tide in Phoenix favour.

After snapping their losing streak with a comprehensive 92 run win against Leinster a week earlier the 5th XI were in action as their run of home games came to an end against Dundalk last weekend. Having shaken off that losing feeling Graham Mooney’s 5th XI were hoping to start to build up a head of steam again and propel themselves into the push for promotion once more. And thanks to a fine all round performance that is exactly what they did as a 6 wicket win puts them right back within striking distance of second place, and promotion to Division 11, with a crucial run of games coming up.

With clouds threatening overhead Dundalk won the toss and elected to bat. It was probably the correct decision to make but there was always likely to be something in it for the bowlers with the overhanging atmospheric conditions. The XI saw a few changes from the winning side the week previously. Dr Shahzad Ahmad, Stephen Moore and the newly anointed Leinster star, James Maginnis, all took to the field.

Dundalk made very steady progress in the early going with the openers, Khan and Chong, ticking along nicely. They did what all good openers should do and saw off the good stuff from the new ball bowlers and punished anything short or wide. Khan unfurled a couple of lusty blows and Chong knocked it about as the visitors made steady headway.

Conor Hughes can consider himself extremely unfortunate not to have taken an early wicket as Khan appeared to nick off to Ebbs behind the sticks. The Dundalk batsman is clearly a graduate of the Stuart Broad School of Cricketing Etiquette, though, as he stood his ground and the umpire shook his head. Hughes had as many reviews at his disposal as young Master Agar did in the Ashes opener so he therefore failed to claim the scalp. However, had there been a review system in place, it’s likely we’d have seen a great big white splotch on the outside edge of the bat courtesy of Hot Spot!

Undeterred Phoenix stuck to their task and were rewarded when Hashmi Khan struck to remove Chong (9) and leave Dundalk at a decent 26 for 1. Hashmi would finish up with excellent bowling figures of 8-3-7-2 and it must be noted that he seems to reserve his finest performances each year for the period in which Ramadan falls. The incongruously broiling summer has made for tough work for everyone but it’s all the more impressive to see such superb work turned in with such taxing physical circumstances.

Dundalk were unshaken by the loss, though, and belied their status at the foot of the table as they pressed on. O’Brien and Khan kept the scoreboard flowing nicely and were starting to settle in. Phoenix needed a change so skipper Mooney called in young Tom Stevens to change things up. The move paid dividends as the twirler opened up with three straight maidens and removed O’Brien (6) clean bowled to leave the score 39 for 2.

That soon became three down as Khan played the most curious of shots (does it count as a shot if you don’t play a shot?!?!) and fell lbw to Hashmi for 18. As Hashmi ran up Khan jumped back outside his leg stump to give himself room. Hashmi bowled the ball on a good length on or around Off and Middle. Instead of using the extra space he had given himself and hitting through the line off the ball Khan decided to jump back into line with the stumps and he was duly rapped on the pads and sent back to the shed.

This left Kalky and Shahid at the crease for Dundalk. Kalky did what he does best and got his nose over the ball and blocked the good stuff and tucked away the loose stuff as his side tried to rebuild. Shahid, on the other hand, seemed determined to run himself out as he became more and more agitated with each passing ball. Poor old Kalky had to endure a number of mixed signals and bizarre instructions before Shahid finally ran himself out. Having punched the ball back past the non striker Kalky had his team mate call “two” without seeing where the ball had gone. Shahid was so determined to run two that even the rather loud call of “NO!!!” that Kalky made after the first run didn’t deter him from haring off for a second and he was run out by about 8 yards as Khan threw into Mooney who knocked the bails off.

Kalky was joined by skipper, Boome Shanmugam, who Phoenix knew from previous experience likes to play his shots. And true to form he started to give it some tap right from the off. Dundalk were ticking along nicely but the patience of the skipper started to wear thin. His message to Kalky to start playing some shots was intercepted by the every alert Asim Mumtaz. Nothing gets past The Wall and he informed his team mates that the shots were likely to start flowing. It was a little early to throw the bat with the score at 81 for 4 off 24 overs but Kalky obliged his skipper, though, he should really have been left to keep grinding away to build a total. He was dispatched the very next ball as Aidan Chester claimed his first wicket of the day. Kalky (12) had played a very good knock but tried to heave across the line to a yorker length ball and was on his way. Dundalk were 81 for 5 and Aidan Chester had only just begun to have his say on the game.

Boome (26) hit out as he looked for quick and cheap runs but he was finally trapped in front by Dr Shahzad leaving Dundalk in limbo at 106 for 6. Not a great position but not the worst either midway through their line up. With things in the balance Aidan Chester came to make his mark on the game.

Aidan sunk Dundalks hope in a quick fire blast midway through the allotted overs that would have been worthy of Admiral Chester Nimitz, hero of the Battle of Midway (look it up kids). And for that reason, and the fact he has, to date, torpedoed 21 victims for the 5th XI this year, he will, hence forth, after much soul searching and half a seasons mental exertion, in match reports, be referred to by the sobriquet ‘The Admiral’. The fact that he’d spent the morning prior to the match boating around Dublin Bay only solidified this reporters resolve to nail him with the aforementioned tag!

