First XI Match Report (a) -v- Merrion – Division 1

by Conor Dillon

Having lost by 10 wickets to the title challengers earlier in the season the Phoenix players could have been forgiven a little trepidation at the prospect of a rematch. On the other hand it was a chance for revenge. Jeggels, Rory Anders, Wells and Balogh were all gone from the side that had played at Anglesea Road but Rory Anders was the only one missing from the side that had lost the most recent league fixture at Railway Union. Adam Chester was called up into the side. Phoenix won the toss and elected to bat with the hitherto adhesive Branem Adams promoted to number 2 and Andrew Leonard dropping back down to number 9. The batting order was M D Masud Ahmed, Branem Adams, Adam Chester, Syed Ali, Captain Conor Kelly, Corie Dickeson, Thomas Anders, Dumisani Magala, Andrew Leonard, Colonel Sadaf Raza, Steve Davis.

Masud must have watched in worry as three wickets fell at the other end all to catches by Ackland behind the stumps with Rowe removing Adams and Morrissey getting both Chester and Ali. Captain Kelly helped to provide a bit more stability to the batting effort and the stand of 88 would be the high point of the day for Phoenix. After Masud was out for 50 Kelly was involved in three brief stands during which the skipper reached 50 himself. Magala and Raza brought a touch of respectability to the scoreboard with a stand of 34 and after both were out Davis emerged undefeated with Phoenix ending on 172 all out which was the same score they had managed in the away fixture.

This time it was Beasley who opened with Ackland while Thompson bided his time at number 3. Merrion found the runs hard to come by and Ackland was caught by Conor Kelly for 8 to give Davis a wicket. With his parents watching Davis kept up a very good economy rate and must have cursed his luck when what should have been a dot ball went for four overthrows. Raza and Anders bowled tidily without taking wickets and it looked as if Thompson and Beasley would just bat out the overs. Then Phoenix managed to run out Thompson for 65 and the wickets began to tumble as the closer Merrion got to the target the more tense the batsmen became. Anderson fell to Adams for 10, Joyce was bowled by Leonard for 12, Blakeney was bowled by Magala for 6 and Morrissey was caught and bowled by Leonard for 2. However, Merrion needed just 3 from 14 balls when Leonard ended the match by bowling 5 wides.

Men of the Match: A good team effort by Phoenix against a side who are on course for first or second in the league and have reached the Irish Senior Cup final.