by Conor Dillon
Your correspondent arrived at the Castle Avenue ground at about 11.30 not having been notified that the start was delayed by two hours due to dampness on the square. Phoenix were without Captain Conor Kelly and so Corie Dickeson deputised. The new professional has yet to arrive, Coach Lunson is now in retirement and also missing was the guile and flight of Sadaf Raza. The two older Anders boys, M D Masud Ahmed and Syed Ali all featured strongly during Phoenix’s promotion season of 2012 but they were joined by a contingent of New Zealanders who have annexed an area of Cabra, Sayed Saif (formerly of Clontarf and Railway Union) and Mohammad Tayyib.
One confesses to not enquiring as to whether a toss took place but it was decided that Clontarf would bat first. Grant White umpired from the Castle Avenue end with Conor Darcy low enough down the batting order to open the umpiring from the Killester end. The eleven who took the field for Phoenix were: Captain Corie Dickeson, wicket keeper Syed Ali, Phillip Keane, Marc Wells, Steve Davis, Tyler Balogh,Thomas Anders, Mohammad Tayyib,M D Masud Ahmed, Rory Anders and Sayed Saif.
Marchant Cup holder Bill Coghlan was adhesive but no more in the early overs with controlled aggression from Bobbo Forrest as Phoenix opened with left arm seamer Steve Davis from the Killester end and Rory Anders bowling five consective overs at 3.2 from the Castle Avenue end. However, Coghlan began to take a liking to the bowling and from a lowly 1 not out after 8 overs began to hit out against all the bowlers used and ended up retiring after making a century. By this time Tyler Balogh had taken his first wicket for Phoenix when he had Forrest caught by Syed Ali. Ireland star Alex Cusack made a quick 18 for the home team before Masud had him caught by Captain Dickeson but Andrew Poynter punished the bowlers further before the 30 overs concluded with the score on 216 for 2.
The difficult run chase for Phoenix was compounded by the early loss of Masud Ahmed who was bowled by Craig. Marc Wells was disappointed that umpire White did not give him an opportunity to take guard against Morrissey but he still attempted to face the delivery and was bowled. Captain Dickeson and Thomas Anders brought a modicum of respectability to the scoreboard with Phoenix on 60 for 2 at the drinks break. Thomas Anders immediately ran himself out and with Syed Ali soon following it was Rory Anders who held an end up as a succession of debutants struggled at the other end. Rory struck two boundaries in the final over to bring up the hundred for Phoenix with Tyler Balogh surviving at the far end and Steve Davis not getting a knock.
Coach Lunson’s merit rating was Rory Anders 3, Corie Dickeson 2 and Thomas Anders 1 which may be an early indication that Phoenix’s close season recruitment has not been an unqualified success. We now look to Malahide with hope that the Phoenix eleven can put a performance together.