To stretch the nautical analogy to breaking point, if the departure of their skipper saw Dundalk spring a leak then they weren’t long going under. What had been 106 for 5 before the departure of Boome became 108 all out.

First Mullen (11) smoked a dirty full toss from The Admirals bowling at an alarming speed towards midwicket. In an act of ice cool precision, or desperate self preservation, depending on your viewpoint, Moore clutched the catch in front of his face. 107 for 7. Next ball Boyle (0) was unlucky to get gunned for a Golden Duck by a ball that looked to be travelling well over the top of the sticks.

That said, The Admiral was on a hat trick. The field he was afforded was more befitting the final session of the 5th day of a Test Match on an absolute bunsen rather than halfway through a 40 over match. Two Slips, a Leg Slip, a Gully, a Silly Point and a Short Leg were set in place. Chester did his part and made the batsman play but to the credit of Bosano-Andrews he held up to the pressure very well and calmly blocked out the delivery.

The respite was short lived, though, as in his next over Chester claimed another couple of victims with back-to-back deliveries. First McDonnell (1) was caught and bowled before McKeever (0) was bowled first ball. Another hat trick was on but, unfortunately for the bowler there were no batsmen left in the shed to face up. Aidan finished with magnificent figures of 7.3-2-17-5 and ensured that the away side didn’t post a more challenging total than the 108 they finished with.

With some momentum for the week before and a smallish target to chase the skipper decided to shake things up. The 5th XI has offered opportunities to all its players with both bat and ball and this was the day for youth to come to the fore. After Tom Stevens excellent bowling display, James Maginnis, was sent in to open the batting and it was a decision the skipper would not regret.

He opened the batting with Dr Shahzad and they made good headway early on. The calling was a little sketchy to begin with, as it can be with a new opening pair, but that was only a minor glitch. They were motoring along nicely before Dr Shahzad cut one straight to backward point and Phoenix were 19 for 1.

The battle to see who the best batsman in the Maginnis household is then began as the head of the clan came in to bat with the up-and-coming star. It wasn’t a battle that lasted long as The Electrician was out to a truly shocking shot as he gently guided a wide one into the waiting slip cordon. Boyle took a superb low one handed catch but Maginnis the Elder was on his way back without scoring. Bragging rights belong to James for this week at least!

20 for 2.

Young James Maginnis showed his class and poise as he blocked all the good stuff without ever looking troubled while at the other end Ebbs began in very determined style. The pair were rolling along nicely until young Maginnis got smacked in the rib area as he was looking to pull one backward of square. It seemed he might have top edged into his own torso and the impact left a nasty mark. He was keen to carry on despite the grievous blow but on the advice of his team mates he retired hurt and gave himself time to regroup.

The Wall joined Ebbs at the crease and settled things down for a bit. Their method of run calling was cryptic to say the least but they managed to avoid a run out. Mumtaz (2) did not manage to avoid getting hit on the pad during Shahid’s first over and he departed. James Maginnis came back in to bat and looked settled and calm again. He was unlucky to be undone by a rip snorter from Shahid, who clearly had is dander up, and Phoenix were reduced for 62 for 4.

Dundalk sniffed a chance but what they didn’t count on was that Ebbs had spent enough time in the middle to start to feel comfortable. The gloveman had failed to make much of an impact with the bat for the 5th XI until this game but the lack of runs belied the obvious ability that was lurking.

The time for blocking had come to an end for Ebbs as he began to unleash some lusty blows to the boundary. Nicely timed and forcefully struck they helped Phoenix counter attack and take all the momentum out of the Dundalk revival. Three back foot punches were hit through cover as Ebbs started to hit the gaps at will. At the other end The Admiral was clearly buoyant after his 5For and he smacked 17 off 11. It was Ebbs who did the main damage, though, and his 38 off 47 with 7 boundaries was innings that sealed the win.

Dundalk were, as ever, gracious opponents. They have been so in both victory and defeat against Phoenix over the last two seasons. They are having a rough year this season but we know that they will stick at it and their club will go from strength to strength. It’s never easy for a new club to make their mark on the league straight away (although their 1st XI had a super first season) but they are a super bunch of lads and we look forward to playing them again sooner rather than later.

From the Phoenix perspective 5 wickets and 17 not out was more than enough to claim the MotM award for Aidan Chester. Ebbs superb knock was also a huge factor. A big thanks goes to Evan Chester for keeping the book as well.

And full steam ahead for this weekends showdown in Park Avenue against Pembroke.

Dundalk: 108 all out after 33.3 overs
B Shanmugan 28
F Khan 17

A Chester 5-17
H Khan 2-7

Phoenix: 111 for 4 after 24.4 overs
J Ebbs 38*
A Chester 17*

W Shahid 2-10
F Khan 2-23

Phoenix won by 6 wickets
Toss won by Dundalk who elected to bat

Man of the Match:
Aidan Chester
5 for 17 & 17*